Packing for a One Year Working Holiday

Welcome to one girl’s epic quest to pack a year’s worth of essential items into a largish suitcase. Her mission: to not exceed 22kg. Side mission: include bulky snowsports gear in the pack.



Backpack or Suitcase?

This is the first obstacle to face. I scoured the world wide web to find the answer to: backpack or suitcase for a working holiday? Working Holiday Starter (the company setting me up in New Zealand) suggest a backpack because they tend to be more versatile. Some travel blogs, such as, favour a suitcase on wheels for the ease of dragging it along.

The choice of your luggage should be determined by what you plan to do. Are you going to hop about from place to place? Always on the road? A backpack might be the best option in that ‘case’ (pun unintended and not even funny) but remember to pack light – you have to carry this thing on your back, duh.

Or, if you are like me and hate making like turtle by carrying shells and shit on your back, the wheeled suitcase it should be. I have taken backpacks to festivals before and I hated everyone the whole time I was carrying one – and that was only stuff for five days.

Size: 70cm x 47cm x 25cm
Type: Softcase (fit more stuff in and less likely to break)
Borrowed off: Grandma (thanks!)


If your suitcase looks like every other suitcase in the world, make it stand out with some tape so it is easier to spot on the carousel.

To avoid unexpected excess baggage charges when you check-in. Weigh your luggage first with a luggage weighing scale:

Thanks Grandma for lending me this too... and the hairdryer. FYI, I don't own anything myself.

Thanks Grandma for lending me this too… and the hairdryer. FYI, I don’t own anything myself.

What to Pack

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 16.11.24

How did tweezers make top of the cosmetics list? If you’d seen my eyebrows this would shock you too.

Top Tiny Tip: Get the Evernote app on your phone, tablet and computer to keep up-to-date checklists for packing. You don’t want to get to the other side of the world and realise you forgot your undies.

Snowboarding Gear

Not applicable to everyone so let’s get this out of the way…

If you can’t be swayed into hiring gear rather than taking it then this is how it is done:

Vacuum pack those salopettes and knee pads!

Vacuum pack those salopettes and knee pads!

Stuff those fools!

Stuff those fools with gloves and ski socks!

It's practically moulded to the suitcase. Stuff that sucker!

The helmet is practically moulded to the suitcase. Stuff that sucker!



Just the essentials! Remember you can wash things, as most hostels have laundry facilities. If you are moving into a flat/house, you’ll likely be able to wash your clothes there too. If not, then find a good stone by a river to beat your clothes against.

  • A week’s worth of underwear should do it. Pick your favourites and most practical.
  • Combine T-shirts for daytime attire and sleepwear.
  • Work clothes – Something smart for interviews. Black and white pieces are always a safe bet for hospitality and office work.
  • A going-out outfit.
  • Your top two or three favourite outfits.
  • What activities are you doing there? Trainers? Swimwear?
  • What climate are you arriving in? Thermal base layers for outdoor activities? Hat, scarf and gloves? Sunglasses?
  • Shorts (can layer with leggings in colder months).
  • Vest tops (layers for winter, attire for summer).
  • Hoody/jumper/coat.
  • Jeans/joggers/leggings.
  • PJ bottoms.

Tiny tip: I find a lot of clothes can be multipurpose, for instance, I have casual clothing and shoes I can wear for work too. My interview blazer also looks darn swish with a going-out outfit, if I do say so myself.


As most people have special cosmetic needs, I will leave this to you. Do you wear makeup? Take you favourite. Have prescription medication? Take it and relevant paperwork to prove it’s yours (some airlines might be funny). You might want to make medication in your hand luggage anyway.

My essential cosmetic item is kind of ridiculous because I have so many:

I have daily contact lenses coming out of my ears! Evidently not my eyes where they should have been.

I have daily contact lenses coming out of my ears! Evidently not my eyes where I should have been wearing them these last three months.


  • Sheet liner and pillow case
  • Towel
  • Hairdryer
  • Plug adapter
  • Paperwork you can’t leave behind

Carry On / Hand Luggage

That backpack has been with me since I was 12-13 years old. Should change my style.

That backpack has been with me since I was 12-13 years old. Should change my style.

This is where the backpack comes in. It makes ideal carry on luggage, whilst being a handy daytime bag on your working holiday. Working Holiday Starter says to stick to 7kg for most airlines. That’s still heavy enough to make me angry whilst carrying it but at least I can fit in a decent amount of things.

I see you have noticed my fetching green satchel. That will go within the backpack because I can’t bear to leave her behind. She’s sensitive.

Here are some ideas of what to take:

  • Macbook/Laptop – How else do you expect me to blog to my overly keen fans stalkers followers? 😉
  • Camera.
  • Phone.
  • iPod/Music playing device.
  • Chargers for all these things.
  • Another form of ID like driver’s license.
  • Plug adaptor.
  • Cash. Are you transiting? Remember some cash for any countries you are stopping off at.
  • Transparent bag and bottles for any small amount of liquid or paste.
  • Medication.
  • Toothbrush and small toothpaste for long ass flights.
  • Visa.
  • Copy of Passport.
  • Recent bank statement if you need support funds with your visa.
  • Insurance certificate/card.
  • Whatever else entertains you. Book?
  • Notepad with essential informations, such as phone numbers, shuttle bus numbers, etc, incase technology betrays you.

I also have a mysterious letter from my friend/university housemate, Lauren, who gets a little unsure of her spelling sometimes:

My other housemate, Shelley, thought it might say: "Look two rows behind you..." Hah!

My other housemate, Shelley, thought it might say: “Look two rows behind you…” Hah!

Mission Accomplished

One girl’s mission to pack for a working holiday is complete. Weighing significantly less than 22kg – exact readings could not be taken due to the excessive shaking that went with holding a suitcase by the tiny metal handle of the luggage weighing scale – she show’s that anything is possible!


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