Since I was a small girl, I have always wanted to visit Australia. That dream came true, when I took a year out to travel.
I had everything sorted, but the one thing that left me stressed, was what I should be packing for Australia. I was going away for an entire year, what would I need during that time.
Luckily, I did it the right way and packed the essential items I needed for my trip away.
So, what to pack for Australia?
Whether you’re taking a gap year to Australia, or visiting on a short holiday, these are your essential items to pack, no matter the season.
And to help you with your packing for Australia, we have a FREE Packing check list you can download and use again and again. You won’t be leaving anything behind.
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What to Pack for Australia?
For a stress-free holiday, here are our recommendations on the essential things to pack for a trip to Australia.
We have broken it down into sections, to make packing easier, that way you won’t forget a thing.
You should also keep things to go in your hand luggage and main luggage separate.
Documents to pack
These are the most important things to pack for Australia and you can’t leave home without.
Also note, these should be packed in your hand luggage, as you will be asked to produce these items during your journey.
All travelers to Australia, will require their passport, to allow entry into the country.
This needs to be packed somewhere safe, within your hand luggage and with easy access to it. As you will be asked to produce your passport throughout your journey.
About 2-3 months before departure, check your passport to ensure it has more than 6 months before expiry. Most airlines, will not permit you to travel with less than 6 months remaining.
By checking in advance, should your passport expire, you have sufficient time to apply for a new passport.
Frequent flyers will also need to check for spare pages in their passport. You need to have at least 1 spare page remaining. If not, apply for a replacement before you travel.
Tip: As always, check your passport a few months before travel, so you are prepared should you need to apply for a new one.
All non-Australian citizens will need a visa before entry.
Depending on the purpose of travel, you could get a Working Holiday Visa, ESTA Visa, or a transit Visa. Unfortunately, it is not possible to obtain a visa to Australia on arrival.
A Working Holiday Visa, which is what I applied for when I took a gap year, allowed me to work and travel for a 12-month period. This was a great opportunity for me and loved the experience.
If you’re only planning a short 1–3-month holiday, then you should apply for an ESTA Visa to Australia. Alternatively, if you’re transiting through Australia, to reach another country, then you’ll need a transit visa.
Want to find out more on Visa’s to Australia? Then check out our detailed post on How to Apply for a Visa to Australia.
Tip: You should apply for your visa at least one month in advance of your travel dates and applications must be made online. Always print a copy of your visa, in the event you need it for emergencies.
Money is essential to pack for Australia, you simply won’t be able to get by without it.
Australia uses the Australian $.
We would recommend packing a small amount of cash with you, plus a debit and credit card.
But how much money should you pack for Australia?
We first need to establish a budget, before you can set aside money you have saved to go on this trip to Australia.
In my experience, Australia is not a budget friendly country. Although it still isn’t impossible to live off a small budget in Australia, it just means you need to cut back more, compared to other countries, such as Asia.
Hostels are by far the cheapest accommodation in the cities, while eating out in small cafes, off the beaten path might be cheaper. You could also try walking around the city rather than taking public transport, or hiring a bike.
We have just shared a few ways you could save while you travel, but how much money do you actually need for the entire trip?
To help you set a budget for Australia, we have a really helpful guide on how to set a budget for travel, plus a few simple ways you can actually save while you travel.
Note: Inform your bank of your intended travel, to prevent your cards from being blocked while you are away.
Check the rates for using the card overseas. Some banks may not charge a fee, while others could charge you a substantial fee for the use. You could use a pre-loaded travel card, which works in the same way as a debit card. This could be cheaper than using your debit/credit card and you can top them up as and when it is required.
To help you plan and research your trip, why not download your FREE Travel Planner today!
Driving license/International Driver Permit
One of the best ways to see as much of Australia as possible, is with a road trip.
Hiring or buying a vehicle or camper van and just hitting the great open road is definitely an adventure.
When I lived in Australia for a year, I bought my own car, took out insurance and I was free to drive where I wanted and when. All I needed to do was fill up on fuel.
If you do plan to hire a vehicle or buy one for your gap year, then you will need to include your driving license from your home country and an International Driver Permit.
Need an international driver permit? Or not sure what that is, you can find out more about how to apply for an international driver permit here.
