11 Dorm Room Essentials I Forgot to Pack for College, But You Shouldn't

Packing is tricky. For starters, anyone who tells you they "pack light" is usually a liar. On the other extreme, you have over-packers, like me. I can never seem to figure out how to fold my clothes in the perfect way to maximize the size of my suitcase, nor am I usually willing to leave anything at home.

And yet, when it came time to prepare for college (which I think we can all agree is way worse than packing for vacation), I found that for all my efforts to bring with me the comforts of home, there were a few key essentials that got overlooked in the chaos of packing, daydreaming about parties, and promising myself that this was the year I’d be organized.

But don't worry, student! I'm ready to pass my wisdom on to you. In the mad rush to get ready for college, here are 11 items you might not think to pack, but will most certainly be happy you did once college move-in day rolls around.


Scissors sound like a no-brainer, but somehow I always forget to pack them. They are particularly useful on move-in day when you are opening boxes and unwrapping goods.

Scissors (3-pack), $11, Amazon

Trash Can

Again, a no-brainer, and a particularly useful item to have with you on move-in day. This particular trash can is among the cutest I’ve seen (yes, trash cans can be cute).

Bin with Lid, $25, Ikea

Air Mattress

An air mattress is great for accommodating all of those unexpected (but welcomed) guests and new friends you’ll be making in school.

Air Mattress, $30-39, Amazon

Extra Set of Sheets

Yes, you will need another set of sheets in college. Get them now.

Twin XL sheets, $20, Amazon

Your Old T-shirts

Bring your old T-shirts! There are plenty of costume parties in college, and you’ll be wishing you had some scrap fabric hanging around. Or, you can buy an old T-shirt like this one online.

T-shirt, $17, Etsy

USB Drive

If you are like me, you probably haven’t given much thought to things like backing up your computer or how you plan on bringing your PowerPoint project with you to class. Keep a USB drive nearby. It will come in handy more than you think.

USB Drive 32GB, $12, Amazon


Bring lots of toothbrushes! What happens on that fateful day when you drop yours on the floor of the shared bathroom? You’ll be wishing you had a new one nearby.

Toothbrushes, $5, Amazon

Power strip

My dorm room only had one set of outlets, which was particularly annoying when it came time to charge my phone, computer, and keep the lamp on. This power strip is a must.

Power Strip, $10, Amazon


You probably don’t need any reminding that umbrellas are useful, but you might need some reminding to pack one. They are easy to forget.

Umbrella, $24, Amazon

Laundry Hamper

For reasons unknown, a laundry hamper completely slipped my mind when I was preparing to come to school. Don’t let it happen to you!

Laundry Hamper, $8, Amazon

Minimergency kit

I don’t think this adorable pouch existed when I was moving into my dorm, but if it did, I wish I had owned one. Inside one of those lifesavers is pretty much everything you never realized you needed: a safety pin, nail polish remover, clear nail polish, earring backs, and more.

Pinch Provisions Minimergency Kit, $18, Nordstrom