21 College Commuter Essentials for a Smooth Journey

As a college student who navigates the daily journey to campus, you understand the unique challenges and opportunities that come with being a commuter. To ensure a smooth and successful journey, we have compiled a list of 21 college commuter essentials that will make your life easier and more enjoyable.

From practical items like backpacks and laptops to personal care essentials and tools for organization, these commuter essentials will enhance your comfort, productivity, and overall experience as you travel to and from campus.

Whether you rely on public transportation, drive your vehicle, or use alternative modes of commuting, this comprehensive guide will help you prepare. So, cheer up, embrace the commute, and let these essentials be your trusted companions on your exciting college journey.

Who is a Commuter Student?

A commuter student is a student who does not live in university-owned housing. Since they live off-campus, they must find a method of transportation to get to their classes on campus. Some bike or walk to school, while others may need to take public transportation or use their car to drive to campus.

If you’re a commuter student, you can still spend time on campus and use amenities like common areas, study halls, eateries, and the library. Yet, many commuter students attend lectures and then leave campus again to go on with the rest of their day.

What Are Commuter Colleges? 

Commuter schools are colleges where most students do not live on campus. Instead, they commute from home, or an apartment or house near campus. This can be a great option for students who want to save money on housing, or who need to stay close to home for family or work reasons.

Commuter schools can offer a great education. They often have strong academic programs, and they can be a great place to meet new people and make friends. However, there are some things to keep in mind if you are considering attending a commuter school.

What are College Commuter Essentials? 21 College Commuter Essentials for a Smooth Journey

College commuter essentials are the essential items that students who commute to campus regularly need to have with them to make their commute more comfortable, efficient, and enjoyable.


A reliable backpack is crucial for carrying your books, laptop, and other essentials. Look for one with multiple compartments and padded straps for comfort.

You’ll need a backpack to carry all your school supplies. Make sure it’s sturdy and comfortable to wear at the back.

Laptop or tablet:

A portable device like a laptop or tablet is essential for taking notes, studying, and completing assignments on the go. Choose one that suits your needs and has a long battery life.

Depending on your course of study, you’ll need a laptop for taking notes, doing research, and completing assignments.

Power bank:

Commuting often means being away from power outlets for extended periods. A power bank will ensure that your electronic devices stay charged, allowing you to work or stay connected without worrying about battery life.

Water bottle:

Staying hydrated is important for maintaining focus and overall well-being. Invest in a reusable water bottle that you can fill throughout the day.

Stay hydrated throughout the day by carrying a reusable water bottle with you.


Long commutes or breaks between classes can leave you hungry. Pack some nutritious snacks like granola bars, nuts, or fruit to keep your energy levels up.

It’s always a good idea to have snacks and drinks in hand in case you get hungry or thirsty between classes.


Weather can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to carry a compact umbrella in your backpack. It will protect you from rain showers and keep you dry during your commute.

It’s always a good idea to be prepared for rain or snow. If you live in a climate where it rains often, you’ll need rain gear to stay dry.

Comfortable shoes:

As a college commuter, you’ll likely spend a significant amount of time walking or standing. Invest in comfortable shoes that provide proper support and cushioning to prevent discomfort or foot pain. You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so make sure your shoes are comfortable.

Public transportation card:

If you rely on public transportation, make sure to have a valid transportation card or pass. This will save you time and money by avoiding the need for cash or purchasing tickets each time you travel.

Noise-canceling headphones:

Commuting can be noisy, especially on buses or trains. Noise-canceling headphones will help you block distractions, focus on your work, enjoy quiet time with your favorite music or podcasts, or even calm your nerves as you mentally prepare for the long day ahead.

Travel mug:

For coffee or tea lovers, a spill-proof travel mug is a must-have. It will keep your beverages hot or cold and prevent any spills or leaks during your commute.

Portable phone charger:

Your phone is a vital tool for communication, navigation, and staying organized. Having a portable phone charger ensures that you can charge your phone even when there are no available power outlets.

Don’t let your phone die in the middle of the day!

Notepad and pens:

Despite the digital age, pen and paper are sometimes necessary. Carry a small notepad and a few pens for jotting down quick notes, reminders, or sketching ideas during your commute.

You’ll need to take notes in class. You may also need a calculator for math classes, so you may need to carry a calculator alongside a notepad and pen.

Extra clothing:

Depending on the weather and the temperature-controlled environment of your college, it’s wise to have extra clothing like a lightweight jacket or sweater. This way, you can stay comfortable during cooler mornings or evenings.

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.

In case of an accident or if you get sweaty, it’s a good idea to pack a change of clothes as well.