Is travel insurance really that important?
In our opinion and experience, it is definitely important and worth getting.
Luckily, we have only needed to claim once on our travel insurance and that was for our mobile phone. But Travel Insurance covers you for so much more. Such as lost or delayed luggage, cancelled flights, cancelled holiday and any treatment you need as a result of an illness or injury that you sustained while travelling.
It is there to protect you and while you may have to pay a premium, it is totally worth it. Especially when you need to make a claim.
You can find out if it is really worth purchasing travel insurance or not here.
If you’re hiring a vehicle, then you’ll need car insurance. This is normally included within the hire purchase, but always check with the hire company prior to travel.
Health and First aid
These are the things that will keep you and your family well, while on holiday in Australia.
Australia is a large country, so climates will vary depending on the region you travel.
Typically, the northern and central parts of the country will be warm all year round, while the southern regions will have the cooler winters.
So, depending on when you travel and where, you may or may not need sun protection.
The summers in the southern hemisphere is during December to February, while the winters are from June to August.
If you are visiting the northern areas of Australia during the winter and summer, it is highly recommended to pack the sun protection.
Although it is unlikely, you’ll need sun protection during the winter in the southern regions, it might be a good idea to pack it, just to protect your skin from the harmful rays.
The sun is very bright and sun glasses and hat is a must thing to pack for Australia.
Tips: You can buy sun cream, a sun hat and glasses in Australia and are found in most local stores and beach locations.
Don’t be one of those travelers, who forgets to pack their medication.
If you are currently taking any prescribed drugs, then make sure you have these packed within your hand luggage.
Always keep enough for the journey, and for the following 3-4 days. This is in the event your main luggage is delayed, lost, or stolen.
You might also want to have a little first aid kit which contains over the counter medication, for minor illnesses during the long flight. More on first aid kits in a moment.
Tips: Always include the medications instructions and packing, should you need to provide these to authorities or in an emergency.
At the ports, Australia are very strict on what food and substances can cross the border, you may wish to check, to ensure the medication is permitted into Australia before travelling.
Mosquitos can be a nightmare in Australia, especially if you get bitten by these small creatures.
But there is a way to prevent bites, with Jungle Formula mosquito repellant. We swear by it.
Although I didn’t get bitten often in Australia, I certainly knew they were around.
Since using Jungle Formula mosquito repellant in Australia, I certainly had a reduction in the number of bites, to nearly none to be exact.
What is great about the product, is that it is small so it takes up very little space in your luggage, plus it’s so easy to apply and leaves no smell or feeling sticky after application.
We could not live without it and would strongly recommend packing this in your luggage for your trip to Australia.
Toiletries as a must if you are to stay fresh and clean while travelling through Australia.
We would recommend small travel size toiletries, that will fit nicely within your luggage.
Both men and women will need to pack their toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap and shaving products.
Women should also include feminine products and makeup (although you’ll only need the very basics, you don’t need it all).
The environment is just as important as travelling. Where possible, we would recommend packing environmentally friendly and plastic free toiletries. These are a little more expensive, but far better.
We want to stop the spread of germs, well, tissues will come in handy.
A small pack of tissues will be ideal, alternatively you can purchase tissues in Australia in most supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies.
First Aid Kit
Our mini first aid kit goes everywhere with us. We have everything we need, should we become ill or sustain a minor injury, that doesn’t require further medical treatment.
We have created our own first aid kit, but it’s also possible to purchase a ready-made first aid kit, which will contain everything you will need in case of an emergency.
You can purchase a small first aid kit from your local outdoor store, grocery store and in some cases fuel stations.
Want to create your own travel first aid kit? Here are the things we have in our first aid kit:
- Painkillers (with any medication, it is always a good idea to keep the box or instruction, in the event you need to provide these to authorities).
- Antibacterial hand sanitizer
For a full list, check out our post on what to pack in your first aid kit.
Note: We have never encountered any problems with taking over the counter medication away on holiday with us. However there have been reported cases of travelers, jailed for taking over the counter medication into a country, that do not legalize that substance within the medication.
If you have any concerns about that type of medication you’ll be carrying, always consult with the relevant agency or government website to get clarity.
