The Ultimate University Packing Checklist 2022

Ultimate university packing list - everything you need and wont need in one place!
Moving to university is a big deal:
  • Living away from home
  • Experiencing a new city
  • Forging new lifelong friendships
  • New Hobbies, Societies & Clubs
  • Expanding your mind with the power of knowledge 
  • Freedom to discover yourself 
Dog Food Friday GIF by Diamond Pet Foods

It can also be pretty challenging:
  • Saying goodbye to old friends, dropping back to the bottom rung on the social ladder 
  • No more self-refilling fridge
  • No more magically done-for-you laundry
  • No more being woken up in time for class by a parent 
  • Living on a real budget 
  • Hangovers like you have never known before
  • No one to tell you to tidy your room

messy room frantic kid GIF

Needless to say, it’s an experience unlike any other. 

There’s only so much you can prepare before you set off on this life-changing adventure. In some ways, it’s better not to prepare too much. When you arrive, dump your things in your new room, hug your parents and promise to “behave” (yeah right), pop on your best fancy dress (university students love fancy dress), and get yourself down to the Student Union for some Fresher’s Week mingling.

Greeting Walk In GIF by Laff

That being said, there is one thing it’s worth getting right before you go to University: what you pack. Deciding what to pack for university can be pretty daunting, so we’ve done the hard yards for you. 

We’ve prepared the Ultimate University Packing Checklist, based on years of experience (and making every single Uni packing mistake ourselves). We’ve categorised everything you’re going to need into 6 helpful buckets:
  1. Bedroom 🛌
  2. Bathroom 🛁
  3. Kitchen 🍳
  4. Electronic 🔌
  5. Study & Stationery 📚
  6. Admin & Documentation 📄
Not only that, but to make it EVEN more helpful we’ve put each item on the checklist into one of the following categories:

✅ Essential (don’t leave home without these!)
🤷🏻‍♂️ Optional (you’ll survive without) 
⛔️ Just Don’t (please for the love of Jägermeister, don’t pack these)

HEALTH WARNING: This may be the most honest, opinionated, minimalist University Packing Checklist on the internet. We don’t mess around. You’ve been warned.

(oh, and here’s an actual PDF checklist for you to print off and tick things off with)

Packing Checklist 2.0.pdf


✅ Essential 

  • Bed linen: pillows, pillow cases, a mattress protector / “topper”, duvet, duvet cover, and any kind of throws or blankets. Reminder - these don’t wash themselves, and get pretty grubby. Strip and wash your sheets every few weeks!
  • Washing Basket: carrying your dirty laundry to the laundromat in a black bin bag is not a good look (believe us, we did it for months). Collapsible baskets like this are easier for packing and travel and make you look really damn cool.
  • Alarm Clock: “My phone has an alarm!” we hear you cry. We can guarantee that you will fall asleep without remembering to charge it or setting a wake-up time. Often. Also, during the dark winter months, being gently woken up by warm light will give you an extra spring in your step.
  • Drying Rack: Help the environment and your budget by doing less tumble drying, and more “letting it hang”. Also, this saves you putting your underwear on a communal radiator.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Optional 

  • Mirror: there will almost certainly be one in your room, but having a small portable one can be handy (or face-ey?).
  • Photos / Wall Decorations: Your room is going to be your home for the next couple of semesters, so you may as well make it feel homely. Whether it’s photos of your family, a water-colour painting of your fuzzball cat named Boris, or your favourite poster of John Cena… whatever makes your space unique, bring it along. Make sure you don’t damage the walls with greasy blutac though.
  • Coat hangers: there will either be 1,000 of these left in your cupboard… or none. Big gamble. Our advice? Buy some cheap ones at Wilko or similar when you get there.
  • Earplugs: You may not need these, but if your experience is anything like ours, there will be nights when you want to sleep, and everyone else wants to party.

⛔️ Just Don’t 

  • Television: We get it, you enjoy a bit of Great British Bake Off. But you’re not at university to watch a box of coloured pixels. Do yourself, your social life, and your studies a favour, and leave the TV behind.
  • Candles and incense: Have you ever stood outside in your PJ’s, in the rain and freezing cold, in the middle of the night? That’s what happens when you light candles inside a university halls bedroom and trigger the fire alarm. Believe us, this will happen.


