Unexpected Things to Bring to College: Dorm Room Essentails

college dorm essentials

When you’re getting ready to start buying things for a college dorm, it’s easy to remember the usuals. But, there are plenty of items you may not have thought about. Some are created to simplify the college life. Some have a unique way to remember your life at home. And some are just practical and cool. To help you get started, here’s my guide for unexpected things to bring to college: dorm room essentials. 

college dorm room items unexpected things to bring to college

Disclosure: Many of the products photographed were gifted to me for the sake of this post. As always, I give my honest opinion as to why you might need them. Additionally, there are some Amazon affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I’ll make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting Sand and Snow!


I’ve written several gift guides this year (if you have a Star Wars fan, definitely check out or Mandalorian gift guide!), but writing this college essentials guide is very close to my heart. The Kid is no longer a kid and starts her second year of college next month. So, when looking online at what she needs for a successful year, we found plenty of fun, useful, and creative products that would be ideal for any dorm. Here are our picks:


Focus on Results

unexpected things to take to college FOCI focus tool
FOCI Focus Tracker


FOCI is a thumb-sized wearable focus tracker, because we all know it can be easy to lose aim in college. It clips to the waist, and you can get a read on your emotions, productivity and distractions, and use its biofeedback technology to better focus and learn smarter. So teeny product, big benefit. 
Price: $89

Sent Freshly to Your College Kid

unexpected things to take to college Freshly meals
Freshly prepared meal service

With many college students not having yet lived on their own or having a ton of cooking experience, it’s easy for them to resort to fast food, takeout, and junk food out of convenience when they’re hungry. Think how happy your college kiddo would be if they got a box of delish meals sent straight to the dorm. Freshly is a weekly subscription delivering chef-prepared meals that are fresh (not frozen) and can be heated and served in 3 minutes.

Unlike meal kits, all you need is a microwave, fork, and plate (optional!) to get a satisfying meal on the table (or desk). Add in the fact the packages fit nicely into a mini fridge and it’s a win-win!

Price: 4, 6, 10 or 12 meals per week starting at $8.49/meal.

Pet Duped!

unexpected things to take to college cuddle clones mau mau

Apart from missing family and friends, another heartache from going away to college is missing the family pet. But, with Cuddle Clones, students can keep their furry pal right in their very own room — or at least a lifelike facsimile. Handmade and custom-ordered, each plush version is made from high-end faux fur and is sure to ease even the most homesick student.

We had one made of  my college girl’s cat, Mau Mau, and it’s stunning how similar they look. 

Price – $199 and up

One Box Dorm Room Wonder

unexpected things to take to college Dorm room in a bag
OCM Dorm Products

What if you could hop on a website, make a few clicks, and order everything you need to create your own dorm room space? There’s an online place for that: OCM. The company specializes in dorm room bundles including the Shower Pak and plush rugs to keep those tootsies from hitting the cold floor when you get out of bed. 

Prices: Use the code CAMPUS 2021 for 20% off your order!

  • Shower Pak: $30.00
  • Bedside 5×7 Rug: $79.95

A Buddy for Your Back

unexpected things to take to college back buddy
Back Buddy

The Back Buddy is an easy to use trigger point massage tool that quickly eliminates tension and pain in the back, neck and any part of the body that gets tight. All you need to do is Back Buddy on a chair or floor, then sit or lie down and lean back and feel the tension melt away. It’s great for college students who spend a lot of time sitting at a desk or computer doing school work and studying.

Price: $19.99


Easy Fix for Sticky Situations

unexpected things to take to college bondic

Whether it’s repairing a favorite broken coffee mug or patching a frayed laptop or charger cable, Bondic can handle both tasks easily. The liquid plastic adhesive is easy to work with and uses the special UV ray to harden and bond in just seconds. Layers can be built up, or it can be used to fill gaps. Once hardened, it can even be sanded and painted. It fills, bonds and repairs plastics, ceramics, glass, metal, textiles and wood. 

Price: Starts at $22.95. Free shipping for Amazon Prime Members.


Smooth as Silk Sleep Habits

unexpected things to take to college silk pillow case scrunchies
Sleeping In Silk pillow case, scrunchies, and mask.

