We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

Going home for Christmas: essential student checklist

Congrats, you've made it through your first term at uni! Here's what to do before leaving campus, plus how to make the most of your time off...

Skip to:  

Before you leave uni

Make sure you've done the following before you head off for the holidays:

Book your train tickets home

If you know which day you're heading home for the festive period, book your tickets in advance.

This will likely save you money than if you were to buy them on the day of travel. Important, especially if your student loan is running a little low...

Save a bit more cash by being flexible on your route, time and date of travel, booking online and investing in a 16-25 railcard for a third off rail fares. Mature students over 25 in full-time education are also eligible. 

Get as much work done now as possible

Put in a few more hours in the library before the end of term, so you don't have unfinished work hanging over you during Christmas.

If you have a deadline before the end of term, try to hand everything in as soon as you can (without compromising on the quality, of course). If you can, you may be able to leave uni a few days sooner and get more quality home time. 

Return library books 

A pain point for many students over the holidays: remembering that unreturned library book sitting in your uni room, accumulating late charges by the day.

Check with the library before you leave that you've either returned any due books, or that you have time to return them once you're back on campus.

Calculate your living costs
See how much you'll need to live on at your chosen university, with our student budget calculator.
See your living costs

Tidy up your room

Picture the scene: it's January, the post-holiday blues have kicked in and you're missing the comforts of home. The last thing you want to face is a messy room with the leftovers from last month's assignment-writing chaos strewn across your desk (or worse, mice have moved in because you didn't take out your rubbish).

Recycle any work papers you don't need anymore (and file away the ones you will need), run the vacuum cleaner round and change your linen so you can jump into bed on your first night back. 

The same goes for communal areas; don't forget to clear out the fridge and the bins. It's definitely one of the more productive ways you can procrastinate!

Essential packing

How you're travelling home will affect what you can pack. Take back just enough clothing to tide you over during the holidays avoid lugging a black bag of weeks-old laundry.

Do bring back any valuables, including laptops and tablets. Plus, don't forget materials you'll need for any uni work you need to complete over the break.
  • Best laptops for students - the top laptops for uni courses focused on essays and research, as well as for production and design.

Locking up

Student accommodation can be a target during the holidays, when they're mostly empty. Take sensible security precautions: lock doors and windows, keep items out of sight and don't publicise on social media when you'll be away.

Once you're home

So, you're back home and already making the most of a toasty warm house and a fridge stocked with food. Here's a sneak peek at what your first Christmas back from uni might look like how many will you cross off over the holidays?

Student guide to Christmas

But how do make sure that you don't waste these next few weeks?

Catch up on reading

If you do have assignments to complete or reading to catch up on, try to schedule in small pockets over the next few weeks to do this – it will make January so much easier once you return.

See home friends

Make the most of your time off to catch up with friends – you've probably got plenty of first term stories and experiences to exchange.

For instance, what are your New Year's Eve plans? Don't forget to plan some term-time visits in the new year, too.


Family time

Yes, sometimes they can drive you nuts; but make the most of being at home and seeing your family. You should have lots to catch up on, especially if you haven't been too great at staying in touch during term... 

Reassess your finances

Were you sensible with your money during your first term, or was your budget exceptionally tight towards the end?

It's all too easy to spend more money than you plan to, but it's also very easy to make quick and effective changes to boost your funds.

If you've not checked it out already, take a look at our article on six ways to get money-ready for uni. It covers discounts, banking tips, saving money on travel, and more.

Learned something useful?
Get more tips for applying to uni, right when you need them most. Add yourself to our email list.
Our emails are packed with advice for getting in and getting on at uni, along with useful information about other Which? Group products and services that can help you make good decisions.
  • No spam and you can unsubscribe at any time - see our privacy policy.
    Close panel
    Thank you!
    You’re all signed up. Look out for your welcome email from us shortly.
    Oh, no!
    Sorry, there's been an error. If you experience persistent problems, please contact us at whichuniversity@which.co.uk
    Try again

    Earn some money

    Working during the holidays might not be fun, but it's a good opportunity to earn money to support yourself through the rest of your uni year. Start applying in November or earlier to make sure you secure some seasonal work (or see if you can return to a previous job). 

    Even if it means not quite getting the month of lie-ins you were hoping for, or turning up to gatherings with friends a bit later, keep thinking of that bumper Christmas overtime pay!

    Get some life advice

    Somehow you've managed to survive alone at uni for a whole term… Granted, it may have included turning some washing pink, losing some clothing to wear and tear, and eating some questionable culinary experiments.

    While at uni in your first term, make a note of any domestic tasks which no amount of Googling can help you with and ask your family for help while you're home.

    Sort out housing for next year

    While you're away from the 'uni bubble', think about who you might want to live with in the next academic year and start making plans we've found that depending on where you study, you might have to start looking for housing before the end of your first term. 

    Who are you missing most, out of your uni mates? It might be a sign who you'll get on best with in a house or flat-share. Our guide to choosing housemates can help you weigh up your options, as well as give you tips if you don't have anyone to live with.

    Plus, you can find out more about the private housing market in your uni city including average rents and students' experiences in our city guides.

    Enjoy the downtime

    And finally, remember to recharge after your first term away.

    The last three months will have felt like an eternity, full of changes and new experiences; so getting away from the drama, chaos and hijinks of uni life for a bit may feel well overdue.

    Once refreshed, you'll be ready to do it all again come January...

    Could you be better at budgeting? Use our student budget calculator to help you work out your outgoings...

    Search Which? University

    Find further advice or search for information on a course or university

    Expert tips for uni - straight to your inbox
    Free to students, teachers and parents
    Sign me up