|This is us riding a camel. Yep, that's why we packed for comfort and adventure more than for style. I'm the one on the back.|
To recap: we packed for a two week bus tour trip taking place at the end of April. We packed for changeable Spring weather, multiple planned activities and varied terrain as well as modest attire for the various religious sites we planned to visit. The only restrictions we had was the 50 lb checked baggage and 17 lb carry-on baggage limit for the airline. Our tour bus had plenty of room for luggage in the compartments underneath so there were no restrictions set by the tour company Friendship Tours. However, neither of us wanted to haul around 67 lbs of luggage or have to rummage through that many items to find what we wanted on our vacation so we tried to pack as lightly as possible without being too sparse.
I think we would both agree that you should plan to leave 1/4 or more of your suitcase empty going over because you will bring back more than you take over. Additionally, unless you plan to neatly fold your dirty clothes on the return trip, your items will take up more space. I had about 30 lbs combined going over and added probably 5 lbs or more coming back. Tamara had a little more going over with all her camera equipment and she bought more books than I did so had a bit more returning. All in all, I think we did quite well as we were among the lightest packers in our group.
You can review my earlier post to see what I brought, but I'll try to remind you as I go.
|At Tell Dan. This was the type of terrain we were hiking over sometimes. You can see why sturdy shoes are needed.|
The quick dry running shirts also worked perfectly and also took more than overnight to dry in the unventilated bathroom. Some of the people in the group had button up travel shirts that looked a bit dressier than my t-shirts and also seemed to wash and wear extremely well. Looking back I should have brought more scarves than just the one melon colored one pictured. It got a lot of use and another color or print or two would have been nice to have. Some of the ladies in the group brought more than one and that was a smart move to change up the look of outfits without adding much packing weight. I used mine as a shoulder cover for some religious sites, as a fashion accessory, to keep sun off the back of my neck, and also just as a scarf to keep warm.
For swimwear, Tamara and I both agree we should have each brought two suits. Putting on a wet suit is not fun. I was happy to have both the rash guard shirt and the board shorts to put over my suit, but I never wore the surf leggings.
|Floating in the Dead Sea|
Next time I think I'll trade in my money belt for one that goes around the neck and has shielding. I got this one for safety, but I think if I got one with a no-cut strap it would work just as well. This one worked better before I got the passport book with the extra pages which makes it bulkier.
I did use the umbrella one day and it stayed in my bag on the bus when it was not needed.
The blue patterned fold up Rume Tote Bag was great. Tamara had one as well and we'd pack what we needed to take with us for the day, but leave it on the bus in those. We also used mine for a beach bag. Out of curiosity I weighed mine on my postal scale and it weighs 2.2 oz and holds up to 50 lbs of stuff.
What I definitely did not need from the photo above was all those snacks. There is plenty of food in Israel and we had full buffet breakfasts and dinners at our hotel and stopped somewhere for lunch each day. I really didn't even want snacks, but had I wanted them they were available for purchase in many places. Many from our group enjoyed a treat of various flavors of Magnum ice cream bars that are available all over Israel on hot days and fresh, oblong shaped, sesame bagels available from street vendors. I should have just taken a few snacks for the layover time at the airport and not the pound of snacks I hauled all around Israel and ended up bring back home with me again.
The little green REI brand blow up pillow pictured on top above was a complete waste of space. The valve didn't work and it wouldn't hold air.
|Sesame bagels - the vendor will put ground hyssop and salt or zaatar seasoning in the bottom of the plastic bag for you to dip your fresh bread into|
|Here we are on the shore of the Sea of Galilee with our tour group headsets on|
What did work very well were the inexpensive 1 oz bottles I bought from REI pictured above. I thought they might leak, but they didn't. I just labeled them with my label maker.
Our hotels did not have wash cloths. Bring one of your own if you want one.
A couple of other things I should have brought were some more of those little Wisp toss out mini toothbrushes you can find in the toothpaste aisle most places. Those were perfect for brushing in the lavatory in the airplane or any rest stop as they are tiny and have the toothpaste on them already. I should have also remembered to bring chewing gum.
One thing to be sure and not forget is plenty of hand wipes and/or hand sanitizer.
The proper electrical adapters to use for Israel are the ones with round prongs. However, bring both the one for small round prongs and the one with slightly larger round prongs. There doesn't seem to be a standard fit.
I also brought a pedometer which was interesting. We covered about 5 miles per day on foot.
Almost everyone in the group also brought a small notebook or journal and a Bible in print form or electronic form.
Tamara and I each brought our Badger Balm Sore Muscle Rub which was well used on the trip and worked it's magic. She even shared with a lady who took a tumble on the slippery pavement and she was surprised to find that she didn't even bruise from her spill.
