Congratulations! You have secured a position as an au pair in your country of choice and you couldn’t be more excited for this upcoming opportunity. The time to board your flight and fly far away from home is just around the corner. But wait… I’m prettyyy sure that means you have to start thinking about what you’re going to pack. And if you’re anything like me, you have a love/hate relationship with packing. You love it because it means you are sooo close to taking off on your adventure, but hate it because you might forget something crucial, you don’t want to over or underpack, or you just don’t even know where to start. Let’s face it, packing for a long trip is just plain stressful. Hence, this post; I have yet to come across any helpful packing guides for soon to be au pairs stationed in Australia, so I decided to make one.
Since I am au pairing in Australia this guide might be somewhat limited, considering some of you may be venturing to colder climate locations like Ireland, Scandinavia, Switzerland, etc. (lucky you, those sound absolutely amazing). However, this guide will come in handy no matter where you’re jetting off to! I have done my best to include everything you’ll want to bring, so get packing people!
* Side note: If, after my arrival in Australia, I feel anything on this list should be added or left out I will be editing the list to make sure it is up-to-date.
ITEMS I ALREADY HAD
- Tennis shoes (trainers for you British folk) – Any Nike pair will do
- Flip flops/sandals – I have a pair of black Tevas that are an absolute staple for my warm weather wardrobe. Shout out to my bestie, Abby for recommending these a few years back. I can’t see myself ever buying another pair of everyday sandals. BONUS: they’re only $24!
- Everyday sandals – I have a brown pair that I pair with casual outfits, but can also be used to dress up an outfit
- Classic white converse Chuck Taylors – self explanatory
Clothes: I had a feeling I would be wearing a lot of casual/athletic clothes seeing as I would be running around with kids and being active most of the time. I packed mostly athletic clothes because that’s what I feel most comfortable in and what I consider “kid-friendly.” However, if you feel your best in tight jeans and a flashy top then by all means pack that instead. DO YOU as long as it is within reason. Here’s what I brought for clothes:
- 5 pairs of socks – 4 ankle socks & 1 thicker pair for hiking
- Undies – 2 weeks worth of thongs and 3 pairs of what I call gramma panties for when I’m feeling reallyyy lazy or under the weather. This is probably a bit excessive seeing as I’ll have access to free laundry, but they barely take up any space/weight so I figured why not!
- 2 bras – I have one nude and one black. Both convert to razorbacks if need be.
- 5 sports bras – I live in these, so it was worth it for me to pack 5. I splurged and bought a white one from Lululemon just because I wanted a high quality one that would last me a long time.
- 4 workout/yoga tanks
- 3 baggy T shirts – I wear these for bed or when I’m lounging around
- 1 Green Bay Packer shirt – gotta support the green and gold from wherever I am on this earth
- 4 casual/basic staple shirts – you can wear these casually or dress them up when going out
- 1 tan cardigan
- 1 grey yoga zip up
- 2 sleeveless dresses – 1 plain black dress than I can dress up if need be & 1 with a girly pattern. In addition to everyday outfits, these can be worn to family parties or perhaps when your family goes out for a nice dinner.
- 1 swim suit cover up
- 4 athletic shorts
- 2 everyday shorts – 1 pair of Levi cut offs & 1 pair from American Eagle
- 2 yoga pants – 1 of them being black Lulus & the other a fun print I like
- 1 pair of jeans – my favorite everyday Express jeans. I probably won’t need these, but they are the one item I feel like I just can’t live without
- 1 pair of sweatpants – for pjs and lounging
- Minimal jewelry – I don’t wear too much, but some gold accent pieces never hurt anyone
- Sunglasses – I brought 2 pair, but honestly it might be more fun to buy a pair wherever you’re going. I just always lose or break mine, so I figured it might be smart to start with 2 pair right off the bat
- Scarves and mittens – (depending on where you are going) – it was SOOO nice not to have to pack these
- 1 belt
- Hair ties
- Bobby pins
- Hats & headbands
- Cross body purse/bag – you NEED to bring this! They are the most useful/handy purses, and they help prevent pickpocketers. Plus there are tonzzz of cute ones out there for every girl’s style
- Day bag or backpack – for weekend trips for yourself or if you’re taking your kids on a short day trip somewhere
Toiletries: Some people will tell you to refrain from packing such items and just purchase them once you arrive at your destination. I chose to pack them all ahead of time to save money simply because everything where I am going is more expensive than what I am used to in Wisconsin. Although it was a pain having to stock up on everything all at once, I feel like it will spare me from paying crazy high prices for such items once I arrive in Australia. I am also doing this because it will free up some space/weight in my suitcase on my way back so I have room for the inevitable new clothes, souvenirs, ext. that I will purchase while I’m there. Here’s what I brought along, but the list will vary for everyone:
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Leave-in conditioner
- Hair brush
- Bikini zone cream – I’ll be wearing swim suits a lot people
- Replacement razors
- Monthly contact lens replacements & glasses
- Face wash & moisturizer
- Perfume or body spray
- Razor and replacements
- Contacts, solution, replacements, and glasses
- Tampons – panty liners or pads if you prefer them
- The following are up to you, but I managed to squeeze these in my suitcase as well:
- Body wash
- Nail stuff (polish, remover, cutter)
- Toothpaste & toothbrush (and a spare toothbrush)
- Q tips
- MacBook pro & charger – or any laptop
- IPhone 5s & charger – or any phone (I plan on just keeping mine on airplane mode)
- Camera or GoPro
- Hard drive – to back up my laptop
- Beats by Dr. Dre – or any headphones/earbuds
- Water bottle
- Planner – I’d be lost without mine.
