What to Pack for Australia
There is no such thing as taking too little, although it's hard for us to convince students that this is true. Just ask someone who has studied abroad before, and you'll probably be advised to leave as much as you can at home.
"Pack everything you might need, then take half of it out," was one student's advice. It will be there when you get back. Let practicality be your guide for packing.
Keep in mind that overseas it's perfectly acceptable to wear the same outfit a few times in one week. If you plan carefully so that all articles of clothing mix and match, you can create plenty of different outfits from a minimum number of items. Also remember that the weather can vary quite a bit throughout the day and from town to town. Choose clothes that are good for layering.
The leave-half-behind rule.
You are going to have to carry whatever you pack by yourself, so leave behind half of what you think you need. You will be limited to two pieces of checked luggage and one carry-on bag on the flight, and even that is more than you can comfortably carry. Large, hard-sided suitcases are tough to carry and even more difficult to store.
- USE DUFFEL BAGS with wheels or a good, internal frame BACKPACK. Closet space will not be as generous as what you are used to, so even if you can get it there, you won't necessarily know where to put it.
- No one has ever complained about taking too little luggage. If you don't believe this, talk to a student who has done it before. Every year we see unhappy students struggle to get a mountain of their own luggage on and off busses and up and down stairs. Don't be one of them.
- It is important to be aware that you will have to cover additional baggage costs incurred. Please be sure to check individual airlines for not only international limits but DOMESTIC limits, as well. Typically, you will only be allowed two checked pieces + one carry on item, with a small purse/camera/laptop; however, please still double check these requirements, as they vary depending on the airline.
- We'll say this in a more serious way. Neither Arcadia University nor our group flight carrier can guarantee the immediate transport of more than two pieces of stowed luggage and a carry-on piece.
- Students should be prepared to move their luggage through airports, on and off busses during orientation, and up several flights of stairs to their rooms.
- Student rooms are normally equipped with only a foot and a half of hanging space and two, three-foot bureau drawers or the equivalent shelf space, and emptied luggage is usually stored under beds. Keep this in mind when you're packing.
The climate varies considerably across Australia. There is rarely snow in the winter, but it can be windy, damp and dreary in the south during this time. (Continuous below freezing temperatures are rare.) In the northeast during the summer, it is hot, humid and very wet. Australia's seasons are opposite of those in the United States. Summer in Australia is from December to February. Autumn lasts from March to May. Winter is from June to August. Spring spans September through November.
Practical and sturdy clothes are what you need for your stay in Australia. On campus, students dress casually: jeans, t-shirts and other informal clothing are popular student attire. In summer, it is acceptable to wear shorts, t-shirts and light footwear. Here's a basic list of things to take.
- A raincoat with a warm lining (detachable is best) or waterproof Gore-tex jacket.
- Bring a lighter weight jacket, windbreaker, raincoat or jean jacket.
- Jeans. Bring several pairs.
- Khakis or lightweight trousers.
- Two or three pairs of comfortable walking shoes. Sturdy, lace-up shoes are a good choice for fieldtrips and bushwalking. A couple of pairs of casual shoes (loafers, Doc Martens) for skirts and trousers.
- One or Two Dressy Outfits.
- A couple of cotton sweaters.
- Cotton t-shirts, long and short sleeve. Good for layering.
- A couple of bathing suits.
- Underwear and socks.
- One sweatshirt, one pair sweatpants.
- Accessories, such as belts and costume jewelry. Leave good stuff at home!
- Sun screen.
- A hat. The sun gets hot!!
Returning students also say:
- Wear comfy clothes on the plane!
- Take whatever you feel most comfortable wearing.
- Wear layers to keep warm.
Our advice is to choose things which are easy to keep clean and can be washed and dried at the laundromat. It is very difficult to dry hand-washed items properly in your room, and dry cleaning tends to be much more expensive than in the US.
A safety pouch
This is a safe ways to carry your passport, money and other important small items (like wallets and credit cards, etc.). You can wear the pouch under your coat or sweater--away from the swift hand of a pickpocket.
Don't invest in a brand new set of luggage for the trip. A sturdy suitcase or duffel bag and one backpack will do. Duffel bags are practical and easy to store as long as they're a reasonable size. If your duffel bag is bigger than you are, it's too big. Whatever luggage you do choose, be sure to put your name and our overseas office address on a luggage tag on the outside and on a piece of paper in an inside pocket. Missing luggage should be delivered to the Arcadia University Melbourne Center, 96 Barkley Street, St. Kilda, VIC, 3182, Australia. The telephone number is 011-61-3-9534-0351.
Don't pack them! Save the precious room for something else. University residence halls probably won't have hangers, but you can easily buy them after you move in.
Sheets and towels
Students are advised to include one or two towels in their luggage. However, it is not advisable to pack sheets, pillows or blankets as most housing venues will provide bedding materials to international students. In those rare instances where you need to provide your own bedding materials, it will be easy to purchase these items in Australia. It is a good idea to review the website of the housing venue where you will be living for more information on what is supplied for international student residents.