✅ Essential 

  • A single roll of toilet paper: We’re not saying you should expect the worst, but if there’s even a small chance that you need toilet paper when you first arrive and there isn’t any… well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
  • A single bar of soap / small shampoo: You’ll want to shower after all the heavy lifting from moving in. You won’t want to carry loads of heavy toiletries though, so just bring enough for the first day or two.
  • Towel  / Towels: Bring a couple of different towels so you’re never caught short. Also, towels have a tendency to smell super bad unless you wash (and dry!) them frequently, so it’s good to have a rota.
  • Toothbrush and (a little bit) of toothpaste: Imagine you’re going on a short weekend trip away. That’s how much oral care stuff to bring. The rest you can pick up later.
  • Nail Grooming Kit: Easy to forget, but an essential part of not turning into a claw-handed gremlin. Please don’t drop nail clippings on the floor though. Gross.
  • Flip-flops: A simple way to ensure you’re always safely an inch away from whatever may be lurking on the bathroom floor.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Optional

  • Contraceptives: Hey, listen, we’re not assuming anything here, but in case you find yourself in a *specific* type of situation, would you rather have these to hand, or not? Safe is better than sorry!
  • Shaving accessories: Each of us is blessed with different body hair-growing abilities, and grooming preferences. Bring what you need to do what you normally do.
  • Hairbrush or Comb: As above.
  • Basic First Aid: A small first aid kit is a good thing to have around, but at the very least, take some ibuprofen, paracetamol, and a few plasters. 
  • Cleaning Products: One bottle of multipurpose antibacterial spray is not a bad shout for giving surfaces a quick clean when you first arrive.

⛔️ Just Don’t 

  • Bulky Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Soap, Shower Gel, Hair Gel. This stuff is all so heavy that you’ll spend more on petrol transporting it than you would just buying what you need when you get there.
  • Toilet Roll: Remember during Covid when everyone ran around carrying enough toilet roll for 14 years’ worth of Number 2’s? Don’t be that person. Buy what you need when you get there.
  • Your favourite artisanal bathroom mat: unless you have an en-suite (in which case, ooo-eee, check YOU out!), this will get ruined instantly.
  • Bath bombs or similar things for sitting in a bath: There’s an 80% chance there will be no bathtub in your uni halls. If there is one, there is a 100% chance it will be minging, and you won’t want to sit in it.
shower GIF


✅ Essential

  • Plates and bowls: Bring a couple of sizes, but you won’t need more than 3 of each. You may think you’ll be throwing large dinner parties for 10 people at a time - but believe us when we tell you that those will probably be few and far between (and no one will care about matching crockery)
  • Mugs, glasses and cups: Like with plates and bowls, don’t overdo it (everyone else does, so you’ll be able to borrow). Bring a handful, not a 24-set.
  • Pans: 1x Frying Pan and 1x Saucepan with a lid are essential. If you’re a bit of a chef, by all means bring more variety.
  • Chopping board: It’s good to have your own. Never trust others’ washing up standards and always be vigilant about salmonella 👀
  • Measuring jug: If you plan on trying any recipes that require you to measure ingredients, then a measuring jug will come in handy. Oddly, it seems to be the item that no one ever brings.
  • Tea towels and oven gloves: Have your own so you never have to use someone else’s soggy, dirty tea towel.
  • Cutlery: Forks, spoons, knives. No more than 3 or 4 of each.
  • Chopping knife: You’re not running a sushi restaurant. Take one or two of these.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Optional

