How to Pack for College (and Bring Your Memories With You)

Packing: Where Do You Start?

I’ll never forget the night I sat down to pack for college. My new school had sent me a suggested list of items, but even with that guidance, it was so overwhelming. Each part of my mind offered a different idea on where to start.

The practical part of me wanted to consider clothes and school supplies, but what would I need, and how many of each thing? The sentimental part agonized over which comforts from home I would bring, and which might be too babyish for this new, grown up world. My ego wanted to make sure I packed the right things to fit in with my new friends, while my organizational self wanted to bring as little as possible so I could keep things tidy. I felt lost and overwhelmed, and it made what should have been a really fun and exciting time a bit sad and scary for me.


Looking back, it’s almost funny that I had so much trouble. I’ve become a masterful packer; I’ve moved many times including once to a new continent. But that first solo move was a big one, and I needed all the help I could get. I was lucky, because just when I was feeling the most lost in terms of how to start, a friend called and asked if I needed anything. I told her how much trouble I was having with packing for school, and she came over and helped. If not for that, I’d probably still be sitting in my childhood bedroom, staring at empty suitcases. (Or maybe not; that was years ago!)

The point is, packing for your first semester at college might be exciting, stressful, scary, sad, or a combination of all of those at the same time. Regardless, it’s a big job, and we want to help make it just a little easier for you. So, we’ve done our homework (extra credit and definitely handed in early!) — and we’ve found a couple of the best lists of suggestions of what to pack for that first year of school. (Use these alongside the list your school will probably provide, which will have information unique to your college.) Some of the lists out there are pretty awful and very dated; most people really don’t need to bring an alarm clock or a futon the first year of college.

These 2 What-to-Pack-for-College Lists are Key:

My favorite find is this one with great advice and a well-planned list, with a lot of focus on things you might not have thought of.

I also found that this list, though very minimal, is practical, and well thought out — a great place to start!

Bonus points to both of these lists for including a What NOT to Pack for College section — that’s really important, too! But there’s one thing neither of these lists — nor the other two dozen or so I read through — included.

Can you guess what it is???

Drum Roll, Please

It’s stress relief, relaxation, downtime, and fun! In other words — don’t forget your coloring supplies!

If you’re getting some of your college packing advice from us, the benefits of coloring probably aren’t new to you. You already know how therapeutic it can be to color a page or two when you need some me time. You can imagine how important it will be to sometimes take a break from the pressures and deadlines of college. So, you were probably already going to pack your favorite (college!) coloring books, pencils, and markers (right????).

But that’s just where to begin — we’ve got some new ideas for your packing list, too!

More More More

Coloring is wonderful for stress relief and relaxation, but it isn’t ONLY for that. Coloring, as a hobby, is an outlet for artistic and creative expression. It’s a great, personal way to connect with our friends and family. And it’s a way to use a shared hobby to build connections and community. Have you thought about using printable coloring pages or posters to personalize your dorm space? What about coloring note cards to send home to say thank you, or to use as thinking of you cards for friends who are now spread around the country at their new schools?

My first semester of college, one of the hardest things was leaving my younger sister behind. She’s four years younger than I am, and when we were younger, we mostly drove each other crazy. We grew closer in the years before I started college — just in time for me to leave. I missed her so much that I spent more time shopping for cards in the Book Shop for her than for anyone else! It was great to stay connected with her through cards and letters. But I have even more ideas for staying in touch now than I did then! I would have loved to have shared a project with her — something we could have done together, even though we were far apart.

Make those memories

What if we’d had a coloring book that she and I could have shared?! We could have shared one single book that we could have taken turns coloring in, and mailed back and forth. Or, we could have had two identical books that we could have colored in “together,” and compared notes and ideas. (Actually, that’s not a bad idea, even now!) Having a College Coloring Book would have been even more perfect: I could have shown her the places and traditions of my new school — and she would have been able to have been included, just a bit, in what I was seeing and doing in this new place. This isn’t just for sisters, either — it would also be a great idea to be shared between a mother and daughter who are apart for the first time, or for a close friend from before our college days.

Take those memories

And these ideas are not only for our real sisters, but also those “sisters” we create in our lives! Even while we’re all starting a new chapter in our lives, our high school friends remain dear and important to us. Why not host a going away party for your group of friends before you all leave for college? Join our VIP list and print out our free printable coloring page (one for each of you!) and color in a bit of each others’ posters. Customize them with notes, jokes, and messages, and take them along with you to school. It would make a beautiful, unique, and personal piece of art for your room. And it would be a great way to feel connected to all of your friends, no matter how far apart you may be. Plus, it doesn’t take up nearly the space of a yearbook or a pile of knickknacks!


Whichever pieces of your coloring collection you pack for college, do what you can to make it fun and easy. Remember to plan for rough days as well as good ones. Pack the things that will help you feel centered in times of stress. Bring stuff that will help you connect with people you miss when you’re feeling far away from home. Packing for college is hard, and it’s a really big deal. But also remember that you don’t have to get it exactly right — they have shops where you’re going, and you can always bring stuff you forgot during your first trip home (or have your parents put it in the mail).

We’d love to hear which of these packing ideas you used! And we’d love (even more!) to know what creative ways you’ve incorporated coloring into your time at college! Drop us a line, leave us a comment, or tag #collegecoloringbooks or #craftandcolorco on Instagram to show off what you’re doing.

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