If you can help it, don't bring electrical appliances from home. The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts at 50Hz (cycles per second). In the US, it is 110 volts at 60Hz. You will not only need an adapter to plug in your appliance, you will also need either a transformer and adapter plug, or a dual voltage appliance which can be switched from 110 to 240 volts. (The difference in the number of cycles means that appliances with motors may not work as well in Australia as they do in the US.) Most returning students agreed that converters were a hassle and said it was best to buy a hairdryer overseas. If you want to bring one from home, try ones with dual voltage (brandnames include Krupps, Braun, or Conair).
Dual voltage electric shavers
Can also be purchased here in the US (Philips, Braun and Remington are just a few name brands). Otherwise, plan to either buy an electric shaver in Britain or use a blade razor.
The overwhelming advice is to switch to chemical disinfectants and extended wear lenses, and bring solution from home. Some students report running out several weeks before the end of the program, so you should bring more than you think you'll need. Bring a spare pair of lenses. Also, take along a pair of glasses for emergencies (or if you plan to take overnight trains). And don't forget sunglasses! Disinfecting units are a problem for contact lenses. Because of the difference in voltage, the timer may not shut off automatically. Besides, electrical outlets are hard to find when you're on the road traveling. However, if you can't stand chemicals, try the dual voltage (120/240) unit from Cooper Vision.
If you play an instrument, you might want to think about taking it along. However, large instruments, such as guitars, may count as one piece of luggage on the flight. Your instrument should be properly insured and safeguarded.
Most students say leave it at home. But if you are an intrepid cyclist, you probably won't be happy without it. You'll need to check with the airline for specifications about packing your bike. Be prepared for the possibility of an excess luggage charge as well. You could also buy or rent one after arriving.
A backpack and book bag
You'll need a small bag for books and a larger backpack with frame for weekend and vacation trips. Backpacks with internal frames seem to be more popular. Remember, larger backpacks will count as one piece of luggage on the flight (you're allowed two pieces); they're too large to carry on.
A safety pouch or fanny pack
Both of these are safe ways to carry your passport, money and other important small items (like wallets and credit cards, etc.). You can wear the pouch under your coat or sweater--away from the swift hand of a pickpocket. Remember to wear the fanny pack in the front so you can keep an eye on it. (In Australia, "fanny packs" are called "bum bags.")
If you live in a self-catering residence hall, you may find it convenient to have some of your favorite recipes handy. Photocopy some recipes instead of packing the entire cookbook. You'll save luggage room and weight.
You'll find everything you could ever want in Australia. Don't bring extra supplies with you. Bring a supply of basics to get you through the first month. By then, you'll have found the best local shops for whatever you need.
Packing Tip #1
If you take a prescription medication make sure you have enough to last your entire stay abroad. Don't assume that you can get the same medication abroad. A prescription from home will NOT be filled in Australia. You'll need a new one from a Australian doctor before you can purchase a refill. Be sure all prescriptions you take with you are labeled with your name, the name of your physician and the generic name of the medication.
You will be moving a lot during the first week of your program--from orientation in Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula to your permanent program accommodations. Pack the toiletries, a towel and clothes you'll need for that first week in one bag so you don't have to pack and repack all your luggage.
Packing Tip #2
Your carry-on bag should contain all the necessities to live for one or two days in the event the airline loses your luggage.
Security and Insurance
The Arcadia University College of Global Studies supports the guidelines described in "Responsible Study Abroad: Health and Safety Guidelines" for program sponsors, participants and parents by the Interorganizational Task Force on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad. View the complete text of these guidelines on our website.
A little common sense goes a long way. Do not bring any valuables which promote theft and cannot be easily replaced. Put identification labels inside each of your bags (not just on the outside). We also recommend that you leave a photocopy of the data page of your passport (passport number, the date and place of issue) at home and keep a copy with your belongings in case it is lost or stolen. To insure your baggage and personal effects inexpensively, investigate adding a rider to your family's homeowners' policy or purchase personal possessions insurance. Arcadia University does not insure your possessions against loss or theft, but you can and should. Some other valuable tips to protect yourself include:
Leave irreplaceable items of high monetary or sentimental value at home.
- Do not carry a lot of cash.
- Use safes in hotels and hostels.
- Wear a neckpouch with your money and passport in it inside your coat or clothing.
- Pickpockets and petty thieves sometimes target tourists and other unsuspecting newcomers. Be very careful to protect your belongings, especially during the your first few days in the country.
Shipping and Storing Personal Effects Overseas
If you pack carefully, you will be able to fit all that you need within the airline baggage allowance (two checked pieces and one carry-on). We strongly recommend against your planning to have things sent to you after you settle in overseas. Customs declarations must be made on all packages sent overseas. Import taxes, even on used items, can equal or exceed the original purchase price of the items. If you must have extra things sent to you, please pay special attention to the following notes.
Shipping overseas can be very expensive, so you may want to comparison shop to find the best rates. Also, you will have to mark all boxes "Contains Personal Belongings" to avoid customs charges. Nothing can be sent to general university addresses or to our Melbourne office. The Arcadia University Melbourne Center has no facilities to handle packages or to store luggage in advance of the program starting date. If you are planning to fly over early to travel, you can arrange to store your heavy luggage with Smarte Carte Australia in the Melbourne airport. Rates range from $10-12 per piece of luggage, per day. Ask your program manager for more details.
Whatever you do, do not send a trunk. Even if you can find a freight forwarder to ship it and clear it through customs, it will be difficult to handle once you get it, a problem to store, and even more troublesome and expensive to send back home.