Preparing to go to university is stressful enough without having to deliberate about what to take with you. And with only a limited amount of space, you likely can’t bring everything you own. Besides, half the fun of going to college is getting a fresh start!
That said, there are some essentials that should be on every student’s list. From the lecture theater to your dorm room, the admin office and beyond—as a new student, you’ll need easy access to things like important paperwork, electronics, clothing, kitchen utensils, bedroom items, and study essentials.
Thankfully, help is here. We’ve put together a definitive checklist on what to take to university—the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, and a few must-avoids. Read on, get your bags ready, and start packing.
Student life—an endless compromise between practicality and fun
When trying to pack for the next chapter in your life, the list of potential items may seem overwhelming at first. To simplify things, each section in this “What to take to uni” checklist is divided into the essentials—the “must-haves”—and the non-essentials —“the nice-to-haves”. This way, you’ll know what to put in your suitcase first, and what you can add on top if you still have room to spare.
Paperwork—identification is everything
Paperwork comes in at the top of the list. While you can likely buy many of the everyday items in this guide upon arrival, your local store isn’t going to have an aisle for new passports or lecture timetables. Tip: Keep your bank cards and driver’s license on your person and everything else in a folder out of sight in your room.
Must-haves (8 items):
Driver’s license and/or personal ID card (if you have one)
University correspondence: acceptance letter, prospectus, textbook/reading list, accommodation information, campus map
Correspondence relating to your scholarship, bursary, or grant
Bank account details and any recent correspondence from your bank
Student loan documents
A copy of any medical prescriptions you may have
Work/study visas (if applicable)
Nice-to-haves (4 items):
Student discount cards (travel, sports, shopping)
Additional biometric passport photos
A list of mobile phone numbers in case you lose your phone
Insurance documents (consider taking out insurance before you arrive)
Electronics—keep them byte-size
You might think the one item you need above all is your laptop. However, studies show that taking your laptop or tablet to class can actually prevent you from learning. When taking notes on a laptop, your brain doesn’t have enough time to process the information as you type, and you may end up falling behind. Instead, we recommend taking a good old pen and pad of paper and leaving everything else in your room for after class. Oh, and don’t forget to put your phone on silent!
Must-haves (5 items):
Laptop and charger
Smartphone and charger
Headphones (for quiet, focused study periods)
Extension cable (you won’t know how many plug sockets you’ll have in your room until you get there)
USB stick (in case you can’t access your files in the cloud once you’re on campus)
Nice-to-haves (5 items):
Wireless mouse, screen, and keyboard (they’ll do wonders for your posture)
Power bank for your smartphone while you’re on the go
AAA and AA batteries
Study items—don’t be that person in class asking to borrow a pen
Knowing what to take to uni lectures has two benefits—it leaves you prepared for any in-class eventuality in your first few weeks at college, and means you can focus fully on what your professors are saying. It doesn’t matter whether you’re attending the lecture in person or dialing in online—having what you need to hand can do wonders for your concentration.
Note: These are the basics. If you’re studying mathematics, graphic design, etc., the list of must-haves will be more expansive.
Must-haves (4 items):
Notebooks (A4, A5)
Personal organizer (it’s better not to attempt to keep all deadlines in your head!)
Pens, pencils, and highlighters (different colors are a good idea)
Lever-arch files to store your work and keep it organized
Nice-to-haves (5 items):
Domestic items—bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen
Here, moderation is the key. Sure, it might be nice to have a full set of kitchenware, but don’t forget that this makes you solely responsible for it—and items like saucepans and Tupperware have a habit of going missing at college. A better idea is to share the cost with a few other students once you arrive. This keeps the costs down and means people are more likely to look after things if they’ve paid for them. And if you do want to take all your own kitchen utensils, be sure to mark them so you can prove they belong to you.
Must-haves (14 items):
Bed linen: bedsheets, pillows and cases, a duvet with cover, mattress protector
Backpack, weekend bag
Clothes horse or washing line
Bath towels, dressing gown, and flip flops (if using a communal shower)
Toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel, soap, shampoo
Ear plugs, nail cutters, razors, hairbrush/comb/straighteners
A first-aid kit containing: Bandaids, painkillers, bandages, safety pins, tweezers, alcohol-free cleansing wipes, antiseptic cream, insect bite spray, thermometer, antihistamine cream
Toilet roll (especially if using a communal bathroom)
Medications and personal hygiene products
Contact lenses and solution, make-up remover
Nice-to-haves (14 items)
A plant or two (studies show the magic number for plants is actually 10, but your room may be too small for this)
A small fan for summer
Drawing pins or sticky tack
Cling film/tin foil, Ziploc bags
Knife, fork, and spoon
Clothing—for lectures, nights out, and everything in between
When it comes to clothes, everybody has their own preferences, so this section offers some general recommendations. When thinking about what to take to uni, just be sure to pack for all seasons and to wear what makes you feel comfortable.
Must-haves (7 items):
Underwear and socks
Casual clothing (T-shirts, sweatshirts, jogging pants, jeans, etc.)
Winter coat, gloves, and hats
Smart outfit for formal occasions
Trainers, boots, and shoes
Nice-to-haves (4 items):
Fancy dress items
The must-avoids—what not to take to uni
Every coin has its flip side, and this guide wouldn’t be complete without listing a few must-avoids when deciding on what to take to uni. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, so use your best judgement (who knows—perhaps you do need to lug a microwave all the way to college).
Must-avoids (7 items):
A printer: one of the small mercies of going to university is that there are libraries, computer hubs, and copy shops everywhere, so there’s no need to spend hours trying to sync your printer with your dorm’s wireless network.
Your car: first, you’ll either have to pay for a parking space or find one on the street every time you return from lectures. Second, you’ll have to pay for gas. Third, you’ll be a taxi service to everybody on campus. While at uni, public transport is your friend!
Multiple coats and/or pairs of shoes: coats are bulky and take up a lot of space in your luggage, so think about whether you truly need a different one for every day of the week. The same applies to shoes. That pair of Louboutins or Yeezy 700s that you keep in a box at the back of the cupboard? Leave them behind.
Small appliances: that kettle, toaster, or microwave you’re trying to stuff into a box? Forget it. If you’re in a dorm, these appliances will be available in the kitchen or communal area. Renting a room in a house? It’s highly likely the landlord will provide them.
Old schoolwork: look forward, not back
Books: Go to the library! Plus, there’ll be plenty of book fairs for you to stock up on new ones
Your money at N26
When you bank with N26, one thing you won’t have to bring with you is any banking paperwork. That’s because N26 offers a paperless banking experience that is streamlined, smart, and digital. Take control of your funds with our budgeting feature, receive payment push notifications, split bills hassle-free, and more. We can even help out with insurance for electronics. See what N26 can do for you to make your time at university as rewarding as possible.