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What to take to university (and what to leave behind)

When it comes to packing for university, there are two killer tactics: don’t spend more than you have to, and travel as light as you can!

Before you start

Check what’s included with the rent, the room or the house. Not only will this stop you buying unnecessary items, it avoids moving-day dramas (like when you realise you’ve packed single bedsheets for a double bed).

If you’re heading to a flat share, try to coordinate who brings what. That way you won’t end up with more kettles than plug sockets, plus you may be able to share costs for communal gear and gadgets.

How many pants or pans you need is different for everyone – this packing checklist will help you whittle it down!

Uni essentials

  • Paperwork is the top priority – you’ll need ID and other documents to move in, start your course, open a bank account, or get Student Finance.
  • Bed sheets and pillow case – If you can stretch to it, a mattress topper can zing-up even the saggiest of mattresses.
  • A clothes airer – can dry sheets and socks for free and, unlike outdoor washing lines, is good in any kind of weather. 
  • Slippers – though flip flops will get you further (communal showers, putting the bins out, etc.)
  • Dressing gown or bath robe – Get a cosy one and you can slip it on as an extra layer (or blanket) during cold spells.
  • Plastic crates with lids – brilliant for packing and storage. Turn upside down and cover with a cloth for an instant table or stool.
  • Tupperware – for locking down fridge goodies, storing leftovers and (for bonus money saving) carrying packed lunches and snacks.
  • Any adapters or chargers you need – You need to be organised about using rechargeable batteries, but they can save cash in the long term.
  • Ethernet cable – faster speeds than wifi (assuming you’ve access to a wired connection point).
  • Extension leads – ideally with individual switches for each socket.
  • Ear plugs or headphones – Whether you’re sleeping or studying, sometimes you just need some shhh.
  • Drawing pins or white tack – but check the rules about whether / how you can fix posters, notes or reminders to the walls. A cork board or easy-peel stickies are best for minimising damage.
  • Fancy dress outfit (for Freshers’ or Halloween parties) – Packing something you already own is a money saver, but face paints or your old school tie can get you through in a pinch!
  • Doorstop – It’s easier to meet people when your door’s open (just check for any regulations about propping open fire doors first).
  • Ice breakers – You don’t need to spend a lot to be popular: a pack of cards, portable speakers, or ideas for drinking games are all good to have.

Think twice about packing these

  • Everything on your reading list – There’s more chance of finding cheap editions in local charity shops, second-hand stores, or from other other students. Waiting also gives you time to size up which books you’ll really use.
  • Basic stationery – Load up on pens, USB sticks for free during freshers’ week instead, along with condoms (you can get free contraceptives at any time from your GP or health centre).
  • Things you can buy locally for the same price – such as painkillers or shampoo. Bulk-buy savings are worth the effort – but get them after you’ve arrived (order online with delivery if you need to).
  • Gadgets you already have on your phone – i.e., torch or alarm clock.
  • A printer – Printing at uni means less hassle and expense in the long run as you won’t need to cough up for ink, paper … or the printer.
  • You’ll never struggle to buy cheap posters on campus – Pack special photos or mementos instead, and hit pound shops for knick-knacks.
  • Most of us never use an iron – so forget about buying one for your room…unless you plan on using it as a doorstop.
  • If you’re packing a computer, tablet or smartphone, you won’t need a TV or games console (and less chance of distraction, too).

Remember that packing for uni isn’t a one-way trip! You can stock up locally or online if you need to, or pick up what you need when you next head home. If you’re really not sure what you need, there’s no shortage of people who can help: start with the Uni or SU welfare team and go from there.

This is a guest blog from Save The Student.

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