Australia – for most of us, a far off land we dream of visiting. Full of kangaroos, eternal sun and cute koalas. Well…. it is a little different in reality. But it is AMAZING! Trust me, I spent a year in Australia and loved every second! Armed with a pretty small backpack, my working holiday visa, and no real plan, I totally winged it. I also quickly realised I had made a few packing errors though! Here I put together exactly what you need to pack for your Australia trip!
Should I take a backpack or suitcase to Australia?
When starting to think about packing for your Australia trip, you will inevitably ask yourself this question. If you are a seasoned traveler, then you may have some experience with either suitcase or backpack. However, if this is your first trip, it can be tricky to know! Many die hard backpackers will insist you simply cannot get around with a suitcase. I personally took a backpack, but in hindsight, a suitcase wouldn’t have made much difference… I strongly believe that unless you plan to walk miles with your luggage (rarely happens), or you are going into the wilderness, then either works fine.
Something that should be brought into consideration however is the size. First thing you should do is check your flight ticket! How much luggage are you allowed to bring? There is no point buying an all singing all dancing, huge new backpack if you are only allowed to fill it half way! As a general rule of thumb, airlines tend to allow 15 – 30 kg in economy. It varies by airline so you must check.
Then you need to think practically. Are you planning on moving every couple of days, or mainly working? Is this a fast paced Australian East Coast backpacking trip, or a more lounge on the beach type affair?! Are you physically capable of carrying the amount of things you plan to take on your back? Or would having it all on wheels be more useful?! If you do think a back pack is the way to go, then my personal favourite brand is Osprey. They may not be the cheapest, but it will last you literal years! I love this green 55 litre (good size!) with detachable day pack!
For a suitcase – make sure it has robust wheels. A hard shell is great for protecting your things, but not so great for squeezing into buses etc! Even if you take a suitcase, be sure to take a decent day pack. Another option for the undecided would be a sort of hybrid. There are some great option for suitcases which have wheels and can been work as a backpack such as this one from Mountain Warehouse.
Clothing to pack for Australia
Most people think of sea, sun and sand when they think of Australia. Whilst this is true in many places, it does in fact get cold in Australia! People tend to seriously underestimate the climate and size. What if I told you that there is actually a Ski Resort in Australia!! In a country that is about the size of Europe, you are going to get some very differing climates. that being said, it is not the end of the world if you forget something. Australia has lots of big clothing stores.
here is a list of recommended clothing for Australia. I have put the amount that I personally would recommend to take, but that is open to interpretation. Many years have traveling have made me pack lighter and lighter! I lam a big believer that whether you go somewhere for 2 weeks or a year, you will need about the same amount of clothing. Why? Because you will always do laundry after 2 weeks (minimum!). Also, it depends on your activity level. I like to do a lot of hiking, so sports clothing is a must!
2 x Quick dry T shirts
the type you might wear for hiking or sports. 100% believe me when I say – you will end up choosing comfort over style. When you are in the sweltering heat of Fraser Island, or hiking through forests, you will want these tops!
1 x Quick dry long sleeve shirt
Similar to the above, but long sleeved. It is always nice to have the option if mosquitoes are around. I love Karrimor sports tops. They are cheap, breathable, and resistant.
4 x “Nice” tops
You know what I mean, the type you wear with your jeans. Or perhaps to the pub, or out to dinner. Something for when you want to look a little nicer.
2 x Skirt / shorts
I have lumped them together as some prefer shorts over skirts, or vice versa. Either way, something to wear when it’s hot!
10 x Underwear
I mean, it is obvious why!
2 x Swimwear
I always bring 2 sets of swimwear. This way, 1 can dry if needed and you still have a set to wear.
2 x Bra
1 x Sports Bra
I live in sports bras when I travel. They are so comfy, which is exactly what you want in the heat! Highly recommend Nike for decent quality.
2 x Leggings
Because when the mosquitoes come out, you will want cover. Also, if you are around in winter, or even chilly mornings, you will want leggings!
1 x Summer dress
Something nice for beach days or hostel bars!
1 x Jeans
A true staple of any ladies wardrobe, I always have a pair of nice jeans. Wear them in the day, or in the evening. Dressed up or down, jeans are the ultimate chameleon of the clothing world.
1 x Warm Jumper
For the winter, which gets colder than you think. Or even just night time!
1 x Lightweight raincoat
Cannot stress this one enough! Australia isn’t always bright sunshine unfortunately! It does rain, and in some places, a lot! The North is tropical, which means high temperatures and down pours. So get yourself a thin, lightweight waterproof, so you can stay dry but not over heat! I love packable waterproofs like this one from Regatta – it folds away small so more room in your luggage!
