How to Get Your Kid’s Stuff to College: A Comprehensive Guide

Preparing for your child’s transition to college involves more than just emotional and logistical challenges. One crucial aspect is determining how to get all the necessary items to their new dorm room. From packing the car to shipping boxes and buying essentials online, there are various strategies to consider.

In this article, we’ll explore the best approaches to ensure a smooth and stress-free move-in day.

1. Driving to Campus: Maximizing Space and Flexibility

If you’re planning a road trip to college, it’s essential to optimize your vehicle’s space while also considering future trips throughout the semester. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your car’s storage capacity:

  • Rent a car with larger storage space: If your family car won’t accommodate everything, opting for a larger vehicle can be a game-changer. Consider renting a van or SUV to transport all the essentials comfortably.
  • Prioritize and ship some items: To avoid overcrowding the car, identify non-essential items that can be shipped ahead of time. Treasured belongings such as turntables, vinyl records, or bulky sports equipment can be sent separately or brought during subsequent visits to the college.

2. Flying to College: Cost-Effective Solutions and Specialized Services

When air travel is necessary, the logistics become slightly more complicated. Here’s what you should know to make flying to college a breeze:

  • Know the baggage allowances: Familiarize yourself with the airline’s baggage policy, including weight limits and associated costs for additional luggage. This knowledge will help you decide whether to ship boxes or pay for extra bags.
  • Consider professional shipping services: Companies like CollegeBoxes specialize in shipping items directly to colleges. They provide boxes, shipping supplies, and handle pickup, storage, and delivery. This option is particularly useful for international students or when dealing with bulky and heavy items.
  • Plan shipping in advance: If you choose to use UPS, USPS, or FedEx, schedule your shipments multiple weeks before move-in day to avoid potential delivery delays. Some universities, like Northwestern, may offer services that deliver packages directly to dorm rooms for a fee. Explore your college’s website for specific shipping and delivery information.

3. Online Shopping: Convenient and Direct Delivery

Taking advantage of online retailers can significantly simplify the move-in process. Consider the following options:

  • Amazon, Target, and more: These online platforms offer a wide range of products suitable for college students. You can have items shipped directly to the college’s address, saving you the trouble of physically transporting them.
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond: With Bed, Bath & Beyond, you can either shop online or visit a local store near your home and pick up the purchased items at a store located near the campus. This option offers convenience and flexibility.

Deciding What to Ship and What to Buy Locally

Determining which items to ship in advance and which ones to purchase after arrival requires careful consideration. Here’s a breakdown of what you should consider:

  • Bulky or heavy items: Items like comforters, pillows, printers, winter coats, and boots are best shipped or purchased locally upon arrival. This approach saves you from dealing with excessive luggage during the trip and ensures that the purchased items align with the local climate.
  • Toiletries, snacks, and school supplies: It’s advisable to buy daily essentials such as toiletries, snacks, laundry supplies, and school materials either at local stores near the campus or at the campus bookstore. This strategy minimizes packing and allows your child to choose their preferred brands or products.
  • Clothing, laptops, and personal items: These items should travel with you on the trip to college. Keep them easily accessible and make sure they’re appropriately packed and secured.

Should You Help Your Kid Pack for College?

The level of involvement in your child’s packing process ultimately depends on their preferences and abilities. While it’s natural for parents to assist, it’s essential to strike a balance between support and giving your child space to develop independence. Consider the following tips:

  • Clean and declutter: Take advantage of this opportunity to organize and declutter your home. Encourage your child to sort through their belongings, helping them identify what they truly need and what can be sold or donated.
  • Communicate about necessities: Use this time to discuss realistic expectations regarding what they will need and the associated costs of transporting everything to college. Remind your child that dorm rooms often have limited storage space, so it’s crucial to prioritize and possibly bring or send items at a later date.


By following these guidelines, you’ll both ensure a successful move-in day and provide your child with valuable lessons in planning and decision-making. Embrace this transformative phase and make the transition to college as smooth as possible.

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