Packing for university: essentials checklist

Preparing to wave goodbye to your teen and load up the car with everything - including the kitchen sink? First get some top tips from experienced Mumsnetters

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Before you fork out a small fortune on bedroom necessities, make sure you know roughly how much space your teen will have, and if the room has a single or double bed. They'll be spending a lot of time in here, so don't forget to throw in a few home comforts.

Bedding & pillows
Mattress protector
Hot water bottle
Alarm clock
Small bin
Door stop
Washing basket
Washing powder & fabric softener
Fold-up airer
☐ Mini ironing board

"The mattresses at my daughter's uni had a plastic cover on, so a mattress protector was the most essential thing of all, to make it a bit less sweaty and uncomfortable."

"Pack more than one set of sheets or they will never change them."

"One thing I recall from halls is needing a small, fold-away drying rack for clothes. The dryers in the basement were frequently not working and some clothes are best not shoved in a dryer anyway."


Depending on the type of halls your teen has opted for, kitchens are often minimally equipped - think hob, microwave, toaster and kettle - so do bring all the essentials.


Mugs & glasses
Plates & bowls
Set of panswok
Baking tray
Chopping board
Sharp knives
Tin opener
Bottle openercorkscrew
Wooden spoonspatula
Cheese grater
Measuring jug
Mixing bowl
Tea towel
Oven gloves
Kitchen roll
Tin foil, cling film & sandwich bags
Washing up liquid
Sponges / cloths

"I would strongly suggest buying cheap crockery in a bright colour or pattern so they know it's theirs."

"Consider getting pans suitable for induction hobs as some student kitchens have these. They are not necessarily any more expensive and can then be used on any type of hob." 

"Actually teaching them how to make three meals well will stand them in good stead and make them popular."


It's worth knowing in advance if your teen's lucky enough to have an en-suite or will be facing the perils joys of a communal bathroom. Either way, pack wisely - they can restock later.


Towels & bath mat
Loo roll
Toilet brush
☐ Wash bag / shower hanger
Flip flops
☐ Dressing gown 

"Make sure you invest in a lovely dressing gown - lightweight towelling (for ease of washing and drying) and with good, ahem, coverage."

"If it's a shared bathroom, take a non-slip mat to put down in the shower, and flip flops to wear to the bathroom."

All-important gadgets and gizmos

The library can get busy - especially at peak deadline time - so your teen will find it near impossible to study without the help of a trusty computer. Whilst a desktop has the benefit of a bigger memory, a laptop is easy to carry around.

Chargers for all electricals
Multi-socket extension lead
USB memory stick
Printers and ink

"You need something portable for working outside your room - in the library, at home, at friends, whilst travelling. My son wouldn't be without a portable device."

"My son discovered that having his own printer in his room made a huge difference." 

Other handy/miscellaneous items

There are many bits and pieces which it may not occur to you to pack, but which are guaranteed to come in handy at some point - if not for your child, then as someone else's saving grace.

Stationery: pens, files etc
Big bag for taking things to lectures
Passport photos
Board pins
Blu tack
Sewing kit
Safety pins
Cleaning wipes
Playing cards
First aid kit
Spare pay-as-you-go phone
Sleeping bag
Fancy dress gear

"A folding stool with flat top (used as a bedside table, extra chair, stepladder) cost about £10 but is still in use today - seven years on."

Getting stuff from home to halls

So that's it: you've bought everything they need to get through the first few weeks, at least. Now it's time to cram expertly pack everything into the car - just don't forget the tissues for that inevitably tearful farewell.

"The blue Ikea bags are useful for moving in/out - they can be dragged anywhere."   

"I think the general view should be that 'less is more'. If you're struggling to fit everything you're taking into a family car, then you've got too much stuff, because it probably won't fit in the room at the other end, either."

And finally, for a personal touch...

"We made up a silly welcome pack with condoms, energy sweets, an emergency pair of pants saying 'If you need these you need to do your washing', paper plates with 'If you need these you need to wash up' and a framed £20 note with hammer saying 'In case of emergency break glass' for his wall."

Download our checklist of all the stuff you need to pack

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Last updated: 2 months ago