Dorm Dilemma

06/07/2009 07:49 pm 19:49:18 | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Parents picking up their college student for the summer face the dilemma of what to do with all of their stuff. Remember all those living essentials for which you shelled out a fortune in the fall? Guess what: you now have to reclaim it for the next few months. So, should you store it, ship it or cart it all back with you?

I've witnessed a variety of combinations and unless you plan to caravan it with a couple of big SUVs, and live close enough to make that a reasonable choice, you have to decide what goes where and how.

Let me relate my experience in parental limbo amid the seven levels of hell known as moving the kid out of the dorm. This experience is much worse than moving in because everything is used, abused and grimy. Moving in with everything new and packaged and pristine was a pleasure by comparison.

So, what to do with that grimy stuff that you purchased with the idea it would last all four years? First toss the worst of it out. That throw rug that's been on the floor, seen one too many pizza bashes and should never be trod upon again-get rid of it.

Dispose of anything that's already open such as shampoo, laundry detergent, and toilet bowl cleaner. If you plan to transport it, I guarantee you will have a mess on your hands. Even if you plan to wrap these supplies in a big plastic garbage bag or bin, you can't ship opened items and the container will take up too much car space if you're driving.

What should you put into storage? I recommend big items such as a desk chair, footlocker, floor lamp, plastic storage bins, bicycle, even winter clothing. If you ship this stuff home, you'll just have to ship it back in the fall. That means you pay twice and you will also have boxes sitting around your home all summer. Bad enough your kid may want to sit around the house all summer.

Renting storage space presents its own challenges. First find a facility that is close to the dorm. It's just more convenient. Ask whether the storage unit is climate controlled. This feature really doesn't matter for that bicycle or free weights, but summer humidity can do a number on any clothing you have there. You will pay a little more to have your belongings enjoy an air-conditioned summer.

The storage facility will probably offer to sell you some type of insurance. You probably don't need it. For one thing, flood damage is usually an exclusion and that is realistically the only thing you need to worry about. Most storage units are constructed of cinderblocks and aluminum and they aren't likely to burn. Unless you're in a tornado or hurricane prone region, your stuff will be just fine.

Check with your homeowner's policy and call your credit card issuer if you pay by credit card. You may have coverage against theft or loss already. Take out that cell phone camera and snap pictures of anything of value you place in storage just in case there is a problem.

If you have to travel by air, don't even consider just loading up extra bags for the trip home. The airlines will charge you for each one. I just paid $80 for four bags as additional luggage. I shipped a lot more with UPS for less than $200 and didn't have to carry the load to and from the airport.

Moving out is no picnic, but keep crib notes. You get to retrace your steps and move them back in come September.

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Moving Out