Hair stylists and dermatologists recommend silk pillowcases to keep hair smooth and skin moisturized and clear. That’s why silk is so popular with celebrities and influencers. Starting at $35 and in 20 colors & prints, Celestial Silk pillowcases are a lux purchase, sure, but if they save precious hair styling time, I’m down. 

Price: $36.99 on Amazon. Prime Members get free shipping. 


CocoNutty Skin Care

High quality, organic, and cold pressed raw coconut oil (not just any store bought coconut oil) is perfect for supplying all personal care needs—especially while at school—because it’s a wonderful, natural way to make skin glowing, healthy, hydrated, and smooth. You can also use Kapuluan Coconut Oil to tame frizzy hair and as a shaving cream. Coconut oil can even be used as a deodorant or added topically to a cut or scrape to speed up the healing process.


Organic Coconut Oil Jar – $9

Organic Coconut Oil Tube – $18


Think! about What You’re Snacking On

unexpected things to take to college think! protein bars
Think! protein bars

Think! just released a high protein bar that’s as delicious as it is beneficial.  The multipurpose nutritional bar can be snacked on as a workout accompaniment or energy boosting snack, too. The new Crisp bars have a crunchy texture with a top layer crumble, each under 150 calories with 15 grams of protein, two grams of sugar and are gluten free.  My faves are Chocolate Crisp and Lemon Crisp. 

Price: $16.99 for a 10-pack


Heavy Metal Computing

unexpected things to take to college mesh laptop computer stand with drawers
Metal monitor stand with drawers


Why we love the Xnrg Life metal stand: It’s made of sturdy metal, the metal mesh throughout helps with laptop coolings, and the two drawers. One with dividers, one without. So, it’s easy to keep your pc or laptop cooler and keep all of the things you need frequently at your fingertips. 

Price: $26.99


The Can Skinny

unexpected things to take to college skinny can insulator
Skinny can insulator

The Grand Fusion Housewares Skinny Can Insulator is designed to keep your 12-ounce skinny can drinks ice cold, even through all-night study sesssions, whether they’re energy drinks, sodas or other beverages. The double-wall vacuum top gasket seal keeps the cold in and the silicone non-slip base

Price: $19.99


Ride the Soda Wave

unexpected things to take to college wave soda
Wave soda
Everyone knows staying up late for a study session can be tough, and one thing many students lean towards is caffeine to help them make it through their college experience. While coffee or diet sodas seem to be the “normal options”, they aren’t really the healthiest. Enter New Wave Soda. With 15-25 calories per can, and not a single gram of added sugar or artificial sweeteners, New Wave Sodas are the “politely caffeinated” better-for-you soda option. It also has a nostalgic vibe and great taste, this no sugar added beverage is sure to give you the kickstart you need to power through midterms and finals.
Price: 24-pack for $34.80

Leave the Tie on the Robe

unexpected things to take to college curling headband robe tie curls
Robe tie curling headband

Using your bathrobe belt to achieve insanely perfect, heatless curls sounded crazy a year ago. That fun way to style hair was the inspiration for Robe Curls, the first and only heatless curling headband that achieves even better results, with zero embarrassments. Unlike bathrobe belts, this chic headband is stylish, comfortable and delivers a uniform curl shape, every time. Zero heat, zero damage, zero effort. 

Price: $19


Filtered H2O on the Go

unexpected things to take to college astrea filter bottle
astrēa water bottle
Astrea water bottles are the ONLY re-fillable, filtered water bottles on the market with the highest NSF certification to eliminate toxins, pharmaceuticals, lead, and contaminants (mercury, cadmium and more). The filters are tested by a third party and receive certification by the NSF. This means you can fill it up with tap water from any location (library restroom, dining hall…any place you can think of!) and it will filter it out offering the healthiest and best-tasting water no matter where you are. It’s water without questions. It also replaces the use of 240 plastic water bottles.
Price: $24.99 with Amazon Prime Member free shipping

Nitty “Grit”ty

unexpected things to take to college grit protein snacks
Grit snacks

GRIT protein bites are a new type of protein snack that leverages the latest research in nutrition and pharmacology to create food that gives your brain and body everything they need to operate at their best.

