Heading to uni soon? Before you start packing unnecessary items that will never leave the bottom of your bag, take a look at our checklist below. This ‘what to take to university’ checklist should make sure you don’t forget any of the essentials!

Student girl packing books into her rucksack

Don’t Overpack 

Before we get started on the official list, here’s a quick reminder that there will be shops near your new home. Your new room may have things like mirrors or ethernet cables (more on those later), so it might be best to wait until you’re moved in to grab some items.  

If you’re sharing with other people, splitting the cost of certain groceries, like cleaning products, can reduce waste and save you some money too.  

Plus, heading out on a group shopping trip with your new flat mates to grab your final bits and pieces offers a great, non-awkward excuse to hang out together over your first few days. 

The Essential Categories 

To make life easier, we’ve split our checklist into four distinct categories:  

  • Important Documents 
  • Bedroom/Bathroom 
  • Kitchen 
  • Other Stuff 

Important Documents 

This sounds boring already, we know, but don’t skip this section.  

Making sure you have all the correct paperwork will ease any stress on arrivals day. (Whilst we’re on the topic, check the arrivals day page on your university website to check if they ask for anything specific!). 

  • Documents from your university (admissions, accommodation, bursaries/scholarships etc.) 
  • Student finance documents

You might also want to take copies of your prescriptions, vaccination history, any contents insurance documents, and student discount cards you’ve bought – but all of these will depend on you and your situation.  

Note: you can sign up to a new GP surgery in your new area, but chat with them first about being a student so they don’t just deregister you from your home surgery. 

If you’re an international student, then don’t forget your visa documents and proof of funds.  

Two girls carrying boxes as they move into university


This section is really a guide – everyone's personal space is different. Make sure you bring things for your personal space that will bring you joy and help you to make this new small space feel like home.  

  • Duvet and pillows 
  • Duvet and pillow covers, bed sheets 
  • Mattress Protector (stops you being charged for mattress damage) 
  • Coat hangers 
  • Washing bag/basket (washing machines aren’t always in your building!) 
  • Photos/memories of the people/places that matter to you 
  • Towels (don’t forget a hand towel!) 
  • Hand Soap 
  • Flip Flops (if you’re sharing shower areas!) 

You’ll need the basics too like shampoo, toothbrush etc. - but you can grab those when you get to university and do your first shop. Checking out the local shops and supermarkets is an important thing to do in week one.  

For your washing, you may want to consider a clothes drying rack. University laundrettes usually offer dryers, but this can add up. Using a drying rack in your bedroom/building can save you some valuable pennies. 


Some people go overboard with the kitchen items - don’t forget you’ll likely be sharing a kitchen, so storage space will be limited. You’ll likely have: one cupboard for food; a cupboard/shelf for pots, pans and plates; a shelf in the fridge and freezer; and a drawer for cutlery. 

  • Cutlery (try to bring more than just one knife and fork – it will likely go missing!) 
  • Plate/bowl/cups 
  • Kitchen knife 
  • Scissors (an underrated kitchen essential) 
  • Tupperware boxes (great for batch cooking to save money!) 
  • Chopping Board 
  • Ladle/spatula/large spoons 
  • Wok/frying pan 
  • Saucepans with lids (recommend 1 big and 1 small, but 1 big would do!) 
  • Colander/sieve 
  • Measuring jug 
  • Can opener/peeler 
  • Baking tray 
  • Oven gloves/tea towels (tea towels can do the same job as an oven glove!) 

When you do your first grocery shop, don’t forget tin foil, bin bags and washing up liquid! You also don’t need to buy all of this at once – as long as you have something to cook and eat with, you’re winning.  

A girl kneels on the floor next to her parents and their car as they pack a box

Other Stuff 

Now we have a list of random items that work together in one thorough list. Again, this list is not prescriptive – everyone is different, but this checklist gives you a good indication of the things to think about when you’re packing. 

  • Medication (including painkillers like paracetamol/ibuprofen/throat sweets/contraceptives/contact lens solution) 
  • Clothes (try to remember one smart outfit in case you have an interview) 
  • Some stationery (you don’t need to go overboard though – pens and notebooks are enough! Throw in some post it notes and highlighters to treat yourself!) 
  • Course textbooks (find these cheaper online/in social media groups/the library) 
  • Rucksack/larger bag to carry items throughout the day. 
  • Umbrella 
  • Water bottle (save money!) 
  • Mobile phone/laptop (Not essential – university will have computers you can use to do research and essays if you need them). 
  • Chargers for any devices 
  • Batteries  
  • Ethernet Cable (larger devices like games consoles etc. Often need this to access the internet. But some rooms already have them, so check before spending) 

You’re Ready to Go! 

And there you have it! A comprehensive checklist of what to take to university. You may want to add more items on the list, like cushions/wall hangings/headphones/lunchboxes etc, but everyone’s budget and travel arrangements before moving are different.  

Maybe you’re travelling by public transport, so you may want to pack lighter and buy more items when you arrive. For people looking to save more money, you could wait until you move in and look to cost share with your new house mates.  

Money Worries? 

If you are worried about finances at university, don’t worry in silence. Starting your next chapter should be exciting, so don’t let money worries ruin the special moment. 

Your new university will have student advice and support teams who can guide you through your money concerns – check their website to find who you can contact, even before arriving. 

If you’re a care leaver applying to university, there is more support available to you. Explore all of the support options on the UCAS website, and you can always ask your personal advisor or carer for more information. You can also contact our NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) Helpline if you’d prefer, and we can provide you with guidance and signposting to make sure you have access to all the support you’re entitled to. 

A male students stands in the foreground checking his boxes whilst other students chat in the background

So, what are you waiting for? Time to make your own personalised ‘what to take to university checklist’ that is specific to you. Use our ideas above to start with before making edits and additions to make the list match your needs. And good luck on the next chapter of your education journey.

If you're about to be, or are already a care leaver, here's some additional places to find support.