The ultimate uni checklist: what to pack

Student deciding what to take to uni
Make sure you are fresher-ready and read our complete university packing list.

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Clothes to take Bedroom essentials Kitchen essentials in catered halls Self-catered kitchen essentials Bathroom essentials Toiletries to take Study essentials Documents to take What not to take What to buy on arrival

As your departure date for uni looms closer, you’re probably getting increasingly excited – picturing yourself settled into your room that you’ve decorated with posters and photos, strutting to lectures with an arm full of textbooks and hosting pre-drinks in your fully equipped kitchen.

This is probably exactly what will happen… but it’s worth remembering that the decorated bedroom, arm full of textbooks and fully stocked kitchen don’t just happen. You need to pack.

Read our ultimate uni checklist to find out exactly what to take to uni.

List of clothes to take to uni

A top tip for university is not to do a big shop for new clothes beforehand; most people’s styles change a lot at uni and you end up disliking a lot of things you had from before!

  • Pyjamas: bring ones that you don’t mind strangers seeing you in – 3.00 am fire alarms do happen.
  • Dressing gown: for the same reason.
  • Slippers/flipflops: student floors are rarely clean enough to walk on in bare feet.
  • Everyday clothes: this is up to you depending on the climate of where you’re going.
  • Formal clothes: some halls have regular ‘formals’ where you must follow a specific dress code so try to find out if yours does. It is worth noting however, that halls often give black tie as a dress code but nobody actually wears a dinner jacket – a smart outfit is usually fine.
  • Smart clothes: if you think you’ll go to careers events or interviews, bring any appropriate clothes that you already own, but don’t shop for anything new just yet.
  • Sports clothes: you never know what you might find at the fresher’s fair – even if you don’t think you’ll join a sports team, it’s worth having something just in case.
  • Fancy dress: themes nearly always include back to school, the forces, emergency services (police, fire fighters etc), toga and lifeguards. You can buy outfits there but you may as well save money if you have anything already.
  • Think about what else you might be doing at uni: will you go on the ski trip? Bring your ski gear. Will you join the sailing club? Bring your buoyancy aid. Swim club? Swimsuit.
  • A big bag: if you’re living on campus you might find you get away without a big bag in first year. If you’re off campus, however, you’ll need a bag that can handle your laptop, a few books and lunch.

Uni bedroom essentials

Bedding – uni packing list

Check what is provided by your halls as this does vary but you may well need the following.

  • Mattress protector/base sheet
  • 2x sheets, 2x duvet covers, 2x pillow cases (you should be able to find out what size bed your accommodation has)
  • Duvet
  • Pillows

Non-essential:

  • Mattress topper: expensive but do be wary that student mattresses are not known for comfort.
  • Blanket: comes in more useful than you might think but make sure it’s washable – don’t bring your parents’ finest cashmere blanket.
  • Cushions

Electrical items – uni packing list

  • Ethernet cable: you never know how your accommodation building’s wifi will be.
  • Extension leads
  • Laptop/phone/tablet
  • Chargers: maybe put your initials on these to avoid friendly theft.
  • Hair dryer/straighteners etc

Non-essential:

  • Printer: although you’ll get loads of printing credit for the uni printers, having one in your room is useful for last minute panic prints. Just don’t let anyone else know you have one or people will be calling on you for favours for the rest of the year. (And don’t forget paper for it.)
  • Speakers: if you want to host pre-drinks, you’ll need these.
  • Fairy lights: halls usually request that you bring battery-run ones.
  • Headphones: noise cancelling headphones might be a good idea for studying when your neighbour is partying… or for lending to your neighbour when you’re partying!
  • Games console: use it sociably and you could be very popular.

Miscellaneous items – uni packing list

  • Wash bag/basket
  • Coat hangers: some might be provided but it’s always useful to have more.
  • Door stop: over the first few days it’s best to have your door open to welcome people in.
  • Clothes horse: most halls will have a dryer but a clothes horse might be a cheaper long-term option.
  • Ear plugs
  • Sewing kit
  • Pack of cards
  • Blue tac/drawing pins: just be aware that you might lose some of your deposit if you leave marks on the walls.
  • Decorations for your room
  • Extra storage: storage boxes might be useful and can double up as a bedside table.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes: they’re just good to have on hand.
  • Keyring: bring a unique one that will be easy to identify as yours.

