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College Packing Tips & Moving Hacks For The Out-of-State Student

If you are an incoming freshman that is nervous about starting this new chapter in your life, you have come to the right place. If you are anything like me you started thinking about packing weeks (if not months) ago, but you still don’t feel prepared. Take a second to look over my packing list to help save you some time and energy before moving on to these college packing tips. Actually packing for college is even more stressful than deciding what to take.

I have moved 3 times in the last 2 years. Two of those trips were cross-country moves. Needless to say, I have become a packing and moving pro. Today I am going to share a few tips and tricks that I have picked up along the way to make moving for college as painless as possible. These college packing tips are ideal for the college student that is moving long distance, but they will help everyone!

Check out these college packing tips and moving hacks for out of state college students who are moving long distance.

College Packing Tips

Packing for college is not an easy feat. In fact, I was sooo stressed and packed and repacked multiple times. On top of that, I overpacked and didn’t even wear half of what I brought. Hopefully these college packing tips save you from having an experience like I did.

Make A List

This might seem obvious, but making a list is a great place to start. Lucky for you, I’ve done the hard work for you. Head over to my college packing list and get the printable version to reference. Once you know exactly what you need to get and what you already have, the process will be a lot easier! I also found it easier to make a list of specific clothing I was going to take to avoid overpacking (tbh I still overpacked so learn from my mistakes).

Pack In Duffle Bags & Suitcases

I guess this one really depends on how far out-of-state you are going. I moved from California to Tennessee. Since this is about a 2,000 mile trip, we flew. Packing in duffle bags is a great choice because they condense way easier and take up much less space. However, you can pack more in suitcases and not have to worry about how heavy the bags get. It’s totally a personal preference what route you decide to go. Even if you aren’t flying to school, I recommend you pack in at least one duffle bag or suitcase so you have it for any trips you take during the school year (going home or spring break).

Organize Your Bags/Boxes By Category

Try to keep your bags as organized as possible. This will help you on Move-In Day when you start unpacking. Start by laying everything out in your room. Make piles of clothes, bedding, decor, ect. Once you have your piles sorted you can start fitting everything into your bags or boxes. In all honesty, this will be the most difficult task. You will likely have WAYYYY more clothes than bedding or decor. A tip is to fit your clothes around the other things you have packed. If you are taking picture frames, wrap a sweatshirt around it to keep it from breaking (do this with anything breakable).

Something I wish I would have done is write a list of everything that was in each bag and slide it on top once it was completely packed. Since I packed and repacked multiple times to get everything to fit, I lost track of what bag contained what, which made unpacking a MAJOR headache.

Use Vacuum Sealed Bags

YALL!!!! This was a life saver for me. Since I was moving so far, I knew I wouldn’t be going home in time for the weather changes. I had to bring my Summer/Fall clothes as well as some Winter clothes. Since jackets and sweaters take up a lot of space, get some of these ziplock vacuum bags to pack at the bottom of your suitcases. I also used these for pillows that I was taking with me.

If You Don’t Use It, Don’t Take It

Sometimes we get these ideas in our head that we are going to reinvent ourselves in college. It is a new chapter of our lives after all right? Well let me tell ya, old habits die hard. If you wear lounge clothes majority of the time, you probably still will. You might dress nice for the first few weeks of classes but that will end quickly and you will resort back to your old ways. We all do 🙂 Try to limit yourself on the items you “might” use when you get to college.

College Moving Hacks

Once you have finished packing, you are ready to make the move. The move has probably been planned for a while at this point and odds are you have everything set in stone.

If You Are Flying

I highly recommend flying with Southwest Airlines. This isn’t sponsored by them I just genuinely believe they are the best airline out there and provide some of the best service. Southwest allows each person to check in TWO bags for FREE! They are also always having sales to major cities as well.

Buy Things Online

This is the best of my college packing tips and a moving hack. Ordering all of the bigger items you need for school is great for many reasons. First of all, it saves you from having to pack them. You never realize how much space your bedding takes up until you are down an entire suitcase. It also saves you A BUNCH of time! After having traveled to school and dealing with the madness that is move in day, you’re not going to want to roam around busy stores looking through picked over products. If you order all of the things you need you can easily run to the store and pick them up. It’s guaranteed to be there! PLUS Target is taking 15% off all orders for college goods that are made for pick up in your college town! You could even take it a step further and contact your school’s mail room and see if you can have things delivered there. This is ideal for much smaller schools, but it’s worth a try! I did this with ALL of my bedding and some extra stuff and it was there waiting for me on move in day which made moving SOOOOO much easier!

Things to buy online: bedding, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, ect.), trash cans, full body mirror, school supplies, and any other large scale items.

Take An Overnight Bag

After a long day of moving the last thing you will want to do is search the mess for the necessities. If you are flying, this can be your carry-on. Take a backpack with one or two outfits, pjs, shower shoes, any medication you take, and anything else you would take on an overnight trip. If you are staying at a hotel the day before you could keep the travel toiletries just in case you need them 😉


I would love to hear some of your best college packing tips and moving hacks! If you are an out of state student, what saved your life? If you moved a shorter distance, what did you do differently? Let me know in the comments below!

College Packing List: Everything You Actually Need 


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