How to Move Across the Country for College

Moving to an out-of-state college

You’ve worked hard to get into the college of your dreams. The acceptance letter arrives, and excitement begins to build. You’ve registered for classes, but there’s still one detail to figure out — what’s the best way to get all your stuff to a college across the country?  

First of all, don’t stress! Just follow these easy tips to make sure everything arrives safely just when you need it. 

Male student and parent unloading the car at a dorm after moving to college across the country.


Gather information from the university 

Reach out to the residence life office on campus to learn the dates for moving in and any rules or restrictions for parking vehicles or moving equipment. Knowing these details will help you choose the best moving option and ensure everything goes smoothly on move-in day. This is also a good time to find out if there will be student groups available to help unload things on campus. If not, you may need to bring extra help or be prepared to ask other students for assistance.  

Check out our complete guide for student moving for more information. 

Book a moving service

When you’re attending college a couple of hours away from home, loading up the car and hitting the road is a valid option, but when the college is long-distance this isn’t always the easiest way to move. Here are some other ways students may choose to get things to campus:

Shipping services

One option for getting things to campus is to ship them with a carrier like USPS®, UPS® or FedEx®. But those costs can add up fast with shipping rates based on package size and weight. If you decide to ship things, consider taking some items like clothing with you during travel and only boxing up part of your belongings for shipping like bedding and room décor.  

Just remember that shipping everything to campus might be difficult since many dorms won’t allow multiple package deliveries. And that on-campus post office could be a long distance from housing, so lugging everything to your room can be especially hard.  

Rental truck

Another option to get stuff to campus is to rent a moving truck. Many local rental truck companies will have drop-off locations near the college.  

However, driving a moving truck to campus can be expensive with the cost of fuel. And you might end up paying for more space than needed if the company doesn’t have a small truck available. Driving a truck across the country and then having to navigate and park it on campus can also be stressful. 

Hire a self-moving company

Hiring a self-moving service like U-Pack® is often the best choice for moving stuff across the country for college so you won’t have to worry about waiting for multiple boxes to arrive or making a long drive with everything.  

U-Pack’s ReloCube containers are designed with small moves in mind, so they’re a great fit for college moves. One metal Cube holds up to a room’s worth of furniture, fits into a regular parking space and has easy, ground-level loading and unloading. One of our experienced drivers will pick up the container and drive it to campus or choose to load or unload at a local service center for added savings.  

Pro tip: Be sure to book moves early since summer is a busy season! 

Arrange personal travel

Getting stuff moved is only half of the journey. You also have to get yourself to college. Be sure to book travel early if you’re making the trip by air, bus or train since back-to-school season can be busy and the most desirable fares and schedules can fill up fast. Include any bags you’ll be taking when purchasing tickets since there may be additional fees for extras. And if you’re taking a road trip to get to college, plan pit stops in advance to make the most of the time and arrange for any hotels along the way to the avoid the hassle of last-minute searching for a place to sleep. 

Pack your things

Because most dorm rooms and student apartments are small, it’s best to take inventory of your belongings and consult with roommates about what they’re bringing to avoid duplicating bigger items. For example, there’s no need for the room to have two microwaves if a roommate is already bringing one.  

Some students may plan to trade out clothing during shorter visits home so they’ll have less to pack for the move. Thanksgiving or winter breaks would be good times to take home summer things, and spring break would be ideal for switching out cold-weather items for lighter weight clothing.  

Check out our printable college packing list to get started and these packing tips to help protect things during the move. 

Pro tip: Universities often have information online about room dimensions and furnishings so you can plan what to pack! 

Unload strategically

When it’s time to unload on campus, make sure to have a strategy to avoid wasted trips to and from the dorm. Find the shortest route to and from the room, and don’t overlook the stairs as a valid option if you’re unloading lighter things since it might be quicker than waiting for the elevator. Carry as much as possible in each trip and wait to unpack once everything is in the room. 

If your college doesn’t have unloading help available and your family can’t make the trip, consider asking other students for help and returning the favor. 

Let U-Pack move you to college

Get a quote online or call 844-362-5303844-594-3077 to speak to one of our moving consultants. Let us make your student move easy and affordable.