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22 Sep 2019

What to pack for university

Get your child ready for The Big Move with our student essentials checklist.
What to pack for university

Every parent wants their child to have the best possible start at university - and part of that is making sure they've packed everything they'll need to settle in smoothly.

No student wants to spend freshers week running around the shops, when they could be making friends and discovering what their new city has to offer.

So whether your son or daughter is departing imminently, or you want to keep your eyes peeled for bargains ahead of them going next year, we've pulled together a quick checklist of what they'll need. While by no means comprehensive, it should cover the key items.

Plus, we've included some tips on what they don't need to bother with or can pick up later.

University checklist: what to pack


Kitchenware | what to pack for university

Chances are your son or daughter isn't a culinary protege along the lines of a Ramsay, Blumenthal or Berry. So there's no need to arm them with every nifty kitchen gadget - will they really use that sleek blender or smoothie maker enough to warrant the price?

If in doubt, stick to good ol' cutlery, plates, pots and pans.

This is a great opportunity to teach your child a few basic recipes before they leave home; this way they'll only take the utensils they'll use (and give you some peace of mind that they won't starve or rely on takeaways every night).

Check with their housing office what exactly is provided with their accommodation. If they can get in touch with their future housemates, they can coordinate on what each person brings, too.


Bedding | what to pack for university

Your child's halls might already have this covered, but take your own if they don't - particularly if they're fussy about thread counts or the fluffiness of their pillow. After all, sleep is important - especially in new surroundings.

The housing office may have bundle packs for sale when you move in, to save you rushing off to the nearest shopping centre (although we can't say for sure that these will be the cheapest option).


Towels | what to pack for university

Your child will already have to contend with the dreaded 'freshers flu'; so if they can avoid drip-drying next to the heater after showering because they've not packed a towel, they'll be more likely to come out of freshers' week with a clean bill of health.

Make sure they have more than one, too. Student housing isn't always the warmest; so they may find themselves without it for a day or two if it's hanging to dry - especially during the colder winter months.

Also, remember other showering essentials, such as flannels or shower puffs.

Basic toiletries

Basic toiletries | What to pack for university

Stock up on their favourite brand of toiletries, so they don't have to worry about this for a few weeks.

In fact, nice-smelling fancy toiletries can be an underrated moving gift - one your child may only come to appreciate after living on the basics for a term.

After a long day of moving and unpacking, they'll be ready for their first night out (or a hot shower and film night with new pals).

Laptop and other tech

Laptop | What to pack for university

Your child will need a laptop for assignments and ongoing work, but it'll also come in handy for streaming films and Skyping home.

If they don't already own a laptop - or they need a new one - take a look at the best laptops for students. Our guide explores different laptops and budgets for different courses (eg if they're a computer science or multimedia student), as well as student discounts to look out for both on laptops and specialist software.

Other student tech buys might include a nice set of headphones to block out noisy housemates while studying, and a printer if they don't want to rely on campus library facilities.

Health and medical supplies

Medicine | What to pack for university

If your child manages a medical condition through medication (eg asthma, diabetes or epilepsy), make sure they have enough supplies to tide them over until they register at a local GP at university, or come home to visit.

This might also include items that aren't as high priority - think daily contact lenses or anything they depend on for a good night's sleep.

In fact, it's worth getting those doctor/optician/dentist appointments in before they head to uni, particularly if they have a condition they're sensitive about or one they haven't managed on their own away from home.

Enough clothes (and the right ones)

Clothing | What to pack for university

For their first term at uni, your son or daughter probably won't need their summer wardrobe. So make sure they have enough clothes to see them through until the Christmas break (or until they plan to visit home) - they're less likely to splash out on new clothes this way.

While you can never predict the weather 100%, it's safe to expect cold days and nights from October onward; so even if it's still sunny when they move, it's a good idea to take a few jumpers, other knitwear, some jeans/trousers, a (winter) coat etc.

If they're living in a private rental, they'll be responsible for energy bills (unless this is included in their rent - check this!). Throwing on a jumper rather than turning up the thermometer will keep their bills down.

Southerners, keep in mind that it often gets colder the further north you go, while it can get chilly if your child is studying by the coast.

Books and (minimal) stationery

Stationery | What to pack for university

Yes, your child will want to hit the ground running on their course; but resist the temptation to go mad with colour-coded folders and highlighters, or order every book on their reading list for their first year.

A few pens and a notepad will likely be enough, though this will depend on their course - for instance, art students will probably need special equipment and materials.

Otherwise, lecture notes can be made on a laptop or tablet - making it easier to share them with others, keep organised and access them on the go.

Unless your child has a long reading list to get cracking on before their first week of lectures, books can be bought later. Pick them up cheaper online or through older students who are selling on theirs.

Plus, a lot of journals and reading materials might be available online or via the campus library.

Halls decor

Halls decor | What to take to university

Your son or daughter's room may feel a little plain when they move in, but that's nothing that a few home comforts can't solve eg fairy lights and pictures.

But don't just transport their entire bedroom from your home to uni. They can always print photos once they arrive and pick up posters from campus fairs during freshers' week.