My kids have always been travelers and we knew early in their lives that they would not be going to college close to home. They were both set on being in the northeast. Our son, Sam, knew he wanted to be in Boston and our daughter in New York. So, that meant we needed to make sure we planned for this by working travel into our budget.
Then there’s the school supplies issue. Like Boston and New York, many colleges in cities are very expensive and it can make you nuts thinking the same tube of Crest toothpaste you buy for $3.59 is $5.29 by their schools. So, with the prices and the crowds, we have come up with the best ways to get what your kids need to college without breaking your bank or your back.
- The school calendar comes out in late spring, but move in dates do not always follow. Call the school and ask for the dates; they know them! Once you have the dates, book your air, rental car, and hotel ahead of time to get the best deals.
- Call the hotel and arrange to have your student’s items shipped to the hotel. We are fortunate enough to have my parents right in between the twins’ schools, so we have everything shipped there. You really do not want o depend on the school mail room to have your packages ready. Plus, there will be lines with students trying to get keys, packages, and let’s not forget that the campus is crowded and the last thing you want to do is lug boxes from the mail room to the dorm room.
- Have your student order their books and also have them shipped to the determined address. Make sure if you are ordering from Chegg or another rental site that you save the return boxes.
- Make sure you rent a large enough car. This is a huge one! Just remember you have their luggage, your luggage, and all the stuff they “need” from Target and everywhere else.
- Be ready to be overwhelmed if it is your first time. You will be all worked up to carry all this stuff up an unknown about of steps, but in reality you pull up and a mass of volunteers will fall upon your car. The car will be emptied and you will be left there feeling empty, too. All of a sudden your child and all of their stuff is in their room.
- Pre-order and have shipped as much of their supplies as you can. College towns are college towns and no matter how well-stocked they are the days around move in days, the stores are swamped and often your college kids favorite tooth paste or shampoo may be sold out. They may seem all confident and ready, but something this minor may cause a major melt down.
- Be ready to stick around or leave when your kid is ready. This day is about them. No matter how much we want it to be about us, we need to be able to put on our parent hat and read them. My twin who I thought would be a drop off, wanted us to walk around campus, sit on the college lawn, and hang out as a family. Totally unexpected, but I let it be her call.
- Before you arrive, make sure your hotel has a well-stocked bar. Do not stop anywhere else for dinner or a drink. One drink will lead to another that will lead to another. We tend to book a room within walking distance of good restaurants and bars. The shock of dropping your little baby will hit you and hit you hard. I was so happy and thrilled at first, then I was numb, then I cried, then I drank. At one point, my husband and I looked at each other and there were no words; just that look, SHOTS PLEASE- FAST!
- Do not travel right back home. Take a long weekend and relax. Visit the region your child will be calling home. Your home will be empty and if you are like me, going straight to an empty house would not have been good. I definitely needed the time away to process the situation.
- ENJOY! Relish the fact you have raised a well-adjusted young adult, who is ready for this adventure in their life and so are you. You will just not believe the time has passed so quickly!
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.