  • Kitchen Utensils: Tongs, whisk, peeler, spatula, masher, ladle, pizza cutter, wooden spoons… in our experience, most people bring these, and kitchens end up having WAY too many of them. Bring what you really want, but otherwise, share with your flatmates. Fun game suggestion… arm yourself with tongs, and try to grab your housemate’s ear lobe while they try to do the same to you. Hours of fun.
  • Can opener: Often overlooked by people living away from home for the first time. There’s a lot that can go wrong if you try to open a can with a knife (we have scar to prove it), so probably best to bring one of these.
  • Bottle opener: Buy a can opener that also has one of these on it. 2 birds, 1 stone.
  • Baking tray: If you like to bake, brilliant, bring a baking tray, you beauty (now say that 5 times really fast).
  • Tupperware: batch cooking is what the cool kids do at university. You’re probably going to have a take-out at some point, so you can use the leftover plastic boxes as tupperware. Take one or two to get you started.
  • Bin bags: There will probably be plenty there, but bring a couple just in case.
  • Tin foil + cling film: We prefer tupperware because it’s more eco-friendly, but if you’re going to need tin foil and cling film, nab some from your parents’ house. We found that this stuff is amongst the most-stolen items in any student home (along with cheddar cheese and beer), so guard it carefully.
  • Weighing Scales: Useful if you’re cooking something precise, or baking.
  • Apron: A word of warning. Someone WILL get drunk and wear this naked. It might be you, or it might be a stranger. We’re not sure which is worse.

⛔️ Just Don’t 

  • Toastie machine: trust us on this one. There will be enough of these lying around to fill a pick-up truck. 
  • Cheese grater: Same as the Toastie machine. Have you ever been in a situation where you thought “I need 14 cheese graters, ASAP!”. Didn’t think so. Don’t bring one.
  • Washing up liquid and sponges: A couple of flash wipes, sure, but otherwise you’ll be able to pick this up when you get there.
  • Any perishable food or drink: Bring a sandwich for the trip, but do your food shopping when you arrive. Nobody wants raw-chicken-juice leaking onto their carefully packed clothes in transit.
Food Cooking GIF by Nickelodeon


✅ Essential 

  • Smartphone and charger: C’mon, as if we need to remind you about this one.
  • Laptop: If you don’t have one, this is probably the one expensive item that we’d recommend investing in. You’re going to be using it a lot. No, not for online poker - for research and essay writing! 
  • Headphones: Important for concentrating, getting around town, going to the gym… we think these are crucial. Noise cancelling, wireless ones are the dream.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Optional

  • Extension leads: realistically, your room is going to be small, and you’re not going to need to plug too many things in. But if you have one lying around, might as well bring it.
  • USB memory stick: Confession - we are in our 30s. Which means that we first went to university… many moons ago. Back then, a USB stick was essential. These days, probably not so much.
  • Ethernet cable: superfast WiFi is pretty standard these days, but you may need to work in locations on campus where the wireless is patchy. An ethernet cable is a good thing to have handy when your upload/download speed drops to a snail’s pace.
  • Hairdryer and straighteners: Arguably essential, depending on what’s on your head.
  • Portable / bluetooth speakers: Great for putting on some ambient sound or chillout music in your room, or kitchen parties. Try not to piss off your neighbours with too much head-banging.

⛔️ Just Don’t 

  • A printer: When you arrive at your halls of residence, you’ll notice a strange phenomenon. Every other person has brought a brand new printer with them. Even though the university library offers printouts for 2p per page. And even though each student prints things about 10 times in an entire year. And even though ink cartridges cost more than solid gold. Do yourself a favour and don’t invest in a printer.
  • Disposable batteries: If you really have to, get some rechargeable ones. Otherwise, c’mon man, think of the environment! 
  • External Hard Drive: If you deal with super large files like Design or Film, you may need one of these. Otherwise, this is a surefire way to safely back up all of your work to a single item that you can (and probably will) lose. Have you heard of the cloud? It’s good, give it a go.
  • Games Console: Don’t do it to yourself. Competitive Call of Duty 4 marathons nearly ruined our degree. True story.
Studying College Life GIF


✅ Essential 

  • A couple of ballpoint pens: For taking notes. Bring a Sharpie too, to draw on your friends after they pass out (this is the fastest way to learn about karma, by the way)
  • Writing pads / notebooks: Bring a couple of A4 / A5 notebooks so you can scribble to your heart’s content
  • Backpack: Do you double strap, or single strap? We can’t advise what’s trendy at university these days, because we’ve been rockin’ the double strap for over a decade now, but a backpack is essential for carrying your stuff around.
  • Reusable water bottle: By switching to a reusable water bottle you stop 150 single-use plastic bottles from ending up in landfill every year. You’ll also be better hydrated, and navigate those hangovers like a pro.

