After trying to navigate the confusingly long and absurdly short packing lists online, I really wanted to help fellow students by creating a well-rounded but concise list of items to bring to uni for the first time.

My packing list is based on my experience along with other students, encompassing everything needed in one list and differentiating the essentials from the optional extras to help those on a tighter budget or with less space. 

Packing for uni can be outlined within the following categories – bedroom, clothes, electronics, study essentials, bathroom, kitchen, miscellaneous and important documents which I will break down in greater detail below. Make sure to check out the PDF printable packing lists at the bottom of the page for a quick checklist!

What to pack:





  • Duvet, duvet covers, sheets, mattress protector
  • Pillows, pillowcases
  • Blanket
  • Towels
  • Clothes hangers
  • Laundry basket (otherwise your room will end up a tip, trust me!)
  • Clothes airer (the dryers usually leave your clothes smelly or damp and can be expensive)



  • Cushions
  • Small rug
  • Plants for windowsill
  • Photos, posters and blu tack (for making your room more homely)
  • LED lights or fairy lights (some unis only allow battery operated lights)
  • Small mirror
  • Bin (halls usually have them but private accommodation doesn’t)





  • T-shirts, tops, long sleeves, shirts
  • Hoodies, jumpers & sweatshirts
  • Dresses, skirts
  • Jeans, smart trousers
  • Joggers, leggings
  • Shorts
  • Dressing gown (essential when the fire alarm test goes off at 4 am)
  • Pyjamas
  • Gym shorts & top (for the gym or hall sports)
  • Pants, socks, bras (as many as you have, will help reduce the number of washes you need to do)
  • Raincoat, warm winter coat
  • Casual & smart shoes, trainers
  • Sliders (essential for going around your halls)
  • Gloves & hat (you’ll thank me when it snows)



  • Swimming kit
  • Fancy dress (as there will be dress codes for events)





  • Laptop & charger
  • Phone charger
  • USB cables
  • Headphones
  • Extension cable with 3+ sockets (you may have limited sockets / may not be accessible)
  • Hair dryer, hair straighteners



  • USB stick (some printing services may require it)
  • Printer (usually unis offer good printing services)
  • Portable speaker
  • Desk lamp (there may not be one at all, or you may want one for the bedside)
  • Torch (useful backup)
  • Ethernet cable (if your laptop supports it)
  • Small TV/monitor
  • Desktop fan (for summer)
  • Toastie maker (everyone brings them so you can share)





  • Pens, pencils & sharpener
  • Rubber
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Highlighters (absolute must!)
  • Calculator (check if your course requires a specific model)
  • Lined A4 paper, notebook
  • Post it notes
  • Stapler
  • Sellotape (always needed for something)
  • Ring binders (one each module per semester, 6 for me)





  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Hand towel
  • Razors (and charger if electric)
  • Hairbrush, comb
  • Grooming kit – nail clippers & tweezers
  • Makeup
  • Deodorant



  • Aftershave, perfume




Catered / essentials

  • Plates (2 were enough for me)
  • Bowls
  • Glasses (at least 2-3 as they will break)
  • Mugs
  • Cutlery – knives, forks, table & tea spoons (at least 3 of each as they’ll go missing)
  • Sharp chef’s knife & paring knife
  • Scissors
  • Tea towels


Self-catered / (extras for catered)

  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan with lid
  • Chopping board
  • Wooden spoon
  • Spatula
  • Can opener
  • Tupperware (essential for batch cooking)
  • Sieve
  • Grater
  • Baking tray
  • Whisk, scales, measuring jug & mixing bowl (optional, depending on how hands on you are with cooking)





  • Backpack (for taking your laptop/books to lectures)
  • Reusable water bottle (for lectures)
  • Bottle opener
  • Padlock
  • Earplugs (if you struggle getting to sleep)
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Glasses / contact lenses
  • Medication, allergy relief
  • Face masks



  • Umbrella
  • Hot water bottles (for winter)
  • Games to play with flatmates – cards, boardgames
  • Books (for leisure)


Important items & Documents



  • ID – either a passport or a driving license
  • Acceptance letter (some unis require it)
  • Debit card
  • NHS number (to enrol at your universities’ medical centre)
  • Vaccination card (may need it to go to events)
  • Railcard
  • Visa (for international students)


What NOT to bring:


Usually aren't allowed:

  • Candles
  • Pets
  • Heaters

Almost always provided:

  • Chairs
  • Vacuum cleaner

Not needed / there won’t be space:

  • Your car (parking for 1st years is impossible)
  • Massive suitcases
  • School notes (you won’t need them)
  • Food, shampoo, hair gel (you most likely won’t have space in your car and they could leak or get damaged. Always a good idea to buy it at uni as it gives you a chance to check out the local shops)

Easy to forget items:


  • Laptop case
  • Bottle opener
  • Phone charger
  • Glasses & contact lenses
  • Different shoes
  • Towels
  • Medication / allergy relief
  • Bank card
  • Facemasks
  • Home keys (for surprise visits)

What to sort out before you get there:


  • Student bank account: research who offers the best benefits and have it ready to go with your interest free overdraft
  • Student discount cards: Unidays and/or Student Beans
  • Register with your university: make sure they have all the right information and contact details
  • Download Life 360 / What 3 Words: can be really helpful if you’re lost or want to meet-up with your friends but have no idea of the specific location.

What to buy when you arrive:


  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet roll
  • Tea / coffee
  • Bin (if there isn’t one)
  • Drinking glasses (if you can’t safely pack them)
  • Snacks
  • Surface wipes
  • Cling film & tin foil
  • Food

Downloadable PDF lists:



Image Credit



Download our Catered halls packing list PDF 


Download our Self-Catered halls packing list PDF 



If you're an international student check out our article on preparing for university: international edition, here.


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