What I’m Packing for 9 Weeks in the Middle East

I love reading other people’s packing lists, so here’s mine. I rarely stress too much about what to bring on a trip, and usually pride myself on packing light, but it was a real struggle this time. The Birthright recommended packing list is absolutely ridiculous (12 t-shirts and 14 pairs of socks for a 10-day trip? for real?) so obviously I wasn’t using that as a guideline, but I also don’t want to be the smelly backpacker kid if in fact there isn’t time to do laundry as they have tried to convince me. I also had to make sure that I brought “modest” clothing for more conservative areas, including items that will cover all my tattoos if I feel it’s necessary at some point. But it’s also going to be ridiculously hot (though cold in the desert at night!) and the cities are very cosmopolitan, so nice yet comfortable clothes are essential.

I struggled so much with making a mental packing list for the past few weeks (and shopping for a bunch of new clothes, something I rarely do before a trip, but I didn’t own much that fit the above parameters), that I didn’t actually sit down and throw it all together until today. I’m bringing far less than the organizers recommend but far more than I’m used to bringing on my solo trips — I had significantly more trouble cramming it all in than usual. I’m sure I still forgot something, but whatever it is I can buy it abroad.

I apologize in advance for the terrible quality of these photos. It was very dark in my apartment by the time I took them because I am a procrastinator.



  • 5 short sleeved shirts
  • 2 button-up long sleeved shirts
  • 3 tank tops (1 nicer drapey black one, a standard black cami, & a grey tank)
  • 1 pair black shorts
  • 1 pair loungey black pants
  • 2 pairs travel pants [Disclaimer: I dislike travel/hiking pants usually and have always brought at least one pair of jeans, but I’m trying something different this time. The ones I got look slightly more like normal pants (I drew the line at the zip-off type) and are definitely lightweight, so we’ll see how they are and if I miss my jeans. Reviews to come, maybe?]
  • 1 pair of black leggings
  • 1 long skirt
  • 1 jersey wrap dress
  • merino wool hoodie (i really hope this is worth the exorbitant price i paid for it)
  • 1 bikini
  • 2 bras (1 black, 1 skin tone)
  • 1 sports bra
  • 7 pairs of undies
  • 4 pairs of socks
  • sarong
  • bandana and headscarf
  • Which all fits (barely) into:

  • 3 ebags packing cubes
  • small mesh lingerie bag (good for sorting laundry later)


  • sneakers
  • ratty old converse (to be thrown out as soon as I finish destroying them in/around the dead sea)
  • sandals
  • flip flops
  • P1080876


  • lush solid shampoo bar
  • mini shampoo & conditioners (thanks, hoarding tendencies at hotels!)
  • bar soap
  • dr. bronner’s liquid soap
  • toothpaste & toothbrush
  • dental floss (useful for more than just your teeth!)
  • deodorant
  • suncreen
  • facial moisturizer w/ spf
  • bio oil
  • baby wipes
  • hair serum samples
  • diva cup & backup ob tampons
  • condoms (pregnancy/stds would really cramp my travel style)
  • q-tips
  • 9 pairs of weekly contact lenses
  • contact solution
  • glasses
  • comb
  • razor w/ blade refills
  • nail clippers
  • tweezers
  • hanging toiletry case


    Cosmetics & Hair:

  • mini brush set
  • cc cream/tinted moisturizer
  • powder compact
  • blush
  • shimmery paint pot
  • 2 eyeshadows (1 light, 1 dark)
  • brow pencil
  • liquid eyeliner
  • mascara (waterproof!)
  • 2 lipsticks (1 neutral, 1 red)
  • mini tube of aquaphor (i use this on basically everything)
  • hair clips, elastics, and headbands
  • bobby pins
  • 3 pairs of plugs (jewelry for stretched ears)


    First Aid, etc:

  • various meds: cipro, advil/ibuprofen, immodium, benadryl
  • cortisone stick
  • assorted band-aids
  • sea bands (for motion sickness)
  • airborne and cough drops (i get a cold pretty much every time i fly and i can already feel this one coming on)
  • sewing kit
  • duct tape
  • safety pins
  • all packed neatly into a small tin
    I'm kind of in love with this new toiletry bag, and i crammed it full.

    I’m kind of in love with this new toiletry bag, and i crammed it full.



  • macbook air laptop
  • kindle fire e-reader/tablet
  • panasonic lumix camera
  • moto x smartphone (calling turned off and wifi only once abroad)
  • cases and chargers for all of the above
  • international plug adapter



  • messenger-style day bag
  • foldable backpack
  • microfiber travel towel
  • passport
  • wallet
  • documents: passport photocopies, extra passport photos, flight confirmations, insurance policy info
  • combination locks, large & small (for hostel lockers, etc.)
  • guidebook
  • paperback book (for when kindle inevitably dies, and can be swapped with other travelers)
  • moleskine journal
  • pens, sharpie, and glue stick (for gluing random bits of ephemera in moleskin)
  • eye mask & earplugs
  • mini flashlight (not pictured cause I forgot)
  • tons of empty ziplock bags in assorted sizes (not pictured because you know what these look like)

    It seems like even more stuff when it’s all listed out here, and my bag feels heavier than it has on previous trips, even in Vietnam after that Hoi An shopping spree (which I still need to write about here). So who knows, I may be dumping some stuff by the side of the road. It’s always hard to know what to cut out before you’ve left, though!

    How are you guys at packing? Anything here immediately jump out as something I should cut? My flight leaves for Tel Aviv tomorrow night, so I have almost 24 hours to reconsider.

    all packed and ready to go!

    all packed and ready to go!

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