How to Pack for Dorm Life with a College Packing List for Girls

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College Dorm Room Ideas for Girls

I can relate to the overwhelming idea of our little girls heading off to school. Planning ahead will help make the transition easier. Here is how to prepare easily for dorm with girls college packing list.

Do you remember the days when your little girl was excited to go school supply shopping?

We received a list of school supplies that included items that were exciting and creative. How can you not get pumped about a new box of crayons or spiral notebook?!? Now your little girl is graduating and planning on attending college. Packing for college dorm life doesn’t have to be overwhelming.


You may have visited the dorm already to see the layout, which is helpful. Schools also have a wealth of dorm life information on their website which includes photos and measurements. If not, I’m sure you can call housing and they can give you any information you need about furniture, layout, and measurements.

There are many lists found online with suggestions for what one should bring to college. My philosophy for anything is “the simpler the better“. Meaning, just because items are good for one person or available, doesn’t mean it necessary. This is a suggestion to keep in mind when planning.

This is a new adventure, so it makes sense that our college bound kids are excited to decorate their rooms. Space is limited, just like in her bedroom at home. It’s good to brainstorm together, or if she wants to do it on her own, your daughter’s needs and vision for her space.

Here are some questions to consider when preparing your list:

  • What are the comforts I have in my room at home?
  • What can or cannot do without?
  • Do I want to try to coordinate with my roommate?
  • Am I driving or flying to school?
  • How much space do I have in my dorm closet and drawers?
  • How much storage space do I have in the bathroom if any?

This is an exciting time, the first time out of the nest and making decision on her own. Try your hardest to keep it upbeat and encouraging. She is trying to make her own way, and living in a dorm on her own is a big step.


You and your daughter have done your brainstorming, and you feel good about knowing what she wants to take and how much room she has in her dorm.

One more qualifying factor when preparing for college dorm life is how you are traveling to get there? If she is in state and you are driving you have more flexibility. You don’t have to rent a U-haul. If she forgot something, she can get it on a weekend she comes home or when you go to visit her.


If you are flying to drop her off at school, consider the airline and their luggage policies. I love Southwest and the fact we can take two bags per person. We can take additional bags or boxes for a fee or we can mail them. If you can keep the weight of the box or bag under 50 pounds, it may be less expensive to check them on a plane as opposed to shipping them.

Shipping additional supplies is another option, but that can get expensive.


For my son’s first year, we drove him.  We laid out what he was taking and could gauge how many containers we needed to pack it all. We used Tule bags, big duffle bags, that are flexible for packing in the car.

I also purchased storage containers, which matched his decor, that he could keep as extra storage at the dorm or we can bring back home until we picked him up at the end of the school year.

What I liked about the storage containers was that they could hold all the odd small items and they wouldn’t get crushed. They stacked easily in the back of the car.

I included all the cleaning and personal supplies he needed for at least the first semester. I figured since my husband, was driving him, I wouldn’t be there to buy him the supplies he needed.

The Extras

When I was a young mom traveling, I had the mindset that I needed to be prepared for anything and everything. I liked thinking I was the MacGyver of moms. You needed it, I had it. Whether it was while we were out for the day or on a trip. I put so much thought into every scenario of what could happen and what I would need, that I had a full backpack!

My very patient husband assured me one time on our way to the airport, “If you don’t have it, we can get it”. For someone who likes to be resourceful, that was a tough pill to swallow. BUT, it did help me to not worry about not having what we needed. We can always get it.

Same when it come to packing for college. I completely understand not wanting to be wasteful, but if you forget something, you can get it at your destination. That’s also true for every day essentials.

When I packed my son for his first year, I included cleaning supplies and toiletries. I knew his dad could have picked up that stuff at Target, but I wanted to make sure he had everything. This next year, I am flying with my son. We will pick up what he needs when we get to his school.


Here is a list of suggested items. Of course every person has different needs, different dorm situations, and resources. Some colleges provide some supplies, some don’t.


Twin comforter – Using a regular sized comforter seemed to work fine for my son’s dorm bed

XL twin sheets – These can be found online and most stores, just make sure they are the “extra long” sheets

Pillows – head pillow, body pillow


Mattress Pad – XL

Bed decorations – throw pillows

Bedskirt – If the bed is on the floor, instead of a bunk bed or a desk bed combination, this can help to create a secret space for more storage. 


