So you’re going on a working holiday? You’ve chosen the country, got your working holiday visa and now it’s time to pack. But what do you pack for a working holiday when you will be spending 1 to 2 years in another country? Well, having gone on a working holiday myself I discovered what I took and what I actually needed were quite different. So here are my suggestions for your packing list for a working holiday. If you are specifically going on a working holiday to London and the UK then read my blog What to pack for a working holiday to London and the UK.
Please note the following suggestions are just that, suggestions. A lot of things can be bought on the road when you need them. I have divided this packing list for a working holiday into Clothes, Documents, Toiletries, Useful Items including electronic items and What to leave behind. So let’s get packed.
Also note, this blog was first published 2 February 2018 but I have updated it in October 2019.
Clothes to pack for a working holiday
What I found with packing clothes is that you need to consider the four seasons that you will be living through in your chosen working holiday destination. So read up on what the weather will be like and pack accordingly. I did find being able to layer my clothes most useful.
Thermals For extremely cold weather.
Shorts One or two pairs.
T-shirts I love t-shirts, I have a number of them, some have short sleeves while others have long sleeves. They are a very universal item, lightweight and suit many occasions.
Swimwear For warmer months.
Hat A very good idea if you plan to follow the sun.
Pants/Trousers/Jeans One or two pairs that you can dress up or down. Loose cotton with a drawstring/elastic waist is good for warmer weather. Jeans can be heavy to carry and take ages to dry.
Track pants/leggings One or two pairs.
Jumpers/Hoodie One or two; try to avoid bulky ones as they can be cumbersome.
Coat A good, light waterproof (then you don’t need a raincoat) and/or windproof jacket (preferably with a hood).
Gloves A necessity in the winter months.
Beanie to keep my head warm when its cold.
Thongs/jandals/flip-flops or sandals Very useful to wear to shower blocks in camping grounds and for walking in hot weather and/or down the beach or around the pool.
Joggers/hiking boots/walking shoes One pair with good thick soles.
‘Going out’ shoes (which can double as work shoes if needed) One pair.
Work clothes Adapt these to the type of work you hope to be doing. You may need a suit if you get a job in an office, or gloves and outdoor gear if you secure picking fruit and vegetable work, or casual clothes if you become an au pair or nanny.
Work tools having some tools will come in handy though you could buy some when you arrive so teachers may want to take some resources with them while tradies might need tools and hairdressers scissors, etc.
Sarong Very useful item which can be used as a skirt, beach mat, towel, sheet or scarf. It will provide instant modesty on beaches and in temples so you can adhere to religious requirements.
Scarf great if you are visiting countries where you need to cover your head.
Here are some of my favourite and essential clothes for a working holiday. My thermal underwear, my comfy walking shoes, my hoodie, my sarong and t-shirts. If you would like my suggestions on what to wear on a plane, read my 7 tips of what to wear on a plane blog here.
Documents to take on your working holiday
Passport with visas/entry clearances.
Bank statement (showing your balance if on a working holiday to show immigration officials at your point of entry).
Airline ticket If you are seeking a great airfare check out Skyscanner.
Driving license home country and international.
Spare passport photos for student identification cards, bus/rail passes and other purposes.
Medical prescription details if required.
Travel Insurance never leave home without travel insurance. I suggest you shop around and get a few quotes. I have purchased travel insurance from various organisations but mostly nowadays purchase it through World Nomads.
Bank reference You may need one of these to open a bank account unless you did this from home.
Personal references Some landlords require them for long-term accommodation.
Police clearance/Working with children check: Some employment sectors require them.
CV and references take electronically.
Address book To keep in contact with friends and to add new ones.
Receipts showing when and where you bought your computer or audio equipment to certify that the equipment is for your own use and that you will be taking it home with you when you leave.
When I pack for a working holiday, or any holiday in fact, I like to keep all my important documents in a Travel Wallet because this way I know where my important documents are.
Toiletries you will need on your working holiday
Toiletries Toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, shaver/razor, hairbrush and comb, tampons, contact lenses (disposable or back up). Buy travel-sized items, like roll-on deodorant instead of a large can or two-in-one shampoo and conditioner. You can always revert later.
Plug Not always provided in shower blocks. If you like to wash your face in a basin, take one.
Toilet roll Don’t laugh, you will notice that a lot of countries do not supply toilet paper in public toilets.
Condoms Better to be safe than sorry.
Medicines Brands can differ overseas so obtain a supply and a note from your doctor advising why you need the medication.
First aid kit Constipation, diarrhea and upset tummy tablets, bandaids (plasters), headache tablets, travel sickness tablets, etc.
