It’s the big day! You’re (finally) loading up, heading out, and saying farewell to all the things that didn’t quite fit in the trailer. Sacrifices had to be made, things had to be left in your parents’ attic (sorry Grandma), and you’ve had to buy a whole stack of weirdly sized dorm sheets to make sure that you’re prepared for that first semester away.
A full (and hilarious) list of the acceptable and unacceptable things you should and shouldn’t be packing before leaving for your first year in the dorms.
Few things are worse than realizing you left all your Pop! Vinyls behind to make room for a hot tub, only to find out it’s a no go on campus. You laugh, but people have tried. (Seriously, look it up) Turns out Hollywood really exaggerated what the average dorm room looks like.
Make sure you strike the right balance between necessity and comfort by checking out our list below:
DO BRING TO YOUR DORM ROOM
Microwave – You may think that your dorm will provide you with a microwave, but you’d be wrong. Unless they do, in which case: good for you. You’ll want to get one that is at LEAST 900 watts (we use 1200 watts) so you can make delicious food that won’t be fire on the outside and a popsicle on the inside (unless you’re into that kind of thing).
Mini Fridge – You should absolutely buy or rent one of these. Trust us, a fridge makes it much easier (and safer) to keep leftovers, which you will probably be living off of. Plus, you can store soda and energy drinks instead of having to wander down to the sketchy vending machines in the basement whenever thirst hits.
Electric Razors– Treat yourself. You definitely don’t want to scrape your skin off using the plastic multipack razors that the convenience store sells.
Hairdryers– Hairdryers have been known to blow a fuse or two but overall they’re just fine. We do not recommend using a hairdryer to try to reheat ramen. You’re better than that.
Electric Fan– The AC units in dorm rooms are usually completely useless. The ones that do work are on full blast all the time and the ones that don’t just exist to laugh at your pain. Beat the system by bringing your own electric fan that you can plugin on your desk or by your bed. An added bonus is that the white noise generated by the fan will drown out your roommate’s snoring (among other things).
Electric Blanket– If you’re stuck in a dorm room that has the sadistic, full-blast AC unit mentioned above, you are definitely gonna want one of these. Electric blankets are amazing for cuddling with and, placed at the foot of your bed, the most amazing toe warmer ever invented by humankind. Get one with an automatic shut off so you don’t have to worry about setting the bed on fire.
Hot Air Popcorn Poppers– Don’t get us wrong, microwaves do a great job popping corn. But with a popper, you can make a ton of popcorn at a time which comes in handy if you want to start a side hustle that is just as fuzzy legally as Network Marketing but much more lucrative (i.e. you’d actually make money).
Legal Disclaimer: We aren’t seriously telling you to sell popcorn from your dorm room, that’s not legal and generally a bad idea. Almost as bad of an idea as joining the “amazing opportunity” presented by your high school bully in your DMs. Bottom line both slinging weight-loss shakes, makeup, or essential oils and selling popcorn out of your dorm room without a permit are poor life choices. Thank you for coming to our TedTalk.
TV– Yes, we know you have a smartphone. Yes, we know you also have a tablet. Yes, we know that you also have four more devices that you can stream from. But, if you want to impress that person from Bio (you know you do) then you should have a bigger screen so you can watch together without giving them the super creeper vibe.
Mini Vacuum (crumb annihilator)– You. Are. Messy. This is a fact. You know it, we know it, everyone knows it. But, just because your food hygiene needs to up its game, that doesn’t mean you have to live in your own filth like a pig. As you can tell, we have strong opinions about this. Get a mini vacuum and clean up after yourself. Trust us, cleaning goes a long way towards attracting a date (or a hookup, we don’t judge). And if you’re thinking, it’s cool, my dorm has one I can sign out. Don’t. They’re gross. Trust us.
Basic Dishes: Plates, cups, bowls. Buy some. Don’t eat off of a frisbee. We know you considered it.
Coffee Mug: Coffee is definitely your friend. Having a reusable mug is a great way to show everyone that you love the environment and that you are serious about your lattes. No basic PSL for you, unless you like them, then you do you.
Eating Utensils: Yeah, buy utensils. You’ll need them, and no one wants to walk in on you hunched over your food, snarling like a rabid squirrel. Unless you’re into that, again you do you.
