Care Package Ideas for Military & College Students

Many of us have college students and military personnel who are heading back to campus and base after the holidays. Care packages serve as a reminder of family back home and are a great way to send a little love in a box. Whether you are packing a carry on or shipping a box, here are some unique care package ideas to share with our military and college students.

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Care Package Ideas for Military & College Students

Send Instant Money

If you can’t send a care package because your military personnel is between addresses or in temporary housing, then send instant money via paypal or venmo. You can call them on the phone, walk with them through a store and have them go shopping while you tell them what to buy. Then send the money so they are instantly reimbursed.

Water Filter Pitcher

One of the things that every student and military personnel needs in their dorm or barracks is clean water. Some people may not have easy access to refrigerators, bottle water or drink machines, but most people can keep a water filter pitcher in their room. This will allow them to stay hydrated without the expense or waste of individual bottles.

Tip: Add hot tea bags, koolaid packs or other drink mixes to your care package!

Microwave Options

If your student or military personnel has access to a microwave, then stock them up with bags of popcorn, ramen noodles, cans of soup or hot tea.

Tip: Make sure they have at least one good mug that can serve a double purpose for soup or hot tea/coffee.


College students and military personnel may not think about replacing toothbrushes or have the money to spend on toiletries like deodorant, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, cleaners or other neceissities. Add these to your care package and let them save their money for other things that are on their list.

Tip: If your college student or military personnel is flying back to campus or base, remember to check for TSA approved sizes and items.

Flashlight & Batteries

Everyone should keep a flashlight with them whether they are living in a dorm or on a base. Send a flashlight with a couple backup batteries in their next care package.

Instant Gift Cards

When my niece was finishing high school and starting college, we would sometimes send $5 or $10 straight to her Dunkin app. Often all you need is a phone number or email address and you can send an instant gift card from many popular restaurants and coffee shops. Just open the app on your phone and follow the steps.

Pack It Carefully

Whether you are packing a carry on bag to go through the airport or sending a flat rate box filled with as much as you can fit, there are a couple things to remember.

  • Pack as tightly as possible so nothing moves or shakes.
  • Put all liquids or gels in ziploc bags so nothing spills or leaks.
  • If you are sending a water filter, don’t soak it before shipping. Let your student, sailor or soldier take care of that when they arrive on base or campus. Otherwise, it may drip on the other things in transport or add more weight to your package.
  • Don’t forget to slip in a little toy, character or movie souvenir. Just because your student or military member is technically an adult does not mean they don’t need something fun in their dorm or barracks! (Do you see the tiny Baby Yoda that I sent back with my son?)

Flat rate boxes are often the most cost efficient way to ship packages. Check with USPS for the prices of each box. If you are shipping to a military base you get a discount.

Did you know you can order free boxes from USPS as well? Just check here and order what you need so you are ready to pack your next care package.

What do you put in care packages for your college student or service members?

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