What shoes should I pack for Australia?
I hate shoes. Now, I know that sounds weird. But shoes take up so much room in your luggage. Plus, they are so heavy. If there is one thing you can do to free up space in your luggage it is to get rid of some of your shoes. Trust me you do not need nearly half as many pairs as you think you do. As a bare minimum I think that you can getaway with two pairs. However, if you are not like me , and you feel you need more, then I really think 3 pairs of shoes is an absolute maximum!
1 x Sturdy trainers
If you can, I highly recommend investing in some hiking trainers. The type that you can wear in they day and around the city, and not look like you have just come off a mountain. However, they can also double up as walking shoes, much like these cute pink Salomon’s – they will look fine with jeans, but also get you through forests!
1 x Sandals or Flip flops
Something that is comfortable, that you can easily walk in. I love flip flops, but I know they hurt some people. Great for hot days in the city, or on the beach.
If you really must….
I personally would be happy to go to Australia with only two pairs of shoes. However, I am not the kind of person to go out clubbing or go to fancy restaurants. If this sounds like you, then perhaps it is wise to pack a more formal pair of shoes. Equally, if you know that you are heading to Australia with more of a focus on getting a job, then you might need some shoes suitable for the workplace. Just remember, shoes take up a lot of space in your luggage, and they add weight . If you have a small bag, or a small weight allowance on your flight , then I would suggest buying a cheap pair of formal shoes when you get to Australia.
Some people had to Australia with a particular vision in mind. They see vast deserts, the Outback , and not much else. Australia is a very westernised country. You will find practically every type of shop that you will need. There is no reason to fill your bag with readily available toiletries. That being said, there are certain items that I always carry with me. These are mostly items that are not single use, or I may need in a hurry., such as:
- Hair ties / bobby pins
- Shower puff or sponge (often forgotten, but a great addition!)
- Make up
- Nail clippers
- Medication / birth control
- Insect repellent
- Paracetemol / plasters / anti septic
All of these things are of course readily available in Australia. However, these are the kinds of things that I would bring with me. even if you forget something on this list, you can always buy cheap play wants you arrive. Something important to know, the sun in Australia is of course very strong. Always make sure you have sunscreen with you. That being said, sunscreen is so much cheaper in Australia than it is in the United Kingdom.
When it comes to electronics, your number one priority is a plug adapter. Australia uses a completely different plug socket to the majority of the world. Something else that you may not have thought of, but you will definitely thank me for, is an extra long charging cable for your phone. In hostels you may have many beds in one room and you won’t necessarily have a plug socket near you. Bring along an extra long cable so you can plug your phone in and keep it near you. Portable phone chargers also really good items to have with you. Make sure you charge them up in your hostel, take them on long bus rides with you so your phone doesn’t run out of battery. You can actually get solar powered models too, which is great for people who are camping.
Don’t forget your headphones. Not only will you want them whilst you are travelling, you will almost certainly wish you had them on the long fly over to Australia. If you are taking a camera make sure you bring batteries and spare memory cards. And of course don’t forget your tablet or laptop should you wish to take it.
Contrary to what we see on films, forgetting your passport is rare! Most people check their passport, and then check again before they leave! There are other documents that you should take with you though. Some are essential, others you might never need. I am a firm believer that having something and not needing is better than not having it when you do need it! This list is not exhaustive, and may be dependant on what you plan on doing but I would suggest:
- Passport, and store it in a wallet or case for protection! Fun story – I was nearly denied entry into the Phillipines because of my water damaged passport!
- Visa paperwork – yes, it is electronic for most people, but I recommend taking printed confirmation
- Driving license. Even if you don’t intend on driving, always helpful to have a second for of ID.
- Photocopy of passport. Sounds odd, but I always have one. It will come in handy if you ever lose your actual passport.
- Couple of passport sized photos
- Travel Insurance details
- Flight Confirmation / check in references
- Small amount of cash
Other things you may consider packing!
Travel guide: Nothing beats Lonely Planet! You may wish to download it as an ebook.
Pen and notepad: One of those things that you may forget, but often comes in handy!
Packing cubes: amazing for saving space and organising your items.
Needle and thread: For repairing your clothes on the road.
Microfiber towel: Takes up little space, is lightweight, and dries quickly.
Refillable water bottle: Tap water is drinkable in Australia so don’t waste money on bottled water. Also, it is much better for the environment!
A padlock: Most hostels have lockers available, but many expect you to use your own padlock
Sunglasses: The sun is strong in summer, don’t forget your sunglasses
Playing cards: Good for drinking games or just for general boredom in the hostel
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