Preparation

What do you need to take with you?

Putting your luggage together is both extremely important and necessarily time-consuming. Unlike a city day trip or a quick summer getaway, you are away from home much longer on an average backpacking trip. Moreover, you’re constantly on the move and carrying around a lot.

Prior to boarding for a regular holiday, we always try to fill our suitcase to the brim. This isn’t necessarily the smartest option, especially in hot places like Australia where heavy luggage is frustratingly exhausting. So, to spare the headache at the airport, think carefully about what you want to bring.

What to take with you when backpacking in Australia

Backpack

The most important thing to take with you is a quality backpack. Pay close attention to what you are buying. Choose the right size. Avoid buying a size too small and taking minimal items or buying a size too big, leaving you with so much unnecessary space.

 

Backpack essentials

The items below are indispensable for your backpack journey.

Padlock

Security is key and a padlock is perfect for locking your backpack or your locker in your dorm. Get a padlock that provides you with that sense of comfort in knowing your items are kept safe. Better yet, get a padlock with number combination so you don’t need to worry about misplacing the key.

Cable lock

In addition to a padlock for your locker or safe, a small cable lock is also very useful. Mainly for closing your backpack and ideal if you want to take a nap on those long bus rides.

Poncho

The odds of a thunderstorm are high in these tropical destinations, so a poncho always comes in handy. To save money it is also recommended to buy a poncho prior to leaving.

Travel towel

Instead of a large and heavy towel, take a compact travel towel. They also dry faster, saving you the hassle of putting a wet towel in your backpack.

Clothing

Minimalism is key when it comes to clothing and you can save a lot of space and weight when following a more compact packing procedure. The laundry at hostels are communal and can get quite expensive with too many loads of different material. So, packing lightly, but still comfortably is the best way forward.
Generally, you are packing your backpack for 5 to 7 days, depending on the tour or destination.

Laundry

In every hostel there will be a washing machine which you can use for just a couple of dollars per load. If you go backpacking for a long time, clothes will undoubtedly get lost or they will become wholly or multi-coloured. Point is, at some point you will throw them. That’s more than ok as there is no shortage of your favourite retail stores all across Australia.

Electronics

An SLR camera naturally takes the best photos, but also weighs more. We all love beautiful pictures and choose to take our best camera with us, although it weighs a bit more. Your choice of camera is very dependent on the journey you are about to make and how much you are willing to lift.

A GoPro camera is ideal, especially for the adventurous backpackers amongst us. 
Other multipurpose electronics such as a smart phone, tablet or a small laptop are also very useful.

Health & Care

With a few useful items you can prevent many inconveniences. For example, mosquitoes can cause all sorts of grief, especially in the north of Australia. In this case, DEET is a great preventative not only against itching, but also against unpleasant illnesses. If you spend a lot of time in dorms, earplugs and an eye mask will come in handy. Also, in the night bus and the plane trips, these can provide welcome additional sleeping hours.

Check out this site with tips on travelling safely around Australia: Click here!

Laundry

In every hostel there will be a washing machine which you can use for just a couple of dollars per load. If you go backpacking for a long time, clothes will undoubtedly get lost or they will become wholly or multi-coloured. Point is, at some point you will throw them. That’s more than ok as there is no shortage of your favourite retail stores all across Australia.

Packing list

Are you packing up or doing the last shopping? Take a look at the list below to make sure you do not forget anything.