They come in bags of protein bites made with a crunchy core and a flavored coating. Their Performance Chocolate Bites have 23g of 100% plant-based protein, are vegan, and made from a blend of natural superfoods, these protein bites also contain over 15 essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats as well as being low in carbs and sugar, and free from gluten and soy, with no artificial ingredients. So, tasty snack, healthier for you.

Price: $44.10 for a case of 10. First time buyers can receive $5 off a purchase. 


Mind Your Posture!

minder laptop tower stand

Named “BestLaptop Stand Overall to Save Your Neck,”the obVus Solutions minder® Laptop Tower Standallows for easy positioning of laptops at a range of heights and positions, so screens can be set at eye-level and keyboards positioned forearm and wrist support. Weighing just 4 pounds, the TowerStand’s sleek, light-weight design gives users the flexibility of either sitting or standing – without a standing desk – saving valuable space and is perfect for those on the go.

Price: $69.99


Ergonomic Typing

unexpected things to take to college folding bluetooth keyboard
Minder bluetooth seamless keyboard

The perfect companion to the minder®Laptop Tower Stand (above), the new minderkeyboard is an all-in-one, full-sized wireless keyboard with integrated touchpad.  Offering up to 40 hours of work-time battery life, its sleek, lightweight ergonomic design folds up seamlessly to the size of a smartphone making it ideal for those on the go. Students can enjoy one-touch simultaneous connection of up to threeBluetooth-enabled devices and can switch between laptops, smartphones and tablets with a single keystroke.

Price: $49.99


A Batch of Calm

unexpected things to take to college Batch calming drops
BATCH calming drops
Whether you’re stressed about that big exam or you just pulled an all-nighter, this BATCH CALM CBD Blend will get you back to a balanced state.  This product is a rich blend of high quality CBD extract and natural calming botanical oils.  With a subtle peppermint flavor, this formulation eases life’s everyday stresses and allows you to be you.  Not to mention it is Leaping Bunny Certified (cruelty free)!
Price: 1 ounce, 1000mg CBD $74.99
unexpected things to take to college bottle opener brush
Bottle opener brush

Cricket’s Bottoms Up Brush was created because on one too many outings, two major things were forgotten: a hair brush and bottle opener (pop a top & look good). Not only is this innovative brush great for detangling wet and dry hair but it comes equipped with a stainless steel bottle opener at the base of the brush and is the perfect product to prepare for college life!  

Price: $14.99


Lounge and Lounge Again

unexpected things to take to college comfy lounge wear
Comfy lounge wear from Davy Piper

Davy Piper lounge essentials are perfect for college students of all ages that are looking for comfort and functionality out of their products. Whether you’re sitting in lectures or staying up late cramming for an upcoming exam, we have the perfect pieces – tops, bottoms, bras, and underwear – so women can feel their best in their skin.


  • Nellie Simply Wireless Bra – $39.99
  • Everyday Lounge Joggers – $34.99
  • Bamboo Everyday T-Shirt – $34.99
  • Louisa High Waisted Leggings – $89.99


Sooth & Calm Yourself

unexpected things to take to college comfy cozy blanket
Sew Sweet Minky Blanket

Soothing. Calming. Both words that need to be spoken and heard by college students. And I never thought adding in an infant blanket into the mix would be the epitome of both. My daughter loves the Iced Chinchilla Chambray (made from !00% polyester!) blanket from Sew Sweet Minky because it’s not only super lush, it’s weighty so it provides comfort. And don’t think it’s teeny, either: each is 30×36 inches.

Price: $69.00


LITTIL Bit of Light

unexpected things to take to college selfie mini light


LITTIL is a product line of luxury, influencer and celebrity approved LED lights ranging from a mini clip for your phone to a full standing ring light for your office. With high powered lights and different settings to control the brightness level, LITTIL’s range of lighting are perfect to brighten up your selfie, video, zoom or group shot. What we love: LITTIL Selfie Mini. Yeah, it takes great photos but it’s also a great reading light!

