College packing lists are everywhere at this time of year, and they can get pretty out of control. For one thing, not all college-bound students have the means to stock up on everything that Bed Bath and Beyond is trying to sell. Tuition payments are overwhelming enough, not to mention the task of packing up and leaving home. On top of that, do you really need all that extra stuff?
For good deals on the stuff you do want, many schools will have an internal version of Craigslist where you can buy gently used dorm gear. You can also try local secondhand shops (while exploring your new neighborhood). But the truth is, you shouldn’t feel like you have to buy a ton of gear to have a perfectly comfortable dorm room and a great start to college life. Here are some of our favorite items not to pack:
1. Kitchen appliances. Most dorms will have a common room with a refrigerator and a microwave to share. Things like a blender or a toaster might sound appealing, but unless you’ll be doing your own cooking, there’s no reason to stock your dorm room like a kitchen. Save your money for snacks and leave the heavy stuff at home. (Note: One small appliance that many college students do find useful is the mini-fridge. Some dorm rooms come with them, but if yours doesn’t, check in with your roommate first—you definitely don’t need to double up.)
2. A printer. The computer lab will have one when you need it, and many professors will accept digital submissions anyway.
3. A vacuum cleaner. How much cleaning are you planning to do? (Sorry, parents. It’s true, though.)
4. Furniture. Your dorm will provide the basics, and they likely won’t let you swap anything out—so there’s no need to bring extra shelves or a dresser or desk chair.
5. Extra-long twin sheets. This one might be a little controversial, but consider this: For the rest of your life, you will never sleep in another “extra-long twin bed.” Queen-size sheets from home will work just as well if you tuck them in tightly, and they’ll be useful in your first apartment after college, too.
6. Bed risers. These are popular for creating extra storage space under the bed, but many dorms now ban them.
7. Curtains, twinkly lights, and candles. These often appear in stock photos of dorm rooms, and they might seem nice for creating a cozy vibe, but they’re fire hazards and are usually not allowed.
8. Clothes for all seasons. What you need depends on the climate, of course, but it’s a good idea to start with what you’ll use in the first few months. You can always grab more sweaters or a warm coat when you’re home for winter break.
9. A shower pouf. You know those scrubby things that somehow appear on every must-have list for dorm life? Skip it. Bring a set of towels from home, including a few face cloths you can rotate through when you’re delaying your laundry run. (But really, don’t delay too long.)
10. Pets. Everyone will be happier if the puppy (cat, guinea pig, bunny) stays home.
But do bring… something to remind you of home. This is the thing that isn’t on any packing list except yours. Maybe it’s a favorite book, your childhood stuffed animal, a family recipe, a framed photo, or something else entirely. Whatever it is, bring something you can turn to in a moment of homesickness. (Just in case.)