Bags:
  • A backpack
  • A daypack
  • Rain cover for backpack
Travel documents:
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Copy of passport
  • A good number of passport photos for visa – An international driving licenses
  • Care pass
  • Address list
  • Luggage tag
  • Medical passport
  • Emergency numbers
  • Travel wallet
  • Travel insurance papers
  • Flight tickets
Financial matters:
  • Money in foreign currency
  • Debit card
  • A Credit Card
Health Care:
  • Anti-mosquito spray with DEET
  • Betadine cream
  • Diarrhea inhibitors
  • Lip balm
  • Malaria tablets (check if needed)
  • Azaron stick (helps greatly against itching of mosquito bites)
  • First aid set
  • After sun
  • Sun protection
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Toothpicks / floss
  • Deodorant
  • Baby wipes
  • Shower gel/ shampoo
  • Hand disinfectant
  • Lenses + spare / glasses (if you need it)
  • Tampons
  • Toiletry bag (with hook)
  • Condoms
  • Shave stuff
  • Gel
  • Mosquito net (Care Plus)
  • Medicines
  • Nail clippers
  • Quick-drying towels
  • Soap
  • ORS
  • Tweezers
  • Thermometer
  • Vitamin tablets
Electronics
  • Digital camera
  • E-reader
  • Tablet
  • Phone
  • USB stick or external hard drive for backup photos – Memory cards
  • Power bank
  • All chargers and batteries
Clothing
  • Underwear
  • Windproof jacket
  • Thick sweater or cardigan
  • Thin long sleeve shirts
  • Short pants / dresses
  • Thin long trousers
  • Hammam cloth / beach towel
  • Small towel
  • Hat or cap
  • Poncho
  • Belt
  • Sarong
  • Socks + thick socks
  • Flip flops
  • T-shirts
  • Thermal clothing
  • Swimsuit or bikini
  • Walking shoes
Other:
  • Flight bag
  • Book(s)
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask
  • World plug
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight
  • Rain ponchos
  • Duct tape
  • Passport cover
  • Neck pillow
  • Little toilet paper in daypack of tissues (always comes in handy)
  • Water bottle
  • Cable lock (handy to attach your daypack if you want to sleep in a busy bus)
  • Padlock (handy in Asia for closing door) – Watch
  • Sewing kit
  • PADI dive pass (if you have one)
  • Drybag (always comes in handy) – Pen and paper
  • Tiger balm
  • Bags for clothes
  • Waterproof bag for papers and passport – Laundry detergent

 

Nice travel books

  • ‘Swept Away by Wanderlust’ – by Axel & Ash
    This book is a coffee-table style journal that inspires you to dream and capture all your travel adventures. Full of inspiration, beautiful photography and travel motivation that ignites the wanderlust spirit. It is simply the perfect gift for every traveller, adventurer and life seeker. ‘Swept away by Wanderlust’ is a creatively designed book with fun, quirky writing prompts that spark you to capture your special moments before they are forgotten. Click here for more information!

 

  • ‘Into the wild’- by Jon Krakauer
    This is a story about a young man from a well-off family hitchhikiking to Alaska and walking alone in the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild. His adventure is really mesmerizing and leaves a lasting impression. Click here for more information!

 

Travel guides

  • Outback Australia – Road Trips ‘– by Lonely planet
    The world’s leading travel guide publisher. Discover the freedom of open roads with Lonely Planet Outback Australia Road Trips-your passport to uniquely encountering Australia’s outback by car. Featuring four amazing road trips, plus up-to-date advice on the destinations you’ll visit along the way, experience Australia’s iconic wide-open spaces and unforgettable landmarks, all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the Outback, rent a car, and hit the road!

 

  • Explore Australia 2019
    Very few guidebooks have stood the test of time, but ‘Explore Australia’ – now in its 36th edition – covers more of the country than any other Australian guidebook. You’ll find details on over 700 regional towns, including information on local and nearby attractions, as well as markets and festivals. There’s also key information for every capital city and touring region, and suggested day-trip itineraries. Discover the best this country has to offer with features on the best beaches, gourmet food and wine destinations, nature escapes, wildlife experiences, leisure and adventure holidays, Indigenous cultural experience and hidden destinations. Whatever adventure you’re looking for, ‘Explore Australia 2019’ is the ultimate travel guide to help you plan the perfect trip.

 

  • ‘This is Australia’ – by Kevin Pettman
    Did you know … Australia has more beaches than any other country in the world? Over 22 million jars of Vegemite are sold every year. Just one of Australia’s deserts is nearly three times the size of England. And it is home to around 60 million kangaroos. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about Australia, from its amazing landscapes and fascinating wildlife to the country’s most famous sports people and important dates in history. This glorious guide book is brought to life in bold, bright graphics, maps and fun
    visuals. A real treat for curious kids and a perfect travel guide for holidays

Buying a Backpack

With so many choices of backpack too choose from, you need to
ask more of the critical questions. You have to walk, carry, transport and travel so much that a bad backpack will only heighten your irritation levels, especially if it decides to break down on you in the middle of nowhere. We treat backpacks as an investment, so wherever we have advised you to save on clothes, you can spend that bit extra on your backpack. That extra 30 euro on a better backpack will save you a lot of problems. Good quality backpacks can be bought for 100 to 200 euros.