Electrical Items to pack
These are just a few of the important things to pack to keep you in contact with friends, family and take epic pictures on your travels around Australia.
Just make sure all valuable items are packed within the hand luggage, or you won’t be covered under your travel insurance policy.
Photos can speak 1000s words, but also taking picture of your holiday to Australia will keep those memories alive for a lifetime.
So, what camera should you pack for Australia?
A good camera is no longer expensive and you can easily pick up a really good camera for around $100.00.
However, in our opinion, you are better off paying a little more for a very good camera that will take great pictures and will last longer.
We have a compact camera and a large DSLR.
We love the DSLR camera, we can change the ISO, Aperture and shutter speed, to allow us to get the best pictures while we travel. BUT they are quite large, heavy and can get quite expensive if you purchase the latest model.
However, we have found a compromise, that still allows us to change our camera settings to take the best photographs, but at a far cheaper cost and compact, which takes up less room in our hand luggage.
The compact camera is an ideal solution and still allows us to take the same quality of photograph as a DSLR, but much better for us when packing.
It will all depend on which you prefer, but just consider the space and weight of your luggage. Also note it will need to be packed in your hand luggage, as your camera is classed as a valuable item and shouldn’t be pack in your main luggage.
Need ideas on which camera you should buy, then check out our post on Travel essentials, in which we include some of the best camera’s that we use. We include a wide range from budget friendly to expensive depending on your budget.
Packing a mobile phone is a must.
Not only can you stay in contact with friends and family, but you can download maps to use offline. This will help you to navigate the city and streets of Australia, but most mobile phones these days have excellent camera features. Allowing you to take awesome pictures as you travel around Australia.
Just make sure the phone is unlocked before travelling, so you can put a local sim inside to use.
You can purchase local sim cards, from any phone shop.
Tip: Pack your mobile phone in your hand luggage, or you won’t be covered under your travel insurance if it is lost or stolen.
It would be completely pointless taking your camera, phone, laptop and any other electrical device, if you didn’t pack your chargers.
Don’t worry you can download our FREE packing check list, so you won’t forget what to pack for Australia
Australia uses plug type I, 220v/50Hz, this is 3 rectangle pins in a triangle pattern but at a diagonal.
You will need a number of adapters to plug your devices for charging into the main sockets.
Tip: Pack at least 2-3 adaptors, depending on the number of devices you are packing and how often they need charging.
This will be a life saver while you’re out on the road.
If any of your devices start to run low on battery, you can just plug it into the fully charged battery bank and you can continue your travels around Australia.
Battery banks are so cheap and tiny these days, that you can easily pack these in your day bag and charge as you go.
We will never leave home without our battery bank.
Tip: Always recharge the battery bank to full and bring all cables for it, to charge at a charge point.
These aren’t really essential items, but you may want to pack these items to help you plan and travel.
Australia has no official language, but since European settlement English is the spoken language by the majority of the population.
It is possible to hear other languages spoken such as native Aboriginal languages, Cantonese, Mandarin, Italian, Arabic and Greek, just to name a few.
Although other languages might be spoken in Australia, it will be uncommon to find someone that can’t communicate in English.
If you’re not fluent in English, you may need a phrase book to help you communicate. You may also wish to learn a few words in English, as this will go a long way.
Tip: Most phones have access to a translator app, or google translate. This would be a better alternative than a phrase book.
Guide books are great to help with the planning and researching your holiday to Australia.
You may find that packing a guide book will help you keep to your plans.
Our favourite is Lonely Planet guide book on Australia. It has everything you need to know, from taking a short holiday to a full gap year to Australia. It even includes maps of the large cities, to help you navigate.
You can also find everything you need to help you plan your holiday to Australia on our website too.
Note pad and pen
If you like to make notes as your travel, or write a journal, then you may want to pack a note pad and pen/pencil.
But we must think about the environment. Why waste paper, when you could use an alternative.
Most phones, tablets or laptops have either a note facility or documents that you can write your travel notes on.
Not only will this save paper, but will reduce the amount you pack in your luggage.
If we have anything important to write down while we are travelling, we use the notes on our phone. One less thing to carry and still does what we need it to do.
