What to take to university 2018 checklist

Moving out

You've got your place at uni sorted but what on earth do you need to take with you? Here's our definitive guide for what to take to university

OK, time for a quick disclaimer. You will not be taking everything on this list with you (or, if you do, we really want to see the pictures). There's a lot of stuff listed - all of which has been suggested by current and former students. 
The resulting list is an uber packing list of anything and everything you might find handy.

First, some quick tips

  • 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 binliner of bedding is about the right level.
  • Don't splash out on expensive stuff. You'll find perfectly decent duvet covers, kettles and stationery at the likes of Ikea, Argos and the big supermarkets. Most stuff won't survive your first year so there's no point binning tons of cash on it.
  • Before you go out and buy anything, make sure you've checked what the uni will be providing. You don't want to turn up with a lot of stuff that's already been laid on.
  • Need anything else? Head to our dedicated Freshers area to find out everything you need to know!

With that in mind, you can use it like a tick-list. Scroll down through it and it will remind you of any university essentials that you really do want to take, but might have forgotten. And, don't worry. Wherever you're going, they're going to have shops. So if you do forget anything vital, you can always buy another when you get there.

Download our interactive pdf checklist of what to take to uni

Bedroom things to take to uni


Other bedroom items

In a bit of a packing slump? Listen to our feel-good 'Packing for Uni' playlist to get yourself motivated! 


All the clothes you'll need

Main clothes

Want some tips for uni? Download our Uni Life Hacks eBook

University life hacks 2017


Laundry items

  • Washing powder/fabric softener (buy when you get there!)
  • Laundry basket or bag for the corner of your room/bottom of wardrobe
  • 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)
Logistics - or 'getting all this stuff to uni' 

If your parents aren't driving you to uni here are some ideas and suggestions for making the journey!


  • Is someone else from your school also moving to that city (not necessarily the same uni)? Could you car share with them? Talk to them or their parents.
  • Ask around your school/college or friendship group. Does anyone know anyone else going to your uni (remember, they don't have to be a first year...)
  • Can you convince someone with a car to drive you for the cost of the petrol?
  • 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.
  • Could you buy your new duvet, towels and pillows when you get there, and just manage 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?
  • 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. Remember you don't have to have everything with you for the first week - you can also use student storage services in the holidays.


Washing basket

Personal items

Bathroom items

First aid items

  • Painkillers
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Cold/flu remedy
  • Throat lozenges
  • Nail scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Plasters
  • Condoms
Health tips:
  • 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 come to uni.
  • Register with a local GP or the University Medical Centre and a dentist on arrival at uni
  • Keep the number for your uni doctor and dentist handy/in your phone
  • 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 uni 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 vital medication is kept.
  • Freshers flu - this is the general cold/virus that most people get in their first few weeks at Uni because of the 'bacterial soup' of 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

Stationery stuff for uni

If you're staying in halls, the information you receive from your university should tell you what will be provided in your room. Many rooms will already have a noticeboard, for example, so you won't need to buy one. Some students recommend taking only the bare minimum in terms of stationery, and then buying the rest as and when you need it after you've settled in. Shops like Tesco, Wilko and Poundland tend to be cheaper than Ryman or Paperchase.....

  • Noticeboard (all halls rooms should have one already)
  • Push-pins
  • Pack of cheap copy paper for printing
  • A4 file paper / notebooks with tear out sheets
  • Jotter or reporter pad
  • Pen drive/memory stick
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Permanent all-surface markers
    A bag for your stuff 
    You'll want an everyday student 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. Make sure it has easy catches fastenings AND that its big enough and strong enough to hold several large textbooks, folders, notepads, a water bottle and so on. Plus, make sure it has comfortable shoulder straps.

    Don't get something cheap/fashionable but so flimsy that will fall apart by the first weekend. If in doubt, get a basic backpack and then replace it once you've got to uni and worked out what you really need.
  • Ruler
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • Tippex
  • Pencil case
  • Pen pot (a coffee mug or flower pot will do)
  • White Tack or Blu Tack
  • Scissors
  • Sellotape
  • Hole puncher
  • Stapler/staples
  • Paper clips
  • Post-it notes or flag markers
  • A4 ring binders
  • Lever-arch folders
  • Hole-reinforcers
  • Paper/plastic wallets
  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • Calculator (especially if you're doing maths, but even if you're doing English literature)
  • Student planner/diary
  • Calendar
  • Address book
  • Language dictionary (if relevant to your course)
  • International students might want to take an English phrase-book.
Student bedroom


  • Passport photos. Take at least four, and keep some on you. Also scan some on to your computer to get quick reproductions for less (especially for ID that doesn't really matter)
  • Passport
  • Driving licence (useful ID)
  • National Insurance number
  • NHS medical card
  • Details of your health insurance (overseas students)
  • Details of your vaccination history (make sure you have up-to-date vaccinations, especially for meningitis and measles, BEFORE you arrive and that you get a flu shot in the autumn term)
  • 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
  • Cheque book
  • Bank debit card
  • Paying-in book
  • Bank or building society details
  • Travel discount cards (16-25 Railcard etc). Great for cheap travel home
  • CV and references
  • DBS check - applicant's copy (if required by your course)
  • Relevant exam certificates or results slips
  • Oyster card (if in London). Student Oyster cards are also available

Electrical items

Before you pack any of this stuff, check what you're allowed to bring to halls. Some unis have very strict rules about electrical equipment.