Kitchen: what to pack for catered university halls

Check what your halls provides; many will have a kitchen area with a kettle, microwave and toaster and you will often have a mini fridge in your room. Also, check what you’re not allowed to bring – they can be funny about rice cookers and sandwich toasters.

  • 2x mugs: be prepared for them to get broken so don’t bring your favourites.
  • A set of cutlery: you never know when you might end up missing a meal time and have to get a takeaway or a ready meal.
  • A bowl and a plate: same reason.
  • Glasses: buy cheap (maybe even plastic) ones as you will inevitably lose them around other people’s flats during pre-drinks.
  • A sharp knife
  • A bottle opener/corkscrew
  • Tea towel

Kitchen: what to pack for self-catered university halls or student house shares

You should check what is supplied in your accommodation; electrical appliances are usually included and perhaps some kitchen basics. However, in general, you will need everything needed in catered halls (above) and:

  • 1x saucepan
  • 1x frying pan
  • Baking trays: including a flat one for pizza
  • 1x sieve/colander
  • A few sharp knives
  • Chopping board
  • Tupperware
  • Wooden spoon
  • Grater
  • Peeler
  • Tin opener
  • Oven gloves
  • Cloth/sponge/scouring pad
  • Surface cleaner

Non-essential:

  • Herbs and spices
  • Measuring jug
  • Egg cups
  • Whisk
  • Ladle
  • A wok: stir fries are an easy way to have a healthy dinner.
  • Ice cube tray
  • Garlic press
  • Cafetiere or moka pot
  • Smoothie maker: essentially a blender – you can make smoothies, hummus, soup, cocktails and iced coffee in these.
  • Student cook book – if you think you’ll actually use it.

Uni bathroom essentials

Bathroom situations vary greatly; you might share with five people, one person or have your very own. If you’re sharing with many it might be worth liaising with others on some items so you don’t end up with six of them.

  • Bathroom mat
  • Hand soap
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Air freshener – especially if you’re sharing

Toiletries to take to uni

  • 2x flannels
  • 2x towels
  • Toothbrush
  • Pain killers and cold medicine: freshers’ flu is an unavoidable truth.
  • Nail clippers
  • Products: shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, tooth paste, moisturiser, make up remover, deodorant (plus personal essentials such as medication or contact lense solution)
  • Razor
  • Sanitary items
  • Contraception

Study items you need at uni

Your accommodation will usually supply a desk lamp (and indeed a desk) but do check this. A lot of these items depend on how you study and whether you take notes on your laptop or on paper.

  • Folders: you probably can’t know yet whether you’ll need one per module or one big one per year but it’s good to start with one or two.
  • Plastic wallets
  • Lined paper and/or a notebook
  • Academic diary/planner
  • Black/blue pens
  • Highlighters
  • Page tabs
  • Coloured pens
  • Textbooks: check your reading list and buy any books you think are essential. If you’re unsure about any, wait to ask your lecturer or see if your library has them. Top tip: be sure to get the exact version given on the reading list. An old edition or a different preface can be a real pain.
  • Essentials for your course: calculator/drawing board/white board/dictionary
  • Scissors
  • Some form of backup system for your work: maybe a USB stick, external hard drive, Dropbox etc

Documents to bring to uni

  • Passport/ID
  • Passport photos
  • Insurance documents: it is recommended to get student-specific contents insurance.
  • Bank details: bring a bank statement with you – you never know when you might need it to prove your home address.
  • Student finance documents
  • Uni acceptance letter
  • Accommodation documents
  • NHS medical number
  • National insurance number

What not to bring

  • Candles: fire hazard
  • Incense: many student residences ban this because wardens assume it’s covering up other prohibited activity…
  • Plug-in fairy lights

What to buy when you arrive at university

Items that might not be worth pre-packing but that you will need to buy fairly soon after arriving:

  • Foil/cling film
  • Loo roll
  • Cleaning products: check whether your accommodation includes a cleaning service first.
  • Bin bags
  • Washing powder
  • Washing up liquid
  • Multivitamins: a top tip is to use dissolvable vitamin C tablets as an alcohol mixer to avoid a hangover the next day!

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