We took an incredible trip to the Holy Land with my parents a few weeks ago and since I started posting I've received a ton of questions about what to pack. Here are a few of answers I sent out to others:
- Spiritual Prep: I had grand plans in this area but I found it was really hard to get it all done. The most valuable thing I did was listen to 'Jesus the Christ' on the scripture app. I listened to it while I got ready in the morning and when I was doing clean up at night. It gave me a good fundamental reminder of the stories of the New Testament so they would be familiar when I got there. I also watched all the Bible videos (we used the LDS Bible Videos app) with my kids and tried to teach them what I had learned about each one from Jesus the Christ.
- What to bring for study and taking notes: A lot of the places we visited had limited seating or limited shade so I think real scriptures would have been hard. I used my scripture app on my phone to follow along/mark scriptures and then used Evernote to jot down notes on my phone. I really liked it because I could take notes and insert pictures of the area into the notes in real time.
What to bring for shoes: I brought three basic shoes: comfy lightweight sneakers, slip on shoes (I like Sanuk's because they're comfier than Toms to me), and walking sandals (I tried to pick a pair I could wear with a skirt). I used the slip on shoes for airport days. I wore the sandals most because they were light and cool. I used the sneakers for areas that were really dusty (like Petra).
- What to bring for pants: There were several places (like Temple Mount and the Citadel) that require long, loose pants or skirts so it's good to have a few options. I brought a light-weight maxi skirt, a long t-shirt dress, 2 pants, 2 long shorts and one pair of jeans. My favorite pants were the Columbia trail pants. I had two pairs of these and they were awesome. They're light and cool but didn't wrinkle a ton in my bag. I bought them at the Outlets in Lehi but they sell them at REI too.
- What to bring for tops: It was hotter than I expected almost everywhere...and super sunny. I would make sure you have loose, short sleeve tops and a few long sleeve trail shirts (I bought several of these at Columbia too). You'll also want a lightweight scarf to use when you go to places that have dress requirements (so you can throw it around your shoulders or up on your hair when needed). If you don't have one, they sell them all over the place there.
What to bring for accessories: It gets really windy/dirty in some places so I liked having a baseball hat to wear now and then. It was nice for Hezekiah's tunnel and the Pyramids. Lots of women used wide brim hats too. Just make sure they're packable so you're not carrying them around all the time. You also want a pair of large sunglasses to help guard against the wind and sun in Egypt.
- What to bring for toiletries: Most of the hotels had blow dryers but they were weak. I generally just used baby powder in my hair to extend the life between washes. I also brought a flat iron but I didn't use it very often because it was hot and I generally pulled my hair up to keep it off my neck. I didn't need bug spray but I did use a lot of sunblock. You'll also want to buy some travel toilet paper/wet wipes for Egypt. Keep it in your purse all the time because you never know when the bathrooms will have it.
- What to bring for outerwear: I bought a rain jacket with a hood from Columbia that could be balled up and stored in its own pocket. I only ended up needing it one day but it was small and easy to carry around in my backpack most of the time.
- What to bring for tech: I bought a travel power strip that worked really well for our tech. Lots of people had the little cube adapters but then they were limited to plugging in one thing at a time. I could plug in at least 5 things at once. The one we bought came with adapters for all the different countries. You can find it on my Amazon favorites. We also bought a big external battery to keep in our backpack. I really like having this handy. It was big enough to charge a phone/iPad/computer several times. We would plug it in at night and then use it throughout the day. It never ran out for us and we often charged other people's devices on the bus.
- What to bring for money: We brought tons of ones because that's what our tour recommended but we didn't even use half of them. Most of the places you visit accept cards or Apple Pay so we only used cash when dealing with street vendors. If I were going to do it again, I would only bring about $200 in smaller bills for souvenirs and such.
- What to bring for snacks: Our tour group didn't stop for lunch during our days in Israel. We would have a big breakfast at the hotel and then a dinner back at the hotel that night. It was nice to have a stockpile of snacks in our suitcase to hold us over between meals. We would grab a few each day and throw them in our backpacks so we were never too hungry. My favorites were protein bars, trail mix, gummy snacks, and granola packets. You could buy snacks at a lot of places in Israel but we were often rushing out so it was nice to have them handy. I also liked having Crystal Light packets for my water bottles. I brought two boxes (some with caffeine and some without) and used every one of them by the end of the trip. You can buy water bottles for a dollar on the buses.
What to buy when you're there: I don't know if your tour is like ours but our tour took us to at least one or two 'approved' stores each day. These were generally bigger shops that paid the tour managers a commission for bringing us in. We found that almost all of these were a total rip off. They generally cost at least 2-3 times as much as anything we could buy on the street or in the markets and the products were identical. When you're in Israel, you'll want to look for anything Christian-related (like widow's mites, David slings, olive wood, etc). I wish I had bought a little more in the Jerusalem market because we didn't have another opportunity to buy the Christian items once we left Israel. The prices were better there and they had tons of variety. We ended up buying most of our kid's souvenirs in Egypt because they were cheaper and a little more colorful. My kids favorites were the camel pajama pants, the camel bone daggers and the Egyptian chess set. We bought almost all of them in the markets and ended up paying about 1/3 of the original asking price (don't be scared to bargain).