25 Aug 2015

a guide to packing for university

Today, I thought I'd write a guide on packing for university. Hopefully this'll come in handy for some of you who are starting university in the coming months as I want to share the tips that I wish I knew when I was 18 and going to university, back in 2009!

This post is aimed at those moving into a university halls' of residence but a lot of it is still applicable to those renting private accommodation. Before packing or buying items, try and find a list of things that are provided for you already.


As most people will know, the British weather is temperamental so choosing what clothes to pack can often be a headache. It definitely was for me so here are a few tips I have to share. Bear in mind that most halls' of residences only provide you with a tiny wardrobe and no hangers!

Another thing to take into account is that some of you will inevitably buy new clothes (ASOS, you just make it too easy for us students) and with limited wardrobe space, you might want to pack only the bare minimum.


- Co-ordinating: Pack clothes that go together. That one top that only goes with that skirt? Leave it. 

- Layering: Clothes that can be layered are amazing when the weather starts to turn a bit cooler.

- Packer's Remorse? You'll probably go home at least once halfway through the term and if you know you definitely will be, you can go back for that top and swap the clothes you've not worn so far for ones you wished you had packed.

- Coats and the Cooler Weather: One thing you definitely need is a solid winter coat!

- Loungewear and Nightwear: Don't underestimate the importance of loungewear and don't forget to pack nightwear!

- Fancy Dress: Think about the events you may be going to that term. You might want to consider packing some black tie outfits for these! For themed events, local pound shops should have you covered on that front so don't worry too much about packing clothes that fit the 80s theme/toga theme/any other theme.

- Smart Clothes: If you know you'll have placements or days where you'll need to dress smart, pack more than one shirt and more than one pair of trousers/skirts. That way, you won't be stuck with only one outfit.

- Sporting Gear: Definitely bring some of these - university is a brilliant place to pick up a new sport and sports clubs are great for meeting new people.


Depending on the type of accommodation you're moving into, what you need to pack will vary. My own accommodation was self-catered so my bare minimums were:

- Plates, Mugs and Cutlery: These are essentials! Bring two of each item - this will encourage you to wash up and if you break them, they can be replaced pretty cheaply. Also, Freshers' and Careers' fayres are a good place to pick up free glasses and mugs.

- Cooking Essentials: Go cheap. Asda were pretty good for me and also pretty good quality for the price! A saucepan, wooden spoon and a microwavable bowl (such as one of those Pyrex sets) are the bare essentials. Maybe throw in a colander if you are impartial to the odd pasta meal.

- Food: Honestly, buy these when you get there. Ordering online with the use of discount codes (I've seen ones online for Tesco, Sainsbury's, etc) is a good and frugal way to stock up on tinned goods, pasta, etc. from time to time and saves you lugging them back from the supermarket.

- One Pot Cooking: Consider investing in a rice cooker or a slow cooker so that you can cook quick, cheap and easy one pot meals. A lifesaver during exam and busy periods!

- Tupperware: Perfect for freezing portions of food for those days where you don't feel like cooking. Perfect for storing snacks in to ensure they stay fresh. Perfect for packed lunches.

Books and Stationery

- Textbooks: Don't buy these before going to uni! Borrow them from the library and then buy the ones you keep renewing and using. Alternatively, older students occasionally sell their copies at a heavily discounted price and you might find that they've already highlighted or stuck in sticky notes in the most important sections.

- Stationery: Bring what you used in high school. You'll inevitably end up buying new stationery when your loan comes in or when you want to try out a new study technique you've seen online. Freshers' and Careers' fares are also another place where you'll come away with pens, notepads and post-it notes.

- Desk Storage: The plastic drawers you can see above are perfect for your desk. You can get similar ones quite cheaply online and are ideal for storing paperclips and other small bits of stationery. Or make-up!

