This post is all about essentials for college commuter students.
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Being a commuter student is a little bit trickier than living on campus. You can’t just run to your dorm quick if you forget to put on deodorant or pack an umbrella. Commuting to college means you need to be prepared for just about any scenario.
I was a commuter student for two years in college, and I definitely learned what I needed to have in my car and backpack to get through the day. That’s why I put together this list of 15 essentials for college commuter students.
Here are 15 of the most important items that commuter students should have with them.
Top Essentials For College Commuter Students
1. Sturdy Backpack
Commuter students carry a lot more around for the day than students who live on campus. Make sure you have a super sturdy backpack that can support all of your college commuter student essentials.
I had an Osprey brand backpack when I commuted in college and it was PERFECT. Osprey makes incredibly high quality backpacks and they have an insanely good warranty. If anything goes wrong with your backpack, they will repair it for free. Their Nova backpack is perfect for college students because it has a ton of space, a built in laptop sleeve, and tons of internal organization.
North Face also makes really good backpacks for college commuter students. One of the most popular choices is their Borealis backpack. It has comfortable shoulder straps, lots of internal organization, and a raised laptop pocket.
A laptop isn’t 100% necessary in college, but it does make your life so much easier. I used my laptop ALL the time in college, especially for the two years that I was a commuter student.
It was so nice to be able to head to a coffee shop in between classes and get my homework done during the day. If I had huge breaks and nothing to do, I would sometimes watch YouTube or Netflix from my laptop. I also used my laptop for taking notes in class.
If you don’t have access to a laptop, don’t worry. Most colleges will have communal computers that are available for use in the student union or library.
The WORST feeling is driving all the way to campus and realizing your phone or laptop is on low battery. Avoid being that person that has to bum a charger off of someone in class. Always try to carry your phone and laptop charger with you when you’re commuting.
I recommend also carrying a portable charger with you. You never know when you’ll be stuck without an outlet.
4. Extra Clothes
One time when I was a commuter student I spilled an entire cup of coffee all over myself. I didn’t have any extra clothes with me so I just had to walk around all day with a giant coffee stain all over my body.
Learn from my mistake! Always pack an extra set of clothes in your car or backpack in case of any spills or falls.
5. Spare Cash
It’s always a good idea to have some emergency cash with you. You never know when you’ll run out of gas, have to pay for parking, or you forget your lunch and need to purchase something on campus.
If you don’t like carrying around cash, you could also carry a pre-paid debit card or emergency credit card.
6. Rain Gear
It’s a good idea to always keep some rain gear in your car or backpack in case of inclement weather.
The easiest way to be prepared for the rain is to carry around a super compact umbrella. This one from Amazon folds down SUPER small so it’ll fit perfectly in your backpack.
I also recommend keeping rain or snow boots in your car if you live somewhere where the weather is unpredictable. Trudging through snowy sidewalks in between classes is NOT fun when you’re wearing tennis shoes.
7. Emergency Car Kit
If you’re commuting to campus in a car, you absolutely need an emergency car kit. Honestly, everyone should have this in their car even if they’re not a commuter. It has just about everything you’d need in case of a car emergency.
If you’d rather buy everything separately, make sure you at least have jumper cables, tools to change a tire, and an emergency thermal blanket in case your car gets stuck somewhere in the winter.
If you’re a commuter student, you’re probably not on a campus meal plan. A lot of commuter students end up paying for food on campus or going out to eat on their way home. This can get SO expensive.
A great way to save money as a college commuter is to pack your own food. I would always try to bring a packed lunch and a few snacks with me for the day when I was commuting. This allowed me to eat healthier and save a ton of money.
But some days I just didn’t have the time to pack a lunch. On those days, I really wish I would have had a little stash of snacks in my car to keep me from spending money on food. Keep a few granola bars, bags of popcorn, fruit snacks, or any kind of nonperishable snack in your car for those days when you’re rushing out the door to get to class.
9. Water Bottle
A water bottle is one of my top essentials for college commuter students. You’ll be on campus for pretty much the whole day, and it can be easy to forget to drink water when you’re running around to classes.
Having a water bottle with you at all times encourages you to drink more water. Plus, you won’t have to waste money on plastic water bottles every single day. I have this water bottle from Simple Modern and I really like it. It’s super affordable, holds a ton of water, and keeps my water cold all day.
10. Parking Pass
Getting a ticket because you forgot your parking pass at home is NOT fun. Keep your parking pass in your car at all times so you don’t end up without it.
It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the expiration date. Sometimes your parking pass will expire in the middle of the semester and you’ll be left with nowhere to park.
11. Podcasts / Music
When I was a commuter student, podcasts and music are what got me through the day. I would listen to a podcast in my car on the drive to campus, listen to music while I was walking to classes, and then put on instrumental music when I was studying in the library.
Make sure your phone is loaded up with good music and podcast episodes so that you have plenty to listen to throughout the day. I used Spotify’s student deal when I was in college. It’s only $5 per month and you get access to Spotify premium, Hulu, and Showtime.
Headphones are an absolute MUST for commuters. Between walking to classes, hitting the gym, and studying in the library, I used my headphones pretty much all day.
I just had a normal pair of wired headphones, but it would definitely have been nice to have a good pair of noise-cancelling bluetooth headphones.
When you’re a commuter, it can sometimes feel like you’re living out of your car. You can’t just run to your dorm room quickly and put on deodorant or change your contact lenses. So it’s important to keep your essential toiletries with you.
Here are some of the most important toiletry essentials for college commuter students:
- Deodorant – don’t get caught anywhere without deodorant!
- Menstrual products – SO important. You never know when mother nature is going to strike so it’s good to be prepared.
- Lip balm – if your lips get chapped easily, you’ll be glad to have some lip balm on hand.
- Contact solution & glasses – it’s super unsafe to drive if you’re having issues with your contacts. Make sure you keep a contact case with solution and a pair of backup glasses with you if you’re a contact wearer.
- Lotion – pretty self explanatory!
14. Extra Layers
You never know if the weather is going to change or if your professor will decide to blast the air conditioning. Keeping an extra layer with you is always a good idea. A good sweatshirt will usually do the trick.
15. All Of Your Textbooks
If you forget a textbook at home, you probably won’t have the time (or gas money) to drive all the way home to get it. It’s a good idea to just keep ALL of your textbooks in the car with you every day.
Plus, you may have some extra time in between lectures. You can use that time to study or do homework for your other classes.
This post was all about the top essentials for college commuter students.
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