University essentials: what to pack

a young women packing boxes

Written by Doris Christodoulou, BA History

If you’re a fresher or soon to be living away from home, you’re probably wondering what to take with you to university, in addition to all other arrangements you need to think about…

To put your mind at rest, it’s totally normal. Packing the right stuff is going to need some thought but remember, you won’t need much more than what you’d generally need at home.

Here’s a basic packing list with essentials to take to uni with you.

Important documents:

  • Passport or ID
  • University’s acceptance letter
  • Student loan documents
  • Accommodation details and contract
  • Bank account details and bank card
  • Vaccinations report
  • Student visa (if applicable)

It’s good to keep these documents together in a file so that you know where to look when you need them. Remember to also look after any other documents you receive after arriving at university, such as your NHS Registration Confirmation Letter.


  • Duvet and pillows (check the size of your bed as they vary depending on the type of halls)
  • Duvet cover and pillow covers
  • Mattress protector
  • Blankets and cushions (if desired)
  • Laundry bag
  • Clothes hangers
  • Clothes (best to bring some for all weathers)
  • Personal items, photos, plants – things to make your room feel more personal


  • Toothbrush and toothpaste (and a container to store them)
  • Any toiletries
  • Hairbrush
  • Hairdryer
  • Towels
  • Toilet rolls


  • Cutlery (spoons, knives and forks)
  • Crockery (plates, bowls and mugs)
  • Other utensils (chopping board, sharp knives, spatula, bottle opener, tin opener etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Pans and pots
  • Baking tray
  • Oven gloves
  • Tupperware containers
  • Hand towels
  • Washing-up liquid and sponges

If you’re living in halls or other shared private accommodation, you’ll be provided with a kettle, toaster and microwave.

 Electronic devices:

  • Phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • USB
  • Printer
  • Monitor
  • Headphones
  • Camera
  • Games console (if desired)

If you’re an international student, make sure you bring adapters as the accommodation will have tripod sockets. Also, items such as game consoles aren’t essential for everyone. Think of what you really need. For example, you might find a printer useful, but remember that there are printers on campus too.


  • Pens and pencils
  • Box files
  • A4 notepads
  • Highlighters
  • Post-it notes
  • Diary
  • Paper clips
  • Stapler
  • Hole punch
  • Course books (Your department will inform you about what books to buy for required reading)
  • Rulers and calculators (Ask your department in case you need to buy them)

Before buying lots of stationery, it might be a good idea to wait until your course starts and see how you prefer to take and organise your notes, and if there are any additional items that will make your life easier.


  • Any personal medications
  • A basic first aid kit
  • Pain relief tablets
  • Cold and flu medication
  • Vitamins

You can visit a pharmacy for any commonplace medications for regular illnesses (upset stomach, flu, sore throat etc.) so you won’t have to leave home when you’re sick.

It’s also very important to remember to register with the NHS during your first days at uni to avoid waiting for long hours when you’re ill.

Hopefully, this ready-made packing list has given you an idea of what, and what not, to bring and will make the process of preparing for uni a little easier.

If you’re still confused about what to take with you, just remember that it’ll be easy to buy anything you’ve forgotten or missed out once you’re settled. Reading town centre will have shops selling everything you possibly need, so don’t worry.

Now, get excited about your new life at university and enjoy packing!

Some useful resources:

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