University Packing List: What to Bring - and What Not

by Maria Clark

Packing for university is one of those events where you don’t quite know where to start. Do you need a toaster? How much stuff can you actually fit in your room?

I think it’s inevitable that every student arrives at their new accommodation with enough things to keep their entire flat going. But do you really need that second spatula? Or the extra-large baking dish, just in case you magically become a master chef overnight? Here’s a list of things that I found I needed at university, and the things that I really, really didn’t…

But firstly: what is already provided?

At Lancaster, all bedrooms are already equipped with a bed, a wardrobe, desk and chair and a bookshelf.

In the kitchens, there are cookers (ovens and hobs), fridges, freezers, a microwave, kettle, toaster, vacuum cleaner, iron and ironing board.

The facilities will differ depending on the accommodation type, but you really won’t need that toaster. I promise.

So, what do you need? I’ve split the list below into different categories, and what you’ll need and what you might not. Of course, this isn’t exhaustive - but it’ll put you on the right track!

Kitchen

This will really depend on whether you are Parisian chef-standard, or planning to live off takeaways.

The essentials:

  • A frying pan, a small pan, baking tray, spatula, mixing spoon, mixing bowl, knives.
  • Tupperware
  • Two bowls, two large plates, two small plates
  • Two glasses and two mugs (unless, like me, you have an addiction to tea…)
  • Two sets of cutlery (knives, forks, teaspoons, table spoons)
  • A tea-towel (there always seem to be free tea-towels flying around, so don’t waste your packing space!)

TOP TIP #1: Make sure you buy easily identifiable cutlery and crockery (e.g. with a particular pattern). It might also be a good idea to add a touch of colour, or paint the end with nail polish, as knives and forks may go missing!

Extras (for the chefs out there):

  • Glass baking dish, tongs, grater, measuring jug, colander, steamer
  • Anything else related to your own recipes

In my kitchen last year, we had four rice cookers, two graters and a single bread knife. If you can, coordinate with your flatmates on what to bring, or you can wait and find out what you’ll need once you get to Lancaster, it’s definitely something to consider!

Bedroom

The essentials:

  • Bedding: I’d recommend a sheet, mattress topper, quilt and quilt cover. Make sure you check the bedding sizes before you buy!
  • Towels (no sharing on this one, I’m afraid)
  • Laundry bin (the floor doesn’t count)
  • Extension lead - you never know when this will come in handy!

Extras:

  • Room decoration.
  • It’s really important that you feel safe, comfortable and at home in your room, so decorating it the way you want is a great idea! This can be with photos and posters for the pinboards (don’t forget the pins!); cushions and blankets for the bed; ornaments; photo frames and even plants. You can read my other blog to see how different students have decorated their rooms at Lancaster!
  • Reed diffuser
  • Airer/Clothes Horse (I’d definitely recommend one of these if you don’t fancy tumble-drying all of your clothes!)
  • Desk lamp

TOP TIP #2: Don’t buy fitted sheets. Just don’t.

Studies

Yes, you do actually have to think about the degree aspect of university. Depending on how you like to study, this will vary, but do consider what you pack. For example, I’m an English student, but I still packed…my scientific calculator? Unsurprisingly, I never used it.

The essentials:

  • Pens and pencils (more than one of each, really)
  • Notepaper or notepads (even if you type your notes, having at least one notepad will be useful)
  • Sticky notes
  • Laptop and laptop charger
  • Course books and reading

Extras:

  • A planner or a whiteboard (if you love being organised, like me!)
  • Any additional equipment related to your degree (e.g. art materials, calculator, maths equipment)

TOP TIP #3: A lot of students think that they have to buy their own printers before coming to university, but with printing facilities all across campus, why would you?

Clothes

I’m not going to dictate your fashion choices, but it is important to consider every occasion. Not so you pack hundreds of clothes, but just so you don’t pack seven different pairs of shoes for clubbing and then forget your waterproof…

The essentials:

  • Day to day clothes (underwear would be great, too)
  • Pyjamas
  • Outdoor clothes - coats, waterproof, scarf, shoes
  • Going out clothes

Extras:

  • Sports clothes (if you’re planning on joining the gym, or joining sports societies)
  • A set of formal clothes (if you think that you’ll be applying for a job or will have an interview in the future)
  • Christmas jumper (you can never start too early, right?)

TOP TIP #4: Bring a pair of slippers. You might not wear slippers at home, but in a shared kitchen, it really ought to be a requirement.

Personal Belongings

This bit is really up to you. Some things are essential, but this will depend on your own needs and requirements.

The essentials:

  • Passport, ID
  • Phone, phone charger
  • Essential documents (banking details, insurance, etc)
  • Medication
  • Personal toiletries (e.g. hairbrush, toothbrush)

Extras:

  • Hobby-related things: books, games, devices, musical instruments, bags (shopping bags, a handbag, rucksack, etc)

TOP TIP #5: Everyone says to bring a pack of cards to university, but don’t bother. Somebody else is bound to have one, and if not, you can simply go into town.

Finally…

You may have noticed that I’ve missed off some significant things from the list, such as food and other toiletries. This is simply because you can buy all these things when you arrive. Plan ahead, and consider what you will actually need in the first few days, and whether you can do a food shop when you arrive. If not, absolutely - but just remember, the more stuff you bring, the more you have to fit into your room!

TOP TIP #6: Take advantage of the university’s "Don’t Ditch It, Donate It" scheme. This is where previous students donate items that they no longer need (e.g. kitchenware, electrical appliances, non-perishable food items) for others to use. The scheme is located on the campus itself in various locations and more information is available on arrival. I got an extra set of coat hangers from the scheme, whilst others got extra pots and pans, so it’s definitely worth having a look!

Good luck!