Price: $29.99


Pitcher This for Cleaner Water

Water filter pitcher from Waterdrop

Waterdrop products effectively reduce harmful substances in tapping water and improve water taste and odor of  home or college dorm drinking water. Its 5 Cup water filter pitcher has a 7-stager filter with a pro-long lifespan of up to 3 months, providing fresh tasting water to the whole day. Plus, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated. 

Price: $23.99


We Rose, You Rose, He Rose, She Rose

unexpected things to take to college rose notebook
Rose Notebook from She Rose

She Rose makes gorgeous paper products for college students. With its line of personalized rose notebooks to help students get inspired and motivated to study more. Additionally, it’s  also donating 10% of the profits to girls and women in need. Plus, they’re pretty. 

Price: $12.00 plus free shipping


Mirror Sharing, Makeup Loving

unexpected things to take to college ricardo beverly hills toiletry bags
Ricard Beverly Hills Indio Train Case

The Indio train case by Ricardo Beverly Hills is a perfect dorm accessory for makeup lovers who have to share a mirror. With four easy to wipe down cases in multiple sizes, the Indio train case is perfect for keeping makeup and skincare essentials organized. The smaller pouches are perfect to toss in a tote or backpack for on the go touchups.The the bigger cases hold it all for easy portability in the dorm.

Price: $44.99


A Smoothie reBLEND

unexpected things to take to college reBlend frozen smoothie pops
reBLEND smoothie pops

reBLEND’s line of vegan superfood smoothie pops are the perfect easy and healthy after-school snack. They come in four flavors: Your Daily Detox (detoxifying and enzyme-rich), Tropical Bliss Recover (immunity boosting and electrolyte-rich), Frosé All Day Chill (antioxidant and fiber-rich), and Very Berry Glow (antioxidant and beauty-boosting).

They incorporate unique ingredients that might otherwise be challenging to work into a daily routine – like camu camu, Goji berries, Moroccan rose water, rosehip powder, baobab, plus tons of other fruits and veggies with countless health benefits.

These pops also tackle food waste via their reHARVEST + rePURPOSE platform in which they work with farmers to use fruits and vegetables that are not to cosmetic standards and would otherwise go to waste.

Price: 5-pack $15.00


As Pure as a Stain Can Be

unexpected things to take to college puracy stain remover
Puracy Stain Remover and Natural Body Wash

Given the choice between harmful ingredients or not, I’m choosing clean. Puracy is a plant-based stain remover guaranteed to remove any stain without any harsh or toxic chemicals plus it offers over 2,000 uses per bottle. It works so well, you won’t need to bring your tarnished clothes back home to mom for a laundry fix. 

As for its Natural Body Wash, its gentle, plant-based cleansers provide a rich, hydrating, & purifying bathing experience for even the most sensitive skin. Hypoallergenic, pH balanced formula is gentle enough for babies, effective enough for athletes, and versatile enough for pets. 


  • Puracy Stain Remover – $29.99
  • Natural Body Wash – $11.99


A Forest of  a College Dorm

unexpected things to take to college lehman candles
LEHMAN Balsam Candle

Lehmann Design Haus is a LGBTQ owned luxury scent design haus that has been creating scented ambiance since 2016. Handcrafted using only the highest quality natural and sustainable materials, Lehmann Design Haus features chic candles like my fave, Balsam, and other luxurious combinations.

It’s a unisex scent that’s lively and fresh, perfect for studying or hanging out. 

Price: $35


It’s Electric!

unexpected things to take to college electric tea kettle
Buydeem travel electric kettle

Don’t be fooled by this gadget’s small stature — it packs a powerful punch! The Buydeem Global Mini Kettle Cooker K313 has two handy modes: boiling, with three temperatures, or cooking, with three time settings for everything from oatmeal to meat, stews and soups. Memory technology gives you time to correct yourself if you hit the wrong button, and an 8-hour-long warming mode is perfect for busy students.

At just over 1.5 pounds and with a foldable handle and non-slip bottom, it’s also the perfect take-along travel appliance, from domestic glamping to international destinations. It even adjusts for different altitudes! 