So, ditch that paper and pen and use the notes on your device instead.
Sit back and enjoy a good book, is a relaxing way to spend some of your holiday in Australia, especially on a lovely sandy beach.
Many of us avid readers love to read physical books, but if you get through one book in a matter of days, you’ll be packing quite a few books.
Packing physical books may not be the solution. Books are bulky and heavy and you want to save space and weight after all.
So, our solution to keep you reading, is a Kindle.
You can store thousands of books on one small device. Perfect to keep you going for a few months, if not a year.
Kindles are so cheap and inexpensive these days, that you could pick one up for around $70.00 and they last for years. Our kindle has lasted us well over 8 years and still in working order.
Save weight and space, by packing a kindle in your hand luggage.
Padlock and Key
It is recommended to secure any checked in bags and backpacks. You would do this with a padlock and key, or combination lock.
This should deter unwanted people from opening your luggage and stealing any items from your bag.
We never leave home without our bum bag, even when we are not travelling.
Our bum bag keeps all our personal belongings safe and kept discretely around our waist and hidden under our clothing. This deters our most essential items from being stolen.
What do we store in our bum bag?
- Credit/debit cards
- Copy of our documents
Environmentally friendly water bottle
Australia is a large country, with different climates depending on the region and season.
But whatever season or region you visit, you must maintain hydration.
Now you can either buy bottled water in Australia or refill an environmentally friendly water bottle with tap water. Tap water is safe to drink in Australia.
As we know, plastic is causing a problem and buying plastic water bottles are just adding to the problem.
We would recommend packing an environmentally friendly water bottle that you can refill again and again.
Stay environmentally friendly but maintain hydration!
Clothes to pack for Australia
As mentioned before, Australia is a large country, the weather conditions vary from region and season. You’ll need to consider this when packing the suitcase with your clothing.
It is always a good idea to pack the right things from the onset.
Don’t worry, we will include all the essential clothing you will need for your holiday to Australia.
Depending on the season, these are the clothing you should pack for Australia:
Winters in Australia are opposite to the northern hemisphere, with cool mild conditions between June and August.
You’ll want to pack warmer clothing such as:
Jacket, waterproof clothing, fleece, thick jumper, thermal layers, T-shirt, smart tops, jeans, leggings, dresses, woolly hat, gloves.
Note: The weather conditions in the southern region compared to northern regions of Australia are different. The further north you travel, the warmer it will get. During winter, the temperatures range between 3°c at night to around 20°c during the day.
Spring and autumn
Spring and autumn will feel much warmer, but you will experience some cold days. At this time of year, you’ll need a combination of cool clothes during the warmer days but a jacket to keep you warm on the colder days.
We would recommend packing the following:
Jacket, waterproof clothing, jumper or fleece, T-shirt, smart tops, jeans, dresses, baseball cap, sun hat, sunglasses.
Note: As mentioned above, the northern regions of Australia will be much warmer. Pack clothing that will be appropriate for the region and season you are travelling.
Summer in Australia is between December and February, with average temperatures between 16-25°c.
You’ll only need to pack clothing that will keep you cool during the day, but you may feel a little chilly in the evenings, so a jumper or a fleece should be packed.
What to pack for Australia in summer?
Fleece/jumper, T-shirt, sleeveless tops, smart tops, jeans, jean shorts, shorts, dresses, swimsuit/bikini, baseball cap, sun hat, sunglasses
The beaches in Australia are so beautiful, that we would recommend including a stop in your Australian itinerary.
Be prepared for a beach stop, with these things to pack for a trip to the beach.
You’ll need undies
Pack enough for the trip and some spare.
If you wear pajamas (PJ’s) at night, then make sure these are packed.
Depending on the season and region, you should pack long and short tops and bottoms.
There is no need to pack your entire shoe collection, as there simply won’t be room for them.
Only pack a good pair of trainers for pounding the city streets, hiking shoes if you intend to go hiking, a good pair of sandals or flip flops for the beaches. And just the one pair of smart shoes that will go with any outfit.
Just pack the essentials for Australia, not your entire shoe collection.
Backpacking in Australia is very popular, with many taking a gap year to backpack around Australia and New Zealand.
A good, lightweight backpack is a must.
