What’s In My Backpack? 

A College Girl’s Quick Guide to Backpack Essentials 

Emily Benito | Writing Contributor 

As a new semester rolls around, nightmares of heading to campus and realizing all the essential items were forgotten come too. It’s frustrating to not have the necessities, especially in a pinch. Alice is here to help prep your backpack for school.  


Here are all the back-to-school essentials for a backpack or cute tote. 


Water Bottle 

First things first, everyone needs a water bottle. It doesn’t matter if you go to school somewhere hot or not. Water is essential. It’s important to keep hydrated throughout the day, especially in the Alabama heat. It’ll come in handy after that 10-minute sprint to class. 

Pro tip: Want to add some flavor to your daily hydration? Try putting a decaffeinated tea bag in the water to make it more fun to drink. There is also a popular product called Air Up that tricks the brain into tasting what it is smelling as you drink. It’s a great way to get H20 into the system to improve focus and energy throughout the day.  


Laptop and chargers  

A laptop is a must-have item and you can’t forget the charger. Even if the laptop has a full charge, taking notes and using applications like Adobe and Word uses a lot of power and drains the battery fast. 

Pro Tip: Keep a phone charger on hand as well, it’s surprising how much you’ll need it.  


Day Planner  

Life is busy and without a way to organize everything, it can be difficult to keep track of things. Keep a planner in your backpack so you can write down everything going on such as assignments, events or appointments.  

Pro Tip: Some of the best places to find day planners are Office Depot and Amazon. 


Toiletry Bag 

The next must have accessory is a toiletry bag with all the travel-sized essentials. Items can include: 

  • Sunscreen to protect your skin, always. Nobody wants sunburnt and damaged skin. Read more about the importance of sunscreen here. 
  • Chapstick, any brand will do but the sun’s heat can cause dry, cracked lips. Try brands like Aquaphor and Blistex for all day hydration.  
  • Mascara, sometimes alarms don’t go off or time runs out in the morning to apply a full face of makeup. Try keeping a mini-sized version of your favorite mascara on deck. 
  • Blotting sheets for those super-hot days 
  • Portable mini fan because having sweat drip off of your body in the Alabama heat is no joke.  
  • Makeup wipes 
  • A compact mirror because who doesn’t like to check themselves out once in a while? Practice some self-love and skip the long bathroom line when you need to check something quickly.  
  • Tissues and hand sanitizer are helpful items when it seems like everyone on campus has a cold. 

All these special items are useful in a pinch. You never know if you’re going to meet the love of your life or potential employer in the food court line. 


Gum or Mints  

Make sure to have gum or mints in the pocket of your backpack for emergencies. A group project or conversation with a friend can be ruined by bad breath.  



More importantly, you won’t make it through the day without a snack or two. Favorites among health and fitness gurus are trail mix, dried fruits or chocolate-covered coffee beans. These energize throughout the day and are a tasty treat while walking to classes, but be careful, hot temperatures could melt these delicious eats. 


Tampons and Pads 

It is a major struggle when Aunt Flo shows up unexpectedly. It’s important to pack tampons and pads for when you’re in a pinch.  

Pro Tip: Pack some extras to help out a friend in need.  


Rain Slicker or Umbrella  

These items might seem silly, especially in August, but you never know when a flash flood or rainstorm warning will begin. A small umbrella and rain poncho should do the trick. Besides, who wants to get sopping wet before class just to sit in freezing cold air conditioning?  

Pro Tip: Pack an extra pair of socks for those days when the Quad floods.  


Self-defense Keychain, Whistle or Siren  

Since we’re all in this together, it’s time to get real. Always carry a self-defense keychain or whistle on your keychain or backpack. It’s always a good item to have in case of an emergency. Make sure to identify the emergency blue light stations around campus as well.  

Emily Benito currently serves as a contributing writer for Alice. She is a senior at The University of Alabama pursuing a major in news media with minors in communication studies and global and cultural perspectives. She loves horseback riding, hiking and travelling. She is also a reporter at WVUA 23 News where she enjoys meeting new people and sharing stories in the community.