Toiletry bag Preferably waterproof with a hook so you can hang it up in the shower.
The toiletries you take for a working holiday are of course, personal choice but one thing I never leave home without is my toiletry bag, it is one of the best items I have ever travelled with. I love it cause I can keep all my toiletries in the one place. I prefer one that is waterproof and has a handy hook to hang the bag up so I can easily reach my things while in the shower. I also adapt my toiletries to how long I will be travelling for so I often purchase travel size toiletries and then if I need more I buy it on the road.
Useful items including electronic items to take on your working holiday
Sleeping bag Very handy for dossing on friends’ floors, travelling and staying at hostels (though most hostels provide sheets and blankets). It should withstand very cold weather and be light.
Sheets Some places you may live can be full-furnished however, once you have found somewhere to live you might want to use your own bedding. You could take sheets with you but you might want to budget to buy some cause you don’t know what size bed you might have.
Money belt A safe way to carry money, credit/debit card, tickets and other valuables. I found these uncomfortable to wear which is why I prefer my Travel Wallet.
Torch You will be surprised at how often a small one comes in handy. I recently discovered a torch on my phone.
Travel clothes line and pegs It is hard to find a clothes hoist when you need one.
Washing powder Tubes of liquid wash are available from supermarkets and travel agents. Large hostels usually have washing facilities where you can purchase a cup of soap.
Plastic bags To hold dirty washing and stuff. Also for wearing over socks if ever caught without waterproof shoes.
Travel iron Handy if you take clothes that need ironing.
Coat hangers A couple will be useful. Not metal ones.
Camera or use your phone.
Travel clock You don’t want to be late for work do you? You can use the alarm on your electronic device.
Phone, Powerbank and/or other electronic devices and ear phones.
Travel Adapter Plug and Powerboard. If you are taking a number of electrical goods with you such as phone, laptop, hairdryer, electric shaver, Powerbank, etc.
Neck/head pillow For those long journeys when you might need to sleep sitting up.
Towel/s A chamois towel rather than the traditional type may be useful and can take up less space.
Hand towel For long journeys when you need to freshen up. It feels much better than paper towelling or toilet paper.
Water bottle/water purifier/water purifying tablets Or drink bottled water.
Flag To take to sporting events.
Out of all of these useful items I would definitely invest in a power adapter plug with USB ports as well as plug ports, power board, Powerbank and a travel neck/head pillow (well my new twist memory foam travel pillow). And I like to keep all my electronic device accessories in an electronic device accessory bag.
Be an Organised Traveller when you Pack for a Working Holiday
Call me crazy, like many do, but I just love having all my travel items organised. Being organised just makes my life easier when I am travelling. Knowing where all my items are is just one less worry for me. I rarely find myself searching through my luggage to find a particular item cause I know where that item should be. So to keep me organised I keep all my documents in a travel wallet, my toiletries in a toiletry bag, my electronic accessories in an electronic device bag and I classify my clothes in packing cubes.
Suitcase vs Backpack – What to Pack In
One of the big travel questions, suitcase vs backpack, what do you choose for your travels? Well I use both, I adapt my luggage to the type of travelling I will be doing. If I am going on a 2 week holiday at a beach resort I usually take a suitcase with wheels while if I will be moving around a lot and need to carry my luggage I will take my backpack. Then during the day I might only need to take my daypack or a smaller bag such as a messenger bag. So one of my tips for packing is to choose the luggage that suits your travel. If you want to know about choosing a backpack read my blog on 7 tips for choosing the perfect backpack.
These are my luggage choices: a suitcase on wheels, a backpack, my daypack which has a USB port so I can charge my phone as I’m walking around and my messenger bag / shoulder bag. I usually check in my luggage and take my daypack on my transport.
What to leave behind on your working holiday
A copy of your itinerary, including flight details and booked accommodation
A copy of the important details in your passport
Credit and debit card numbers
Travel insurance details
Any contact details
Some money, in case you need some sent to you while on the road, and for your return as coming home is hard enough without being totally broke also
So there you have it, my suggestions on a packing list for a working holiday abroad. I hope you have a great time and that your travelling life is made a little easier from my suggestions.
Sharyn has travelled most of her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. In her 20’s she went overseas and spent 4 years living, working, playing and travelling through many countries. Her travels inspire her ‘Live Work and Play’ series of working holiday guides and LiveWorkPlayTravel where she shares her knowledge of travel, being a digital nomad and blogging. Sharyn continues to travel and currently calls Melbourne home.