10 Important Things to Bring for Move-In Day (and Then Leave Behind)

Updated June 3, 2020

Editor’s Note: We know move-in for fall semester 2020 isn’t going to look the same as it has in previous years, but you will be moving into a residence hall at some point, students. No matter when or how that happens, you’re going to need some supplies. Start putting together your wish and needs lists, and keep on top of your college or university’s residence hall emails.

It’s almost here, parents. And students. It’s almost time to head off for college move-in day. The boxes are filling up, the plans are coming together, the tissues have been pre-stuffed into pockets and purses (I’m not crying YOU’RE CRYING). To help out with some planning, here’s a list of things you may not think you need on move-in day, but will absolutely come in handy. Additionally? These are items students will use throughout the year, and almost all of them are under $10 each. So pack them up, and then leave them at the dorm room!

Safety knife: Yes, someone is going to pull  a fancy pocketknife, but don’t gum it up with the packing tape or waste time trying to figure out which blade to use or which fingernail to sacrifice to the pocketknife gods.

Extra cash (especially in small bills): Some vending machines will take credit cards or student IDs but you just don’t know, and there’s always someone doing a pizza run on the hall. If you don’t have their Venmo yet, give them actual cash. It does still spend, you know.

A GOOD pop-up laundry basket: We love cheap stuff, but we really do recommend spending some cash on this. It’ll be perfect to stuff full of items for move-in day, and then be portable enough for students to stuff full for visits home too (yes, we mean dirty clothes). In the meantime, it can fold flat for storage.

Duct tape: Does duct tape really need a why? Duct tape is just a necessary for life.

Zip ties: Like its sticky cousin duct tape, you’ll find a dozen uses for zip ties. Bundling hangers, hanging pictures, cleaning up cords, and so on.

Command strips and hooks: If paying for a year of college didn’t leave you dead broke, Command products can. That said, they’re a must-have for the dorm dweller. They stick to any surface, wall or bedframe or loft, and can create instant organization around sinks and bathrooms.


Sorry. Had to. But yes, a plain ole hammer. Sure, you may not be able to put holes in the walls (see Command Strips) but there will be plenty of things you’ll need a hammer for (making sure bunks and lofts are tight come to mind first).

All-in-one screwdriver: You’ll be putting furniture together at some point, and you’re going to need screwdrivers. One that has an interchangeable head is just easiest.

Surge-protector power strip with a nice long cord:   Dorm outlets are notoriously few and far between and also in the exact place you DON’T need one.  Get a strip that has USB ports too to help create some extra charging areas. We don’t recommend “daisy chaining” your cords though!  Don’t plug your fan extension cord into a power strip and so on!
Also something to research… you could be living in an older dorm. As such, you could need grounding adapters (also called cheater plugs). Best to check that out now!

Bonus item: A simple first-aid kit. Sure, you’re using a safety knife (see first item), but cardboard can create QUITE the paper cut. Be safe and throw this in too.

For all of this, get a caddy with a handle and keep it all together. It’ll be small enough to stick at the back of the sink or the top of the closet.

We promise… those zip ties will come in handy.

Check these other articles out while you’re here:

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