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Car Tetris: packing your car for uni

The time has come. You're off to uni. And you're probably thinking about packing with like...2 days to do it in? Been there.

Forcing 19 years of stuff into a Nissan Micra is a serious undertaking. Besides the clothes, shoes and secret teddy bear, there's all the ADULTING equipment you'll need for your time at uni. Cleaning products, your own plates and cutlery - all the things that used to just appear around the house by magic.

So, not only does nearly every item have to fit into your new room at uni - it's got to get there first. Take a deep breath, do some arm warm ups. It's time to play Car Tetris: Packing for Uni Edition.

  1. Heavy and flat

    First things first: books. Heavy, flat things to the bottom. Packing all your course books and tins of food into boxes of the same shape and size will allow you to build a strong foundation layer for everything else.

    Your uni books are going to be your easiest thing to pack because books naturally tessellate, bless them. Get this one right or everything else will go wrong.

  2. Heavy and awkward

    All the stuff that will crush other things to death and happen to not fit together very well, like shoes and cleaning things. This will be your hardest layer to get right and again: you're better off with boxes.

    This layer can't be packed on the day you're supposed to arrive at your halls. You're going to need at least a couple of days before the your move to uni to get things in labelled boxes and stacked in a pile.

  3. Large and soft

    It's a good idea at this point to cover all the boxes with big, soft things like duvets, bags of clothing and pillows. This layer will hold everything together and help pad any gaps you have, making a good base for the next layers.

  4. Random and breakable

    Lamps, shower caddies, desk organisers - all the oddly shaped stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else and could get broken by heavier things. It could be you're looking at a load of loose objects that can't go in boxes, so use the layer below (duvet and blankets) to pack them in and stop them shifting too much.

General tips:

  • A list. Dude, a list. If you don't have a uni packing list you're just chucking things in boxes at random and you'll arrive with 80 DVDs, 1 pair of socks and a pink sombrero. You can get student checklists online so it's easy pie. Don't be the person in uni halls (me) who has to borrow socks. Not cool.

  • Nerd tip: put everything in boxes and stack them in a pile that's roughly the size of the space you have in the car. When you're happy that it fits and things aren't getting crushed, number the boxes with the layer they belong in. On the day you have to pack the car, you can then put the boxes in their perfect position.

  • Make one box your designated first-night-at-uni box. It needs to go in first, so it can be put high up on a shelf immediately, so you at least know where your essentials are. Things to include: toothbrush, toothpaste, PJs, phone charger, rum, pants, socks.

Good luck chickens! Remember: however many bottles of Skittles vodka you're working on, essays are more important like 80% of the time. OK, 70%.

If you're taking your car to uni, have a look at our guide to affordable student car insurance.

Updated: 01/09/2019