Do you have a son, niece or child of a family friend you’d like to purchase a gift for before they head off to college? These practical and affordable presents are perfect for college freshmen heading away from home for the first time. Many of these items are also handy for traveling, which makes them both appropriate and multipurpose.

Hanging Toiletry Kits

Considering the need to have access to grooming and toiletry items both in the shared dorm bath and private room, these are a great gift for new college students and one they can use extensively when traveling for vacations or later in life. They are also well suited to hanging off of shower rods, door handles and even inside hostel closets, making it easy to stay spiffy while traveling on a budget.

Rolling Footlocker

These are great gifts that allow the college crowd to easily move themselves in and out of the dorm, and can even provide budget decorating support in the form of a covered coffee table or upright display stand draped with fabric. The ones I had in college don’t have wheels, but at 44 years of age they are still going strong. I’ve used them in various apartments, shipped goods home from overseas in them and they are now serving as storage units for my husband’s cold-weather military gear. I’d say my parents definitely got their money’s worth out of the two they purchased for me, as did I.

Sleeping Bag

Sure, you could purchase an extra warm blanket as a gift to use when the weather shifts, but a sturdy sleeping bag designed for cold weather will serve your young recipient in many additional ways. As with the hanging toiletry bag, sleeping bags can be used for budget travel, camping and even to host a friend visiting from out of town who needs to crash on the futon. They are also easily rolled up and stored under the bed or in the trunk of a car for a weekend trip home to do laundry.

Miniature Grooming Supplies

Sure, you could purchase regular grooming supplies, but when it comes time to pack up and head down the highway to their university of choice, the recipient will likely have a difficult time fitting everything into the smaller containers necessary for the portable lifestyle of a college student. If they are flying to their university, the need for compact size will be even greater. Purchasing small nail brushes, miniature nail clippers, small professional teasing combs and other miniature grooming tools will help your young adult look great for less while also remaining prepared for trips home, weekends away with friends and the traveling they will need to do in a few years for job interviews.

Rolling Duffel Bag

If the university student in question doesn’t already have one of these from their days of teen sports travel in high school, they make a great gift for starting out in college life. They can be compartmentalized with affordable packing organizers, hold bulky sweaters and other items not well suited to rolling luggage and can store relatively flat under a bunk bed in the dorm room.

Closet Organizers

If there’s one thing you can count on with college life, it’s that personal storage space will be at a minimum. Help the young adult in your family get organized with gifts such as hanging shoe racks, over-the-door pocket storage and shelving additions that can increase storage capacity for things like extra shampoo, laundry detergent and snack-filled care packages from home.

An Exceptional Backpack

Not only do most college students require a decent backpack to lug their items back and forth between classes, they also need one to hit the road with performance travel clothing when they head home for the weekend, to Cancun for Christmas and also if they hit the road to find themselves for a year after graduation. A high-quality backpack will last for years. I have one that’s nearly 20 years old and going strong. It’s not the only one I use, but it has seen a fair bit of use and is my go-to bag for certain types of trips.

Small Refrigerator

Part of the college experience is putting together cheap, healthy meals in the dorm room. Especially on days when the weather makes it miserable to walk down to the cafeteria in order to use the meal card. Having a small refrigerator in the room makes it possible to store things like juice and fruit, which pair nicely with the rice cakes and peanut butter stashed in the milk crate behind the closet door.

Myscha Theriault

Myscha Theriault

A lifelong money cruncher who can squeeze a nickel ‘til it cries, Myscha is a syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and founder of Trek Hound and We Be Sharin’.