What to take to university checklist

Moving out

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Here's our definitive guide for what to take to university

You've got your place at university sorted – now all you need to do is decide what you’re going to take with you.

Quick disclaimer before we start – you won’t be taking everything on this list with you (although if you do, we really want to see the pictures). There's a lot of stuff listed here – all of which has been suggested by current and former students – so the idea is to use it as a guide to help you pack your own necessities.

Some quick tips before you start packing:

  • Aim to travel light. You're moving into a small room with very limited cupboard space – and you'll be moving out again in June. One large suitcase of clothes, a couple of boxes of other stuff and a bin-liner of bedding is about the right level.
  • You don’t need to splash out on expensive items. You'll find perfectly decent duvet covers, kettles and stationery at the likes of IkeaArgos and the big supermarkets. Plenty of stuff probably won't survive your first year, so there's no point spending tons of cash on it.
  • Before you pack or buy anything, make sure you've checked what the university will be providing. Depending on where you're staying, you might find you need to take less than you thought. Check out your halls' website for more info, or find and chat with other students staying in your accommodation here.

With all that in mind, you can use these suggestions like a checklist to help remind you of any university essentials that you really want to take.

More like this: download our interactive pdf checklist of what to take to uni

Bedroom furnishings


Other bedroom items

Clothes and accessories

Everyday dressing

Other clothing and accessories

Laundry items

  • Washing powder/fabric softener (you may as well buy this once you get there)
  • Laundry basket or bag for the corner of your room
  • Big nylon bag for carting stuff to the halls' washing machine or the local launderette
  • Small drying rack (your university may provide either this or a washing line).
The logistics of getting everything there

If your parents aren't driving you to university, here are some alternative ideas for making the journey.

  • If someone else you know is also moving to that city (not necessarily the same uni), you could ask if they fancy car sharing.
  • If you have to go by train or bus/coach, then take a suitcase (with wheels), a well-filled backpack and as much other stuff as you can comfortably carry.
  • You could consider buying bulkier items such as your duvet, towels and pillows when you get there, and just managing with a sleeping bag for a day or two. What other stuff could wait to be bought when you get there to make this journey easier?
  • If you do need to travel very light, you can either come home to collect more stuff later in the term, or there are carrier companies such as DHL who will do door-to-door deliveries of your heavier stuff. Google 'student luggage to uni' or similar.
  • Once you’re there you can always use student storage services over the holidays if you need to.


Washing basket

Personal care items

Bathroom items

First-aid items

Health tips
  • Don’t forget to take your face masks and keep up to date on all the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus, including symptoms to look out for and when you should self-isolate. 
  • Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you arrive – especially tetanus, measles, mumps and meningitis.
  • Talk to your home GP or clinic about contraception.
  • Have a dental check up and get any treatment done before you go to uni..
  • Register with a local GP or the university medical centre and a dentist on arrival at university.
  • Keep a number for next of kin in your mobile phone under NOK or ICE ('next of kin' or 'in case of emergency').
  • Familiarise yourself with where the local A&E and drop-in health centres are in your university town.
  • If you suffer with long-term conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy, make sure your neighbours in your halls or your flatmates know what your condition is and where your vital medication is kept.
  • Freshers’ flu is the general cold/virus that most people get in their first few weeks at university because of the germs/viruses from thousands of other students that your immune system isn't used to. It's normal. All you can do is get a few good nights' sleep and treat the symptoms with cold/flu remedies. Remember, it's a virus so antibiotics won't help.


Bathroom items to take to university


If you're staying in halls, you should get an information pack telling you what will be provided in your room. Many rooms will already have a noticeboard, for example, in which case you won't need to buy one.

Some students recommend taking only the bare minimum, and then buying the rest as and when you need it after you've settled in.

Choose your bag wisely

You'll want an everyday bag for carting all your stuff around campus. Something like a backpack or messenger bag will do fine.

Make sure it's waterproof, strong and durable. It’s also worth checking that it’s both roomy and sturdy enough to hold several large textbooks, a laptop, folders and whatever else you need. Comfortable shoulder straps are another must.

If in doubt, get a basic backpack and then replace it once you've got to university and worked out what you really need.

Important documents

  • Passport photos – take at least four, and keep some on you. Also scan some onto your computer to get quick reproductions for less (especially for ID that doesn't really matter)
  • Passport
  • Driving licence
  • National insurance number
  • NHS medical card
  • Details of your health insurance (for overseas students)
  • Details of your vaccination history
  • Insurance documents
  • Confirmation letters of your scholarship or bursary if appropriate
  • Any information from your LEA, the SLC (Student Loans Company) or Student Finance Direct
  • Your unconditional offer from the university
  • Any documents regarding your accommodation
  • Bank debit card
  • Paying-in book
  • Bank or building society details
  • Travel discount cards, such as the 16-25 railcard – these are great for cheap travel home
  • CV and references
  • DBS check – applicant's copy (if required by your course)
  • Relevant certificates or results slips
  • Student Oyster card (if in London)
Student bedroom

Mini life-savers

These items may not be immediately obvious, but you'll definitely be glad you packed them. 

  • Change for launderette. Unfortunately, most university accommodation doesn't come with its own washing machine, so you'll find yourself down the launderette rather often. What's even worse is the situation when you're desperately asking everyone for a spare pound coin, as the machines are very picky on what they will and won't accept – so it's best to stock up on your own coins! 
  • Earplugs. You'll thank yourself when your housemates burst in at 3am the day before an exam that you got some earplugs. Buy them and keep them by your bedside ready at all times! 
  • Latex gloves. Not all of your freshers year will be pleasant. When it comes to living away from home, someone has got to do the dirty chores. If you're the one who has to pull the hair out the plug hole, then you'll want to have some latex gloves at hand. 
  • Sewing kit. Losing a button is like losing your whole wardrobe if you're not careful. Packing a small sewing kit is essential for making sure you don't have to get by without your only pair of jeans. 
  • Emergency toilet roll. There will come a time when your halls is fresh out of loo roll, and you're almost certainly going to want it ages before someone actually orders in some more. Spare yourself the misery and keep a spare roll stashed in your room

Electrical items


Student kitchen

Kitchen equipment for self-catered halls or private accomodation

If you’re going to be living in self-catering accommodation, you might need some of the following, although it's worth checking if your university accommodation supplies any of these items already – the storage space in a communal kitchen is going to be very limited, so you don’t want to take any unnecessary stuff.

And if you’re in a fully catered halls of residence, you won't need any of this stuff.

Kitchen appliances

Some universities might have strict rules about certain electrical appliances, such as kettles and toasters, so check what you’re allowed to bring.


Cooking preparing meals



  • Glasses – all sorts: pint glasses, wine glasses, shot glasses, cocktail glasses, whisky glasses
  • Cutlery – knives, forks, spoons
  • Crockery – plates, bowls, mugs, cups.

Basic ingredients

Once you get to university, this is a handy store cupboard shopping list.

  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs and spices
  • Sugar or sweeteners
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise and/or salad cream
  • Hot drinks (tea, coffee, hot chocolate)
  • Cooking oil/spray
  • Spreads – honey, jam, Marmite, peanut butter
  • Pasta sauce
  • Tins – stock up on soup, tinned fruit/veg, custard, rice pudding, canned meats, beans, peas and so on
  • Cereal
  • Fruit squash/Ribena
  • Packet foods – eg pasta/curry sauce, noodles, boil-in-the-bag rice, Angel Delight, pasta, jelly, biscuits, crisps, instant mash.


  • Baking foil
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Bin bags
  • Recipe book/instructions from your parents.

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