dorm room basics: what to pack and what to leave at home

Posted : August 2, 2006
Last Updated : July 18, 2018

dorm room basics: what to pack and what to leave at home

Because space is limited in dorm rooms, knowing what to pack and what to leave at home is crucial. Your teen will probably want to pack most of her belongings, so you may need to coach her on what should be left behind. If you need to purchase items, amazon and have extensive selections of products for the dorm room. Here is a guide to help you and your child pack for dorm room living.

What to Pack

The Big Stuff

Make sure your student gets in contact with his roommate before purchasing any big items for the dorm room. They can divide up what to bring so there will be enough space for everything. These big items may include:

Room Essentials

The dorm room should be your child's home away from home, so don't forget to pack:


If your teen will be able to come home from time to time during the school year, she doesn't need to pack clothes for every season. She should pack for one season and then switch the clothes out the next time she is home. This will leave her with a lot more closet space. Just make sure she packs:

  • Jeans
  • Shorts
  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeved shirts
  • Walking shoes
  • 10-day supply of underwear and socks
  • Two formal outfits
  • Swimsuit
  • Raincoat
  • Pajamas

Laundry Essentials

You won't be there to do laundry for your child, but you can make sure he has the right items to do it himself.


Your child will have to share a bathroom, so be sure to pack a tote so she can carry the following items to and from the restroom:

  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Soap
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Comb/brush
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste/dental floss
  • Lotion
  • Hair dryer
  • Towels/washcloths
  • Robe
  • Shower shoes
  • Makeup/perfume

Miscellaneous Items

These items are often overlooked during the packing process, so be sure to put them on your child's list:

What to Leave at Home

Basic Furniture

The dorm room should already be furnished with the basics, so leave these items at home:

  • Bed
  • Dresser
  • Desk
  • Desk chair

Objectionable Items

Your child's college has a list of items that students CANNOT bring, so be sure to check that list. The most common items on these lists are:

  • Some electric appliances
  • Candles
  • Halogen lamps
  • Gas/charcoal grills
  • Weapons
  • Explosives/fireworks
  • Pets

Items She Just Thinks She Can't Live Without

Because your teen is so used to her bedroom at home, she probably wants to pack as many items from her room as possible to try and recreate it. But make sure she keeps it at a minimum; there will not be room for:

  • Her collection of stuffed animals (she should pick out her favorite one)
  • High school yearbooks
  • A lot of frames with pics of family, friends, pets, etc. (she should toss out the picture frames and make a collage to hang on the wall instead)
  • Knickknacks

For tips on how to make your teen's dorm room a cozy place to live, read Dorm Room Decorating.

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