Can Opener, Chip-Clip, Food Storage Containers: Chip clips and Tupperware are light and you can store them anywhere. Plus you can use them for so much more than storing food. Helloooo storage hacks. A can opener is going to save you from trying to remember that old trick you learned in Scouts where you open a can with a Swiss Army Knife that takes 3 hours of tears and rage.
Power Strips: You’re in the dorm that was built in 1950. You’ve brought an electric blanket to battle the AC, but there’s one outlet in the entire room and it’s full. That’s when you’ll remember that power strips exist and that you definitely need one. By then it will be too late and you’ll have to spend a frozen night under the AC vent. Lesson learned. Side note: don’t plug power strips into each other. Only you can prevent dorm room fires.
Trash Can: There will come a time when you need to throw things away. Maybe it’s a candy wrapper. Maybe it’s an essay on the Ottoman Empire that you stayed up all night writing and researching but the assignment was actually on astrophysics and you never ever want to see it again. (No, that never happened to us. We don’t know what you’re talking about.) Get a decent-sized trash can and, while you’re at it, a recycling bin.
DON’T BRING TO YOUR DORM ROOM
Coffee Makers & Keurigs – While this probably isn’t a scheme by Big Campus Coffee to monopolize your caffeine intake (we have our suspicions but can’t prove anything), we’ve got some easy go-arounds to keep you amped and your wallet full(er).
Candles: Aromatherapy be damned! You can’t risk setting your dorm on fire no matter how calming that lavender candle is. Admit it, you definitely can’t be trusted with open flames.
Rope Lights/Decorative String Lights: They’re a fire hazard and they’re tacky. (We don’t really believe that. We died a little inside when we wrote that.) Don’t bring them or you may forget to turn them off and they may overheat and they may burst into flames… unless you buy LED versions, in which case go on with your bad selves because those are a-okay.
Home Network Devices (Google Home, Amazon Echo, smart bulbs, smart outlets, etc): Although we know it would be hilarious to try and get Alexa to cuss out your roommate for breaking your mini vacuum and spawning the crumbpacolypse, don’t bring them. Just don’t.
Wireless Routers: Internet Service is usually provided. If you need to stream high def videos 24 hours a day A.) you need to seek some help and B.) you need to go outside for at least 30 minutes.
Pets: We know you think they’re cute. We know you think you’re sneaky. We also know that the cute puppy you smuggled into the dorm sits and howls at the door all day while you’re in class and that it likes to poop in the closet. Just don’t do it. Think about that poor animal, sitting alone in the dark while you’re out partying. Not cool.
Toasters/Toaster Ovens/Hot Plates/Camping Stoves/Grills (looking at you George Foreman): Fire bad. You can definitely set things on fire with these and you definitely don’t want that.
Space Heaters: What part of “fire bad” didn’t you get?
TV Channels (No Satellites or Antennae): You need to reevaluate your life choices if you show up to the dorm hauling an antenna. First off, there are so many better, more up-to-date options. Second off, the Internet exists.
Iron: Irons are not your friend. If you really need a pressed shirt, bring your shirt into the bathroom on a hanger and take a hot shower. Let the bathroom fog up and leave the shirt in there for a few hours. This will either make the shirt less wrinkled, make the shirt soggy, or set off the fire alarm if you’re in an old building. If you are in an old building, DO NOT DO THIS.
Hoverboards: Just no. Not just in the dorm, but in life too. No.
Halogen Lamps: Halogen is a big no. Halogen bulbs get pretty hot and can burn the whole place down.
Sun-Lamp or Tanning Beds: Really? Really? We feel like this goes without saying but don’t. Not only do you risk burning the dorm down, but they are also way unhealthy. Plus, there’s only so much your roommate will put up with.
Waterbeds: They’re fun. They’re comfy. They’re also full of a whole lot of nasty, stale water. All it takes is one wrong move with your spiked bracelet and the people living below you (and the maintenance team) will hate you forever.
High School Awards, Memorabilia, Beanie Baby Collections: Not prohibited but not necessary. Do yourself a favor: leave those for your folks to gaze longingly at as a reminder of their pride and joy, which prompts them to call to tell you how much they miss you and love you and that they Venmo’d money so you can go see that new Star Wars.