Packing for Australia: five things to bring, five to leave

Between where to go, what to do, and how to make it all happen, there’s a lot to think about when backpacking in Australia. A common question is definitely what to pack. It’s important to pack smart for Australia for three reasons:

  • One: most backpackers are travelling for an extended period. Maybe you’ll be away from home in Australia for two years on working holiday. Poor packing means a long time living with mistakes.
  • Two: Australia is really far away from home for most backpackers. Asking mum to ship you your rain jacket or sending back your hairdryer is too expensive and too slow to be practical.
  • Three: Australia is an expensive country. If you pack wrong and have to go out and buy all new things, it’s going to put a serious dent in your trip budget.

For these reasons, here are 5 suggestions for items you’ll want as you travel around Australia, along with 5 items you can safely go without.

Pack it: A padlock


If you’re backpacking Australia, you’re going to be staying in some dorm rooms. Lockers are present at almost every hostel, but you almost always need to supply your own lock. You don’t need a heavy-duty lock, but a little suitcase lock won’t do either. Choose something in the middle that’s lightweight but will still keep your valuables secure.

Pro-tip: Use the lockers for your passport, your wallet, your electronics, and any other valuables. Sometimes the lockers are large enough for your whole pack or suitcase, but if not, don’t worry too much. Most thieves are after these hot commodities and less interested in nicking your toothbrush or dirty socks.

Leave it: A Moneybelt

money belt
As stylish as they are, a moneybelt isn’t really necessary

Australia is a safe country. Do crimes still occur? Yes, of course, but there’s no need to spend your time in Australia worried that you’ll get mugged on your way back from Coles. Use common street smarts to keep yourself safe, but in a country as safe as Australia, wearing a money belt is an unnecessary hassle.

Pack it: Water bottle

A sturdy, lightweight water bottle that’s easy to clean will serve you well during your time in Australia. Whether you’re sweating it out on a bushwalk or just keeping hydrated at the hostel, it’s handy to have a bottle. Drinking fountains and other places to refill are easy to find. Save your money and the environment by avoiding bottled water.

Leave it: Water filtration gadgets

You won’t be doing this in Australia

Australia’s tap water is safe to drink with very few exceptions. There’s no need to invest in any sort of gadget or tablets that will purify water for you. The only exception would be if you’re picky about taste, maybe get a bottle with a filter. Personally, I say that sampling diverse mineral profiles of Australia’s city’s tap water is all a part of the experience.

Pack it: Sunscreen

Australia is a very easy place to get sunburned. In fact, Ozzies are thirteen times more likely to get skin cancer than the global average! It’s important to always carry some sunscreen to “slop” on. Even a cloudy day can give you a burn. Carry at least one tube of sunscreen with you wherever you travel in Australia.

Leave it: Lots of medicine

Chemist Warehouse is your friend

There are some backpacking destinations where it’s wise to travel with your own pharmacy in your backpack. Pain medicine, anti-diarrhea, first-aid, medicine for an upset stomach, maybe even antibiotics! In Australian cities, it can feel like there’s practically a chemist on every corner. If you fall ill, relief will almost always be close by, so no need to carry extras just in case.

Leave it: Sleeping bag

Dorm Room
Definitely no need for a sleeping bag here at Travellers Oasis

Hostels in Australia provide bedding for you. You might get stuck having to make your own bed when you arrive, but there’s no need to carry around a sleeping bag. Besides the unnecessary bulk and weight, most hostels prohibit you from using your own sleeping bag. Sleeping bags are the perfect place for bed bugs to hitch a ride, so do us all a favour and use the bed linens provided by the hostel.

Maybe take it: Travel hammock

If you’re backpacking Australia, hopefully, you will spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors, taking in the country’s countless beautiful vistas. A packable hammock sure could come in handy for enjoying them. This is definitely not a must-have item but would certainly do you a lot more good than a sleeping bag.

Take it: GSM smartphone

Pop one of these into your phone and you’re sorted

It’s easy to find cell service almost anywhere in Australia’s inhabited areas. Getting a SIM card is as easy as visiting the supermarket, and you can get set up with a prepaid plan almost as soon as you land. Unless you’ll only be in Australia a couple of days, there’s no need to rely on wifi hotspots. Bring a phone that takes great pictures and keep it in a sturdy case.

Leave it: DSLR camera

wayyy more trouble than it’s worth

Almost every backpacker wants to take lots of photos and videos to remember their once-in-a-lifetime experience of backpacking in Australia. That being said, there’s really no need to bring a fancy pro camera with interchangeable lenses. When you’re not complaining about how clunky and heavy it is to carry around with you, you’ll be worrying about it getting stolen when you leave it behind. As long as you’ve got a phone that was made in the past couple of years, odds are you’ve already got a lightweight, compact camera that’s perfectly sufficient for capturing your oz experience and making you look fab on the gram.

What do you regret bringing to Australia? What’s one thing every backpacker can’t live without in Australia?