So here is some fun news for a Monday - I'm going to Israel!!!
You longtime readers will remember that several years ago, I staffed a bunch of Birthright trips to Israel and had the time of my life introducing groups of young Jews to the country I love so much (you can read some recaps of my trips here, here, and here.) With all this time on my hands lately, I decided to find the silver lining in my situation and called a friend in Israel to see if there were any open spots for staffers this winter. And lucky for me, there was!
The most exciting thing? This is no ordinary Birthright trip. This one is a special trip with a special theme - CULINARY! That means in addition to leading 40 young Jews throughout Israel for a free ten-day trip to get them in touch with their roots and doing all the normal things like hiking, touring, sightseeing, visiting museums, etc, we'll also be doing a ton of things related specifically to food - visiting outdoor farmer's markets, touring a winery and an olive oil factory, cooking food for soldiers on an army base.... the list goes on. Needless to say, I cannot wait!!!
I leave in about three weeks, so I've already begun making packing lists to stay organized. I always get asked questions by people about what to pack for Birthright, so I thought I'd make a little list and show ya'll what I bring along with me. These are not Israel-specific, though, so if you're going on a trip out of the country anywhere where you might be doing a lot of walking, you might want to take a look too!
These are all things that I've brought along multiple times on my previous trips - you might call them my "tried and true" travel staples:
one: Perhaps the most important travel essential of them all! I always pack a small empty duffel inside my larger suitcase. Inevitably, by the end of the trip, it will come home full - either stuffed with fun souveniers or just loaded with dirty laundry! You'll be glad you made room for it. I always take my large LeSportsac weekender and pack it flat underneath all my clothes.
two: Don't forget your travel converters or your camera will die right as you line up the perfect shot! Mine are nowhere near as classy as this one (in fact mine may have been stolen from Polish hostels) but this DVF one comes in a snazzy case. I kind of love it.
three: Don't waste time dragging around a big heavy purse. Instead go with a small light messenger bag - preferably one with tons of zippered pockets. I won this awesome Gigi New York python crossbody bag in a blog giveaway earlier this year and it couldn't be more perfect for travel!
four: For the times when I'll be off the bus for a long time and want to carry more stuff than will fit in my purse (notebook, folders, ipad, water bottles), this is my go-to bag. Fits everything, has a zippered top, and comes in a million colors - this Longchamp tote will be your new best friend.
five: The weather in Israel in December/January is notoriously unpredictable. Pack a tiny umbrella and you'll be happy when it rains. Pack a tiny LEOPARD umbrella and you'll be even happier.
six: Once we've been on a bus for a few hours, everyone inevitably falls asleep. I like waking them up by blasting some music - so I have to have some portable speakers with me! These are from Crate & Barrel of all places - I am loving the lime green!
seven: My favorite travel shoe - I have several pairs of classic Tom's in a bunch of different colors and always bring at least a few pairs. These are particularly great for Israel, what with all the cobblestones, and look cute with skinny jeans and leggings alike.
eight: Oops, I forgot to number it - but this Gap parka is a definite must-pack. Lightweight but warm, it'll still look good if it gets a little wrinkled in your bag! I have a similar one and love it!
What do you think of my tried and true travel staples? I'd love to hear yours if you have any other suggestions!