On the merits of overpacking

Graphic by Haewon Ma

Some people are very good at packing. I am not one of these people. Upon dumping the contents of my overstuffed duffel bag onto the floor of my room in Durfee last September, I felt overcome with a sense of dread. What had I forgotten? What was I going to miss? Plenty. With that in mind, allow me to offer a few words of completely unqualified advice.

First and foremost, I cannot overstate the importance of creature comforts. You live here now! This is not the time be spare; if there are things that will make your room feel more cozy or cluttered or familiar, then that’s reason enough to bring them. The purple furry rug I bought on impulse right before I moved in was a colossal pain to clean, but I swear it measurably improved my quality of life. Rugs, lamps, succulents, your Hair: The Musical poster, your collection of limited edition Cabbage Patch kids—leave no stone unturned. You’ll be glad for it (even if your roommate isn’t).

Speaking of comfort, be prepared for the elements. And I’m not just talking about potential polar vortexes come winter. These days, you could be wearing a ski jacket in April or breaking out your bikini to tan on Old Campus in mid-January. This is a good thing to bear in mind. Climate change is no joke, and neither is sweating through all your sweaters because you burned through the three t-shirts you packed without time to do laundry.

That’s the thing, in the end: packing is about preparedness. Which is why I’d advocate for holding onto that headlamp from FOOT (and maybe the whistle too, while you’re at it). You will, at times, be eating and drinking. Utensils are easy enough to come across but bringing a cup is not a terrible idea. Some people may say that shot glasses are a college must-have, but to my way of thinking mugs are much more versatile and conveniently double as a great way to highlight your personality. My personal favorite is the one my grandparents bought me on vacation with a funky manatee in a tie-dye t-shirt on the front. It shows people I’m an animal lover with a wild side. Also: paper clips. Say what you will, these are of paramount importance. You don’t need them until you do, at which point it will be so nice to have them around.

I recognize that overpacking is not for everyone (especially not by the time May rolls around). But I do hope you’ll heed my advice as you zip up those suitcases and shove the last few loose items in the trunk of your parents’ car. My cardinal rule is this: if you think you want it now, you’ll definitely want it when it’s not at your disposal.

(Except for Ethernet cords. Who knows how those ended up on the freshman packing list.)

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