I’m often asked questions about what to pack for Australia. What to pack for Australia depends on lots of things – are you looking for things to take to Australia for a holiday, for a backpacking adventure or are you moving to Australia permanently and wondering what should be on your Australia packing list?!
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For this article, I’m going to assume that you’re moving to Australia or travelling to Australia for a long period of time and we’re going to talk about what to pack for Australia in your hand luggage as well as in your suitcase. You might be sending a shipping container of things or some luggage via a luggage delivery service separately too, so this post will also help you work out the important things to keep with you.
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Travel checklist Australia: What goes in your hand luggage?
If you’re wondering what to pack for Australia, here are my travel essentials for Australia to go in your hand luggage.
Passports and tickets
I like to use a travel wallet to keep everything together.
If you’re moving to Australia, don’t assume just because your visa is on your passport that you won’t need to show the actual letter multiple times too! Print out a few copies of it as you’ll need them.
Gather an Australia pack of important documents
In this, you need to include:
- originals of personal documents (birth certificates, marriage certificate, qualification certificates, police checks from your visa etc.) These will be essential pieces of identification in Australia. Make sure you leave photocopies of all of these with someone you trust back home just in case you ever lose these originals, and it’s also helpful if another family member who is travelling with you has a pack of the photocopies on them too because you might need to give them out as ID later when setting up accounts, finding a rental etc. It always pays to try to keep separate copies of things! (You should also scan copies of these and add them to your laptop or portable hard drive so you have a record of them).
- any recent bills you might need to chase up later (you never know if you might need to query a final payment, or ring the company up to follow something up).
- details of where you’re staying and your hire car confirmations and/or taxi details.
Some Australian currency so you have some cash ready to spend when you land
I like to use Travelex to order this online and have it delivered. You can check Travelex out here.
A multi-currency account with debit card
I think a multi-currency account is super handy (I wish I’d had access to one when we were moving but I didn’t know they even existed then!). You can have money in a Wise multi-currency account to tide you over until you can validate your Australian bank account in person and move your money over. You can find out about a Wise Multi-Currency account here. I highly recommend this as an interim measure while waiting for your Australian debit cards to be ordered. It will also come in so handy if you’re moving to Australia as it means you’ll have access to bank accounts in multiple countries, and you’ll be able to use it when you travel in future too.
Your bank account opening confirmation details
Bring any information you’re going to need about your Australian bank account so you’re ready to go in and validate your account when you land. You can find out more about banking in Australia here.
Packing cubes to organise your bags (these work well for hand luggage as well as your suitcase)
While the larger packing cubes are perfect for using in your suitcase, the smaller sets are perfect for organising your hang luggage. You can use them to keep paperwork together, to organise any spare clothes you want to keep clean and dry – and to keep your cables together. Are packing cubes worth it? Absolutely!
It’s amazing how many travel adapters you need to have when you move to Australia, and it’s so important to keep a few of them in your hand luggage so you can easily grab them when you arrive at your hotel or short term rental. It will likely take you a while to get the plugs of everything changed over to Australia plugs, so do yourself a favour and put some extra travel adapters in your hold luggage too! A trailer plug socket is also really handy so you can use multiple things at once with your travel adapters (that’s one to go in your suitcase rather than hand luggage but it’s still worth mentioning).
Rehydration products to help you get over the jet lag
Air travel leads to dehydration so take some rehydration products with you that you can consume on the go. I like the dissolvable tablets that you can just add to a bottle of water. Make sure your kids have some too – it really does help to ease feelings of jet lag and exhaustion later.
Paracetamol/ibuprofen for you and the kids
For travelling, I find using sachets of medicine is helpful for the kids, or soluble kids paracetamol that you can just pop into a bottle of water. Make sure you pack some for the grown ups too – I always get a bad headache when travelling long haul.
Travel sickness tablets and bands
As someone who has two kids that get travel sick, this is a must for us! I honestly also find the travel bands work too (I lived in them when I was pregnant with twins and suffering severe morning sickness through the pregnancy!) The travel sickness tablets are still important though – we couldn’t travel without them.
