What to pack for a year of backpacking in Australia

Most travelers will tell you that the secret to happiness while traveling is traveling light! This minimalist thinking applies to many areas of life and the point is to not let your stuff own you, especially when you’re trying to experience the world. This is the mentality I eventually adopted during my travels in Australia, although I think it’s still a work in progress. There are many things to consider when you’re packing your bags, and what you need may be very different from what someone else needs.

Note that what I carry now is quite different from what I initially carried.

Just keep a few questions in mind:

Why am I traveling?

Are you embarking on a quest aimed at adventure and freedom, or are you traveling to meet loads of people and have a big drunkfest? These two people are going to pack very differently. A partier needs more night clothes and fewer adventure aids. Also keep in mind if you plan on working a lot you’re probably going to need clothes that suit your chosen poison (job).

How am I traveling?

Hitchhiking? You’re gonna have to trim your stuff down. Flying? You’re gonna pay a bit in checked baggage fees if you bring a million clothes. Taking the greyhound or traveling with other backpackers? You might be alright with a bit of excess depending on the size of their vehicle.

Do I really need THIS?

Potentially the most relevant question you can ask yourself when packing. After the initial pile up, I think if you seriously reflect on each item’s usefulness you can throw out at least half of your stuff. Granted, you can give it away and lighten your load once you already know you don’t need it, but then again, you can also just BUY something if you find you’re desperate for it when you get there.

Always err on the side of not enough. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to travel without the baggage.

The List

Here’s the list of things I managed to trim down to. I frequently re-evaluate my stuff to try and eliminate even more weight as I continue to travel in other countries, but I think this is a good base-line.

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My bags

  • Northface 60L Backpack
  • Explore day pack (about the size of a school bag)

Hygiene products

  • Toothbrush x 1
  • Toothpaste x 1
  • Shampoo/Bodywash x 1
  • Deodorant x 1
  • Extras (Tweezers, Clippers)
  • This can be further condensed using a multipurpose soap like “Dr. Bronner’s”.
Electronics
  • Combination phone/mp3 if possible
  • Super compact camera
  • Netbook or Macbook air (something very light)
  • Laptop charger
  • USB cables to charge phone/mp3/camera
Clothes
  • neutral t-shirts x 3
  • button up shirt x 1
  • pair of jeans x 1
  • pair of versatile shorts for hiking and casual x 1
  • pair of casual shoes x 1
  • pair of trail running shoes (my preference, good for running and hiking) x 1
  • zip up hooded sweater x 1
  • 3-4 pairs of socks and underwear
  • Buying merino wool apparently saves a lot of weight, though it’s more costly
If you’re camping/hitchhiking
  • Smallest/lightest tent you can get your hands on x 1
  • Smallest/lightest sleeping bag you can get your hands on x 1
  • A lightweight mat for sleeping on rough terrain x 1
  • If you’re opposed to strapping water bottles to your packs, buy a camel back as well x 1
Misc
  • Any medications you need x 1
  • A sleeve for important documents x 1
  • Sunglasses/Hat/Mosquito┬áRepellent/Sunscreen x 1
Typical approximate weight: 10-15KG

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My parting recommendations

While Australia is a very expensive country and you don’t want to buy more things there than you have to, I’d recommend not bringing truck loads of clothing for work. If you’re not planning on partying much, or even if you are, you can probably leave out the button up and the jeans. Some nice lightweight hiking pants might be better suited for adventurers, you know, the ones that have the legs that zip off. Handy.

It’s impossible to pack for a whole year. Just don’t.

Ultimately you should aim to bring as little as possible. Remember, a journey to Australia is about enjoying the amazing landscape and wonderful unique experiences the country has to offer. Don’t bother bringing stuff that’s just going to distract you from the beauty!

For more tips on minimalist traveling, check out Zenhabits. He’s a bit extreme but there’s a lot of merit to his words!

Did I forget anything? Any tips on further reduction? Leave me a comment!!

  • LasseS

    Hey mate, wondering about how much you spent that year in Australia.
    Going for approx. 12 months. Will probably use hostels the first day or so but was going for a hitchhiking trip (bringing a tent as you recommended).
    Also did you have any jobs while being there? heard alot of backpackers tend to do have them.