Price: $99.99


Flow Knows

unexpected things to take to college orchyd petal
Orchyd Petal

Orchyd is a bluetooth enabled smart wallet, alerting women when their period is approaching, even unexpectedly. The wallet is connected to their app, where you can input period symptoms, and talk to an on-demand OBGYN about female care including birth control, UTIs, period symptoms, etc.

As your period approaches, your app (available on apple Store, coming soon to Google Play Store) will remind you not to leave the house without your fashionable wallet making sure you are always prepared.

Price: $79


Animalist-ic Wall Art Intentions

Animalist wall art

A unique and fun idea for college dorm rooms is to hang a sleek and modern image of their favorite pet. Four-legged friends get missed as much as (or, dare we say, more than…) some friends and family members. Animalist’s goal is to celebrate the beauty of our four-legged companions through sleek, modern art. All it takes is a few clicks to create your very own personalized pet portrait.  That makes it perfect for any pet lover’s dorm room.

Price: $56


Plan it!

unexpected things to take to college planner
Class Tracker College Planner

The key to success at school is being able to balance everything going on – assignments, extracurriculars, social activities, jobs and due dates. With the ClassTracker Ultimate Student Planner, students are empowered to be prepared and productive – plus it’s super easy to keep track of everything in one place.

It has weekly pages structured to track daily assignments, as well as the big tests and papers – plus the space to make a daily plan to make it all happen plus a Weekly Self Care Tracker includes a designated area to track of the things that support recharge. 

Price: College Edition – $20.99


Heal Thy Mind and Sleep

unexpected things to take to college healist calming products
Healist Calming

Ahh, the well-known stress of college. Healist Naturals has a  Keep Calm and ZZZZ bundle including its bestselling Calm chews, with broad spectrum CBD, Ashwagandha, L-theanine and a custom terpene blend to help relax. TheSleep Drops offer CBD,  relaxing botanical essential oils, and its custom terpene blend to help you settle into a good night’s sleep.

Price: Bundles start at $29.99


COLAB with Me and My Hair

unexpected things to take to college dry shampoo
COLAB Hair Care Products

Remember those days of rolling out of bed and barely rolling into class with “party hair, don’t care”? Colab Dry Shampoo is the fastest, easiest, budget-conscious solution to de-grease roots or add volume to limp hair. Invisible dry shampoo for all hair colors, you can find it at most large department stores.  The newest products –Overnight Renew formula ($6.50) and Original formula in Supersize – launched in February of this year.

Price: $5.50


Gimme Some Seaweed!

unexpected things to take to college GIMMe organic seaweed snacks
Organic Seaweed Snacks by gimMe

Perfect for all ages and an easy, gimMe Seaweed snacks are a delicious superfood replacement for high sodium and sugary snacks. gimMe snacks are roasted to crispy perfection, only 25 calories per serving, and full of vitamins and minerals, including iodine, B12 and Vitamin K. Plus they are USDA Organic and non-GMO project verified. 

Price: 12 pack, 6 flavor variety pack $13.54 plus free Amazon Prime Member shipping


Pour Me a Cup of cacao

unexpected things to take to college cacao tea
Cacao Tea Co.

Need a great alternative to coffee while hitting the books? Introducing Cacao Tea! This delicious drink can be served hot or ice cold, making it perfect for any season. First discovered by the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations thousands of years ago, cacao tea (also known as chocolate tea or cocoa tea) has incredible mood and immune-boosting properties and is high in antioxidants. Cacao Tea Co. Bonus: cacao tea is the perfect natural alternative to chocolate and coffee. 

Price: $17.50 per bag


Fresh Breath and Energy?

unexpected things to take to college caffeinated mints
Viter Energy Caffeine mints

Not a fan of coffee because of the jittery effect and the aftertaste? Enter Viter Energy caffeinated mints. Each has 40mg of caffeine (the same as a half cup of coffee) and tastes great. Plus, they freshen your breath, even after a long night of snoring with your mouth open.

Price: $17.99 for a 5 flavor variety pack. Free shipping for amazon Prime Members. 

Pen to Paper

unexpected things to take to college Goldstar pens

One thing you definitely don’t want to forget is a pen and notebook.  If you don’t have one, you can find a unique pen on Goldspot.com that is beautiful.  They have fountain pens that are so pretty!
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