Simplifying the Big College Move: Packing, Shipping, and More

For Women & Co, by Heather Spohr, The Spohrs Are Multiplying

When I was in college there was a kid on my hall who arrived with nothing more than a guitar in one hand and a guitar case -- stuffed with clothes and toiletries -- in the other. While he and his parents took a decidedly laid-back approach to moving him to college, most parents and their college-aged kids probably find the process much more involved and stressful. To make a student move as easy as possible, take a look at the following tips (none of which involves packing clothes in a guitar case, I promise):

Pack smart.

Put together a "Right Away Box."
This box holds all the essentials that will be needed right away, such as toiletries and pajamas, and will buy some time before having to find a place for everything.

Pack together.
Having a packing partner is always helpful, especially to prevent the over-packing of inessentials and the neglect of seemingly obvious must-haves.

Use collapsible containers.
These are great not only for transporting belongings, but also for easy storage at school.

Know what to ship.

Ship when appropriate.
If the school isn't within driving distance, shipping may be the best option for many items. Some, though, are better off being purchased upon arrival.

Plan ahead.
Moving companies are busy this time of year, which means that if you procrastinate you might not receive your shipment on time. Also, you can often get deals ("Early Bird," "Back-to-School") if you arrange shipping ahead of schedule.

Protect prized possessions.
It's not unusual for improperly packed items to break during shipping, so be sure to use bona fide packing materials (newspaper won't cut it!), and organize your boxes with care.

If you're driving...

Don't over-pack.
Not only is an over-packed car a telltale sign that you've brought too much (remember, it does have to be put away again, likely in a small dorm room), but it's also dangerous to drive with potential blind spots or a blocked view through the rearview mirror.

Take care with clothes.
Transport nicer clothes on a clothing rod or in a garment bag, or at least on hangers, so they won't be wrinkled upon arriving. This will buy a little time before they have to be ironed -- not always a college student's forte!

Get the car serviced.
Tuning up the car before you hit the road will give you peace of mind that it will run smoothly on the drive to school and beyond.

Know the route.
If this is a first-time trip, plot out the route ahead of time, noting safe places to stop. It's wise to have a credit card for emergencies. Look for a card specifically for students.

Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.'s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.

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