Packing and Moving Tips

Having lived out of a suitcase for pretty much my entire life, packing is pretty much second nature to me. I can pack for a two week vacation in less than 30 minutes and not forget a single thing – its like a superpower (or that’s what I tell myself anyway…)

Packing and moving for college, however, is a whole different animal. I get so daunted by the concept that I am essentially packing up my life for 3/4 of the year, and tend to over-pack on little knick knacks to make myself feel at home. I always regret how much stuff I bring to school, but I can’t seem to stop myself!

Finally after two years of practice, I think I have finally mastered the art of packing for college (ok, maybe not mastered…) These are my best pieces of advice for this intimidating process, along with a few helpful ways to avoid the inevitable overpacking. 

1. Giant ziploc bags. These are the absolute best, especially for packing clothes. They’re huge, have handles, and hardly take up any space. Enough said.

2. Pick out everything you think you want – then remove two items from each category. For example, remove two sweatshirts from your sweatshirt pile, two shorts from your short pile, and so on. I’ve learned that this is the magic number for overpacking. Deep breaths – you really will be okay without nine different options of sweatshirts, I promise! (The only time this rule may not apply is with jeans, but you still really only need 1-2 of each type of jean).

3. These thin fabric hangers are my absolute favorites for school – they take up no space, and clothes don’t slide off of them. Take all of your hanging clothes and just put them into a garbage bag (or giant ziploc!), still on the hangers. This will cut your unpacking time in half, and help avoid wrinkles to your nicer items. You can get them anywhere and they are pretty cheap, Target or Costco should have them.

4. Put all your essentials in one place. Last year it took me a couple weeks to unpack, and I couldn’t find my umbrella that entire time, so naturally it rained constantly. Put everything you need daily – medicines/toiletries/shower stuff/umbrella/etc – in one bin and label it so its all in one place. That way, if you procrastinate for days can’t get to all of your boxes right away, at least you will have the essentials in one spot.

5. Miami doesn’t have elevators, because no buildings in Oxford are allowed to be more than 3 stories high. If you’re unlucky like me (third floor), take turns unloading the car. While one person goes to get another load, have one person stay in the room and start opening and unpacking. It will give you a quick rest, and you’ll be able to take empty bins on your way down, saving yourself a couple extra trips at the end.

6. You’ll save yourself unpacking time if you pack your bins by category, or however you’re planning on organizing them once you reach your destination. I keep storage drawers under my bed, so I just pack them the way I’m going to want them at school – first aid stuff in one, exercise clothes in another, and so on. That way all I have to do is move it from the car to under the bed and I’m done!

7. LABEL. Label, Label, Label. (Wow that stops sounding like a real word after a few tries…) Seriously cannot stress this one enough though. You will save yourself a million headaches if things are labeled very clearly – especially if you are going to have people helping you move in! Even if you know whats in a box, or that something should be handled with care, the people helping you may not. I probably could have saved myself a few precious breakables freshmen year if I had been more diligent about my labeling…

(My closet at home right before I left for school last week…Thank god for those thin hangers! Hope my school closet is ready for all of this…)

My favorite piece of advice for a big move – Treat yourself to a bottle glass of wine when you’re done – you’ve earned it!

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  • Reply
    August 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I'm so jealous of your closet! I wish I had that much space for all of my stuff! Totally agree with your advice to label things, it helps everything move a little bit smoother!

  • Reply
    J. Parker
    August 20, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    Those are my favorite hangers in the whole wide world! Haha I thought I might have been the only one who was super OCD about my closet and hangers (oh hello, type-A personality!) but apparently not – thank goodness! 🙂

    Also, I did not know that about Oxford, how cool! Hah we're kind of like that in DC since nothing can be taller than the Washington Monument so there aren't any skyscrapers but we still have elevators at least.

    j. parker

    • Reply
      Olivia Tennant
      August 21, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      Oh I'm beyond OCD about my closet…its all organized by type of shirt and then by color. Yep, I'm a psycho. It actually is one of the things I think makes Oxford so beautiful!

  • Reply
    Thelma Bowman
    June 19, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    This is really helpful! Moving from one place to another is really exciting. But it can be stressful as well, especially the packing part. You have to categorize each item, separate what is important or not, and so on. You also have to be careful with your fragile stuff to keep them from breaking. Anyway, I hope you didn't encounter any of that. Cheers!

    Thelma Bowman @ Quality Strapping Inc.

  • Reply
    clarissa oleynik
    May 1, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Sometimes packing our things is really frustrating especially in our college years. The only problem is that we girls love to bring a lot of stuff usually dresses, shirts, pants, make ups, and other things that we use in our daily life rather than boys, we can’t do anything about it cause girls will be girls and boys will be boys!

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