A small backpack is ideal for days out sightseeing, while the large backpacks will be ideal for holding your main belongings in.
Suitcases and luggage bags are another popular alternative.
Our preferred brand of backpack is Osprey and it is something we would highly recommend.
For backpack options, check out the best backpacks to purchase on a budget.
What to Pack in your day backpack
What essentials should you pack in your day backpack as you explore Australia?
Whether you’re exploring the large cities, relaxing on a golden sandy beach, or taking on a number of awesome hikes in Australia, you’ll need to pack the right essentials in your day pack.
Here are your essential things to pack in you day backpack:
- First aid kit
- Layers should the weather turn cold – Only in the spring/autumn and winter months
- Wet weather clothes (if it rains)
- Credit/debit card
- Battery bank
- Guide book
What not to pack for your trip to Australia
Australia is very strict on what you can and can’t bring into the country on entry.
If you enter with any prohibited items, which you do not declare, you could be served a very hefty fine. We are looking to travel on a budget, so don’t get off on the wrong foot, by paying out on a fine.
There are some things you can bring into the country, but you must declare it. Here are the things you must declare, when entering Australia:
- Animal horns, teeth or bones
- Plants or soil
- Food – fresh or dried
- Food from the airplane or ship
We have only mentioned a few things you can bring but must be declared. To see the extensive list, you can check it out at the official Australian Border Force website.
Our advice, would be to declare anything, even if you’re unsure. As mentioned above, it would be better to declare the item, then not and receive a fine.
A fine for not declaring something is au$2,664 (£1515.79, us$1807.26, €1792.15). In the worst-case scenario, you could be imprisoned for up to 10 years. Declare, declare, declare.
What to Pack for a month in Australia
For many, Australia is a long way to travel and can be expensive. It would be recommended, to spend about one month, travelling the diverse country. If you can spend longer, it would be more rewarding.
Firstly, download your free packing check list that we have created for you, to help you pack for Australia.
As you go down the list, you can start to pack the essentials into your backpack/suitcase and hand luggage.
Before packing your clothing, lay everything you intend to take with you on your bed. Now you’ll only end up packing about ¼ of this.
Breakdown of the clothes you’ll pack for Australia
- Clothing – 1x waterproof clothing, 2x fleece, 2x thick jumper, 10x T-shirts, 10x sleeveless tops, 5x smart tops, 5x jean shorts, 5x shorts, 3x dresses, 2x swimwear, 4x PJ’s, 1x hiking shoes (if you are to do any hiking), 1x trainers, 1x flipflops, 1x sandals, 1x smart shoes, 10x underwear, 1x baseball cap, 1x sun hat, 1x sunglasses, 1x ear plugs
- Wash bag – to hold your toiletries
- Travel towel
- First Aid Kit
Tip: Wash your clothing while travelling, this reduces how much you pack and your weight.
There are so many beautiful beaches in Australia, so swimwear is of course important. One beach that comes to mind is Bondi Beach. One of the most famous beaches in Australia, but before you head off, you should be prepared, with these great facts about Bondi Beach, everything you need to know!
This is a large list of things to pack for a trip to Australia, but they are the essentials that you can’t leave home without.
Depending on the time that you travel, you may not need to pack everything. During the summer months you won’t need a jacket, but you may need a jumper or fleece for the cool evenings.
We would also recommend, where possible, to pack travel size products, such as toiletries, that way it takes up less weight and space in your suitcase. Alternatively, purchase some of the essential products in Australia, such as snacks, sun cream, shampoo, soap etc.
All it comes down to, is being sensible about what you pack and don’t over pack on unnecessary things.
What things can’t you leave home without? Is there something you pack that you swear by, that we haven’t included? Do you normally overpack or do you pack your luggage with plenty of space? Let us know in the comments below.
Continue your Australia travel planning, with these useful posts:
- Best Places to Trave in 2023
- Tips on driving in Australia for first timers
- Best Winter Holiday locations in Australia
- Best Day Trips from Brisbane
- Best Day Trips from Sydney
- Best Places to Visit in Australia
- Best Day Trips from Melbourne
- Travel Guide to Australia
- 5 Best Islands to Visit in Australia
- Best Australian Beach destinations