The essentials

Ballooning, Hunter Valley, NSW.  Photo credit: Murray Vanderveer, Destination NSW


Everything’s essential. It’s just some things are more essential than others.

Baggage limits

Check the baggage limit of your airline online before you travel. If you go over the limit chances are you’ll be charged extra.

It’s always cheaper to pay for additional baggage online, in advance of your flight, BUT, bear in mind that you’ll have to lug this stuff across Australia with you. The lighter you travel the cheaper it will be and the easier you’ll be able to carry it.

Remember: the safest weight for your backpack is a third of your own bodyweight.

Hand luggage

Most airlines allow a small amount of hand luggage – usually a small ‘overnight-style’ bag (less than 5kg), a handbag and jacket (carrying your jacket onto the plane is a great idea if your suitcase is a little short of space).

Some airlines allow only one piece of hand luggage (including your handbag). Some will consider a laptop bag additional luggage; some won’t. Some consider the total weight of the bags in your party and some stick to individual weights only. In all cases, check with your airline for their particular restrictions.

Most Australian airports security-screen all carry-on luggage, although restrictions on domestic flights aren’t as stringent as international flights. You can carry liquids, gels and aerosols.

For excellent travel advice from the Australian government check out the Australian Border Force page.

Anything to declare?

If in doubt, declare it. You can find out more about Australian Customs and Excise here.


Split your money up. Keep your cards, traveller’s cheques and cash separate. If the worst happens and you lose an item or have something stolen, you won’t lose it all.

What to pack

Try and keep your luggage to a minimum. If you aren’t 100% sure you need it leave it out. You can always buy it in Australia (but chances are you won’t miss it).


Be aware that it does rain and, in the south, it will get cold. You don’t want to be stood admiring the Sydney Opera House wearing the entire contents of your suitcase. On these ‘double scarf days’ you probably won’t need your thermals, but a warm top or fleece is essential. A thin waterproof won’t go amiss either, unless of course you plan to head further south to Tassie or go ski-ing in the Blue Mountains


If you are planning on working during your stay, particularly office work, pack some suitable business clothes. Casual might be fine for the pub and the beach but most Australian offices still have a smart business dress code. You are also expected to dress smartly for interviews.

Fitting it all in

  • Roll your clothes rather than fold. They take up less room and get less wrinkled, especially if you roll two or three items together
  • Protect electronic items by wrapping them in your clothes
  • Pack bottles in shoes to protect them. If stuffing things into sweaty trainers doesn’t appeal, wrap them in a plastic bag first
  • Always wrap shoes and your toilet bag in plastic bags. It keeps your clothes clean and if anything does leak it leaks all over the bag, not your clothes
  • Netted bags are useful for items like underwear (and are also great when washing). Freezer bags, zip-lock bags or a pillow case are all good ways to keep dirty items separate
  • Take some thick elastic bands to keep things together


The golden rule of packing

Lay everything out that you really want to take. Halve it by taking only the clothes that are a) comfiest b) most practical and c) light. Take twice as much money.


Hand luggage checklist

  • Passport (and copies)
  • Visa
  • Tickets
  • Vaccination certificates
  • Money
  • Accommodation details
  • Medication
  • First aid kit (containing painkillers, plasters, insect repellent/bite relief, cold relief and medication for upset stomachs)
  • Glasses/contact lenses
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Phone
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste


Arrive in one piece
The flight to Oz is a long one and cabin air conditioning makes your skin drier than an Egyptian mummy, so take some hand cream with you.

Oh pants
Pack a change of clothes in your hand luggage in case you arrive before your suitcase or backpack does.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for luggage to go on a walkabout of its own.

Keep your jewellery on you. Pack it in your hand luggage.

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