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Driving tips and other life stuff

Car Tetris: packing your car for uni

Forcing 19 years of stuff into a Nissan Micra is a serious undertaking. Besides the clothes, shoes and secret teddy bear, there's all the ADULTING equipment you'll need. Cleaning products, your own plates and cutlery - all the things that used to just appear around the house by magic.

So not only does nearly every item have to fit into your new room at uni - it's got to get there first. Take a deep breath, do some arm warm ups. It's time to play Car Tetris.

  1. Heavy and flat

    First things first: books. Heavy, flat things to the bottom. Packing all your books and tins of food into boxes of the same shape and size will allow you to build a strong foundation layer for everything else.

    Your books are going to be your easiest thing to pack because books naturally tessellate, bless them. Get this one right or everything else will go wrong.

  2. Heavy and awkward

    All the stuff that will crush other things to death and happen to not fit together very well, like shoes and cleaning things. This will be your hardest layer to get right and again: you're better off with boxes.

    This layer can't be packed on the day you're supposed to arrive at your halls. You're going to need at least a week before the big day to get things in labelled boxes and stacked in a pile.

  3. Large and soft

    It's a good idea at this point to cover all the boxes with big, soft things like duvets, bags of clothing and pillows. This layer will hold everything together and help pad any gaps you have, making a good base for the next layers.

  4. Random and breakable

    Lamps, shower caddies, desk organisers - all the oddly shaped stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else and could get broken by heavier things. It could be you're looking at a load of loose objects that can't go in boxes, so use the layer below (duvet and blankets) to pack them in and stop them shifting too much.

General tips:

  • A list. Dude, a list. If you don't have a list you're just chucking things in boxes at random and you'll arrive with 80 DVDs, 1 pair of socks and a pink sombrero. You can get student checklists online so it's easy pie. Don't be the person in halls (me) who has to borrow socks. Not cool.

  • Put everything in boxes and stack them in a pile that's roughly the size of the space you have in the car. When you're happy that it fits and things aren't getting crushed, number the boxes with the layer they belong in. On the day you have to pack the car, you can then put the boxes in their perfect position.

  • Make 1 box your designated first night box. It needs to go in first, so it can be put high up on a shelf immediately, so you at least know where your essentials are. Things to include: toothbrush, toothpaste, PJs, phone charger, rum, pants, socks.

Good luck chickens! Remember: however many bottles of Skittles vodka you're working on, essays are more important like 80% of the time. OK, 70%.

If you're taking your car to uni, have a look at our guide to affordable student car insurance.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .