Home Travel Tips Packing for Australia – The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

Packing for Australia – The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

Packing for Australia – The Ultimate Backpacking Checklist

Embarking on a backpacking adventure through Australia is an exciting prospect. With its diverse landscapes, from sun-kissed beaches and tropical rainforests to bustling cities and the vast outback, preparing adequately is crucial. This ultimate backpacking checklist ensures you’re well-equipped for everything the Land Down Under has to offer.

Preparing Your Luggage for an Extended Stay

Packing for a lengthy stay in a foreign country like Australia can be daunting. Our perceptions of a place can often differ from reality, and personal travel preferences also play a significant role in how we pack. Whether you’re an urban explorer or a wilderness wanderer, your luggage should reflect your travel style and itinerary. Remember, flexibility is key as your plans might evolve once you’re there!

Some will leave with a backpack with holiday clothes, others who want to settle in town will leave with more dressed, business clothing… So by determining your trip, you will know more or less what you will need for this trip to the end of the world 🙂 all this while knowing that your plans may change once there…

Backpack or Suitcase: Making the Right Choice

The eternal traveler’s dilemma: should you opt for a spacious backpack or a sleek suitcase? The answer lies in your travel mode and personal preference.

Selecting Luggage Based on Your Travel Mode

  • For Road Trippers: If you’re planning an epic road trip across Australia, a backpack is your best bet. It’s more convenient and space-efficient in a vehicle. Check out various sizes and brands at sportsdirect.com, but remember, trying them on in-store is always better than buying online.
  • For City Dwellers: If your Australian adventure involves city living, perhaps as an au pair, intern, student, or urban worker, a suitcase might seem appealing. However, consider the ease of storing a backpack in smaller living spaces.

A poll among backpackers on our Facebook page revealed that 67% preferred backpacks while 32% chose suitcases. Ultimately, it’s about what suits your travel style best.

Advantages and disadvantages


  • More freedom if you move around a lot

  • More all-terrain

  • Easy to store if you are travelling in a vehicle

  • lighter

  • Sometimes difficult to access your things

  • You will look like a traveller

  • Easy access to your things

  • Can be rolled so no need to wear it

  • Can be used for storage once installed

  • Brings back fragile memories of your trip

  • Bulky

  • Not suitable for a trip with several modes of transport

Choosing the ideal Backpack or Suitcase

The Perfect Backpack(s)

Aim for a large backpack (50-70 L) complemented by a smaller daypack for personal items.

A big backpack: Balance and accessibility are crucial. Heavy items should be placed along the back, while frequently used items go on top.

NB: There are backpacks for men and women. The straps are positioned differently for men and women. So be sure to check this when you buy. Choose well-padded, wide shoulder straps, which are more comfortable, and an adjustable carrying belt.

A small backpack: This is ideal for carrying personal or important items outside of your main/larger bag. Think about bringing your wallet, photocopies of your license, visa, passports, etc. in case you lose your luggage/cabin bag.

Big or small, always secure your bags with padlocks. Especially when you leave them at hostel receptions, in plane or in bus compartment.

packing australia

Steps for travelling to Australia on a WHV

Wanting to go to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa but unsure where to start? We will take you through it all in this article.

The ideal suitcase

Go for a lightweight model with sturdy 4-wheel rollers for maneuverability. Dual compartments are great for organization. Remember to check airline baggage limits, as they vary, especially for domestic or low-cost flights.

If you opt for a carry-on suitcase too, remember to check its size! Indeed, companies impose maximum sizes for cabin suitcases. In general, your cabin baggage must measure 55 x 35 x 25 cm maximum (wheels and handles included).

NB: Remember to check the weight limit for your baggage with the airline you are flying with, and also bear in mind that you may have to take domestic or low-cost flights where the maximum weight will certainly be lower.

suitcase travel australia

Packing your bag – where to start?

Tip #1 – Travel light

Make three categories:

1) Things you need – 2) Things you don’t need – 3) Maybe’s…
Try and take all the things from the first category and then see what room you have left.

Don’t forget that airline companies only give you a limited weight allowance. Generally you get 20 kg for bags / suitcases registered as checked in luggage (max. 2 per person). Some companies allow you up to 30 kg or else you can pay a supplement to get 10 kg extra. Your hand luggage can generally be up to 7 kg (sometimes 10kg). Make sure to check this with the airline.

Tip #2 – Bring a bit of everything

Sure the weather is nicer than in Europe, but beware, in the South of Australia it can get pretty cold during winter. So take 2 or 3 jumpers, a jacket and some trousers.

For those that want to stay in the city, clothing standards are quite similar to ours. Australians dress up when they go out but it’s less common to be refused entry to a club for not wearing a shirt (with some exceptions).

Tip #3 – Don’t bring fancy stuff

Of course you can bring some nice things for your nights out. But again, it all depends on the trip you are planning.

It’s important to bring at least one sports/outdoor outfit. Especially if you’re planning to do Fruit picking or work on a farm. You should have a pair of trainers, long pants and a long sleeve T-shirt. If you don’t want to bring those in, remember that you can always buy second hand clothes from Op shops or cheap ones from big brands such as BigW, Kmart or Target.

Australia Backpacking list

Here a list to give you an idea of what you will need to back before landing Down Under!

Clothing and Footwear

Australia’s climate varies significantly across the country, so versatile and layerable clothing is key.