As far as the drawing supplies I brought to sketch with, I should have taken less. There simply wasn't time for much sketching. I should have just made due with a few pencils and small sketch pad. I didn't need to haul the pastels around as I only got one chance to use them.
|See of Galilee sketch|
Let's talk shoes! Initially, I was convinced I could easily get away with two pair for the two weeks: My trusty worn-in Keens and a pair of simple Tevas. Both can be worn for hiking as well as in water so they would be great backups for one another. However, after researching the Dead Sea I grew concerning about the uneven salt floor being rough on the sides of my feet and I didn't want to potentially ruin my favorite Keens so, the day before I flew out to meet up with Sue, I rushed around in search of "water socks". Bass Pro Shop was the only store in this small Alabama town where I currently reside that had them in stock. I was so happy with my little last-ditch $12 purchase! Well, as Sue can attest, as soon as I stepped out onto the tiles of our Dead Sea hotel, I almost bit it! After the third slip I gave up all pride and proceeded to shuffle along behind Sue like a little old granny. They worked great once I finally made it down to the Dead Sea but took several days to dry. They went out to the trash the day I returned home after my loving husband pointed out that no one should be tempted to break an ankle in them. Turns out that I simply didn't need shoes in the Sea Dead. There was a ramp with rails one could use when entering and exiting the water and salt was bumpy yet smooth and felt quite good on my bare feet which hardly touched the bottom anyway. It was so amazing to simply lift one's feet and start gently bobbing around as though you were sitting in a lounge chair. Phenomenal ab workout!
The one redeeming quality about my water socks is they looked kind of cool in this photo. Sue had no slippage issues with her pair from Walmart.
|The Lowepro in action descending the steep "Snake Path" at Masada|
- My iPhone without any special plans. Just turned off cellular and roaming and utilized the free wifi on the bus (slow but useful) or at the hotels.
- A lightweight battery operated fan. (Mine is a $6 O2Cool from Target) If I have a little breeze I can typically cope with whatever temperature/stuffiness we may experience in a hotel. It proved its worth our first night at Sea of Galilee. It was very warm as the air conditioner unit wasn't fully operational and a gazillion gnat-like bugs would cover the walls if you left the balcony door open.
- The tiny packable Sea to Summit Lite Line Clothesline :Laundry Day for Tamara at the Ramada in Jerusalem
- My choices in clothing: one fleece, one skirt, several quick dry shirts, one cardigan, a pair of well-loved zip-off outdoors pants, a pair of capris, a pair of Columbia cotton travel pants. Packed mostly blue hued shirts though and would add a little variety next time. I agree with Sue that a travel dress would be a great addition. I would still choose a blue one :-D
- Pashmina in a zip locked bag (Sue's awesome idea to keep threads from being snagged in transit) We wore these at several of the holy sites.
- My telephoto lens! Sue's husband almost had me convinced to leave it behind but why squabble over a mere 1.3 pounds when you have opportunities to get up close to goats without getting attack by guard dogs or having anything awkward to declare to customs?
- My Cloudz neck pillow! It snaps to my backpack and has those little beads of styrofoam inside. We enjoyed quite a few naps together.
- Extra plastic baggies (my Keens reeked after two weeks and 60+ miles)
- The P.T. Pod microfiber towel that my husband asked us to try out. Weighs just a few ounces, folds into its own built in bag and takes up very little space. Oh, and it works! Used it several times including after merrily dowsing myself in a waterfall at En Gedi.
- Two swimsuits! (I heartily agree with Sue about the unsuitable nature of cold wet swimwear)
- Sue's Tupperware water cups rocked while my new collapsible Akanpa water bottle tried to drown me as I attempted to gulp down water on Masada. It will now be relegated to camping equipment and not for everyday travel. It also continually felt gritty on the outside despite repeated cleanings Again, something that won't phase us camping but bugged me at night and in airports. By all means though find a water bottle you like as there are stations or at least water fountains in the airports where they encourage refills and most of the tap water in the Israeli hotels tasted fine. The one exception would be the Ramada in Jerusalem (and that uber nasty sludge fountain we tried near the Roosevelt Park in DC--Blech!!)
- Another insight: the surge protector power adaptors will NOT charge camera batteries regardless of how they appear to be charging! Good thing I travel with three batteries. Also, travel with both fat and skinny simple two pin Type C power adapters since the outlets vary.
- A light pullover sweater would have been welcome and would have looked nice. Mornings in Jerusalem were quite chilly and, in spots, windy
|Valley of Elah where David slew Goliath|