How to pack up your dorm with as little stress as possible

It’s easier than you think

An orange hued background with two pictures of a dorm room
(Image credit: Future / Dormify / Beth Mahoney)

If you’re in the process of moving out of your dorm and either into another dorm or into your first apartment (eek, we’re so excited for you), you’re probably wondering how to pack up your dorm fast and with minimal stress. 

Look, I’ll level with you — the whole packing process can feel hella overwhelming. Trust me, I’ve been there. But if you get the approach right, moving doesn’t have to be a total nightmare. 

While it feels like just yesterday you were ticking everything off your dorm packing list, it's now time to reel it all in again. If you're looking for a way to do it easily and with minimal stress, we’ve rounded up some useful tips (all tried and tested by us, obvi) that should help. 

How to pack up your dorm

1. Start by decluttering  

First things first, focus on the clutter. Even if you figured out how to organize your dorm properly, chances are that over the year you’ve accumulated some extra junk. Now is the perfect time to clear it all out. After all, there’s no point needlessly carting clutter from one dorm to your new living space, is there? Set aside a few hours to go through your entire dorm, getting rid of anything that you don’t need. If you haven't used it for more than six months, ask yourself if you really need the item. 

2. Clean everything that you’re taking with you 

Once you’ve finished the decluttering process, the next step is to clean every item that you’re planning on taking with you. This is also a great time to give your dorm a deep clean. From your clothes and your bedding to your storage cases and ornaments, everything will need to be wiped down. It might seem like an unnecessary task, but when you move into your new place you’ll be grateful. Pulling out dirty, dusty items is never fun.

3. Organize your items into groups 

Ahead of packing everything up, start by organizing your dorm items into groups. This will help to make the boxing up process a li’l easier as you will have already separated your items out. Personally, I always liked to categorize my items into clothes, bed, study, beauty, and miscellaneous piles, ready to get boxed up. However, you can separate your items in whatever way works best for you. 

4. Box your items up  

Once you’ve figured out where to get cardboard boxes and after you've sorted your items into categories, you can then begin to pack them up, using the groups to keep all your items neat and orderly. Make sure that when you’re boxing things up you’re sticking to the groups you’ve created and you’re making a list of what item is packed up where (this will make the unpacking process so much easier). 


When should I start packing up my dorm?

The sooner you can start packing, the better. Aim to start the packing process at least two weeks before you're due to move out, so that you have plenty of time to get everything organized. 

How should I pack up my dorm?

To pack up your dorm with minimal stress, take note of the tips above and implement them within your packing process. Start by taking stock, then organize everything into categories. This will help you keep track of where everything is stored after you transport it and make unpacking much simpler.

The idea of packing up your dorm can feel overwhelming, but with the right approach, it doesn't have to be stressful. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.