Packing for a Year Abroad


One rainy afternoon in the office I found myself sitting around the lunch table intently listening to all the other journalists telling their tales of their the trips Down Under. They were all eager to divulge their pearls of wisdom…AKA their stories of wild nights, kangaroo encounters and outback adventures.

When the topic of packing came up, one woman laughed and said she finished her packing in the car to the airport, while another told me she packed the day before with a serious hangover.

I’m an extremely organised person and listening to these two lunatics and their packing antics nearly sent me into cardiac arrest.

Woman packing suitcase on bed


I began packing roughly 6/7 weeks before I left. I made regular trips to Penney’s and, on a serious budget, slowly started building up my wardrobe for a hotter climate. Anything I purchased went straight into the suitcase and wasn’t touched.

I gradually started taking out my summer clothes from the closet to wash and iron them and into the suitcase they went.

Every week I bought little bits and bobs that I knew I would need for my trip. While doing my weekly grocery shop, I added packs of paracetamol and other medicines to the trolley. I bought new packs of socks and underwear. I stocked up on my favourite beauty products and even bought extra phone chargers and earphones (as I seem to manage to break these every second month).

Here is a quick list of some of the main things I’m packing for Oz. I have a 30kg weight allowance, but remember this is a LIMIT, not a target. Pack wisely and you can jet off with all the essentials and a lighter load.

NEVER pay an excessive amount of money for swimwear, no matter the brand, they all fade in the water and sunlight anyway – I picked up bikinis in Penneys for €2.50 each and guys can nab boardshorts for as little a four quid.

This is most most expensive bikini I own, purchased in H&M for €15!

As my Mum says, this isn’t a fashion show. Workout clothes are comfortable and versatile. They’ll be your go-to outfits for hiking, regional work and ideal for hostels too. I’m also bringing my reliable trackies and old hoodie for comfort.


I packing lightweight gym clothes that won't take up a lot of room in my luggage.

I packing lightweight gym clothes that won’t take up a lot of room in my luggage.


As much as it breaks my heart, I’ve put all my ‘fancy’ clothes into storage. One tip I’ve heard over and over again is leave your Irish dress sense at home. You will stand out like a sore thumb if you rock up to a bar in your shortest dress and sky-high heels. Instead I’ve limited myself to a few dresses and tops that will bring me from day to night.


I have planned a few versatile outfits that can be worn for work and socialising, while accommodating the climate.

Some people have advised me to sacrifice footwear as they are bulky heavy and just buy them when I arrive. However I’ve decided to buy all new footwear over in Ireland as Australian retail is pricey.

I invested in a new pair of trainers – extremely light and breathable, look for the ones with mesh panelling. I also stocked up on flippy-floppies – screw your Havanas and Holister, I picked mine up for €1.50 a pair in go ole’ Penneys. I’ve brought one pair of ‘fancy’ sandals that will again bring me from beach to bar, and one pair of pumps for work.


Penneys is the place to go for cheap and practical. Shorts – €4 Sandals – €4 Sunnies – €1.50

I’m bringing one versatile rain jacket that I use at festivals (Dunnes Stores, €15). Make sure it’s waterproof and can roll up small into your bag. I’m leaving all my nice leather jackets, etc and home and bringing one light black jacket for the evening time

I’m giving this its own category because it’s that important. A long scarf/sarong can be used as a blanket on a chilly bus, a pillow on those camping nights, a beach cover-up, a wind or sand guard for your face and a picnic throw, just to name a few


I picked up this scarf for €8, a neutral colour will make it more versatile.

This is something I refuse to let take up space in my backpack. I picked up some very handy Dry-Fit/microfibre towels in Aldi for €6 (can also be found in Penneys or any sporting outlet). These towels are extremely lightweight, dry your hair and body in seconds and dry themselves in just a few minutes of sunshine


Peaked caps are my saviour on bad hair days and are good protection from the rays. I highly recommend investing sunglasses. I recently got laser eye surgery and was recommended by the optician to wear brown-tinted glasses for the strong sun along with UV-A and UV-B 100% protection.

I’m bringing along a pillowcase, not for sleeping but for separating dirty laundry. It can also be filled with clothes and used as pillow. Along with my suitcase and backpack I’m also bringing a small rucksack for beach days and day trips.

I’m a very light sleeper so an eye mask and ear plugs are essential for hostels, airplanes and buses.


I am packing a rucksack in my suitcase for day trips, this one is only €10 in Penneys.


Though it kills me to, my laptop is staying in Ireland. It’s too heavy so I’ve invested in an iPad mini for my travels. The girl inside me is dying to bring all my hair products, stylers and make-up nicks. Instead I’m settling for one hair straightener (to battle the beach hair) and one small pouch of make-up. If it doesn’t fit in the pouch, it ain’t coming with me. I’m also swapping my salon brand hair-dryer for a travel-sized crappy one. Although I love my jeans, they’ll be staying behind. Instead I’ve opted for one smart pair of black leggings should I need them.

I’m leaving most toiletries behind and will just pick them up out there. One good tip of mine is to stock up on any free magazine shampoo/conditioner samples (yes, I am that freakishly organised), and I have repackaged shampoos and moisturisers into travel-sized bottles, which can be reused for overnight trips.


Travel size bottles will come in handy when lugging around big shampoo bottles becomes too much.

Keelin Riley
Keelin Riley

Keelin is an Irish travel writer with a degree in journalism and a background in the Irish media. Keelin’s travel writing has been published in various media publications, and when she’s not off gallivanting around the globe, she enjoys keeping Sun Scribes up-to-date for all those fellow budget travellers out there!

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1 Comment

  1. May 28, 2016 / 5:10 pm

    Great read and useful info. Penney’s rocks! Pity they don’t have them all around the world.

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