How to pack your life into two suitcases

20 Aug 2020
By Sharna Y, Student at De Montfort University

One of the biggest nightmares of moving to university is packing. Did you pack too much? Did you pack too little? Have you lost anything?

It’s a tricky issue to navigate, but it’s a good idea to travel light. Not only will this save you a lot of hassle before you leave, but also when you check in. This is because if you’re moving in with Unite Students, teams won’t be able to help you with your things this year and you may have to queue up to re-enter your building due to social distancing measures.

So, to keep it simple and help the packing process go smoother, here are my top tips for packing your life into two suitcases. 

Narrow down your packing list

It’s understandable to want to pack everything you own, either because it’s sentimental to you or for ‘just in case’ you need something. However, you don’t want to take up space in your suitcase for things you won’t need once you move in. 

Before you start packing, write a list of everything you may want to take with you – as detailed as possible. This way you can decide what items you need and whether you’ll actually have use for them in your new home.

In my first year, I packed my entire DVD collection thinking that I would definitely need it. Actually, I got very little use out of it – not to mention it cluttered my flat. Unless you really feel you will use it, scratch it from your packing list. 

On this note, if you’re living with Unite Students, don’t forget that you can save yourself a lot of hassle by ordering a kitchen or bedding pack, which will be waiting for you in your new home when you arrive. This means you wouldn’t have to worry about bringing things like bedding, plates, pans etc.

Read more: What not to take to uni: 18 things you do not need to bring

Invest in some good suitcases

Unlike hundreds of bags or back-breaking boxes, buy yourself some suitcases (if you don’t have any). They’re durable and have lots of room, while the handles and wheels make carrying your belongings so much easier.

Depending how much you have to bring, you can either buy two big ones or a large suitcase and a smaller suitcase. The best suitcases to keep your packing organised and tidy are the ones with a decent compartment space in the lid.

Assess your wardrobe

When I first started university, I packed every item of clothing in my wardrobe thinking I would wear it all, I was so wrong! Half of my clothes were perfect for summer, but as uni starts in the autumn, I hardly ever wore them and they simply took up wardrobe space.

To avoid packing too many clothes, sort through them and pack items depending on the weather. You’ll mostly need jumpers and jeans from October through to February and March. When the seasons change to spring, you can swap your clothes back to minidresses and shorts after a trip home.

Be smart with your space

Even in large suitcases, it’s very easy to misuse the space you’re given. There are various ways to get your clothes tightly packed in your suitcase, and a great method I like to use is the rolling technique. 

As the name suggests, this is simply a case of laying an item of clothing flat out on a surface and rolling it into a sausage shape from one end to the other. This minimises the amount of space taken up, but also keeps your clothes from getting too creased.

Another space-saving tip is lining the edge of your suitcase with your shoes and filling them with your socks and underwear. This keeps the central area free for your main items of clothing, and also helps you keep track of where these items are.

For shoe packing, keep in mind to pack for the correct weather (trainers over sandals in winter) and wear your heaviest pair on the day of the move so they don’t take up too much room.

Protect anything fragile

You may have to pack a few breakable things into your suitcase, so rather than risking any damage, there are a few ways to pack your things carefully.

If you have anything like a special china mug or a favourite bowl, make sure they’re layered in bubble wrap and tucked carefully into a space where they won’t get crushed or jiggled about. This can be the top corner of your suitcase, as it doesn’t get stuck under the weight and should be tightly packed enough to stay in place.

Wrapping laptops and other devices in a towel or some clothes has also saved me from arriving with battered technology. It holds it in place and cushions it from knocking into anything else that has been packed.

Organise with compartments

Your everyday-use items and products can get untidy and clutter up the suitcase, so be smart with your compartment space. If you don’t have compartments, you could use small plastic boxes or pouches to keep items organised. 

Instead of bringing bulk amounts, try to pack only the minimum number of certain products, such as toothpaste. You can always buy more once you’ve run out. 

To organise these products, you could group them together depending on what room they belong in or for what use they have. This keeps it simple when you unpack. Here are some examples of how you could group your belongings into one compartment or box:

Consider using a courier

Choosing what to bring to university can be a tough, painful process, but by packing light, you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle. And if you do decide you want to bring more of your possessions to university, you could always use a courier service.

For example, Unite Students’ partner Baggage Hub will transport your belongings for you, both internationally and across the UK. And the good news is that you can save 10% if you live with Unite Students.

So there you have it. My top tips on packing for university. Remember to be ruthless and pack only what you really need - you can always collect more stuff from home at a later date. Oh, and enjoy it too! Getting ready for your uni adventure should be a fun experience.

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I'm a film studies student in Leicester who enjoys writing. at De Montfort University