What to Take to Uni: Your Essential Checklist

25th April 2022
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Off to university? Leaving home for the first time? Wondering what to take and what you won’t need? You and thousands of other new students will be going through exactly the same thing.

We have been there and done that. We have been where you are, standing in our bedroom looking around and wondering whether everything will fit in the car and making a mental checklist of things we must not leave behind.

Want a shortcut of uni essentials? Looking for a quick uni checklist of the things you’ll need and the things you probably won’t?

You’re in the right place.

The Sanctuary Students team use their combined experience and fond memories of that first time packing for uni to help.

Here’s what we think a uni essentials checklist looks like!

Uni essentials checklist

To make this list easier to follow, we’ll divide it into logical sections. If you already have something covered, you can quickly skip to the next.

Documents and papers

You will need a few items of paperwork for ID and such but you shouldn’t need much. We recommend scanning everything and keeping copies somewhere safe, just in case.

  • Valid passport or driving licence for ID
  • All official university paperwork including your acceptance letter
  • All student loan paperwork
  • Any accommodation contract paperwork
  • Any relevant course paperwork
  • Bank account details and card
  • Student discount cards

If you’re an international student, you’ll probably have extra documents you’ll need such as insurance, student visa and so on. Bring them to university with you and definitely scan and keep digital copies where you can get to them if you need to.

Keep all your documents safe. In fact, buy a small safe and keep them there!

Study essentials

Next on your uni essentials checklist are the items you’ll need for studying.

  • Laptop or desktop PC
  • eBook reader (optional)
  • Headphones (You’ll need them!)
  • Cables and chargers
  • Printer (Yes, we still use paper for revision)
  • USB memory stick
  • Power adapter, voltage regulator or UPS
  • Books
  • Pens and paper
  • Luminous markers
  • Post-It notes and sticky page markers
  • Folders or binders for organisation
  • Student calendar
  • Tape

Any specifics required for your course. Some will have prerequisites such as cameras, specific devices or other equipment.

Living essentials

Living essentials are all those things you need to live and thrive while away at university. As we’re all different, this list is huge, but you can pick and choose what you want to bring.

Plus, some halls and some private student accommodation will include things like pots, pans, iron and ironing board so you might not need those.


  • Student recipe book
  • Basic cutlery set
  • Basic crockery set
  • Mugs for tea or coffee
  • Glasses for water or juice
  • Sharp knife for food preparation
  • Tupperware or food storage containers
  • Bottle opener with corkscrew
  • Wooden spoons and spatula
  • Tea towels
  • Other kitchen items you usually use


  • Towels
  • Shower gel or soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Shaving essentials
  • Washbag
  • Toothbrush (with charger if electric)
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Dressing gown (ideal for shared bathrooms)
  • Hairbrush and hair essentials
  • Any other bathroom essentials you might need
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Personal medication or prescriptions
  • Birth control products


  • Mattress protector
  • Duvet and pillows
  • Sheets and spares
  • Laundry basket
  • Clothes hangers
  • Clothes
  • Alarm clock (as a backup for your phone)
  • Lamp or reading light
  • Ear plugs
  • Small safe for valuables and those documents
  • Photos of family and friends

Clothes essentials

It’s tempting to pack your entire wardrobe but you probably won’t need everything. You can always bring more from home if you need it.

  • Formal wear for balls and parties
  • Comfortable wear for revision and hanging out
  • Underwear
  • Cold weather clothes
  • Warm weather clothes
  • Clothes you can layer for mid-seasons or cold days
  • Coats and jackets
  • Hat and gloves
  • Beachwear
  • Smart shoes
  • Trainers or boots
  • Gym or sports kit
  • Swimming kit
  • Pyjamas or nightwear
  • Spares of everything just in case
  • Watch and jewellery

Exactly what clothes you take is up to you but we definitely recommend at least one formal outfit and as many informal outfits for daily use as you can pack.

Optional extras

Optional extras include all those uni essentials that will make life easier or more comfortable but aren’t required for your course or daily life.

  • Rucksack or bag
  • Sewing kit for basic repairs
  • Books for relaxing
  • Board games
  • Bike, lock and cycling gear
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Hot water bottle
  • Musical instruments
  • Desk fan
  • Pinboard for hanging pictures
  • Any hobby or special interest equipment you might use while you’re away.

Your list of optional uni essentials will likely differ from this but we have covered the basics. If you have a specific passion or hobby, this list could grow quite long.

Just be mindful that you’ll have to move all this stuff at the beginning and end of term. You’ll also probably have to fit it all into your or your parent’s car!