Packing for the descent into #DormLife can be tricky. While most schools provide checklists of obvious things like a microwave, sheets, and “shower shoes,” is that really all you need to be comfortable in your new digs?

Since college dormitories aren’t exactly known for being luxurious, here are a few key items that’ll help create a more enjoyable post-lecture pad.

Bedding

Obvious: Twin XL sheets (2 sets)

Upgrade: Mattress pad and body pillows

Yes, sheets are important. You’re probably not the first person to bunk on that bed, so sheets are an absolute necessity. But, if you’re really looking to recharge after a late-night study session (or, let’s be honest, a Netflix binge marathon), you’ll want more than a fresh set of sheets to curl up on.

Try this: Purchase a king-sized, egg-crate mattress pad, cut it in half using a sturdy pair of scissors, and then stack the pieces to really pump up the plushness of your bed. Keep your new cushy setup from shifting by covering it with a mattress protector. Since dorm mattresses are typically pretty thin, adding a mattress pad can be a real game changer.

And if your bed is situated next to a hard, cinder block wall, investing in some body pillows can keep you from tossing and turning into a rude (and possibly painful) awakening.

Dining

Obvious: A microwave, mini fridge, and table settings

Upgrade: Mason jars and a blender

Just because you’re getting the “college experience” doesn’t mean you have to live exclusively off of 10-cent noodle packs. Upgrade your dorm room dining experience by adding mason jars and a blender to your packing list.

Try this: The blender is king of small kitchen appliances. It’s unobtrusive, easy to clean, and whether you want a smoothie, some guac, or a nice tomato soup, the blender has your back.

Of course, once you’ve made your dormitory delicacy, you’re going to need a place to store it. Mason jars are cheaper than most reliable glass storage and perfect for storing and transporting leftovers.

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Bathroom

Obvious: A shower caddy and flip-flops

Upgrade: Baking soda. Lots and lots of baking soda.

This one’s simple, really:

  1. Shared bathrooms can be terrifying.
  2. Baking soda is your new magical, funk-destroying BFF.

Décor

Obvious: A calendar and photos from home

Upgrade: Washi tape, extra lamps, and fancy, tech-savvy bed-risers

Decorating any temporary living situation can be hard, and a dorm room is no different. Painting is a non-option, hanging things isn’t always possible (or allowed), and breaking the bank for a short-term space seems a bit silly.

That being said, barren walls are super boring and it’s hard to feel settled in a cookie-cutter room with zero personality.

Try this: Washi tape might be one of the best things to ever happen to dorm dwellers, renters, and really lazy decorators. With tons of new, creative uses popping up all over the place (like here, here, and here), Washi tape makes transforming sad beige walls a breeze.

But all that beautiful decorating is meaningless if you have to enjoy it under abrasive florescent lighting. Grab a couple of lamps to achieve a softer, more welcoming light, and ensure you’ve got plenty of places to plug in by investing in tech-savvy bed risers with built-in outlets (and hey, more space under the bed).

Extra credit

There are tons of ways to create a more comfortable dorm, so get creative! And before you pack up the minivan and head to campus, consider how your belongings are covered while you’re at school.

While most insurers don’t offer renters coverage for dorm rooms, there’s a good chance that if you’re under 26, you’re covered under your parents’ homeowners policy. (Yay, parents!) Find out more.

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about Jennifer

A Motor City native, Jennie spent a few years knee-deep in automotive before heading to San Francisco to join the Esurance team as a copywriter. In addition to words, she’s a big fan of running, Detroit Tiger baseball, and the Trader Joe’s cheese aisle.