Packing for College? Ditch the Suitcase and Use These 7 Items Instead

published Jul 10, 2023
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Asian teenage loading stuff and luggage into boot of the car before leaving home going dorms.
Credit: whitebalance.oatt/Getty Images

If you’re packing up for college and feel like you’re bringing a ton of stuff, that’s because you are. 

You need a lot of things as you settle into your new home away from home. (And if you feel like you could be missing something, Her Campus put together the ultimate College Packing List to help you out.) But how the heck are you supposed to get all of it to your final destination? 

Your first instinct might be to roll up to campus with a bunch of rolling suitcases, but keep in mind that, after you’re done traveling, a suitcase can’t do much else for you besides sit in your dorm room all semester, taking up space. Trust me — unless you have some sweet middle-of-the-year travel plans, the suitcase graveyard under your bed will go untouched until it’s time to move out. So, to avoid sad suitcases and unnecessarily cramped living spaces, consider packing some of your stuff into items that can serve another purpose. 

A big part of college is getting creative as you learn how to live on your own. To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite non-suitcase items you can use to pack up your stuff and get it to your new home away from home.

All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

1 / 7

I cannot fathom how I did three college move-ins without this product in my life. These moving bags are seriously a game-changer! They’re designed to fold up for easy storage, but truly, they fit so much when they’re unfolded. The straps make the bags far easier to carry than boxes and suitcases — in fact, they’re so easy to carry that I was able to have one on each shoulder and roll a suitcase at the same time. It was giving the Hulk, minus the green skin and irrational anger.

2 / 7
was $7.48

Bringing a plastic bin along to college is a good idea because you can pack it to the absolute brim for move-in, then use it as under-the-bed storage for the rest of the semester. These bins are a more friendly storage option than suitcases because you can easily see what's inside instead of digging through a suitcase to find what you need. I suggest using these for the items you only use occasionally, like extra linens, laundry supplies, or tools.

3 / 7

Sure, you could collapse your hamper and put it into a suitcase with no problem, but why not take advantage of the extra space a hamper provides? You’re already bringing it, so let it live up to its full potential. Cloth hampers are great for soft, squishable objects like throw blankets and pillows. I’m also a big fan of putting vacuum-sealed bags into hampers for moving because it makes them easy to carry and I find they do better in a hamper than a suitcase because of their awkward shape.

4 / 7

Speaking of compression bags ... space bags of any kind are a must if you want to save some serious room while packing. These particular bags are especially helpful because they don’t require a vacuum to get an airtight fit. Simply roll out the excess air through the bottom of the bag and you're good to go! This is a huge help, as you won't have to worry about having a vacuum handy.

5 / 7
Home Depot

Boxes are a great idea for your more sturdy items that may need to remain upright or on their side. If you want to go the box route, setting aside some dish towels or T-shirts to use as wrapping and box fillers is a big help. The beauty of the boxes is that you can break them down to store easily and use them again later — or just recycle ’em!

6 / 7

Fabric storage cubes are a great option in case your dorm has limited drawer space. While moving, you can use them to store snacks or any other objects you may need to keep handy while traveling and unpacking. Similar to the laundry hamper, this is something you'll probably be bringing to college already, so instead of packing it away, put it to good use.

7 / 7

If you like the idea of an open-top storage cube but want something a little studier, consider these colorful, stackable storage baskets. Once you’re done using them to transport all your miscellaneous items, you can then use them to store all your miscellaneous items, too!

Madison Renee

Fashion Design

Madison Renee, aka Madison Salmonson, is originally from Dallas, Texas, but currently resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she attends The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). She learned how to sew when she was 10 and ever since, sewing machines have been a happy place for her. Madison actually didn't consider pursuing art until high school, where she would have a crisis about the future and then just make a new dress to blow off steam. She finally decided to go for it and is now a senior fashion design major with a minor in fibers. At SCAD, Madison has become a Resident Assistant and designated "micro-influencer" friend.

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SchoolThe Savannah College of Art and Design '24
MajorFashion Design
FavesIced lattes, Wallows, "Friends," the beach
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