Which backpack to buy?

A frequently asked question, which doesn’t always have the right answer. It is completely dependent on the style of backpacking trip and the quantity you want to take with you. There are backpackers who don’t bring much at all and buy clothes on arrival. Find the most suitable plan for yourself. On average a backpack of 50 to 60 litres is the most convenient. A daypack is also useful to have. This is a smaller backpack (20 to 30 litres) that you take with you to the city, or when you are doing an excursion or activity.

The best backpacks, are obviously the ones that last the longest and maintain a good condition no matter how regularly they get abused. Such backpacks have all the following characteristics that make them durable, long-lasting, and will protect your valuables from the rain.

Avoid getting a backpack that doesn’t tick all the boxes on the following list:
  • Water-resistant material!
    While your pack does not need to be 100% waterproof (that is unless you are going on some long multi-day hike), make sure your bag is made out of a semi-waterproof material so everything doesn’t get wet in a drizzle (most travel backpacks come with tarps you can put over them in case of a severe downpour). Moreover, make sure the material won’t stay wet long and thereby get musty. I look for material that is thick but lightweight. Treated nylon fibre is really good. You should be able to pour a cup of water over it without the insides getting wet. I haven’t been travelling a lot during torrential downpours or monsoons, but I have been caught in small rainstorms before, and because my backpack is made out of a good material, I’ve never opened my bag to find wet clothes.
  •  Lockable zippers
    Make sure each compartment has two zippers so you can lock them together. While I am not too worried about people breaking into my bag and stealing my dirty clothes in a hostel, I do like locking up my bag when I am traveling. I always fear that someone is going to put something in my bag or that an opportunistic baggage handler in an airport is going to take my stuff.

When purchasing locks, make sure the package says they are TSA-friendly locks — these locks have a special release valve that allows the TSA to open the lock without breaking it, so they can check your bag. You can purchase TSA locks at any large retail store, such as Target or Walmart.

If your pack doesn’t have two zippers, you can always get Pacsafe (www.pacsafe.com), which wraps a lockable metal mesh around your entire bag and can be tied to a large object. It means that not only is no one breaking into your stuff, no one is walking away with it either. Pacsafe is a good form of protection for your bag, especially if you are going to be somewhere where your bag will be unattended for a long time. With pacsafe it is important to remember that this metal mesh also adds a lot of weight to your bag and it can be burdensome to carry around. Most people I know who use Pacsafe are photographers who carry a lot of expensive equipment around.

  • Multiple compartments 
    A good bag must have multiple compartments. This way, you can break up your belongings into smaller sections so it’s easier to access and find the stuff you need. For example, my clothes are in the main compartment of my bag, my umbrella and flip-flops in the top, and my shoes in the separated side compartment (that way they don’t get everything dirty). It saves having to dig around your bag.
  • Internal frame 
    The majority of backpacks today are internal frame packs, meaning the support rods and frame are built into the backpack and hidden from view. However, there some are still external frame backpacks, where the rods are separate from the actual pack and stick out (think of those backpacks you see in old hiking movies or movies about people backpacking Europe in the 1970s — a big, clunky metal frame). Don’t get one of those. Make sure you buy a backpack with an internal frame. It not only looks better but the rods won’t get caught on anything and your bag will also be slimmer, making moving around easier. Additionally, internal- frame packs tend to be lighter as the frame is composed of a carbon fibre or tough plastic, which makes them easier on your back as well as more durable.
  • • Padded hip belt
    Most of the weight you will be carrying around will be pushing down on your hips, so you’ll want a padded belt to make supporting the weight more comfortable. The belt will help provide support and distribute the load more evenly on your back, causing less strain. The hip belt should also be adjustable, so you can tighten it for extra support.
  • Padded shoulder straps
    These make carrying your load more comfortable, as the weight of your pack will also be pushing downward on your shoulders. The pads will put less pressure on your shoulders and also help to take pressure off your lower back. Make sure the padding is very thick and made up of a single piece of material as it will be less likely to be split and spill out.
  • Contoured/padded pack
    A lumbar-shaped pack makes carrying much more comfortable, as it helps distributes weight more evenly. The same principle applies with contoured chairs. It allows for a more natural arch to ensure no back pain. Moreover, this type of pack creates a small space between your back and the bag, allowing air to move through and help keep you slightly cool (lugging your bag around can build up a sweat!).
  • Front loading
    A front loading backpack is one that allows you to zip
    open the face from the side and access all your stuff. As opposed to a top loading bag, that only allows you to access your stuff from a hole in the top, a front-loading bag gives you access to all your stuff. Of course, you do not want to walk around with all your stuff all day long. We generally find brands quite unimportant. We make an exception when buying a backpack. We have learnt from our own bad experiences that prove a cheaper backpack is almost always of poorer quality, turning an investment into yet another expense

