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College Series: How to Pack the Car and Survive Move In Day


Welcome to the fourth installment in our six-part college series. If you have an upcoming college student, you may want to check out parts 1-3, the drive to the orientation and meeting the roommate, the debate on whether you should let your college student take the car to school or not, and the ways you can savor time with your teen before college. Moving to go to college for the first time is a daunting task of reorganization of everything that you own. Your teen has lived with you all their life so may have items in every room of the house. Between the number of bathrooms, bedrooms, and other rooms in your home, there are items everywhere because you ultimately had the space. However, packing to go to a dorm or even an apartment which may be smaller than what they were accustomed to can be daunting and at times downright frustrating. Sorting through the tons of items that they may want to take with them versus the items that they may not need, I'm here to share with you some tips on how you can pack the car and survive a move in day.


While you may think you are just about to lose your mind and toss that white flag to surrender everything while packing your car for college, STOP. Do not allow your frustration to overwhelm you, you can pack your car and survive a college move in day, we are here to help!

The first step to every first year college move is to plan, seriously plan ahead and think about the logistics. Make note of how much space you have within the car you are using, how many passengers are riding along and what space is left to use for your stuff. Once you know how much space you have in the car to hold your items, it’s time to plan what items you will be packing to take to college.



Make sure to pack only items that you need to bring with you on move in day and items that you may already own; do not buy any new items. More than likely you'll be able to find those same items that you were thinking of buying at a local discount retailer nearby. You do not want to fit more than is absolutely necessary in that small space you may have. Do not worry about perishable foods; they won’t make the trip – trust me. Feel free to pack some non-perishable items if space allows.

Try not to use cardboard boxes; vacuum seal bags work better as that allows you to fit more into your car at once. Think about investing some cash into waterproof vacuum-storage bags for all items that you can possibly fit into those bags as a means to minimize cardboard box usage. Crates are also a great way to transport items since they are a little bit easier to carry. They can also be used for storage. While packing your items try to use towels and other soft items as packing material rather than wasting money on expensive packing material that you will just toss out anyways.


The last step to ensuring that you are able to pack up your car and survive move in day is to label everything. Make sure to have all bags and boxes labeled so that you can easily access the immediately necessary items that first night in your dorm. Take my word for it, you won’t have all of your bags unpacked on that first night and will want to have quick access to the things you need to survive that first overnight at college.

Being away for the very first time can be overwhelming and the tears may start flowing which is understandable. You're losing your little one and they are growing up and about to be on their own for the very first time, but together you can tackle move in day together and make it a success.

Let's discuss: Are there any other survival tips that you have to share? 

Annmarie John
36 Comments
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36 comments:

  1. Vacuum seal bags are the BEST. I've been loading extra baby clothes in them for attic storage.

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  2. These are great tips. I like the idea of vacuum sealing to save space.

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    1. You do save a lot of space when you vacuum seal and is a great way to pack big and bulky items.

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  3. This is a great post for people who are about to move their kid into college. We're heading back to my son's college in August and I will definitely be labeling everything.

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    1. It makes it easier to find what you need.

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  4. One tip I have is to put the kids to work. Even younger kids can carry smaller items if they're not too heavy or breakable.

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    1. That is very true and it's something that I do as well. Madison just loves taking stuff to the car.

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  5. P.S. My previous comment will make more sense to people with large families like mine. LOL

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    1. Oh I have a big family too, I have a family of 4 kids all at different age stages and my youngest can certainly help out. :)

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  6. These are great tips for move in day. It's been a long time since I went, but back then, upperclassmen carried all the freshmen's stuff to their rooms!

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    1. Unfortunately that doesn't happen at all colleges. My daughter had to move everything in herself so we had to help.

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  7. Thanks for all the tips and ideas! This is very helpful!

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  8. These are all great tips to survive moving day when heading off to college. Loved reading this, reminds me of back in the day!

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    1. I'm glad I was able to bring back some pleasant memories.

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  9. These are some great tips, and although we have not reached this stage of parenting yet, I know how fast time flies. I can already guarantee I will be an emotional wreck!

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    1. Oh I was at the beginning myself, but you'll be good after a few days and the millionth phone call.

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  10. These are great tips! My son will be returning for his second year of college in August.

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    1. Congratulations! You should be a pro at this by now.

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  11. Oh my gosh, I don't even know the number of times I've helped move my siblings and my kids. You have to put some serious thought into how easy things will be to carry up four flights of dormitory stairs.

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    1. Oh it can be tough, unless of course the dorm has an elevator like my own daughter's dorm had.

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  12. Great tips! I will have to share with my sister. She has a son heading off to college this Fall and I am sure she will find these tips super useful! - Jeanine

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    1. Thank you for sharing and stopping by Jeanine.

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  13. This is a great post. Moving away to college is already stressful enough. With a few tweaks, it doesn't have to be.

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    1. Oh of course it doesn't have to be and that's what's great about it.

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  14. I totally agree with not using boxes or anything. The sealed bags are the way to go. I had under the bed storage for some of my things when I was in school for things like jackets that just wouldn't fit in a dorm closet.

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    1. Thank you Robin. Yes with boxes, you have to find a way to recycle them after using them etc. They can take up a lot of space as well.

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  15. I love all of your tips especially only taking what you will need. Going to college is such a fun experience of what it is like to live on their own.

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    1. Yes it's usually their very first home away from home so it can be heartwrenching.

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  16. My niece heads off to school in August. She will be about 5 hours from home... hope she spreads her wings okay and likes it.

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    1. She'll probably be homesick for a little while or she may surprise you all and not be at all, but I'm sure she'll enjoy it.

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  17. Move in days are rough. On mom and dad AND the college kid! These are great tips

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    1. Oh it can be tough on everyone for sure. Thanks for stopping by.

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  18. We just recently moved and I know what my problem was: I didn't label all the boxes. You better believe we had opened every single box just to find that one item that was needed at that precise moment. Argh!

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    1. Oh labeling is surely the way to go. If you had done so, you wouldn't have been going through all the boxes and would have known exactly where it was.

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[name=AnnMarie John] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9gUeVik-ZY/WJjwNTOobII/AAAAAAABTJ4/qEhU0n62_AIo-j6-6LA2OFOr44lKCHASwCLcB/s100/AnnMarie%2BJohn%2BHeadshot.JPG] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook=http://www.facebook.com/theannmariejohn) (instagram=http://www.instagram.com/theannmariejohn) (twitter=http://www.twitter.com/theannmariejohn) (pinterest=http://www.pinterest.com/theannmariejohn) (email=mailto:annmarie@annmariejohn.com)

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