Your uni shopping list – 10 things you won't want to leave behind

People forget all sorts when they start university, from laptop chargers to bedding, food – even clothes. So it’s a good idea to make a list of what you’ll need to get before you head to uni.

What to take to uni in your first year

You’ll likely need some essentials to help you with your studies, for your room and other things for day-to-day life. Once you’ve got your laptop, books or any equipment you might need – think about what else will help you settle into uni life.

Maybe you’d like to bring things to do in your spare time, or you might be wondering how to decorate your uni room. If so, you could take a few items with you to make your room feel like home. A lot of universities have virtual tours of their accommodation – so you might be able to see what your room will look like and what you’d like to take with you.

Here’s your what-to-take-to-uni checklist.

1. Games and hobbies

In your spare time at uni it’s a good idea to have some books to read, games to play or activities you enjoy. Some of these could be just for you to relax – others could be great ways to get to know your new housemates or friends on your course.

  • Your favourite series of books
  • A frisbee, tennis balls, badminton rackets
  • Guitar, harmonica – ukulele?
  • Board games, Playstation, Xbox

2. Things for your course

On some courses there’s summer reading or a task to complete before you start – so make sure you get any resources you need in plenty of time – and if you order them early you may be able to get a deal. Plus, anything else you’ll need for lectures, practical sessions, or field trips.

  • Laptop (though you may be able to borrow one)
  • Laptop charger!
  • Books you need for your course
  • Supplies or equipment (e.g. art, sports kit, binoculars)

3. The important, but boring stuff

These might seem obvious but will be REALLY inconvenient if you forget them.

  • Your photo ID (driving licence, passport etc)
  • Student discount cards (TOTUM, UNiDAYS)
  • NHS number so you can register at a local medical centre
  • First-aid kit and any medication you need

4. Keeping active and well

Take some things with you to keep your mind and body healthy while you’re adjusting to your studies, new people, and your accommodation. (Having a few of these items will be especially handy if there’s a lockdown or you have to isolate at some point.)

  • Anything for exercise – sports equipment, running shoes, active wear, weights, resistance bands
  • An idea of who you’ll call to hear a familiar voice – friends, family etc
  • Whatever helps you destress – music, headphones, gaming, walking boots, meditation, or relaxation apps

5. Things to make your room comfy

Your room might already have a desk, desk chair, bed, and mattress – check what’s already there so you know what else you need to get. Make sure it’s comfy as you’ll spend plenty of time studying and relaxing in your room.

  • Cushions, pillows, throws
  • Bring your favourite duvet with you?
  • A mattress topper to make your bed extra comfy
  • Spare bedding, so you don’t have to worry how quickly you can wash and dry it

6. Making your room homey

First check what you’re allowed to bring to your uni accommodation, or whether you’re allowed to put things on the wall. Then think of ways you can make your room feel homey.

  • Lamps or soft lighting for when you’re relaxing
  • A rug, a wall hanging (if you’re allowed)
  • Things to remind you of home – photos, ornaments, posters or things for a noticeboard
  • A houseplant or two

7. Food and drink

Worried about how to eat well during all the freshers’ festivities and takeaway temptations? If you think about good nutrition from the start, you can keep healthy and find it easier to focus on your studies. No doubt they’ll be shops nearby but you might want to take some supplies to see you through the first day or two. And a reusable water bottle is must – so you can refill it between lectures.  

8. Kitchen bits

Check what the kitchen you’ll be sharing already has – most have a fridge, freezer, microwave and oven. You might need to take your own kitchenware though.

  • A few glasses, mugs, bowls, plates
  • Knives, forks, spoons, scissors, a couple of chopping knives
  • A reliable saucepan/pot you’ll be happy cooking most things in
  • Washing up liquid, reusable storage

9. Bathroom basics

What you’ll need to take might depends on whether you’re sharing a bathroom or you have your own en-suite, but you’ll probably need some of these.

  • Shower gel, shampoo, soap
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Does your room have a bathroom brush and bin?
  • Towels and bathmat?

10. Don’t forget clothes

Some students have genuinely forgotten to bring clothes with them to uni.

  • Clothes you’ll be comfy in at home and in lectures
  • Plenty of hangers (your room might have some, but are there enough?)
  • Things to wear for society meetups, nights out and Students’ Union events
  • Detergent and fabric conditioner that’s kind/suitable for your skin

So there’s quite a bit to think about

And you might end up with way too long a list of stuff to take with you – but don’t panic – they’ll be shops nearby, so as long as you’ve got the essentials, you’ll be fine! 

And you can chat to students already at uni to ask them what they took with them. They might have some handy tips, or some suggestions you haven’t thought of yet.

Next, check out our advice on the things you don't need to pack for uni, and how to make your accommodation feel like home.