  • Lightweight, breathable clothing for warm climates.
  • A waterproof jacket for unpredictable weather, especially in tropical areas and during the rainy season.
  • Fleece or sweater for cooler evenings and southern regions.
  • 5 short sleeve shirts/vests + 1 or 2 long sleeve shirts
  • A pair of jeans
  • 2 or 3 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of trousers/dress skirt
  • socks and undies
  • Durable hiking boots or shoes, depending on your planned activities.
  • Flip-flops (thongs) for beach days and hostel showers.
  • Swimwear for Australia’s famous beaches and reef snorkeling.

Health and Hygiene

  • First Aid Kit: Include personal medication, pain relievers, band-aids, and antiseptic wipes.
  • Sun Protection: High SPF sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Insect Repellent: Particularly for tropical areas and the outback.
  • Tooth brush and tooth paste
  • A nail clipper + tweezers
  • Deodorant/Perfume
  • Condoms/your pill.


  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated and reduce plastic use.
  • Laptop or tablet + external hard drive
  • Smartphone with a good camera and sufficient storage + charger
  • Headphones or Earbuds: For long bus rides or flights.
  • Universal Travel Adapter: Australia uses Type I plugs.
  • Padlocks: Secure your belongings in hostels and public places.
  • Daypack: For day trips and excursions.

Essential Travel Documents

  • Passport with at least six months validity.
  • Ensure you have the correct visa and a print out of it
  • Travel Insurance: Opt for comprehensive coverage that includes medical emergencies, theft, and cancellations.
  • International Driving Permit (if you plan to drive).
  • Copies of Important Documents: Keep digital and physical copies of your passport, visa, insurance, and emergency contacts.

Things not to put in your luggage

In your hand luggage

Certain products are prohibited in hand luggage. You cannot take a liquid product of more than 100ml in cabin luggage. These must be in a transparent plastic bag. Thus, perfume, gel, moisturizer etc. should not exceed 100ml, otherwise, they will be thrown away when you pass security. There are exceptions for medications, but you will need a prescription.

Knives, scissors, sometimes lighters or any other weapon are also not allowed in the cabin.

In your checked-in luggage

Do not pack your valuables in your checked-in luggage. Take your laptop, camera, etc. with you in the cabin. You are never safe from theft, loss of your luggage or the possibility that it could be damaged during loading/unloading. Also take your important papers into your hand luggage: passport(s), any money, identity card, driving license etc.

Traveling to Australia in 2024: What’s New?

As we look ahead to 2024, traveling to Australia presents new opportunities and experiences. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Australia is increasingly focusing on sustainable tourism. Consider eco-friendly travel options and accommodations.
  • Explore beyond the usual hotspots. Australia’s lesser-known regions are gaining popularity for their unique offerings.
  • Engage with Australia’s rich indigenous culture through immersive experiences and tours.

Remember, the key to a successful trip lies in preparation and adaptability. Whether you’re backpacking across the outback or exploring urban landscapes, Australia in 2024 promises to be an adventure of a lifetime.

FAQ – Packing for Australia

How much luggage can I take with me to Australia?

Luggage restrictions depend on your airline and your plane ticket. Check with your airline for weight and size restrictions on checked and hand baggage. In general, you will be allowed one hold bag and one hand bag. Some airlines give you a weight allowance but you can spread this across several suitcases, so you can check this on their website.

How can I protect my belongings during my trip to Australia?

We would always recommend carrying any valuables in a secure backpack or travel bag and keep them with you at all times instead of checking these in. Make sure you lock your bags and hotel rooms when you are away and use the in-room safe if possible. To protect your bag or suitcase during transport, you can have it packed at the airport, costing around £20. It is also advisable to take out travel insurance to cover any loss or damage to your belongings.

What do I need to travel in Australia?

As well as clothes, you may want to pack a first-aid kit, toiletries, an adaptor for the plugs abroad, an unlocked mobile phone so you can buy a local SIM card later, a camera, a credit or debit card, your passport and your visa.

When is the best time to travel to Australia?

Australia is a huge country, so the climate will vary from region to region. In general, the best time to travel depends on the activities you want to do and the places you want to visit. For example, the best time to visit Australia’s tropical north is between May and October, while the best time to visit Tasmania is between December and February (the Australian summer).

How much luggage should I bring for backpacking in Australia?

Pack as light as possible. Aim for a backpack you can comfortably carry, ideally not exceeding 15-20kg.

Can I bring my surfboard or other sports equipment?

es, but consider the logistics and costs. It might be easier and cheaper to rent equipment on arrival.


Packing for a backpacking trip to Australia doesn’t have to be daunting. By covering the essentials listed in this checklist and preparing for the diverse experiences and climates across the continent, you’re setting yourself up for an unforgettable adventure. Remember, the key to successful backpacking is flexibility and a sense of adventure, so pack light, plan ahead, and be ready to embrace all that Australia has to offer. Whether you’re exploring the urban landscapes of Sydney and Melbourne, the natural beauty of the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, or the laid-back vibes of coastal towns, this checklist will help ensure you’re prepared for the journey ahead. Enjoy your Australian adventure!

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Australia Backpackers Guide
The ultimate guide to work and travel around Australia with a Working Holiday Visa! Get all the tips and advice from other backpackers. The first travel guide written by Backpackers for Backpackers in Australia!!!


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