There are lots of stores and online sites where you can buy your backpack. See below our favorites:

  1. Nomads explorer /voyager
    For backpackers looking for convenience. This backpack can be fully zipped open and therefore very practical to share. Very useful for every tour from one week to a whole year!
  2. Osprey backpacks
    For adventurous travellers. Great quality backpacks suitable for trekking and traveling around. Osprey is one of the leading backpack and backpack brands of the moment.
  3. Highlander discovery
    For backpackers with a small budget. The backpack is a traditional top loader with handy compartments and has a nice carrying system.
  4. Northface backpacks
    For the real traveller who want to explore the world. Top quality suitable for high-performance and outdoor expeditions. The first choice of the world’s explorers.

Where do you buy backpack online?

There are a lot of camping stores out there. Here are our favourite places to buy a backpack:

  • REI (America)
    This is my favorite outdoor store. They have amazing service, knowledgeable staff, cool events, and the best refund policy ever. This is a place that you cares.
  • EMS
    Another great outdoor store with a wide selection of bags, great places, and friendly staff.
  • MEC (Canada)
    The REI of Canada is the best place to buy a backpack if you’re Canadian.
  • GO Outdoors (UK)
    The REI of the UK is the best place to buy a backpack if you’re a UK resident.
  • CoolBlue (NL)
    Our favourite choice for buying your backpack is Cool blue. They have a large selection, very useful tips for buying the right backpack and great service. In addition, they deliver for free and you can always return free of charge.
  • Backpackspullen (NL)
    Another good choice is Backpack stuff. They are, as the name suggests, specialized in backpacks. They have a growing supply of backpacks and they are also well priced. Besides backpacks you can also purchase many other supplies for your trip here

Adjust your backpack and start packing!

Do you know what you want to take with you on your backpack trip? Check out our tips on adjusting your backpack and packing your backpack.

Packing tips

For the sake of clarity, here again are some useful tips for packing your backpack:

  • When you take your shoes with you in your backpack, don’t forget to use
    the hollow space in your shoes. It is the perfect place to put in some socks or other small items.
  • Purchase a number of special travel bottles. These are both light and cheap. Fill these bottles with shampoo or other toilet products.This way you save a lot of space in your backpack.
  • Put all your toiletries in a waterproof toilet bag. This will prevent your entire backpack from smelling like shower gel if your bottles leak.
  • Roll your clothes that you take with you – not too much! – and then put it in your backpack. A convenient way to save a lot of space.
  • Always put your belongings back in the same place in your backpack. After
    a few days / weeks of traveling you know exactly where everything is and you do not have to search every morning for your things.
  • Place the heavier items at the top of your backpack and as close to your back as possible. This way you reduce the chance of back pain, which is very important when you walk around with your backpack.
  • You can easily distribute all your clothes or other objects in special distribution bags. Ideal, for example, when collecting your underwear. These bags prove to also be useful as a bag for your dirty clothes.
  • In addition to your larger items, your backpack also has many smaller subjects. Use these boxes well, by placing items here that you want to quickly access.
  • Do not fully stuff your backpack. There are very nice souvenirs in every country. It is a shame if you cannot take them home because you have no space in your backpack. To leave some stuff on the spot is of course also an option.