Bathroom and Laundry

- Sharing a Bathroom? Bring a pair of flip flops for when you get out of the shower. In my first year, I shared a bathroom with five other guys (yes, really) and I think that's when my obsession with cleanliness started. Bring a shower caddy - I used a basin so that I could easily carry shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, a shower pouffe, two towels and everything else on each hygiene trip!

- En-suite? You can forego a pair of flip flops here if you want. However, be prepared to shell out for toilet roll on a regular basis!

- Laundry: Get a laundry basket that is tall rather than wide. This is especially important if you have a smaller-sized room. Also, if you know you'll be using a laundry room that only takes certain coin denominations, start keeping a coin box in your room. Every weekend, empty your purse of these coins and then you'll always have money for laundry.

- Laundry Bags: Perfect for when you launder those more delicate items such as your favourite dress or top that you don't want to get ruined. Make sure you read clothing labels to see what can and can't be machine washed too - this'll save you the disappointment of seeing your favourite jumper shrink to a quarter of its size.


- Wall: Some halls of residences don't allow blu-tac so be really careful what you use to pin up posters/photos. In my first year, there was a pin-board so it wasn't really an issue and I ended up filling my walls with photos and posters. Definitely consider doing this to make your room feel a little bit more homely.

- Desk: Desk estate may be an issue as some halls only give you a small desk! However, I like to keep small trinkets on my desk so that it feels more cosy (as you can see in the photo above).

- Room: Depending on the size of your room, you may forego any other decorations. One potential thing you might want is a doorstop but other than that, there won't be many other essentials in this category. A good way to keep your room smelling nice is to use reed diffusers and they also add an element of decoration too.


- Laptop: Definitely something to consider buying if you have the funds! A desktop computer isn't a necessity as you'll most likely want to take your laptop to the university library from time to time.

- External Hard Drive: I'd almost count this as an essential! Remember to back-up your documents and external hard drives can be bought fairly cheaply now.

- Gaming Devices: Not really necessary - my advice here is to see how much time you spend studying in your first term and if you find yourself sorely missing your Xbox/Playstation/Wii and you have the time to spare, then it might be worth bringing it with you after Christmas break.

- Television: Again, not necessary. The TV licence is a hefty fee for any student and most halls' have a television anyway. Plus, watching TV in the common room with others is another way to be sociable!


- Bedding: Bring two sets! And bring a pillow or two. Cushions and a throw are a nice touch to make your room look and feel more homely. Also, consider bringing a duvet that has an adjustable tog for when the weather turns cold halfway through the term.

- First Aid Kit and Medicines: Fresher's flu and colds are pretty much inevitable! As are study-induced headaches.

- A Torch! Because you never know when that power cut may or may not happen.

- Alarm Clock: Your phone one might be sufficient but never underestimate your ability to sleep through a single alarm!

* * *

If you're really struggling for space, like I was, you can pack up a box of stuff that is heavier/bulkier and not essential for the first few days and send it to your new address by courier so that it arrives after you do. Just bear in mind that most of what you bring with you to uni needs to be moved out at the end of that academic year...

There are probably many more tips out there but these are the ones I can think of that I wish someone had told me before I first went off to university. Any questions? Let me know in the comments - I'll try my best to get back to you or maybe another reader will :)


  1. This is such a helpful post since I'm starting uni next month :) What types of food essentials would you recommend to get? Do you have any recipes/cooking tips that you use cos I'm a bit clueless ><

    1. Hello! A post on this is in the pipeline (not sure when it'll go live due to my hectic schedule at the moment) :) good luck with uni! x

  2. This was such a helpful post Angela. I am starting uni next month and this has given me some useful tips. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Joanny :) Good luck and remember to enjoy every moment :) x

  3. These are great tips! I'm starting my second year of uni next week and the clothes part is always the hardest for me. I love all my clothes and I wish I could bring everything lol

    1. I know that feeling too well! Currently have the perks of living in my parental home so no packing issues at the moment (thank goodness) :) good luck with your second year! x