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College Move-In Day - 6 simple steps!

It's almost that time. A day you've been planning for, looking forward to and maybe dreading a little bit too. The day you move in to your new college abode. Whether that's a shared dorm-room or individual apartment, there are some things you can do to make the actual move more fun and less stressful!

We also have more tips on WHAT to pack based on suggestions from parents and students around the country on our facebook group "Dorm Ideas, Tips & Solutions". Come join the conversation!

1. Get Rid of Packaging

Before you begin packing, remove everything from its packaging. Throw out wrappers, cardboard and plastic at home so you don't have to work around a big trash heap in a tiny dorm space. You’ll be shocked at how much time this may take! Plus, everything will take up much less space when you pack it.

This step will save you time and also means much less trash and recycling to worry about on move-in day.

The only exception is the mattress topper! Leave that in it's packaging until you arrive at the dorm. They are shrink-wrapped to be portable. Once you open it, it will begin to expand. They expand fully within the first 12 hours but most parents report it's about 90% there within an hour or so and you can go ahead and make the bed etc. If you are worried that your topper may have an odor to air out, simply make scissor slices in the plastic wrap for it to breathe without releasing it's compression. We went with the Lucid 3 inch. It seems to have no odor at all and is currently on sale here.

2. Clothes & Linens

One tip that saves a lot of time with packing & unpacking is to leave clothes on hangers when moving. Simply wrap a garbage bag over the hangar to keep items clean and together. Make moving those clothes even easier by hanging those bags on a pole so you can carry them all in at once.

IKEA Frakta bags are great for travel and even can be checked on airplanes. And you don't have to travel to Ikea to get them anymore. They're readily available in some local stores and on amazon here.

Go ahead and wash all new linens, towels, and especially new school clothes. While they likely aren't new at doing their own laundry, there's no need to toss a new unwashed red school logo sweatshirt into the laundry mix!

If you'll be storing your clothing or linens in storage cubes, drawers from home or plastic bins, go ahead and pack them as they will be used so you don't have to spend time organizing socks or finding pajamas at move in. I suggest mover's wrap (it's like saran wrap) which keeps things contained. That way you just tear the wrap off and put the drawer or cube in it's intended spot in mere seconds. You don't need the thickest or highest quality since you're not shipping furniture, just a thin film to keep everything put while you're carrying or stacking it.

If you are using storage bins with lids, be sure to use packing tape to secure the lids so you don't have any surprises when you open the trunk to unload!

3. Move-In-Bag

Prepare a small bag of necessities that you will need DURING move in that will likely go back home afterwards. These are items you need easy access to, so consider packing them in a zippable tote bag or backpack. Items to consider including :

- small hand broom / dustpan

- 2 garbage bags

- swiffer

- paper towels or large cleaning towel

- spray cleaner

- mallet (for lofting dorm beds)

- zip ties

- painter's tape or masking tape

- scissors

- sharpie markers

- toilet paper

-pool noodle or pipe insulation to cover metal edge if bed fully lofted

- small hammer / screwdriver if your student isn't keeping a tool bag permanently


It's likely summer when you're moving and even with the air conditioner on, a fan is a huge help to keep the grumbles at bay.

We HIGHLY recommend the Woo-Zoo fans which are super quiet and move a lot of air around but really, any fan your child is planning to keep in their new space... plug that baby in first! Woozoo fans are sometimes at Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond and here on Amazon

- snacks & drinks - everyone works better after a snack and you don't want to lose your parking space to run out and try to find lunch with hundreds of other families.

4. Pack Like Things Together

If you are using boxes or plastic storage bins to move, be sure to pack similar things together. Makeup/toiletries/shower caddy in one box, desktop items/school supplies in one box, electronic cords/chargers/converters in one box. This not only helps you find what you're looking for, it also gives you "zones" to work in. If you're alone you can focus on doing your desk or doing your vanity with everything at your fingertips. If you are lucky enough to have help, you can assign each person a task. Little brother can be in charge of setting up your desk without having to question you on where things are. Dad can put together electronics without disturbing mom who is working on your bed etc.

Be sure, no matter how you pack, that you put your name and room number on each item. Some schools have groups to help you carry items.

5. Protective Packing

- Placing a cotton round, cotton ball, or thin layer of foam in make-up palettes will help prevent it from breaking!

- Did you know you can use Press and Seal wrap to keep your necklaces from getting tangled into a knot?

Simply place your necklaces on a piece of cardboard and secure them with the Press and Seal wrap.

- Use a t-shirt to individually wrap photo frames or small glass or breakable items

6. Order In The Car

Most schools give you a set amount of time to unload from your car. You want to have the first items you need readily available to you where the trunk opens. So when you're packing your vehicle, you're going to work backwards and start by loading the last thing's you'll want to unpack and work your way towards the first things you'll want to unpack.

Items to consider packing last and unpacking first :

- Rug (get it down and underfoot before you fill the room with boxes)

- Bedding (go ahead and get that entire bed put together because it gets a lot of bulky pieces out of your way like the mattress topper, comforter and pillows). Toss an extra flat sheet or throw blanket over the made bed so that it won't get dirty as you stack new things on it as a workspace.

- Move In Bag - that backpack we talked about above

6. Wheels

If your move-in is on ground floor or has an elevator, you may want to consider bringing your own wheels. Some schools have moving carts available but they often come with a really long waiting line. If you own/rent/borrow a furniture dolly or travel wagon you'll thank yourself!

From all accounts, your first move in day is exciting, sweaty, emotional and takes longer than you plan. But it's a one-time experience that can be fun. Just be sure to pack your patience! Good luck this year!


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Also check out our full blog post about dorm necessities. It has a great chart about how to layer those hard dorm mattresses and info about the top recommended items for a smooth transition :



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