🤷🏻‍♂️ Optional

  • Student Planner: In our opinion, organising your life with one of these isn’t a very effective way of staying organised. You may prefer it, but otherwise, you can use Google Calendar, ClickUp or similar
  • Extra stationery: Multi-coloured pens, pencils, stapler, staples, rulers, rubbers, highlighters, scissors, and anything else you specifically need for your course 
  • Post-it notes: We’re not-so-secret lovers of post-its. Had a thought? Put it on a piece of paper, and stick it somewhere. One problem: a strong gust of wind, or enough time for the glue to wear off, and your carefully organised Post-its will end up in a pile on the floor
  • Calculator: Another thing your phone can do. The problem is all the other things your phone can also do. If you need to run calculations, and need to open your phone every single time, we can guarantee you’ll waste a lot of time on Instagram. Get yourself a cheap standalone one. Even if you’re doing a humanities course, this is useful for personal budgeting

⛔️ Just Don’t 

  • New course textbooks: These are always ludicrously priced. Rather than assume you need to buy them new, think about this: everyone in the year above you has got a copy… and all of them have now moved on to a new syllabus. Check out student forums before you move and secure a good deal on 2nd hand copies of all the textbooks you’re going to need (then at the end of the year, sell them on)
  • Dictionary and thesaurus: Google’s got your back on this one. Just type in a word, and add “definition”, “spelling” or “synonym” 
Read Book Club GIF

6 – ADMIN 📄

✅ Essential 

  • Passport and/or Driver’s Licence: You’ll need at least one of these several times, so bring them along! Admin aside, you never know when a spontaneous trip might crop up (we found ourselves hitch-hiking to Paris on our 3rd week of university)
  • Insurance documents: If you’ve taken out any insurance (like for your phone and laptop for example), hold onto the most documents that have the policy and contact details of the company on them.
  • Bank statement: It’s good to bring ONE recent bank statement with you, as you may need to prove your home address
  • Student finance documents: If you’ve taken out a student loan, you’ve just committed to what will probably the second largest chunk of debt you ever take on in your life (the 1st will be your mortgage). Take it from us, keep student finance organised is worth it. We lost track somewhere around Year 3 and now have no idea if we should still be paying repayments or not.
  • Scholarship or bursaries: If you’ve been granted a scholarship, then it’s good to bring along some kind of proof. You beer money depends on it.
  • Medical Prescriptions: Don’t get caught short without essential medication. Bring your prescription (and sign up to a local GP near university as soon as you arrive!)

🤷🏻‍♂️ Optional

  • Passport photos: You’ll be able to take more of these, but it’s good to have one or two ready to go for new ID or cards that you might need to apply for at university
  • University and Course acceptance letter: You’re very unlikely to get turned away for not having this, but if we remember correctly, there were the occasional bits of bureaucracy where we needed to show this throughout our time at university.
  • NHS medical number: this helps when signing up to a local GP. If you don’t have one, ask them when you sign up.
  • National insurance number: You’ll need this if you want to do any paid work
  • Vaccination history: It’s unlikely that you’re going to end up in a tropical / high Malaria risk zone within a couple of months of going to university, but you never know!  
  • Student discount cards: You’re going to have so many discount cards thrown at you over the first few weeks of university (students get the best freebies). If you’ve already got any that you’re using, bring them along.

⛔️ Just Don’t 

  • Birth certificate: You won’t need it, and you will lose it. Getting another one is a total pain. Leave it at home with your parents.
  • Old bank statements: We’re not sure why exactly, but when we went to university, we took print -outs of 10 years of bank statements. It sat in our room for 4 years, then went straight into recycling

That’s it, you’re all set.

Here’s that one-page checklist again - happy packing!

Packing Checklist 2.0.pdf
Have an absolutely amazing first year at university.


27th Oct 2022