17 Top Australia Packing List Items + What NOT To Bring (2017 Update)

What should I bring on my Australia trip?

Ah, the Land Down Under. It’s a glorious place that’s sure to bring to mind endless stereotypes about certain animals and accents, but it’s so much more than that.

A lot of friends were asking me “what to pack for Australia” so I wrote this checklist.

Most importantly, you’ll need to bring your best fun-loving, flexible, adventurous self, because Australia is going to show you a wonderful time!

1) Universal Waterproof Phone Case – This item is at the top of the list for a reason. This universal-fit case protects your phone from dirt and dust, water, scratches, and some impacts while also still allowing full use of your device even underwater including the camera! Perfect for an underwater selfie at the Great Barrier Reef – haha!
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2) Affordable Underwater Camera – This camera is tough and waterproof down to 30ft. Practically all major cities in Australia are on the coast making water activities such as snorkeling, surfing, or scuba-ing at the top of menu. If you want a much less expensive option than the GoPro this is the camera to check out.
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3) Australian Power Adapter – The Australian Type I power outlet is one of the lesser used in the world so if you want to keep your electronics charged you’ll need to bring a power adapter. I recommend bringing a universal power adapter that also has USB ports and built-in fuse protection. This adapter works in almost 100 countries.
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4) Slip-on Mesh Water Shoes: Women’s and Men’s – Water sports are huge in Australia. You may snorkel, you may take a hike among tidal pools, or you may simply spend a day (or many) at the beach, but regardless, you don’t want to do those things in your regular shoes. You’ll want something sturdy and reliable, quick-drying and comfortable. These shoes are extremely handy and versatile, and will save you from having to ruin your best walking or hiking shoes.
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5) Reef-Safe Sunscreen – Three words: Great Barrier Reef. It’s important for the health of the aquatic environment that you wear sunscreen that’s free of damaging chemicals. In fact, in some places it’s actually mandatory that the sunscreen you wear (and you WILL need to wear sunscreen – the sun in Australia is incredibly strong) be reef safe to avoid causing damage to the already fragile aquatic ecosystem. Even if you’re not going to the famous GBR, you’ll likely be doing activities that involve the ocean, and you don’t want to leave chemical residue in the water wherever you go.
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6) Travel insurance – Travel insurance is a necessity – any experienced traveler will tell you that it’s better to be safe than sorry. Theft, medical emergency, etc. are covered under most plans, and they’re not much of an extra cost – it’s a price worth paying for the peace of mind you’ll have while on your trip. World Nomads comes very highly recommended by myself and many other well-traveled individuals.
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7) Activated Charcoal – A combination of jet lag, new food, and new environment seems to be a recipe for digestive upset. Almost every traveler has experienced traveler’s diarrhea at some point – if you haven’t, it’s not a fun way to spend your trip. Activated charcoal helps tremendously with this problem, and also serves as a great remedy for food poisoning, should that be something you encounter on your travels.
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8) Water bottle with built-in filter – Drinking water regularly is even more important in Australia than it is in the States. Heat, dry air, and beating sun combine to make it hard to stay adequately hydrated, so carrying your own supply of water with you is a great idea. This bottle has a built-in filter, too, so that you don’t have to worry whether the water from the tap is already filtered or safe to drink on its own.
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9) Lonely Planet Guidebook – You’ll need a guidebook. It will help you with ideas, culture, maps, and important facts about your travel destinations, and it’s honestly a lot of fun to read in your spare time. Lonely Planet’s Australia guidebook is very well reviewed, and has a great deal of wonderful information within its pages about popular destinations, and even locations more off the beaten path.
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11) Virtual Private Network (VPN) – Believe it or not, in my experience, you need a good VPN for all travel.

If you ever use WiFi in a foreign place, whether at a cafe, airport, rental property, or a hotel, you could be putting your private info in danger of being hacked. I found this out the hard way when my credit card number was stolen after using the WiFi at a Paris Airbnb.

But if you’re using a quality VPN such as NordVPN you protect yourself on any device with 1-click.
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12) Jet lag remedy and allergy medicine – Allergens and pollen are surprisingly tough to adapt to in Australia, so it’s best to remember to pack some non-drowsy allergy medicine so that you don’t have to spend your best travel days sniffling and sneezing. Likewise, jet lag is a fierce foe when you’re on the opposite side of the world from home so I highly recommend this natural jet lag remedy to counteract its effects. Use it before and at the beginning of your trip and you’ll arrive feeling much more ready to dive right in to exploring!
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13) Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger – This small, user-friendly portable charger is powerful and extremely handy. Charge it while you’re resting in your accommodations, and bring it with you to recharge your other devices while on-the-go! It’s the size of a tube of lipstick and just as sleek, and it uses a USB cable so it’s compatible with any device that can use a charger cable with a USB end on it.
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14) Sarong – I never travel without a sarong. I’ve used mine for a beach cover-up, a privacy screen, an emergency towel, a cover for a questionable pillow, and a lightweight blanket while riding the train. These light, thin tapestry-like items are so handy, and so easy to bring with you – I highly recommend bringing one or two on your trip.
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15) Quick-dry travel towel – Anywhere there’s water you’ll need a towel, and this one is absorbent, quick-drying, and easy to pack. It’s also nice to have if you find that the hostel or room you’re staying in doesn’t provide truly clean towels, or even any towels at all!
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16) Quality sun hat – A hat is a key piece of travel gear while exploring Australia. It provides extra protection from the sun and the heat, and it happens to look pretty stylish as well. This hat is perfect for men or women and is incredibly well-reviewed and accessibly priced.
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17) Packing cubes – These packing and storage cubes have made life so much easier while traveling. They allow travelers to pack items in a way that’s organized, accessible, and compact without adding much bulk. I find that locating the exact item I’m looking for is a breeze with these, since my belongings aren’t simply packed all together in my suitcase or daypack.
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Other items to bring to Australia


