The Ultimate Packing List

I am a highly organized person and all who know me know that I am constantly making lists and planning anything + everything I can. So as an incoming freshman I was desperate for some kind of list that would answer all my packing questions! I can't promise that this list will do that for you, but it is fairly comprehensive and I tried to focus on things an incoming student wouldn't necessarily think of (i.e. I'm not going to tell you how many pairs of socks to bring). This is of course just my opinion and more geared towards girls (because that's what I know) but I think it truly can be a useful packing tool for anyone, and if nothing else, I included a few packing tips which are sure to help. So enjoy! 

How to Pack Smart 

Tip #1: Prioritize
Pack the shoes + clothing you will use the most and leave behind that one pair of shoes you've only worn twice or that sweater that in theory looks cute but you've never really loved. Honestly it was rather refreshing for me to go through my wardrobe which has accumulated over the years and donate or store clothing that I wouldn't be needing. When I unpacked in Lugano my closet felt fresh and clutter-free, a perfect start to a new chapter in life! 
Also along those lines, it's good to think ahead when prioritizing. I knew that I would be flying home in mid-December for the winter holidays so I limited the winter apparel I brought with, I only packed 1 heavy winter jacket, 1 pair of winter boots and a handful of sweaters. Moreover, I knew I wanted to ski but I realized I probably wouldn't get around to it until 2nd semester so I left my ski jacket + gloves + helmet at home. This saved me a ton of space and then in December when I flew back to America my checked suitcase was filled with chocolate and christmas presents but hardly any clothing. Over the break I just wore the winter clothes I left behind (while packing in August) and then in January when I flew back to Switzerland I had a bag full of winter clothes + other cold weather gear for me to add to my existing wardrobe.

Tip #2: Layer 
Not only are layers a European fashion staple, but they are essential to getting the most bang out of your packing buck (so to speak). Instead of packing bulky sweatshirts or heavy coats, focus on packing pieces that can be easily layered to adapt to both summer, fall, and winter temperatures. Versatile pieces such as light weight cardigans, long sleeve blouses, casual dresses and light weight jackets can all be layered for any temperature. This is especially crucial for Academic Travel as October + March are months where the weather can either be sunny, rainy, snowing, or maybe all three over the course of two weeks! My typical travel outfit is a tank top + cardigan + lightweight jacket + pants + long socks + boots + scarf. 

Tip #3: Strategize 
The way you pack is just as important as what you pack. I know some people like to ship boxes over, but I didn't want to deal with that cost so I budgeted to pay for 1 extra bag (as the first is free on international flights). So with that in mind I chose one lightweight but large duffle bag (w/ wheels) + one heavier but massive suitcase. In the heavy suitcase I put my many lightweight items such as stacks of t-shirts and other clothing / linens / etc. While in the lightweight duffle I put my super heavy but smaller items like shoes, electronics and a towel. And I actually put my heaviest items (books) in my carry-on bag because most airlines only weigh checked luggage. 

One word: SpaceBags. I am a huge fan of these. They seriously are great space savers! In case any of you are interested in purchasing some, they come in about 10 different sizes, but my favorite are Travel, Medium and Large. The X-Large + Jumbo work. But I preferred the smaller sizes for packing clothing. Another tip is to pack your summer clothes in one space bag and your winter clothes in the other so that you don't overwhelm your closet and you have less to immediately unpack and sort through when you get to school. 

Tip #4: Know your limit
Check online and make sure you are aware of your airlines weight limit on checked baggage. For most flights it is going to be about 50lbs. So be aware of your weight as you are packing so you don't get everything zipped up and then find out you have to pay extra fees at the airport for a bag that is too heavy. Weigh early and weigh your bag often while packing! I bought a (link here) handheld luggage scale before I packed up last summer and it has been such a life saver! I used it for independent travel, academic travel, and when I came home over winter break! My roommates also appreciated that I had it!
I maximized the amount of stuff I was able to bring by taking advantage of the airlines generous carryon policy. Not only did I check two bags but I also carried on a medium sized bag with wheels (full of heavy items) + a back pack (with even more heavy items) + a pillow + a purse! 

Tip #5: Don't stress! 
If you do forget something you can a) find a replacement in Lugano b) do without or c) have your family ship it. No matter what, I can promise you that it won't be the end of the world. Don't spend your last few weeks at home stressing about packing, just stay on top of things and consider packing up a few days early so that you can get it over with and enjoy your friends + family. 
my room ⇡ freshmen year

The List 
I know that all incoming freshmen received a packing list, but here are a few things you may want to pack that you wouldn't think of!
▷ A lanyard or key ring to put your new room key + mailbox key on (these are two things you don't want to lose!) 

▷ Scissors + tape + a sharpie for packing/unpacking

▷ A planner (or small notebook) to keep track of your schedule + homework 

▷ Sticky hooks (link here) tacks + nails + pins etc. are all not allowed on dorm walls. So these little stick and peel hooks have really come in handy for me! You may also want to buy some sticky tack or just no damage wall tape for hanging up pictures, posters, etc. 

▷ Something that reminds you of home! I brought lots of pictures + 1 small pillow that were my "home-y" items, I've had roommates who brought a stuffed animal, a quilt, or a scrapbook. Just having that little piece of home to turn to in a moment of home-sickness makes all the difference. 

▷ Rain boots + a rain jacket are musts! Lugano can be very rainy, plus Academic Travel in October + March is infamously rainy as well. And no amount of rain will stop your AT group from walking the streets for hours a day touring adventurous new places. So be prepared! Also, rain gear is typically more expensive in Lugano. So consider investing in two quality pieces while at home. I personally bought an ultra-waterproof Patagonia rain jacket at an outlet sale last August and it has been a lifesaver. 

▷ Good walking shoes for travel! I love my Sperry's because they are supportive, great for walking, but also look good. But there are dozens of great (and comfortable!) shoe options out there.

▷ Dressy shoes. Franklin has tons of dress-up events to attend. I prefer to wear flats because of the hills + cobblestone but heels can be fun too. 

▷ 1 pair of gloves for when it gets chilly! 

▷ Dress clothes for events such as Gatsby Gala, Travies, Honors Society lectures, etc.

▷ Athletic shoes + clothing for hiking San Sal, going to the gym, or playing a Franklin sport. 

▷ 1 towel + mini bottles of shampoo/conditioner (you can buy more later) 

▷ 1 set of sheets. ( you can buy a comforter + blankets + pillows later at Ikea )

▷ (sorry boys!) Feminine products. Don't freak out girls, you can find tampons + pads here but you may have to search a little to find tampons that aren't cardboard. So some girls prefer to bring a box over. 

▷ a couple of Swiss converters. converters + adapters are more expensive in Lugano then in the US

▷a Halloween costume

▷ your favorite treat!  i.e. a Twix bar or kraft mac&cheese (to be used in case of emergency) 

▷ a few euros + swiss francs (not necessary, but nice to have so you don't have to immediately worry about converting money)


One last note: I know that my list + opinions are very much US and female centric, I am not trying to exclude anyone, my bias is inherent due to my own experience and this is just what I know best! But if you have a specific question I didn't answer feel free to comment. And if I don't know the answer, I do have male and/or non-US friends at Franklin I can put you in contact with who may know better! :) 


  1. Hi Jessica, this is awesome! Are the beds Standard Twin? Extra Long Twin? Or Double?
    Your bed looks pretty big in the picture.

  2. the office at franklin told me they are long twins in the realm of 90x200cm


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Key Words and Phrases to Know in the Major Swiss Languages

Switzerland: All About Cantons!

Swiss Cities in Depth: Bern