Any medication you need for the journey and after you arrive
Don’t pack it all in your hold luggage in case that goes missing. And make sure you bring enough to keep you going until you can sign up to a doctor in Australia if it’s an ongoing prescription.
Travel first aid kit
I never travel anywhere without a little first aid kit. Mine contains: bandages, plasters, antiseptic wipes, antiseptic cream, bite cream and a thermometer. Just remember you’ll need to delcare any bottles of liquid/lotion at check in.
Portable hard drive
This should contain all of your important data from your computer and/or laptop. In an ideal world, you’d take two of these so that two members of your group have one copy for security reasons. If you’re sending your desktop computer in your shipping container, don’t forget to back it up onto this device. And even if you’re taking your laptop in one of your hand luggage bags, make sure it is backed up and the portable drive is kept separate. You never know if your bag might get damaged or stolen.
Our kids frequently use up all of our phone batteries. A portable charger means you can carry on using your devices on the go. These are life savers for long journeys.
Any special photo prints that are irreplaceable
If you’re moving and taking all of your belongings with you, it’s helpful to try to back up what photos you can on a portable hard drive, but I know that I have way too many prints to want to spend the time doing that. I suggest pulling out the most important prints and taking those with your in your hand luggage. Make sure they’re in a folder to keep them flat and protected.
Camera and Laptop
These are delicate items so will travel with you on the flight. Don’t risk packing them in the hold luggage.
I love my Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Perfect for a relaxing flight!
It’s always a good idea to have a good book with you!
Notebook and pens
You never know when you’re going to need to make a note of something, and you always need to fill out visa forms on the plane.
Masks, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes
This is the world we live in now!
A few small sandwich bags and a carrier bag
Use these for rubbish/storing dirty clothes or half-eaten food for the kids.
So you can add layers if the plane feels cold.
Kids inflatable footrest
These are so handy to help your kids to sleep on the plane if they’re still small enough. You can read more about these sleep solutions here.
Put a couple of little travel packs in everyone’s hand luggage.
Travel activities for the kids
Think books, colouring, stickers… (You can check out my top tips for travelling long haul with kids here).
Make sure you pack them in a hard case so they don’t get damaged.
Baby gear if travelling with a baby
Nappies, wipes, nappy bags, formula, travel changing mat, snacks, spare clothes, bibs.
One way travel insurance or backpacking insurance
OK technically not something for your hand luggage but one-way travel insurance is an important piece of your Australia travel gear in my opinion! Find out more about it here.
If you’re backpacking around Australia, you can find backpacking insurance too – it may sound boring but it’s really important!
Feel like you’ve got too much to pack for Australia?
You probably have!
We took so many bags to Australia when we moved as our airline gave us an extra luggage allowance for travelling one way as permanent migrants so we wanted to make the most of it! It was so challenging trying to travel with so many bags and cases with three kids under five.
We paid for the assistance of luggage porters in London (as there was literally no way we could get from the taxi rank into the airport without either leaving our kids or our bags unattended as we just didn’t have enough hands!) The porters were honestly a lifesaver and worth their weight in gold, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. We wanted to take all of the things to keep us going until our shipping container arrived. That didn’t get delivered until about six or seven weeks after we landed, so those suitcases and bags held so many important things including toys for the kids, clothes and travel gear.
If I could go back now though, I would instead send at least a couple of those suitcases via a luggage door-to-door delivery service. That way the bags would have been picked up from our home and delivered directly to us after we’d landed in Australia. It would have taken tonnes of pressure off us trying to juggle so much with the three kids. Sometimes it’s worth trying to save money, and sometimes it’s worth investing to save your sanity and make an experience easier. This was one of those times!
I partner with Send My Bag and you can get a 5% discount when you click through my affiliate link here. If it only helps one of you not to have to deal with the stress of travelling with too many bags and too many kids then my work here is done!
Actually, even if you don’t have too many kids, sending your bag ahead is still a much easier way to travel if you don’t mind spending some money for convenience. Imagine not having to wait in line at the carousel for your luggage and not having to balance it on trolleys as you navigate the terminals. One day, I plan to only travel first class and have my luggage sent on ahead (I can but dream!) >> Get your discounted quote from Send My Bag here.