Travel-sized toiletries:

Freshening up before class or after a long commute is essential. Keep a small bag with travel-sized toiletries like toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, and hand lotion for quick touch-ups.

You’ll need to pack your toiletries, such as deodorant, toothpaste, and toothbrush.

Reusable food containers:

Bringing your lunch or snacks not only saves money but also reduces waste. Invest in reusable food containers to store your meals or snacks and minimize the use of disposable packaging.

Personal care items:

Pack essential personal care items like tissues, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes. They will come in handy for staying clean and germ-free, especially in public spaces.

These are some other personal care items you should bring along on your commute to college;

Deodorant – don’t get caught anywhere without deodorant!

Menstrual products – These are one of the most essential college commuters’ allies. 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.

If you need to nap during the day, a sleep mask will help you block out the light.

Portable first aid kit:

Accidents or minor injuries can happen anywhere, including during your commute. A compact first aid kit with items like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers ensures you can promptly handle minor issues.

A first aid kit is always a good idea to have on hand in case of an accident.

Wallet with student ID:

Keep your student ID and any necessary cards or cash in a wallet for easy access. This will make it convenient to use public transportation, access college facilities, or make purchases.

Portable storage device:

A USB flash drive or external hard drive is essential for transferring files between devices, collaborating on group projects, or backing up your important work. It ensures you can access your files wherever you go.

A flash drive is a great way to store your files and transfer them between devices.

Planner or calendar:

Staying organized is crucial in college. Use a planner or calendar to keep track of your class schedule, assignments, and deadlines. This will help you manage your time effectively and avoid missing any important tasks.

Good book or e-reader:

Commuting provides an excellent opportunity for leisure reading. Carry a good book or an e-reader loaded with your favorite novels or educational material. It’s a great way to make productive use of your commute time and relax.

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What are Colleges Like at Commuter Schools?

Colleges at commuter schools have a unique dynamic compared to residential colleges, where the majority of students live on campus. Commuter schools are institutions where a significant number of students live off-campus and commute to campus for classes and activities. Here’s an overview of what colleges are like at commuter schools:

  • Flexibility and independence: Commuter schools provide students with a certain level of independence and autonomy. Since students are not bound by residential life regulations, they have more freedom in terms of their living arrangements, meal choices, and daily schedules.
  • Commuting culture: Commuter schools foster a commuting culture, where students have different routines and schedules compared to residential students. They may have to factor in travel time, traffic, and public transportation schedules when planning their day.
  • Campus engagement: Building a sense of community and engagement can be a challenge at commuter schools. Since students come and go, it may require more effort to create opportunities for social interaction, involvement in campus organizations, and participation in extracurricular activities.
  • Campus facilities: Commuter schools typically provide facilities and resources to accommodate the needs of commuting students. This may include commuter lounges, study spaces, lockers, and dedicated parking areas for commuters.

Pros of Commuter Schools

  • Affordable: Commuter schools are often more affordable than colleges with on-campus housing. This is because you will not have to pay for room and board.
  • Flexible: Commuter schools can be a great option for students who need to stay close to home for family or work reasons. You can also choose to live off-campus, which gives you more freedom to choose where you want to live.
  • Diverse: Commuter schools often have a diverse student body, which can be a great way to meet new people and learn about different cultures.

Cons of Commuter Schools

  • Long commute: If you live far from campus, your commute can be long and tiring. This can make it difficult to get involved on campus and make friends.
  • Less sense of community: Commuter schools often have a less strong sense of community than colleges with on-campus housing. This is because students are not living together, so they do not have as much opportunity to interact with each other outside of class.
  • Less academic support: Commuter schools often have less academic support than colleges with on-campus housing. This is because there are fewer resources available to students who are not living on campus.

See also: Can You Play Two Sports in College? All You Need to Know

Tips to know if attending a commuter college

Here are some tips for making the most of your experience at a commuter school:

Get involved on campus: Even if you are commuting, there are still plenty of ways to get involved on campus. Join a club, attend events, or volunteer your time.

Make friends: It can be tough to make friends when you are commuting, but it is important to try. Meet people in your classes, join clubs, or use social media to connect with other students.

Take advantage of resources: Commuter schools often have resources available to help students succeed. These resources can include tutoring, academic advising, and financial aid.

Be organized: Commuter students often have a lot on their plate. Make sure you are organized and manage your time wisely.

Don’t give up: Commuter school can be challenging, but it is also rewarding. Don’t give up on your dreams and goals.


These 21 college commuter essentials will help you stay prepared, comfortable, and productive during your daily commute. Remember to personalize the list based on your specific needs and preferences for a smooth commuting experience.



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