Do’s and Don’ts for Packing…and a Nightmare to Avoid

Caleb Chow writes:

When it came to packing, last session I found myself pretty well equipped in Israel; the list Norma gave (
covered basically everything you would need. The following list is primarily for convenience and for avoiding freak occurrences like one that happened to me.

Things I am glad I brought that were useful/helpful but not essential:

1) Thin long pants. Religious sites may require men to wear them. Funny story about this, actually: On the first weekend I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Edicule (the tomb of Jesus) was guarded by priests who didn’t let me enter because I was wearing shorts. I just happen to have a long pair of khakis in my backpack, so I just walked to a corner in the church where nobody was looking, took off my shoes, and swooped on my pants over my shorts very quickly. I went back to the Edicule and they let me in. Now, I suggest people to NOT do something like that in holy sites, but since I’m a ninja I managed to pull it off.

2) USB connector for your laptop and camera. If your camera dies in Israel like mine did, you’ll be glad you saved all the pictures on the laptop before that happened.

Things I SHOULD have brought:

1) More small change (shekels). Using plastic is probably a good idea a lot of the time since shops often don’t have change, but getting separate checks is a VERY good idea. When one’s meal costs 40 shekels and all you have are 100 shekel bills, and then realize that everyone else that’s with you is in the same situation, that’s when you wished you either had more coins or split checks. Would have saved my group hours.

2) More adapters/converters. Great, I got a voltage converter…but it’s three-pronged and the sockets I had access to were two-pronged! Yay!

Things I should NOT have brought:

1) New boots. Seriously, wear into them before you go. Even though you won’t be hiking/climbing much, just climbing the tel every day is enough to give blisters to city-dwelling people like me who don’t…run in the wild and such.

2) Camera with a lousy memory chip. Totally slipped my mind; my camera was limited to 16 pictures at its lowest resolution setting, so I really had to make every picture count and had to upload my pictures into my computer every day.

In sum, bring simple things that can go a long way and save a lot of headache.

And I have to say this…but DO NOT OVERSTUFF YOUR BAGS WHEN GOING BACK HOME. Here’s why it can be a major, major problem:

When I was back in Ben Gurion airport ready to go back to the US, I must have just gotten unlucky and had to go through more extensive security in the airport. I had to open every pocket of every bag, I had to demonstrate how to use every single appliance the security officer didn’t immediately recognize (like my crank-powered flashlight), and I was taken to a small, shady, curtained room where even my hat was checked extensively to make sure I didn’t stick a knife in it or something. The process took two hours. Maybe things have changed since two years ago, but that’s what happened to me.

It was when I had to repack everything did my nightmare truly begin. When I was repacking, I was in too much of a rush to stuff my excessive belongings back into my suitcase, and that caused a corner of the lid to rip. Then, the lining inside the ripped lid spilled out, leaving a trail of a BLACK POWDERY substance all over the security officer’s table. But being such a whiz as well as a ninja, I immediately said to the closest officer, “Excuse me, do you have any tape? My bag ripped and the lining fell out.” I think that question might have just saved my life.

Still, I was asked four times what material that black powder thing was, because naturally…strange black powder from a ripped suitcase is bad news (think drug smuggling). To my relief, the officer got some heavy duty tape, fixed my suitcase and gave me a shortcut through customs for taking up so much of my time.

Don’t overpack your bags. Pack things fairly loosely, and NOTHING of this sort will happen to you. Besides, if you’re an unlucky one, it’ll make the extensive security check much easier even if you don’t have black powder falling out of your luggage.

But really, don’t let my freak experience with Israeli security scare you. Seriously. Just don’t push limits when it comes to packing; instead, bring a larger suitcase.

Safe travels!


One Response to “Do’s and Don’ts for Packing…and a Nightmare to Avoid”

  1. Raphaela Rose Says:

    Something not mentioned above which i found REALLY useful was medical tape. When those blisters start to pop up and tear, you’ll be thankful. And it doesnt take up too much room in your suitcase!

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