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Once the big decision is made to up sticks and take up the exciting and sometimes daunting life of a backpacker suddenly there are lots of things to consider, packing is of course not the most glamorous or exciting element. Have you got enough pants? How many bikinis are too many? They sell shampoo there, why bother stocking up before leaving? Who needs a jumper, Australia is hot all the time right? And so the liturgy continues – however there are some items that are truly essential which often slip the mind due to their more mundane nature, or perhaps don’t even occur until it’s too late. Below is a small selection of items that fall into both of these categories and yet will make your working holiday visa experience that bit easier, more comfortable, safer and of course enjoyable!

1. Paper passport

Paper passport you ask? Well allow me to let you into a little secret. Identity theft is a huge and far reaching crime and it’s common knowledge that every traveller of course must have their passport on them to be allowed to enjoy the backpacking lifestyle. My mother drummed this into me from a young age and more recently on a security briefing before travelling on a somewhat hairy trip to West Africa it was also mentioned. Photocopy your passport on the photo page – colour if possible and make as many copies as you have bags with you. Stash a copy in the lining of your case, inner pocket of your backpack and day bay or maybe in your camera bag. The point behind this is that if your passport is lost or stolen you still have a form of instant ID and you can use this at your embassy to help get a new one ASAP.

2. External Hard Drive

Regardless of whether or not you decide to take a laptop/net book/tablet halfway around the world with you, an external hard drive is a really useful and small addition to your backpack. You can store zillions of travel pictures on it, download useful documents to take with you (including electronic copies of your passport and or visa documentation, driving licence etc) that you may have to produce to get a job or use as ID and of course if you do have a small net book or access to hostel computers you will find it invaluable for storing films to while away the time. You’ll be surprised how many backpackers have one and you can always do a film swap with fellow nomads along the way.

hydralites backpacker

3. Re-hydration tablets

Yes you can of course buy these when you get here, however a small stash of these are invaluable for two very plain and simple reasons. One: Australia is very hot, you will get de-hydrated very easily and this can cause serious health issues as well as ruining your day. Two: perhaps most importantly – dehydration tablets are the best secret hangover cure. Fact. When things aren’t working for you in Australia you will need every edge you can get.

4. Decent socks

If you are an avid walker/hiker/outdoor activity nut this will not come as a surprise to you but for the rest of us it’s not the first thing we think of. Basically you can have the most expensive fancy pants walking boots going, however a cheap pair of socks will always equal blisters. Never a travellers best friend. Get to the outdoor shop and invest in a pair or dare I say two of proper walking socks. You will be amazed at the cost I’m sure, however when you’re smugly trotting around Uluru in total comfort, hiking the light to light walk in NSW or clambering up Devils Peak in Tasmania footloose and fancy free you will be reaping the rewards, much more so than that poor sole (!) clad in a bargain polyester multipack!

5. Fly cream

This is a debatable item, mainly because some people argue there is no such thing as successful fly repellent. However please note I am not referring to insect repellent which of course most people will already have on their list, I am talking about fly cream. The best I’ve found is ‘Natures Botanical, Rosemary and Cedar wood oils in a natural cream’. Basically you need a strong smelling aromatherapy type cream to dab on your face and ears. You’ll still be surrounded by flies but it will stop them from actually landing on your face and walking over it, up your nose, into your ears or eyes and generally make being outside that bit more bearable.


6. Universal plug adapter

‘Duh!’ I hear you mutter, ‘of course I’ve got an adapter’ and that’s great, but hold your horses, I said a universal adapter – one of those fancy ones that converts anything to anything, not just your home country to Australian. This is due to a very simple reason. Once you’ve started travelling it’s difficult to stop. Australia is stupidly close to Asia, often on a round the world airfare and there’s no telling where you might go from the land down under. Plus there are travellers from the entire world out here. If your charger breaks/gets mislaid chances are someone else in your dorm can lend you one, but if they’re from Taiwan and you’re an American you might be a bit stuffed if they’re already using their adapter on their phone charger whilst you desperately need to charge that camera battery.

7. Lighter

For those non smokers out there a lighter will be a surprisingly useful addition. You’d be surprised how often you might need one. Be it to light a mossie coil, burn off a loose thread, fire up the hostel oven/grill/hob or even to just open a beer (if you don’t know how to do this get on Google, it might save your life or make you the most popular backpacker on your trip to Fraser Island having bought a case of the wrong beer!).

8. Gaffa tape marker pen combo

This one is slightly strange I grant you. In fact it was my boyfriend’s tip, having read it somewhere else online but it has come in very useful. Gaffa tape, or rape tape, as it’s affectionately known over in ‘Straya‘ is a very underrated incredibly useful item. It’s a quick fix for a huge amount of problems, backpack rips, talking shoes, mossie net holes, fishing rods etc etc the list is endless. However the total gem in this combo is to wrap it around a marker pen. Again marker pens, very useful to have on your trip but by wrapping the tape around the pen you take up far less room in your bag and keep two essential items together.


9. Tiger Balm

Finally and arguably most importantly I cannot extol enough the virtue of tiger balm. It has many uses that you will read about on the packaging but here is the ultimate use for tiger balm in the tropics – insect bites. Mosquito bites will keep you awake at night, that constant scratching is no good for your skin and only makes them worse. Slap on a bit of tiger balm and the heat from the balm instantly takes away the itching sensation. Ok perhaps not instantly, give it a good minute or so but it’s worth its weight in gold as far as I’m concerned!


Extra Australian Working Holiday Tip

Oh and P.S. no it’s won’t always be hot during your working holiday in Australia so you will need some non summer gear. You will need one jumper unless you’re planning on spending your whole time in Darwin!

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Clare Readman /

2 Responses to “9 Essential Items You Will Forget To Pack on Your Australian Working Holiday”

  1. paulina

    hie there how do i apply fruti job in Astralia as am in South Africa tx


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