College Dorm Packing List for International Students

Written by sarah tuttle
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College Dorm Packing List for International Students
International students packing for a dorm are limited by airlines to two suitcases. (Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

Students packing for a dorm overseas must decide what items are worth carting around the world. Thankfully, common items necessary for dorm living are often available from a store on or near campus. However, there are some items that may not be easy for students to find or replace in their host country. Where international students have such limited packing space, it can be helpful for them to think of a packing list in terms of available space.

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The Carry-On Bag

Most airlines allow for one carry-on bag. In case all other luggage gets lost or delayed, the carry-on should include enough essentials to last for a couple of days. Pack all medication, small valuables, travel documents and registration or dorm check-in information in the carry-on, as well as a change of clean clothes and toiletries. Many colleges arrange carpools for dorm students to go and pick up basic necessities during the first week, so you only need a few days' worth of toiletries.

Suitcase One

Airlines normally allow two checked suitcases per person. The suitcases are limited by weight, so travelling students should make sure their suitcase is within the weight limit before leaving for the airport, or prepare to pay an extra fee. The first suitcase should be dedicated to clothing. International students should make certain to check the weather of their host country and pack accordingly, including appropriate footwear for multiple seasons. In addition to everyday clothes, students should bring at least one formal outfit.

Suitcase Two

Students should only pack the second suitcase half-full, to allow room for the items that will accumulate over the school year. It should contain mainly personal items, such as photos and favourite games. International students may want to bring cultural items to remind them of home and show friends. Pack bedding that has sentimental or health value, such as a homemade blanket or hypoallergenic bedding that may not be easy to find, in this second suitcase. Electronic accessories also belong in this suitcase.


If students have electronics from their home country, they should make sure to bring plug adaptors and accessories, as compatible items may not be readily available. Electronic items that are easy to overlook may include specific batteries, webcams for talking to home over the Internet, and an extra charger. It may be worthwhile for students to call ahead to electronics stores near their dorm to discover what specific items they may not be able to find in their host country.

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