Portable Shower Tote and CaddyPortable Shower Tote and Caddy – variety of colors

Everyday essentials – makeup, soap, shampoo, deodorant, mouthwash, nail clippers, lotion, toothbrush/paste

Paper supplies – Q-tips, toilet paper, tissues, feminine products, cotton balls

Hair supplies – Hair dryer, curling iron, hand mirror, head bands, comb and brush

Towels – Bath towels, washcloths, bath rug

Shower supplies – Shower flip flops, robe, shower caddy

First aid kit – Including Band-aids, antibiotic cream, hot/cold pack


Prescription medication(s) – Including pain reliever, Epi-pen, etc.

Whether she has a community bathroom or shares a bathroom with suite-mates, a shower caddy makes it easier to keep supplies in one place, and to grab on the go.

Even if the is a bathroom in a suite, having four or more girls who leave their stuff in the shower, can be a mess. I learned this myself when I discovered that I was helping to supply my other roommates with soap!


Surfaces – Cleaning-wipes, surface cleaners & rags

Floors – Small vacuum or hand-vac

Bathroom – Multi-purpose cleaner and sponge

Laundry – Detergent, dryer sheets, stain remover, hamper, iron/ironing board, money for machines (check with school about forms of payment)


  • Notebooks and paper
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters
  • Paper clips, pencil sharpener, hole punch
  • Staples and stapler
  • Calculator
  • Scissors
  • Tape and whiteout
  • Desk lamp
  • Extension cords
  • Trash can
  • Backpack
  • Index cards
  • Textbooks


Your daughter will likely have a meal plan, but may want snacks in between studying and classes to keep fueled. I would send my son a target gift card every couple months to help him to get the extras he needed like laundry soap, milk and snacks for his room.

They may not cook but they may need:

  • Cups, plates, utensils
  • Water bottle
  • Dish soap, dish rag, dish towel
  • Plastic food containers
  • Sandwich bags
  • Chip clips
  • Coffee maker and mugs
  • Fridge (may come with room)
  • Microwave (make sure it’s allowed)


The amount of clothes depends on where your daughter is going to school. Questions to ask herself:

  • Am I close enough to home that I can take one season of clothing and switch out at Thanksgiving or on a weekend I go home?
  • How much space do I have in closet and dresser at the dorm?
  • Because I am going somewhere warm, can I keep my clothing to a minimum?
  • How many pairs of shoes do I really need?
  • Do I need or do I have space for extra hanging clothes storage?

What’s nice about hanging storage, is it gives more space for clothes if you have a small dresser, plus you can fit other items under the hanging shelves.

5 Shelves Hanging Closet Organizer, Bronze5 Shelves Hanging Closet Organizer, BronzeHanging Shoe Shelves-Grey, 8 ShelvesHanging Shoe Shelves-Grey, 8 ShelvesHanging Accessory Shelves, GreyHanging Accessory Shelves, Grey


Take measures to keep your stuff safe, whether it’s the dorm, library or otherwise. 

Computer – cords, surge protector, multiple outlet cord

Headphones – earbuds, headset

Flash drive – backup drive, cd’s

You may find using the school printer will save you the time to deal with a printer, ink and paper in your room.


  • Bank card/checks
  • Insurance cards/paperwork
  • Identification/Drivers license/Student ID
  • Emergency Contact list
  • List of valuables and possessions (in case something goes missing)


Everyone will have a different viewpoint on what to bring from this category. A more simple room will mean it will be easier to keep picked up and clean. This means less work

Bike – Helmet, bike lock, air pump. Keep in your room or lock up. Please check on bike regularly and have all bike info. 

Games – Board games or game consoles. Think about how much time you will have, will the dorm provide some games and activities?

Photos and posters – Do you have the space for framed photos or to hang on walls?

Decorations – Any other items you want to make your space unique to you. Keep in mind you have a small space. 



Sewing kit

Sports equipment

Musical instruments



Planning ahead, using resources you already have, and using this college packing list for girls, will make the preparation for your daughter’s for year at school in the dorm a simple process.

Enjoy your time getting your college student ready. It’s a very exciting time!

Wishing your daughter much success in her upcoming school year!

College Packing List


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