Packing for a trip
Snow-tipped mountains to sprawling jungles. Packing can be a challenge in itself. We’re here to help.
Step 1—Get yourself in order
Get your passport
Start the process early. We recommend at least 12 weeks before departure. You’re thinking, “wait, doesn’t it only take 3 weeks to get a passport?” True, it takes that long to receive your passport, but only once you’ve applied. The application itself can require some work, so give yourself a buffer. The last thing you want to be doing one week from departure is stressing if you’ll get it on time.
Everything you need to apply for a passport is here for Aussies and Kiwis. An approved photo to Australian and New Zealand standards, identity documents and a guarantor to sign for you are all necessary for the application. Try getting your application in no later than 8 weeks out, as you may find the government won’t accept your photo or verification documents - you may even need to get new ones. Best to have time to update your documents if needed.
Get a checkup and vaccinations
Each doctor provides different advice, so it’s best to see your GP to discuss your travel and find out if you need any vaccinations. Before you visit the GP, consult our partners The Travel Doctor to see what vaccinations they advise getting for your destination.
Get acquainted with local customs
There’s no need to be fluent in Vietnamese or Spanish, but learning how to say ‘please’ and ‘thanks’ is a big part of travelling responsibly. Being polite goes a long way in new places and doing it with a smile goes even further.
Get familiar with local weather and seasons
You know yourself better than anyone, so if you like wearing jumpers in 30-degree weather be prepared and pack for how you’d deal with weather and seasons.
Tip: if you have a passport, make sure it has at least 6 months validity beyond a planned stay. Some countries require it.
Step 2—Make a list
Each trip will require destination-specific items. However, here are a few things every good traveller brings no matter where they go:
- Your packing list. Often overlooked, it ensures everything goes back with you.
- Passport. See above.
- Identification. Always good to have extra. Preferably one with a pic.
- Underwear. Pack 5 pairs, wash when needed.
- High performance socks.
- Comfy pair of walking shoes. These are a must.
- Ibuprofen, Bandaids and Gaviscon. The travellers trifecta.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Shampoo, conditioner or soap. Pick one.
- Medications, including contraceptives. Have an extra prescription on hand.
- Tampons and pads. Not all feminine hygiene is made equal or available everywhere.
- Wet and dry laundry bag. For all those dirty undies and stinky, wet socks.
- Water bottle. Make sure it can handle cold and boiling water.
- Rain jacket. An often overlooked essential, we think these are the bee’s knees.
- Clothing. If it can't be worn for 3 days, washed in a bucket and dried on a tree, don't pack it.
- Manners. They go along way with a smile, so don’t forget that either.
Use the lists below as guides, not gospel. Your trip will require destination-specific items, so don’t go too hard on purchasing items until you get your official list (which is not one you’ll find below). You get your very own list 6 to 8 months prior to departure. If you have questions, speak to your Operations Manager—they organise your very important list for you.
Tip: don’t break new shoes in on a trip and get good hiking socks. Blisters aren’t fun.
How to pack a carry on
Keep it simple. General rule is one pair of extra clothes with undies and what you need on the plane: Plane tickets, passport, extra identification, bank cards, money, medications, water bottle, sweatshirt (but don’t pack this, wear it), wet wipes, a book (or some sort of entertainment), toothbrush and toothpaste. And don’t underestimate sleep aids like earplugs, a neck pillow and your favourite eye mask. Just keep it light. Remember, you have to carry your big backpack around too. Hot tip: pack things like medicines and toiletries in ziplock bags. They’re lighter than a toiletry bag and airlines require they house carry-on lotions and liquids.
How to pack a backpack
Lay out all of the things you plan to take on your bed. This is a great way to make sure you have everything. Now, organise it by weight, grouping small items (such as sunblock and soap) in ziplock bags. Always store food and liquid in bags to prevent spills. Trust us on this, it’s not pleasant sleeping in a wet sleeping bag after a long haul flight. Now, when loading your pack, be sure to follow distribution guidelines below. Lightweight items should be stuffed at the bottom of the backpack first—things like your sleeping bag and other light sleep items. After those, pack midweight items like clothes and thongs, followed by heavy stuff like your toiletries.
Backpack Weight Distribution
Hot tip: when packing, roll your clothes, don’t fold them.
When packing your backpack, be sure to fill in all empty space with small or compressible items. For example, you can stuff a shirt inside a shoe or remove your sleeping bag from its sack and stuff it around other gear.
Items like insect repellent, rain jackets, headlamps and torches need to be accessed easily, so store those items inside a front pocket, top lid, or in the top of the main compartment.
After your bag is loaded and packed, tighten all straps to limit load-shifting while travelling. Now give it a go.
Tip: Give your bag a trial run. If you can’t lug it around the house, you need to leave some items behind.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to have any vaccinations?
Antipodeans recommends you seek professional medical advice regarding vaccinations well in advance of your departure date. The Travellers Medical and Vaccination Centre (TMVC) are Antipodeans' medical advisors and have been providing expert advice to Antipodeans travellers for many years. The TMVC not only provide you with general health advice for travelling overseas, but they will also provide vaccination recommendations specific to your Antipodeans itinerary. You can also seek advice regarding vaccinations from a GP that is practised in giving travel health advice.
Do I need to organise a visa before departure?
Depending on your destination and type of passport, yes you most likely will need to obtain a visa for your trip. It is the responsibility of the traveller to obtain the appropriate visa before departure. Antipodeans will provide all the necessary information on visas for Australian and New Zealand passport holders. If you are not travelling on an Australian or New Zealand passport, please visit the destination Embassy/Consulate website to check the immigration formalities that relate to your passport.
Is my insurance covered?
Yep—included in every Antipodeans Program is our premium, comprehensive travel and medical insurance. Our policy covers emergency evacuation, cancellation due to injury or illness prior to departure, medical assistance for injury or illness while overseas and also provides access to a global network of 24-hour medical services and advice including Australian doctors.*
Should I change my money into the local currency before departure?
Antipodeans will provide advice to travellers on the best options for carrying currency or accessing personal funds whilst overseas. The advice is dependant on the country the team are travelling to. For some destinations, it is best to carry Australian or New Zealand dollars and change to the local currency upon arrival. For other destinations it may be easier to obtain foreign currency prior to travel or to withdraw cash from a cash passport or ATM card. As always, Antipodeans will be there to guide you along the way.
Should I learn the local language?
Whilst it helps to brush up on key phrases in your destination’s local language, you certainly don’t need to become fluent. Though English is often widely-recognised (particularly in the larger cities), you’ll be amazed at how well you can communicate non-verbally if need be.
What happens if I get injured or ill prior to departure?
If you have to cancel your trip due to injury or medical reasons, rest-up because your insurance has you covered.*
* University placement participants are usually covered by their home institution’s travel insurance policy, as requested by Australian and New Zealand universities. Please read the full Insurance Policy Product Disclosure Statement prior to departure for specific insurance details, inclusions and exclusions.
Have more questions? Check out our full list of FAQs.