- Travel journal – I purchased an Expedition Log Book Kit from the talented duo from The Adventure Supply Company
- Book – Be careful on this one, for reading materials add up quickly
- Materials for your favorite hobby – I brought my adult coloring books and markers. Bring whatever you like to do in your spare time. For example, if you like to knit then bring your supplies along with you.
NEWLY PURCHASED ITEMS
- Working and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462) – Feel free ask me questions about this process in the comments section below or contact me directly; I’m happy to help!
- International Driver’s License – Ask me questions about this too if you feel so inclined.
- Local currency – I just went to my local bank and ordered some Australian dollars that I was able to pick up with the next few days.
- Light rain jacket – I ended up buying a Patagonia sun jacket in white because I thought it would be nice to have a neutral colored light coat to wear in the air-conditioning or on cooler days and chilly nights
- Sturdy sandals – I purchased Chaco ZX/Y Yampa sandals in blue for my trip. It took me a while to decide which pair I wanted, but I tried a couple pairs on at local shoe stores and then purchased them on Amazon to save 20 bucks. I decided to go with Chacos for several reasons a) They have a nice arch support. I’m extremely flat footed, so this is huge for me. b) The adjustable strap(s) are customizable to your individual foot. c) For how durable and heavy they are they are still somewhat fashionable.
- Swim suits – I bought 3 new suits simply because I only had one old, worn out one before I left for Australia. I got two one-pieces at TJ Maxx because I had done some reading where I learned that Australians tend to dress conservatively when it comes to swimwear. I also bought a two-piece at Victoria’s Secret during their semi-annual sale to wear when I am not with the family.
- Guidebook on Australia – I asked for the Insight Guides Australia book for Christmas. I have read this brand as a reference for when I went to London in 2015, and I like how these books go further than the typical tourist guidebook in that they inform the reader of the culture and workings of the destination.
- Compression socks – for the long ass flight
EASY TO FORGET OR ITEMS YOU MAY NOT HAVE THOUGHT OF
- Passport – This goes without saying, but you’d be surprised how many stories I have heard about individuals forgetting the one item they ACTUALLY NEED to enter their destination.
- Visa or your electronic copy of your Visa – If you are going to Australia like me, you only need the verification email that was sent to you after your visa was granted. Yes, it’s really that simple! I couldn’t believe it either. If you have questions on the visa application process, please contact me. I’m happy to fill you in on everything you need to know :]
- Prescriptions/Medications – I do not take any daily meds, however things like Tylenol and Dramamine are an absolute must for me. Don’t forget your birth control for those of you who are on the pill.
- Universal converters – I already had one from studying abroad in London, and luckily I purchased the world-wide version at that time. Just don’t forget this item, okay? :] It will spare you unneeded frustration.
- Copies of important documents – This includes scanned copies of your passport (both pages), your visa, your letter (if you’re going to the UK or a country that requires an entry letter, your debit and credit cards, your driver’s license, your travel insurance, and a hard copy of the contract between you and the family if you signed one.
- Luggage tags – God forbid this happen to you, but just in case.
- Phone and laptop chargers – Don’t forget these. Plz.
- Travel containers – for weekend trips with new friends or holidays with the family
- Bits of comfort from home – perhaps it’s your favorite tea that you can’t live without or maybe some pictures to hang around your room
- Gifts for your future family – I got the two girls a Wisconsin themed puzzle and book, and I gave the parents maple syrup that my family makes on our tree farm along with two Wisconsin shot glasses (don’t worry, I knew ahead of time they were drinkers). I thought it might be nice to give them a little taste of my home, which leads me to my next item…
- A book/photo album/something similar – that provides them some insight as to where you’re from. I thought this might be nice to facilitate talking about what home is like for me on the other side of the world. I made it kid-friendly by making a photo album with brief descriptions of the subjects in the photos. Some ideas include photos of:
– your family
– workplace (what you did before you decided to become their au pair)
– typical foods/drinks from your home
– what people from where you are from do for fun
– what the weather is like (I included a picture of a snowstorm since my family in Australia has never experienced snow)
– anything else you can think of in order to give your family a better idea of what “home” is like for you
WHAT I DID NOT PACK
- Heavy coat – I won’t need one for where I am going, but if you do need one, make sure to factor this in when choosing your items to pack, for a big coat will take up lots of space. When I went to London I wore as many of my heavy clothes on the flight over as I could to allow for as much space as possible in my suitcase.
- Bath towels
- Heels – just don’t. You will not need them. And if you really do, just buy a cheap pair while you’re there.
That about wraps it up, ladies. You can always buy more of whatever you need when you arrive at your destination. However, it can save you lots of time and money buy preparing ahead of time and following these guidelines. Please know that this was my personal packing list, and that yours will inevitably differ. The bottom line is to pack what will make you feel comfortable while still packing within reason. Thanks for reading, and if you think of anything that I forgot please let me know in the comments section below :]