  • Laptop. All unis will have 'public' PCs available for students to use, but most people find a laptop handy for personal use. Get one that is light enough to carry around campus with you.
  • Extension leads. Surge protected ones offer additional protection for your kit
  • Socket converter (if you are an international student)
  • Laptop case/bag
  • Chargers
  • Mouse/mat
  • Small black and white printer. You will have access to printers in the uni library, but a small one in your room is always handy. You can get small/cheap ones at places like Tesco and Staples for under £50 but check the price of the replacement ink cartridges
  • USB memory sticks
  • Packet of white copy paper
  • Ink (colour and black for inkjet, toner for laser)
  • Mobile phone
  • Charger
  • Headphones
  • Batteries
  • MP3 player/iPod
  • USB lead (charger)
  • Docking station
  • Alarm clock
  • Iron and ironing board (only if you aren't in halls)


  • Water bottle - cheaper than buying bottled water.
  • Holdall or 'weekend at home' bag
  • Bag for nights/days out
  • Torch
  • Small sewing kit
  • Books/novels (fiction/non-fiction)
  • Musical instrument(s)
Student kitchen

Self-catered halls or private flat

If you are living in self-catering accommodation you might need some of the following. If you are in a fully catered halls of residence, you won't need any of this stuff.

Kitchen appliances

If you're sharing you may end up with many of the same appliance in one house. That's not great because your storage space in any communal kitchen is going to be very limited. Also some universities do supply these in varying states of working order for those in university accommodation.

  • Coffee maker
  • Kettle - usually supplied
  • Toaster - usually supplied
  • Rice cooker

Kitchen equipment

Obviously you don't need any of this if you are living in a fully catered halls of residence. Even in self-catering, check what is provided before you go out and buy stuff. If you are a beans-on-toast sort of person, buy the minimum - you won't need a wok.

  • Small casserole dish
  • Small frying pan
  • Wok or large frying pan (with lid)
  • Large saucepan (with lid)
  • Small saucepan (with lid)
  • Flat baking tray (for oven chips!)
  • Tin opener
  • Bottle opener
  • Corkscrew
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cheese grater
  • Wooden spoons or spatulas
  • Masher
  • Microwavable bowl
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Pizza cutter ( though it can be easier to use scissors )
  • Sieve
  • Colander
  • Whisk
  • Chopping knives
  • Chopping board ( may be a good idea to get a different one for meat, and for vegetables/bread to avoid cross-contamination )
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Tea towels


Cooking preparing meals


  • Tupperware (plastic tubs for storing leftovers.) Write your name on the lids and the tubs to prevent them going missing
  • Sandwich bags (good for storing 'dry' leftovers)
  • Biscuit tin
  • Cling-film (for covering bowls in the fridge/microwave)
  • Tin foil
  • Plastic drinks bottle (better than buying bottled drinks - and saves money)


  • Glasses (pint glasses, wine glasses, shot glasses, cocktail glasses, whisky glasses)
  • Cutlery (knives, forks, spoons) Tip - taking just one or two of everything will encourage you to wash them straight away but make sure you have enough to have people over for a takeaway dinner
  • Crockery (plates, bowls, mugs, cups)

Basic ingredients

Remember: uni towns have shops - you don't need to cart all this stuff from home! But once you get there, 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 - e.g pasta/curry sauce, noodles, boil-in-the-bag rice, Angel Delight, pasta, jelly, biscuits, crisps, instant mash etc.


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

Things you won't need

  • A-level text books. You will have a great big uni library stacked with books relevant to your degree course. You will not need Introduction to Biology aimed at a 16-year-old. You can leave all your carefully written A-level notes at home as well, because you won't need them either.
  • Book Tokens. Relatives love giving you these. It reminds them of when they went to uni. They don't realise that these days most of your course materials will be provided online or in a stonkingly well-stocked library. You might buy one book the entire time you are at uni. Ask for Primark, Boots or Sainsbury's giftcards instead. They will actually be some use.
  • A lovely matching set of rigid suitcases. If these don't fit under your bed, then where are you going to store them? If you must use them to transport stuff to uni, get your parents to take them home with them. Squashy nylon holdalls, bin-liners and strong cardboard boxes are much better for taking stuff to uni. And they don't make other people laugh as much.
  • A car. There will be nowhere to park it at uni. And everywhere else will cost you a fortune in pound coins, day and night. All unis have good bus services, and you don't get breathalised on those either. Leave the motor at home.
  • Pets. No, you cannot take your kitten, dog, budgie or hamster to halls with you. Leave them at home as well.
  • Parents. Once they've helped you drag all your stuff up all those flights of stairs and made embarrassing small-talk with your neighbours, it's time for them to go home. Provide tissues. But make sure they go. They do not need to stay overnight anywhere 'just in case you need us'. If they want to go to uni, they can apply through UCAS.

Have you thought of anything else that should be added to the list? Let us know in the comments. 

More on TSR: 
Freshers Week - find out everything you need to here
Advice and tips on getting your exam results 
What you need to know about Clearing and Adjustment