Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Take Your Invaluables With You: Top Ten Items NOT to Forget On Your Israeli Adventure

During my first pre-Israel blog posts, I published this list to help guide your packing to Israel or anywhere. I still find it very thorough in filling that suitcase of yours with only the very best, the very needed, the very necessary.

I would like to take a moment, if I may, to emphasize what forty days and forty nights in Israel has taught me was beyond invaluable for a fun-filled vacation (because while I am a member of Overstuffers Anonymous and find it hard to forget anything, these are the ten somethings I feel that no temporary Israeli should be without).

1.) BACKPACK.  I tried using a large shoulder bag; I figured that would be all I would need while trolling the markets and hanging at the beach.  What I found instead was massive marks on my shoulders that had already been irritated by sunburn.  It was painful.  Turning to a backpack extended the life of my rest, and thereby made each venture out of the Artplus Hotel much more enjoyable.

2.) WATER BOTTLE WITH A FILTER.  You will see ample opportunities to hydrate while out and about in Israel (and trust me, you will want to).  However, there is no AM:PM on the top of Masada.  There is no juice stall at Mount Hertzl.  You may find yourself without any other option in the 96-degree desert sun. And you will be happy to have this on your side.

3.) TOWER/HANDKERCHIEF.  Remember that water?  It will pour out of you. You will want one of these to catch it before heading into a restaurant with others who are better-aclimated to the heat than yourself, unless you are going for the post-marathon look; some people can really work sweat-matted hair cemented to their face (I am not one of them; ask the Knesset guard who insisted on filling up that water bottle from #2). 

4.) SUNGLASSES. Don't quint your way through the Holy Land.  Please.  You'll miss so much...

5.) BODY SPRAY.  Israel smells nice.  You may not (I am not joking; #3 is a reality, not a hyperbole).  Keep a 3-ounce bottle of perfume/cologne in your 3-1-1 bag and on hand to keep yourself fresh.

6.) SUNSCREEN.  This is non-negotiable.  Do not try Israel without sunscreen. It’s one thing to want to be sun-kissed golden, but the thing about the Israeli sun is that it will French you—give you a metaphorical nice big wet one—until you have passed sun-kissed right to boiled red.  Avoid that situation, and get this in that 3-1-1 bag next to that spray.

7.) SENSIBLE SANDALS.  I had one day this year with 12 miles and 34,000 steps. I repeated that day more than once in 18.  If I would have had only flip flops, I am afraid my feet would have protested earlier than the plane ride home.  Don’t place a thin sheet of rubber between you and Israel, or you will experience much less of the land.  My choice was a pair of Israel’s own NAOTs, which even during the second trip were adequately comfortable, and allowed me to shuffle all through the city and by the sea.

8.) SMARTPHONE. Even without a cellular or data plan, a smartphone may become your best friend in this ever-connected country. The next blog post will explain how handy and dandy that cellular-less phone could be. 

9.) CAMERA. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, and Israel has a lot to say.  Let it speak to you.

10.) JOURNAL.  We already covered that a picture is worth a 1,000 words.  But think of all the moments the camera lens will miss; those words need to go somewhere. Don’t let your memories just drift away.  Catch them in a journal.

This is by no means all you need to have a great time in Israel--these are just the top items I personally found I needed to have to have fun; you may need a hat in addition to sunglasses, and perhaps you are happy with iPhone photos as oppose to carrying around lens tonnage for your Nikon.  Play around, see what works for you, experiment, and learn about yourself while you learn about the land (that's what vacations are for)!

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