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Student Reflections

Packing for Sydney: A Complete List

Simran Israni
March 30, 2020
Hot air balloons above the ocean and Sydney Opera House.

Hi everyone, I’m Simmi! This semester, I’m studying abroad at the University of Sydney in Australia. 

One of the things that I was really worried about when moving to the other end of the globe was packing. I found many packing lists online, but most of them weren’t very specific. I ended up reading tons of blog posts and creating a color-coded Excel spreadsheet. (Definitely more headache than I needed!)

I ended up packing all of the things listed below into one full-size, lightweight suitcase and one small duffel bag (carry-on size). I was headed to New Zealand first, so I ended up putting everything for that trip—clothes and some travel sized toiletries—into the duffel bag and leaving everything for Sydney in the suitcase. I also brought my backpacking pack as a carry-on, but left it largely empty due to size restrictions. My mom also traveled with me to New Zealand and then to drop me off in Sydney, so she carried a few things in her suitcase—particularly the heavier, optional things like shampoo and notebooks.  

I’ve been in Sydney about a week now, and what I brought has seemed like the right amount of stuff so far. Of course, there are items that may not be completely necessary, and everyone will be different! I know there seem to be a lot of clothes on this list. However, I see a lot of packing guides advising students to only bring 7-10 shirts, for example. But once you’re there, doing laundry all the time or buying a bunch of new clothes can be expensive and time-consuming. 

I was easily able to fit a few weeks’ worth of clothing into my suitcase and still keep it underweight, especially since I am traveling to a warmer area than Boston! I would advise anyone going abroad to think carefully about what you’ll be wearing on a day-to-day basis and consider the ease with which you’ll be able to do laundry in your accommodations. My dorm has the same washers and dryers as Northeastern dorms, but the prices are more expensive, so it costs me about $8 AUD each time I want to do laundry.

One more tip for fitting everything in your suitcase: I know many guides online say to place shoes around the edges of the suitcase and roll up your clothes, but that actually took up more space for me. I was able to fit everything by folding my shirts normally, compressing them as flat as possible, then taking the whole stack and putting it in the corner of the suitcase. I laid pants horizontally (the fewer folds, the better), added multiple stacks of clothes, and then used shoes, bags, and other miscellaneous items to fill in the gaps. This ended up working much better for me than the rolling method!

So without further ado, here it is for anyone heading to Australia—an extremely specific breakdown of every single thing I brought for a semester abroad here. At the end I’ll also include a section about what I bought when I got to Sydney, and what I wish I brought with me. 



  • 3 pairs of denim shorts
  • 3 pairs of leggings
  • 2 pairs of running shorts
  • 2 denim skirts (blue, black)
  • 2 other short skirts
  • 3 pairs of jeans (blue, black)
  • 3 pairs of other pants (loose/colored/patterned)
  • 15 everyday, summery tops
  • 11 short sleeved t-shirts
  • 5 long sleeved t-shirts
  • 5 going-out tops
  • 5 workout tops
  • 3 sports bras
  • 1 set “presentation clothes” – button down shirt and slacks


  • Nice jumpsuit
  • Little black dress
  • Fancy-ish lace dress
  • Casual romper
  • Casual day dress


  • Denim jackets (blue, black)
  • Black leather jacket
  • Corduroy sherpa jacket
  • Lightweight, foldable puffy down jacket
  • 2 workout sweatshirts/jackets
  • 2 sweatshirts
  • 2 light sweaters
  • 1 light cardigan


  • Pajamas (I always forget these) – I only brought one top and a few pajama pants, because they always give out free shirts at orientation!
  • Swimsuits
  • Swimsuit cover up
  • Beanie
  • Scarf
  • Baseball cap
  • Large sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Undergarments



  • Running shoes (trail runners, so they can be used for hiking as well)
  • Flip flops
  • Comfortable walking sandals
  • Birkenstocks 
  • Indoor slippers for dorm
  • Day to day casual shoes (ex Vans, Nike Air Force’s, Converse etc.)
  • Doc Martens (double as rainboots)
  • Outdoor sandals (ex: Tevas)
  • Heels 


In My Backpack

    • Purse and wallet 
    • School supplies – a couple notebooks, pens/pencils, stapler
    • Laptop and charger
    • Kindle and charger
    • Power bank and extra phone charger
    • Outlet adapters (3)
    • Journal 
    • Planner
    • Personal items – chapstick, tissues, gum, hair ties, hairbrush, lotion, perfume, hand sanitizer, etc.
    • Sleep mask and earplugs
    • Graphing calculator
    • Reusable straw set
    • Earbuds and headphones
    • Travel pillow


  • Important documents – passport, printout of student visa and enrollment confirmation and copies in suitcase



Other Items

  • Bags (tiny day pack, medium size backpack, hiking backpack)
  • Photos for my wall
  • 2 water bottles
  • 2 towels
  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
    • Face wash
    • Face lotion
    • Sunscreen
    • Razor + extra blades
    • Allergy medicine
    • Makeup/face cleansing wipes
    • Shampoo and conditioner (if you’re specific about your brand and have the weight available, otherwise buy there)
    • Deodorant 
  • Makeup kit
  • Jewelry 


Casualties – what I wish I brought

  • Sheets – I brought my twin XL sheets, but there had been some miscommunication about the bed size in my dorm (it’s a double, so I’m not complaining!), and they actually didn’t fit. Buying sheets, pillows, and a comforter here ended up being quite expensive.
  • Cutlery – My building has a communal kitchen and it was a hassle to find just one set of cutlery for myself, so I should have brought a set from home. I could have also easily packed up a plate, mug, and bowl.
  • Hamper – The kind that collapses flat, like this
  • Feminine products – If you like to use a specific brand, I would research if it is available in your host country.

What I bought/acquired here

  • Sheets, pillows, comforter
  • Pans, pot & colander (ended up getting some of these for free from my building reception since people left them behind!), cooking utensils
  • Cookie sheet
  • Plate, bowl, mug, glass, wine glass, eating utensils, tupperwares, sandwich bags
  • Dish soap, sponge, dish towels
  • Groceries
  • Grocery bags (from orientation activities fair)
  • Clothes hangers
  • Laundry detergent 
  • Hamper 
  • Some toiletries (toothpaste, hair care, face lotion, makeup remover, baby powder, body wash, loofah)
  • More water bottles, notebooks, pens, drawstring bags, picnic blanket, tote bags, etc – all from the orientation activities fair
  • Large duffel bag (free from my dorm building) – perfect to use as a second checked bag when I have to bring everything back home!

Thanks for reading and I hope this was helpful!