Flying By the Seat of My Pants

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I have done absolutely no planning for Turkey. And it shows.

I boarded my plane from Tel Aviv without having done the slightest bit of research on even my first stop, Istanbul. I’d only barely managed to book a hostel — I had been about to go to bed the night before when I realized I hadn’t done that yet. Oops. Quickly searched the hostelworld app on my phone, found a dorm that still had availability on such short notice, booked it. Done.

I meant to buy a guidebook at the airport, but the only one for sale was an Istanbul-only Lonely Planet and it cost over 150 shekels. I’ll pass, thanks. My hostel had automatically emailed me directions, so I figured I’d be set to get there anyhow. Continue reading

The Egypt Dilemma

When I was first planning this trip to the Middle East, I always intended to travel to Egypt as well. Israel-Jordan-Egypt — seems like the perfect combo trip, right? Neighboring countries, so crossing land borders would be easy and I wouldn’t have to worry about the logistics or costs of booking additional flights.

Of course, the political situation in Egypt has only been getting worse. Shortly before I left, my father and stepmother gently suggested that I drop Egypt from my itinerary and go to Greece or Turkey instead. I made no promises, but said I would consider it.

And I have been. I’ve been considering it for the whole month I’ve been traveling, and keep going back and forth. I’ve long decided that I would in fact be going to Turkey (a good friend of mine is in Russia now and will be in Istanbul at the end of August, so I plan on meeting him there), but Egypt was still pulling me as well. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Back on the horse

Predictably, life got crazy and I stopped posting.

BUT! I finally have confirmation in the form of a long-awaited plane ticket that I will be heading off on my next trip in just over two weeks. I’m about to age out of the Birthright Israel program, which I’ve been meaning to take advantage of for years. This summer is my last chance, so I’m finally going, and I’ve extended my return flight home by two months to allow me to travel independently around the area after the initial trip has concluded. Continue reading

The Southeast Asia Trip

I enjoyed my first taste of solo travel in Colombia so much that I had barely settled back in at home in NY before I was itching to go somewhere again. It took nearly a year before I got my chance. Though I’d researched dozens of destinations in the meantime and planned out all different types of trips and itineraries in my head, when it came time to book a ticket I decided on a whim to go to Southeast Asia. Continue reading