DO BRING pictures of your pets
As much as I love my family, I could video-chat and talk to them whenever I wanted to. As for my animals, it’s a lot harder. The many pictures I had of them plastered on my desk kept me happy, as well as gave me a great conversation piece for new friends.
DO BRING a stinger suit/rash guard/surf skin
Depending on where you are in Oz and if you are able to go swimming, you might find it advisable to wear a “stinger suit” to avoid unwanted encounters with jellyfish. So instead of renting an uncomfortable stinger suit every time you decide to go snorkeling/diving, just bring one with you. They take up minimal space in your luggage, and they can get pretty pricey if you wait until you arrive to buy one. I’d definitely recommend making time to go in the ocean if you can. The Great Barrier Reef is not to be missed.
DO BRING clothing that fits the weather – including the weather in places where you don’t live
Spring Break trip to Gold Coast and Byron Bay during mid-semester break? Sounds awesome! Realizing you didn’t bring anything other than shorts, tanks, and bathing suits? Not as awesome. There ARE seasons in other parts of the country, and I forgot to bring clothes that would keep me warm in the winter months when I went down south. New Zealand? Rain jacket. Cairns? Togs (bathing suits) and thongs (flip-flops) galore!
DO BRING comfortable heels
My biggest clothing error was not bringing comfortable heels to Australia. Going out to town is a dressy affair, and flip-flops just won’t cut it most of the time. Whether you’re going out to dinner or even to the horse races, you have to be dressed to the nines. Skinny heels aren’t good for long nights out either. Get sturdy but nice shoes that could match almost anything. Black matches everything!
DO BRING an adventure camera that’s waterproof/pretty sturdy
With such a beautiful country becoming your new home, do it some justice when showing it off to your people back home. Adventure cameras are generally small, good on battery, and take amazing shots of outdoors and scenery. From mountains to city skylines to the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll want more than just a mental picture to remember this trip of a lifetime. If you can’t get your hands on one of these cameras or can’t afford one, at least bring your digital camera or phone with a sturdy case. Even these will take great pictures and help you remember some of the stunning places you’ve seen.
DON’T BRING any sort of heated hair tools
The electrical system down under is a PAIN for us to use, even with adapters. Unless you want your flatiron going up in flames (it happened before my very eyes), don’t play around with the ~maybe~ that your tools will convert well. See if you can get by without them during your time abroad or wait to buy the tools until you get there. I rarely did any hair maintenance—you’re much too busy with activities and exploring to care how your hair looks.
DON’T BRING a phone that is still locked
When your phone is locked, it means that your mobile carrier will not allow that phone to be used on another carrier, even if you switch out the SIM card. The lack of a fully functioning phone causes a lot of people to have to buy completely new phones while over there. So, unless you are okay with buying a cheap flip phone or forking over big bucks to get a smart phone, make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave the country.
DON’T BRING a ton of clothes
There are stores in Australia, and chances are you will want to buy new clothes while you’re there. Pack what you KNOW you will wear. Smart wardrobe = less space in suitcase = more reason to buy weirdly situational clothes that you “NEED” for said event = more room in your suitcase on the way home to pack all your new things without having to pay $100+ in overweight baggage fees. And all of that equals a very happy wallet.
DON’T BRING big, bulky things for your room décor
No duvets, posters, canvas paintings, or picture frames will make it home with you at the end of the trip. They take up so much space, and you’ll just be sad you have to leave them behind when it’s time to return home. Why not just decorate with a few pictures taped to the walls? Also, you can pick up maps or other handouts from different places you travel to, and those items can be a great way to decorate your space and also remind you of the experiences you’re having while abroad.
DON’T BRING bags that are only huge
When you want to go on that weekend trip to Sydney, you won’t want to pay for a (or need a) giant suitcase to be checked. A bag that is hand-luggage sized will save your life. A duffel, tote bag, or small suitcase that could hold a week’s worth of clothes will save you a lot of money because airlines don’t care how much is in there as long as it is “hand-luggage sized”. If done carefully, you could live out of that thing for a few weeks.
But most importantly, bring an open mind. You can’t prepare for everything that life will throw at you while you’re abroad, so you might as well just have an open mind and take it easy. You’re about to have the best time of your life anyways, so no worries.
Studied abroad at James Cook University – Townsville, Australia
“Let me learn from where I have been” -Mumford & Sons