How to Move Your Stuff to College (Without Bothering Mom and Dad)

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In the college classic “Animal House”, Donald “Boon” Schoenstein famously exclaims to his fraternity brothers “We can do anything we want! We’re college students!”

Which makes me think Boon had plenty of help moving to college in Faber and into the Delta house. (Okay, maybe this dates me a little.)

Either way, whether this is your first time or your fourth time (or seventh, if you’re like Bluto), transporting all your stuff from your room at home to your dorm at college can be as challenging as any of your finals. (Moving to college without mom and dad can be tougher than your entire exam schedule.)

We can help you figure out how to get your stuff down to campus if you don’t have the luxury of hiring Mom & Dad’s Moving Company. Here’s your multi-scenario cheat sheet. 

You Have a Car

Awesome start! Nothing better than a road trip to kick off the new semester! But if you can’t fit everything into the back, what are you going to do?

Moving to College U-Haul Trailer

https://www.pinterest.com/jwcostner/

Got a mountain of boxes and bags? A mountain bike? A bunch of furniture and the all-important mini-fridge to transport? If so, think about renting a trailer to hook onto your car. U-Haul rents them one-way, based on availability. Check out our complete U-Haul pricing and review guide and streamline the decision-making process.

Wait, you don’t have a hitch installed on your car? U-Haul does that too, for a price. Just input your exact car model and they’ll give you an estimate right on their site.

But maybe you’re feeling crafty (and want to save some money)? Imagine how proud your parents will be if you installed it yourself! Here’s a popular step-by-step guide, with some pictures to boot.

DIY Corner: Color Code your Boxes

Allow me to introduce you to an old friend of mine: Washi Tape.

…But Maybe You Don’t Want to Pull a Trailer

Totally understandable. It takes some getting used to (plus, that aforementioned trailer hitch). In place of that, maybe consider shipping your stuff via ABF. They’ll put your stuff on a trailer with a bunch of other people’s stuff, which while risking damaging your (hopefully not too expensive) stuff, might still be advantageous since you only pay for the space your own stuff takes up. Another, more agile option is to order a ReloCube from U-Pack. These containers are 6’ x 7’ x 8’ and are dropped off for you to load up, then taken away and delivered to your new place on campus. (Packrat also offers containers, albeit in medium and large sizes.) Just take note…

Moving to college - ABF Trailer

Image by http://johncassiemillburn.blogspot.com/

Campus move-in day is living chaos. (Perhaps you’ve survived one or two of them.) Check with your college administration to see if there would be any logistical problems or policy issues with having a container placed outside your dorm – or anywhere on campus. Or anywhere even close. Be clear, and get any approval in writing before you try to sneak a 40-foot trailer with a forklift hanging off the tail end past campus security.

So You Don’t Have a Car

Unless you are planning on backpacking to college, you’ll be going through shipping options.

If you only have a few extra boxes to send, the good old US Postal Service is your cheapest bet. UPS is another option if you’re moving to college with only a small handful of items, and their online calculator allows you to estimate your shipping-by-air costs. (Oddly, for ground service, you’ll have to locate a nearby location and talk to someone directly).

If shipping stuff to college via the post office or UPS works for your pile of dorm-destined stuff, go that route first. If not, you still have ABF and U-Pack to fall back on. Again, check with your campus authorities and administrators before ordering up that trailer and forklift.

Moving to college with a rental truck

We see you there in the back with your hand in the air. And yes, you are correct. Renting a truck might be the best way to go if you are moving to college on your own. U-Haul is the first name that lots of people think of, but check out Budget and Penske too because the cheapest price is always different depending on where you live and the date you need it on.

You Want to Avoid Shipping Costs and Trailers Altogether

In this case, your strategy is more limited and depends on your situation. If you still have to buy stuff for college, don’t. Not yet. Avoid buying stuff when you’re still at home because you’ll only have to haul it all to college. Instead, order online and have it delivered straight to your dorm. When all is said and done, you might end up saving a few bucks on that mini-fridge.

Another consideration: although limited to the area you live in and the size of the vehicle, peruse some carpooling sites like Zimride and The College CarpoolMoving to college ride share

There’s also the possibility of people selling random stuff off the backs of trucks when you get there, on or around campus. (Sound weird? It happens every year on campuses everywhere.) If there are such people, you might really score. If not, you’ll have to go without the mini-fridge for a while. Your call.

On the other hand, you could end up with two mini-fridges if you and your roommate aren’t on the same page. Touch base with your roommate before the summer is out so you don’t both end up lugging two microwave ovens, TVs and mini-fridges all the way to campus.

Finally, whenever and however you pack up, think seasonal. Leave those extra blankets and sweaters and your snowboard behind. You can pick them up the next time you’re home after you head back for Thanksgiving or winter break.

Moving to College In Any Scenario

Plan ahead. Pack your boxes. Reserve that truck. And remember to check with the powers-that-be regarding move-in day policies and procedures: the parking situation, restricted move-in hours, having stuff delivered (early?) and, yes, driving a forklift across the quad.

One final note before class is dismissed: Even if mom and dad end up helping you move into your college pad, that doesn’t mean all your stuff will suddenly, magically fit into the family trucks. So when they start scratching their heads, staring at your mountain of stuff and wondering what to do, tell them everything we just told you.

They’ll be proud of their well-educated kid.

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