How Much Luggage Should I Bring To Australia?

How Much Luggage Should I Bring To Australia? Image | East Coast Tours Australia

In short, the best way to travel in Australia is with minimal luggage, ideally only a backpack under ¼ of your body weight. Anybody who has lugged a too-heavy suitcase across a sandy beach will agree; that Australia is huge and hot, so it is best to pack light, preferably into a backpack that is comfortable enough to carry on a decent walk. While there are a variety of climates Down Under, it doesn’t mean you need to overpack for them. In fact, due to the general lack of cold temperatures, you can get away with a lot of lighter, smaller summer clothes that pack down well. That’s right, we’re talking days in your swimmers (or togs as us Queenslanders call them) and nights wearing layers if it’s a bit chilly!

So, whether you’re planning on backpacking the whole East Coast, are living that resort life in a few specific towns or going for the whole lap in a campervan, learn how to pack smarter and lighter with this perfect-every-time minimalist (that doesn’t feel minimalistic) packing guide. Not included: the kitchen sink!

Or if you’re wondering exactly what to pack to have the perfect, stress-free trip in Australia, check out our failsafe what to pack guide, for the perfectly packed bag every time! 

How heavy should my luggage be for Australia?

If you’re choosing to check-in luggage, most international airlines arriving in Australia have a pretty strict limit on luggage weights (often 23kg per piece of checked-in luggage, and 7kg for a standard piece of carry-on). But not to fret, this is a super roomy limit, as your experience in Australia will be way better if you pack lighter than that. We seriously avoid packing to these limits, not only because you won’t have room in your bag for any souvenirs on the return flight, but also because lugging 30kgs of baggage just isn’t fun!

Two women with suitcases checking into a hostel

Make sure you double-check with your airline how much luggage is included in your ticket, as it varies. Also, keep in mind if you plan getting around Australia by flying, domestic airlines often only include carry-on luggage in the ticket price. Extra checked luggage on domestic flights can be an expensive add-on so make sure you work that one into your Aussie travel budget

Our well-travelled recommendation for checked-in luggage is to keep it under ¼ of your body weight (between 15 - 20 kgs). Or, if you’re going the carry-on life (big fans), pack that backpack to its limit (usually 7kg on most Australian airlines).

Two women with backpacks at a luggage storage shop

What items are not allowed into Australia?

Travelling into Australia is iconically difficult because as an island with unique and delicate ecosystems, we have strict laws on bringing in organic matter such as some foods, animal products, plant matter and wooden goods. There are also very specific laws regarding bringing any sharp objects, weapons or fireworks through border security. Before you travel, don’t forget to check the Australia Border Force official list of permitted and prohibited items, along with items that may need to be declared upon your entry.

A man with a big hiking pack on top of a mountain

Can I travel Australia with only carry-on luggage?

There are really two schools of thought with this age-old question: the carry-on-only radicals and the check-baggage die-hards. And while it may seem intimidating, you actually can travel the whole of Australia with only carry-on luggage. Whether you opt for a 40L backpack or an aptly sized carry-on suitcase, this way of exploring Australia (especially during the warmer months) is a fantastic way to feel freer in transit while you’re getting from A to B. Check out our perfected East Coast packing list, with which all of your belongings can fit into a carry-on-sized bag!

A woman at Hill Inlet Lookout with a carry-on sized backpack

Reasons to travel Australia with only carry-on luggage

While you may be reading the words of an enthusiastic carry-on traveller, there are some serious perks of ditching the suitcase or monstrous backpack. The best part about it is that you don’t need to feel weighed down every time you land in a city, and you don’t have to search for luggage storage. You’re way more mobile with a small suitcase or carry-on backpack, especially with shorter layovers and in-between legs. Pretty much, you can hop off your bus, plane or train and head straight to the beach without a worry! Similarly, you can travel without the stress of all of a heft wealth of your belongings getting lost, damaged or stolen. More importantly, it is possible to pack a carry-on bag to Australia and not feel like you’re missing a single thing, due to the temperate weather (especially on the East Coast).

A sign with coach and private transport directions at the Airport

Best bag type to bring to Australia: backpack vs suitcase

Best bag for backpackers travelling to Australia

You guessed it - the unironic verdict for backpackers travelling to Australia is to travel with a medium-sized backpack (no bigger than 40L for carry-on, and no bigger than 60L for checked). The reason for this is mobility and comfort during your connecting journeys and short travel days. Buses, trains and domestic flights are so much less stressful if you can comfortably handle all of your belongings! We recommend a durable, spacious pack from a good brand such as Osprey and Katmandu as it will last you a lifetime!

However, if you’re not a backpacker, and are taking mostly taxis and shuttle buses, suitcases are not too much of a hassle. It’s really only if you have a lot of wayward travel, or are planning on heading out to remote locations, that suitcases can be more of a hindrance than a help!

For more information, read our breakdown of which bag is best to travel Australia with.

A woman in a bag storage facility with a hiking backpack on

Now it’s time to pack those bags and head down under, check out our selection of completely inclusive itineraries for an unforgettable experience down under!

Chat with a local travel agent today to plan your perfect holiday, so you can soak up the sun, salt and sand! 

East Coast Tours acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.

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