How to Pack for College When Moving to Another State

Young girl moving to college holding a bin filled with stuff
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Packing your things and moving to college is difficult enough, add in a long distance move, and things get a little more complicated. If you're moving to another state, across the country or to another country, then these tips on how to pack and move are just for you.

Sort Your Stuff and Only Take What You Really Need

If you're moving far away and won't be back home for a while, it's a good idea to sort through your closet and drawers, dividing your things into three piles: 1) keep, 2) giveaway and, 3) throw away. If you're having a hard time deciding what's a "keeper" and what's not, ask yourself when the last time you wore it or used it.

Once you have your keep pile, set it aside and tackle the giveaway and toss piles first. If you know of a friend, sibling, cousin or another worthy person, who might want the things you're giving away, ask if they can use it. Chances are you'll find a good home. If not, maybe check with a neighbor or friend or your parents to see if anyone is planning a summer garage sale or have one your own. Garage sales are a great way to make some extra cash while clearing out the clutter.

The things you can't give away, donate to charity. There are lots of charities around that will take gently-used items. Just make sure that your things aren't ripped or broken or chipped. Stuff that's in poor condition should be added to your "toss" pile.

And remember to not be too hasty in throwing things away. Childhood items you may want to set aside, just in case.

Plan for 3 to 6 Months

Because you're moving far away and might not be back for a while, try to think about what you'll need for the next three to six months. Think seasons. What are the essential clothing pieces you'll need in the fall and what can carry you through to the winter if you plan on staying away from home longer? And think of packing only essential pieces, like a coat, boots, a couple of pairs of shoes, etc. Don't take every jacket or coat you own, rather pair down as much as possible.

If it helps, divide your clothes by season. You'll probably find that your fall clothes can substitute for spring quite easily depending on where you'll be studying and the local climate. And don't take it if you aren't sure you'll wear it that much. Again, think essentials, not "maybes."

Plan on Buying Things There

Don't stock up on school supplies at home only to have to move them with you. Plan to buy some of your essentials at your new location, especially items that are easy to find. In addition to school supplies, rethink whether you want to pack all your toiletries (shampoo, soap, etc.). Toiletries can be heavy and bulky. It might be better to go shopping after you arrive. More fun, too, and a great way to get to know your new city or town.

Textbooks should also be purchased at your new school. Try not to take books with you. You'll have access to libraries, bookstores, and textbook shops where you're going.

Set Aside Stuff to Ship

The stuff that you aren't packing for immediate use set it aside to be shipped later. If you have time, you can even prepare it for shipping. Box it up and leave instructions for your parents or friends to send at a later date. You can also decide how best to ship your things to your new home, so you're not leaving this decision to the last minute.