What to wear in Australia

Australia is a large country, and weather across it can vary. For many places you need to pack for dry heat. Shorts and flip flops are acceptable to wear in most hot places, but keep it classy. Lightweight t-shirts, hats and sunglasses are highly recommended if you are heading out in the powerful sun. While you are unlikely to encounter freezing temperatures, cities such as Melbourne and Sydney have cold and rainy winters and mild Spring/Fall seasons. It’s worth packing an extra layer or two – a light sweater or two should do – and always bring a rain jacket!

What NOT to take to Australia

1) 🚫 DON’T BRING lots of cash: Australia has ATMs almost everywhere and nearly all shops and restaurants accept cards. Many Australians do not even bother carrying cash. Having a little cash on you may come in handy when visiting markets or if you want to make small purchases, but there is no need to carry lots of cash at once.

3) 🚫 DON’T PACK heavy books: You really don’t want too many unnecessary heavy objects weighing you down. Books can take up a lot of room in your bag and add to the weight. Consider a Kindle instead, or bring a couple of small paperback books.

5) 🚫 DON’T TAKE foods: Australia has a fragile ecosystem that was untouched from the rest of the world until the last few hundred years. The government does its best to prevent foreign diseases coming in on food products and attempting to bring them in can result in heavy fines, so please respect their regulations and leave these items at home.

2) 🚫 DON’T TAKE items made of wood: If you can avoid it, it’s best not to bring wooden items into Australia, as you’ll have to declare them for the same reasons that foods and camping equipment are banned – Australia is very keen on protecting their native species from foreign and invasive species.

4) 🚫 DON’T BRING expensive jewelry: While crime is relatively low in Australia, tourists are still a common target for petty thieves. It’s definitely worth leaving your expensive jewelry at home if you don’t want to stand out more than you already do.

6) 🚫 DON’T PACK muddy shoes/camping equipment: Just like foreign foods, any dirty shoes or camping equipment are not allowed through customs, as they may be carrying foreign seeds, plants, or insects. Make sure anything you bring into Australia is cleaned thoroughly or you could find yourself getting stopped by officers in the airport.

Australia Travel FAQs

1) Do I need to worry about dangerous animals?

Although Australia is well-known for its dangerous and sometimes deadly animals, it is unlikely you will get into any trouble if you follow local advice. Make sure to find out if a beach or lake is safe for swimming before going in. Many places where sharks or crocodiles pose any danger have netted swimming areas which are safe. Snakes are something to be on the lookout for, but the old adage “they’re more afraid of you than you are of them” is absolutely true.Check out more safety advice for visiting Australia here.

2) What is the best way to get around in Australia?

The bigger Australian cities have extensive transport systems including trains, trams and buses. Smaller cities usually have less consistent buses but public transport is usually available in some form. Uber is popular in Australia and is usually cheaper than taxis.

For interstate travel it is often easiest to fly. There are a few low-cost carriers that make the longer journeys affordable. Greyhound buses have an extensive network and offer passes for multiple destination trips, and even offer hop-on-hop-off style passes. Many people choose to rent cars or camper vans to give themselves more freedom. Most towns have camping areas with access to restrooms and even outdoor public barbecues.

3) Is Australia an expensive place?

Australia is an expensive country by most western standards. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne are comparable with London or New York for travelling. This does not mean you cannot travel on a budget, but you should be prepared for a larger daily budget than many countries. The supermarkets are competitive and there are dining options for people on smaller budgets. It’s advisable to get familiar with the prices in Australia before you travel and be sure that you have the available funds, as many people are surprised by some of the prices of everyday items.

4) Do I need to tip in Australia?

Tipping is never required in Australia and is never expected, as even the minimum wage is substantial enough for fair living. Waiters in higher-end restaurants will appreciate a 10% gratuity but the majority of locals don’t tip. This includes hotel staff, hairdressers and taxi drivers.

5) Do I need a visa to visit Australia?

Passport holders from the US and Canada must obtain an Electronic Visa Authority (ETA). You can apply online from the link below. This ETA allows you to stay for up to 90 days and costs a $20 processing fee. European Union citizens may obtain an eVisitor online which is basically the same as an ETA. Working holiday visas are available for US, Canadian and UK citizens as well as many others. These allow young people (typically 18-35) to live and work in Australia for 12 months. For more visa information click here.

6) Is the tap water safe in Australia?

Australian tap water is safe to drink in most places. In certain rural towns the water will not be drinkable so it is worth asking if you are unsure. Most towns and cities provide free water fountains in pedestrian areas, parks and beaches, and you can also bring a water bottle with built-in filter to avoid any question about water safety.

7) How can I be respectful of Aboriginal culture?

The Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of Australia and many of the popular tourist spots are sacred to the Aborigines. The most famous of these is Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock). There are usually signposts with guidance on how to be respectful to the local culture, and be sure never to remove anything from their sacred land as a memento. Due to certain beliefs that they have, many Aborigines will not allow their photo to be taken – it’s considered a serious offense if it’s done without express permission.
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