If you’re just travelling to Australia for a holiday, you won’t need so many bags. Check out this post about things to look for in travel luggage. Don’t forget to use packing cubes to make packing for Australia easier and give yourself more space!
What to wear when travelling to Australia and what to pack in your suitcase
While it’s hot in Australia, it’s often cool on the plane. I prefer to travel long haul in closed toe shoes and trousers. This also means you can wear compression socks which help reduce the risk of DVT. I like to go for layers both for myself and the kids who can never decide if they’re boiling or freezing.
I did pack pyjamas for the kids in case we wanted to get them changed on the plane but to be honest it felt like too much of a faff so we didn’t end up using them. I think for a small baby or young toddler it could help signal to them that it’s bedtime though – anything to help them sleep on the plane!
If you’re wondering what sort of clothes to pack for Australia, consider the season and the location you’re going to. I’m often asked what to pack for Australia in winter or what to pack for Australia in autumn. In Queensland (and in many other states and territories), for instance, year-round you can wear sandals, shorts, dresses and t-shirts. In winter, it’s helpful to have jeans, a hoodie, socks and shoes or trainers/runners as well (you’ll still likely spend a lot of time in shorts and t-shirt but it does get cooler at nights). If you’re heading somewhere that gets colder like Tasmania or Victoria, you’ll likely need to take a coat or jacket. (Coats aren’t something we wear in Queensland often although you might want to pack a rain mac and umbrella too).
In Australia, I generally dress very casually. I’m always wearing either Converse or Saltwater Sandals. I wear wrap dresses or shorts and bamboo t-shirts most of the year. A few weeks of the year, you’ll find me wearing jeans and a hoodie (usually from June – August).
Swimwear and sarongs are essentials to pack in your suitcase no matter what time of the year you’re travelling to Australia. Although you can go shopping when you arrive in Australia, it’s helpful to have some swimmers ready to go in case you want to hit the beach or pool before you’ve had chance to go around the shops. A sun protection top/rash vest/rashie is also important for your kids to protect them from the sun. (If you bring one with you, you can shop for more when you get here).
Suitcase packing list: Australia Travel essentials
There are lots of other travel essentials for Australia to go on your packing list. As I said above, yes you can go shopping when you land but if you at least arrive with some basics it gives you a bit of breathing room to enjoy your new surroundings before you need to rush to the shopping centre.
Get wide-brimmed fabric hats that can fold up in your case. For kids, it’s helpful to get ones with a chin strap too. Baseball caps don’t provide enough protection and kids end up with burnt ears and necks.
I like to travel with at least one bottle of sunscreen because it usually takes a couple of days to get around to heading to the shops. Sunscreen is something you need to wear daily here. You can read all about my experiences with reef-safe zinc sunscreen here.
Just like sunscreen, it’s helpful to travel with at least one bottle of insect repellent. You can read all about my experience with natural insect repellents here.
It’s handy to take some lightweight, quick-drying towels for beach or pool days. I’m in love with my new Dock and Bay beach towels and pink striped poncho that I just treated myself to over Christmas.
Take some travel-sized shampoo/conditioner/body wash etc. You can go to the shops within a few days of landing, so there is no point filling up your case with big bottles. Just remember to make sure that all bottles are packed in something waterproof in your case just in case they leak. You don’t want liquid ending up all over your clothes!
While you probably won’t want this in your hand luggage (as you won’t be able to travel with liquids), it’s a good idea to put a good water bottle in your suitcase so you can use it when you land. In Australia, you take water everywhere you go so it’s a great idea to get an insulated bottle that will stay cold for a long time.
Australia What to pack: Don’t stress!
I know I’ve mentioned above that it’s helpful to take lots of things to Australia so you don’t need to rush out to the shops, but we have plenty of great shops here. You can go out and get more nappies/shampoo/sunscreen etc. when you land so you don’t need to stress about forgetting anything. Target, Big W, Kmart, Coles and Woolworths sell just about everything and anything you could want. It is handy to bring some things though so you can relax and get through the jet lag a little before having to hit the shopping centres.
Take a deep breath. Let’s get your Australia pack ready to go and you’re ready for your adventure!
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