Whether you’re going on a 6-month road trip in Australia or getting ready for a two-year work experience in Canada, your packing list should include a few essentials.
Of course, your choice of luggage and what you put in it will ultimately depend on your profile and travel style—solo traveller or parent, beach bum or career-oriented world citizen, etc. Yet, regardless of the adventure ahead, quite a few items will come in very handy during your Working Holiday adventure.
This article will focus on four categories—important documents, clothing, electronics and must-have miscellaneous items. Use it to create the perfect packing list for your trip!
Bring the following documents, originals and copies, if applicable:
- Passport, and make copies of the identification page with your photo (remember to check that your passport is valid for the entire duration of your Working Holiday permit!)
- Required documents to activate your Working Holiday permit at the border (proof of funds, proof of medical exam, letter of introduction, etc.)
- Proof of travel insurance
- Visa or work permit (when issued or activated)
- National driver’s license
- International driving permit
- Plane tickets
- Proof of accommodation (hostel or Airbnb booking for the first few days, for example)
- Banking information (international debit or credit card number as well as applicable benefits, insurance and emergency contact info)
We recommend always having three types of backups to access all your important documents anywhere, anytime:
- A paper version (printout or photocopy)
- A digital version saved on your phone and/or computer (in some places, especially airports, connecting to the Internet may be difficult)
- A digital version accessible online (in the cloud or simply in your mailbox)
Keep it simple
It’s becoming easier and easier to find second-hand items anywhere you are in the world, whether in thrift stores or through private sales. This is the best way to get quality clothes at low prices. Keep this in mind, don’t try to pack your entire wardrobe! You will be able to buy local if needed.
We also don’t recommend bringing all your favourite clothes. Indeed, if you have to leave a few items behind at one point during your trip because you need to make room for more stuff, it’s easier to give away thrift store findings rather than your favourite lucky outfit.
The rule of 3
It may be hard to figure out what to pack if you’re leaving with just one piece of luggage. The rule of 3 should help!
Pack the following:
- 3 pairs of pants
- 3 pairs of shorts
- 3 long-sleeve tops
- 3 t-shirts
- 3 tank tops
- 3 jackets (1 rain jacket, 1 fleece jacket for warmth, 1 dressy jacket)
- 3 pairs of shoes (hiking, city, flip-flops)
- 3 outfits you feel good in (for confidence!)
- 1 swimsuit,
- 1 microfibre towel (light and compact)
- Underwear (you can pack more than 3 pairs!)
Packing light is especially helpful if you’re going to travel around a lot—just picture yourself taking public transportation with heavy and bulky luggage you can barely lift! Now, if you’re going to settle somewhere for a year or two and leave home with three or four suitcases, you can bring more clothes and accessories.
One caveat regarding shopping abroad—clothing size standards vary widely around the world so you may want to pack accordingly if you feel you won’t be able to find shoes and clothes that fit you well.
For instance, shops in South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong tend to carry very small sizes by Western standards—a local “L” may be an “S” back home! On the other hand, petite women and slim men may find everything is too big in Canada or Australia.
This is a case of knowing your body type and local standards—do research before the trip!
Don’t forget to pack a universal adapter! There are 15 different plugs and outlet types around the world and nothing is more frustrating than not being able to plug your phone in when you arrive. Universal adapters are super useful, especially if you’re considering embarking on several Working Holiday adventures.
Now, an adapter is just a piece of plastic offering different plugs and outlets, much like a big piece of LEGO. It’s not a voltage converter, which brings us to the second point—different countries use different voltages. For instance, in Canada, the standard voltage is 110 V but it’s 230 V in Belgium. Cellphones and computers will be fine anywhere around the world but the same won’t be true for your favourite hairdryer or razor. It may be wiser to buy certain appliances locally—voltage converters are often bulky and expensive.
Here are a few electronics you may want to pack:
- Phone charger
- Ebook reader (much lighter than a stack of books!)
Must-have miscellaneous items
And finally, here are must-have miscellaneous items no traveller should leave home without.
- Toiletry bag (toothbrush, tweezers, cotton wipes, etc.). Check airline regulations if you have liquids in your carry-on luggage. You can skip shampoo, soap, toothpaste and other common products because you can find local or international brands anywhere in the world. Plus, you can’t exactly pack a one-year supply, may as well go shop when you arrive!
- First-aid kit with over-the-counter medication for common aches and pains, allergies or minor illnesses. Depending on your destination, consider packing contact lenses or other daily essentials. Women may want to look into a reliable contraception method for the entire duration of their stay—read Everything You Need to Know About Contraception and Pregnancy Termination Options for Your Working Holiday Adventure for more info!
- Small padlock, especially if you’re planning to stay in hostels. Emphasis on “small” because hostel lockers tend to have very small holes!
- Earplugs are very useful on the plane, in hostels or at a roadside campsite.
- Purifying water bottle with filter, which can come in very handy depending on the destination and travel style (i.e. road trip, remote areas, etc.).
Five final tips
Avoid packing valuables
Leave jewelry and other valuables at home or accept they may get lost or stolen during your trip.
Find a safe spot for your passport and bank card in your luggage. Losing them can be a nightmare during a Working Holiday adventure.
Use travel luggage organizers
Travel organizers are a great way to compartmentalize and organize the space in your suitcase or backpack. Many Working Holiday holders confirm that they couldn’t do without them.
Don’t leave packing to the last minute
It can be tempting to pack the day before your big trip but starting earlier gives you the chance to buy that one item you thought you had but can’t find or reorganize a suitcase that barely close. Packing can be stressful, just deal with it little by little in the days before the trip to avoid a sleepless night before your flight.
Pack with your destination in mind
Find out as much as you can about your destination—weather conditions, product availability, cost of living, etc. This will help you pack smartly. Read up-to-date first-hand experiences and don’t hesitate to ask questions if needed!
Check out the deals available to you as a PVTistes member
We have a list of deals, discounts and special offers for many destinations—check them out!
Leave a comment below to share your own travel essentials!