Packing Palooza: How to cut down on stress while preparing for school

(Seth Culp-Ressler / Features Editor)
(Seth Culp-Ressler / Features Editor)
(Seth Culp-Ressler / Features Editor)

By Seth Culp-Ressler | Features Editor

August is just a column away on the calendar, and that means Summer Break 2015 can only hold out for a few more weeks. Soon classes will resume, homework will be once again assigned and the daily grind of academia will be back for another year. Before that happens, however, students must to first return to their rooms both on campus and off.

That fact can only mean one thing: it’s packing season.

Unless last year’s boxes have sat unopened since returning home (hey, it happens to the best of us), chances are most people are facing a mountain of belongings that have to be packed up and shipped out. It’s a task no sane person will be looking forward to.

To ease the struggle just a little bit, here are some tips on maximizing efficiency and minimizing effort when preparing to return to school. If anything they’ll help to delay the looming clouds of stress for a week or two. You’re welcome in advance.

Pack for seasons; utilize breaks

(Seth Culp-Ressler / Features Editor)
(Seth Culp-Ressler / Features Editor)

All four seasons visit Pittsburgh each year, and while that may be nice for the changing scenery it doesn’t bode well when selecting clothes. A winter coat will be needed first semester, but only for the last few weeks. Why have it the entire time?

Take advantage of the breaks you have – specifically over Thanksgiving for the first half of the year – and switch out clothes. Take a suitcase of warm weather attire home, and return with enough layers roll around the Bluff like a human onion. It’s that simple.

Split consumables with friends

When stocking up on tissues, paper towels and toilet paper for the upcoming year it may seem like buying in bulk is the smart, and cheap, way to go. That is, until you realize you have to keep it all somewhere. Dorm rooms aren’t exactly bursting with closet space.

That said, there is another option: pull together with some friends and split your Bounty® accordingly. You get the benefit of lower prices while still having space to store all those tissues for the inevitable winter season of snot. When supplies run low get the group member with the soonest visiting parents to request a resupply. Ask nicely and they’ll surely be willing.

Carefully consider everything you bring

When preparing to live over eight months in such a small space it’s important to be mindful of every single item you take along. It can be hard to let go, but a judicious selection process will pay big dividends when organizing a comfortable abode.

As each box is filled, and each bag readied, take a mental quiz on the importance of your choices. What’s the point of lugging that guitar a couple hundred miles if it only gets played twice? Do you remember the last time those pants were unfolded, or that sweater left its hangar? If not, don’t bring them.

Pack for the smaller car

(Seth Culp-Ressler / Features Editor)
(Seth Culp-Ressler / Features Editor)

According to a 2013 study done by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the United Sates had an average of 1.95 cars per household in 2011. Chances are most students come from a home that rounds up that statistic, and therefore have access to two vehicles.

For a typical family with a child in college one of those two is probably a larger SUV or minivan, while the other is a smaller sedan or hatchback. Aim to move in using the small sedan, not the cavernous SUV. Everything might not quite fit, and the bigger vehicle may be required, but in the end you’ll be forced to bring less stuff – and that’s a good thing.

Play lots of Tetris

Packing really boils down to being a big game of 3D Tetris, so it pays to get good at it. Having good spatial reasoning will help pack boxes tighter, fill trunks more efficiently and, on the other end of things, organize rooms in a more user-friendly fashion.

Organize boxes by their contents (clothes, toiletries, office supplies, etc.) and lay out everything you have to pack in front of you before just shoving it all in boxes. Be smart and there will be less to cart up those two flights of stairs.

Oh, and one more thing. These tips are all based on being somewhat proactive on the packing front. Don’t leave all the work until the night before and expect to get good results, planning ahead is key. Don’t say you weren’t warned.