How to get ready for a 4 months trip, especially to the Middle-East?

  • Last time, I went for 3 months, and I didn’t not really elaborate on a packing strategy. I just threw my favorite shorts and dresses in my backpack and that’s it. But once there, I realized that:

    • my bag was just a “tiny” bit too heavy,
    • I was always wearing the same 6 outfits (FYI, that is unbelievable for a 100% Parisian girl)

    So this time, I decided to do things right. I read blogs and books on what to pack, I tried all my outfits at home and set myself a goal of maximum 11 kg (an ideal 20% of my weight). I’m glad to announce you that I (almost) reached that goal. Because I have such a big heart, I’m sharing my packing list with you. In order to keep you up to date and share my mistakes, I will update it during my trip. Many other blogs offer really exhaustive packing lists, like Johnny’s. These can be quite useful.

    • My backpack

      Your best (or worst) friend during your trip is your backpack. I have seen people using other kind of luggages and suitcases, they weren’t particularly pleased with their choice :). You have to pick your backpack properly. I chose a bag that opens on the side and with adjustable stripes. It’s a bit heavier than traditional backpacks, but I found it really useful. I really love not having to empty my entire bag to get my hand on that dress at the bottom of my bag. But then, it’s up to you. The most important thing is to feel comfortable. Lots of people love having regular backpacks full of small bags for each kind of things (one bag for shoes, another one for sunprotection etc). That’s why you have to think of how you like to organize your bag. But most important, you have to try different bags in the shop. Try walking with it for 10 minutes, before you decide to buy it. And attach them properly: the weight must be on your hips, not your shoulders!
    • Clothing

      • A handbag big enough to contain my computer and a book
      • A small shoulder bag for the evening (I picked a silver lamé one; I feel so fancy with it :))
      • My Birckentsock’s (some are decently cute, and there are so comfortable!)
      • My walking shoes for the mountains and desert
      • A nice pair of sandals for the evening and the cities
      • A pair of plastic flip flops (picture a disgusting shower and/or beach)
      • 3 Petit Bateau panties and 1 nice pair of panties (…)
      • 2 bras’ (1 to keep somehow clean, and to match the nice panties (…), and the other one to sweat in). Some travelers only take 2 panties but honestly, you don’t always want/can wash your stuff at night.
      • 2 pairs of socks
      • 2 pairs of lights pants
      • 1 pair of jeans. Some say it’s heavy and takes time to dry. Yes, but I feel way comfortable with them when it’s cold and/or I’m in a city (Think Lebanon from November to March)
      • 2 bathing suits (one is actually enough, but it’s just cool to bring them)
      • 3 long sleeves to dress appropriate in Jordan, Oman, Qatar and the Emirates.
      • 2 short sleeves
      • 1 below the knee skirt to feel pretty and comfortable in Beirut, Fashion capital of the Middle-East.
      • 1 fleece nice sweeter for cold nights and mountain trips in Lebanon and Dubaï (at first, I wanted to have a fleece, once there, I changed it to a really nice sweeter: one can’t wear a fleece in a fancy city like Dubaï, and if you’re really cold, just add some layers!).
      • 1 blazer: with that I instantly look dressed up in a city and I can proudly enter that fancy and hip restaurant.
      • 1 rain coat
      • 1 dress for the evening or city
      • For summer times: 1 nice top and 1 tight mini skirt to party in Lebanon
      • 3 necklaces and 2 pairs of earrings. I instantly feel fancy and they’re not uncomfortable when it’s hot (contrary to bracelets)

      Anyhow, no worries: if something turns out to be useless, you can ship it back home, and if you need something, you can buy it wherever you are (I can’t promise though that it’ll be nice-looking :)).

      Girls : Her Packing List is an awesome websites with packing lists per region, and style, beauty tips and so on. Also, read this 10 items to pack post on GoBackpacking.

      Think “comfortable”
      What clothes could you wear almost everyday? Then wonder: Are they easy to keep clean, are they light? But always think of packing one “fancy” outfit.
    • Useful things

      • A soft brush to clean my clothes and backpack
      • A Silk-blend sleeping sheet (to be sure to sleep in clean sheets)
      • A doorstop, a bell, a headlamp (I’m letting Jodi of Legal Nomaders explain why)
      • A Swiss or Opinel knife
      • A small sewing kit
      • A Point It Dictionary or an iPhone App depending on the countries
      • Duct Tape to tape up ripped window screens or a cut that won’t close
      • A small plastic spoon-fork-knife
      • Tuperware (I pack everything, from Libanese sweets and fruits so they won’t get smashed, to small fragile stuff)
      • Plastics bags and zip bags of all sizes
      • A water bottle, although kind of useless in the Middle-East because you have to buy bottles of mineral water.
      • A 2mm cord
      • A life blanket when it’s cold or to protect food from heat.
      • Combination locks (one to lock a locker, and a small, barely visible, to close my bag)
      • 1 combination lock with a long cord to attach my bag to myself or my bed.
      • 1 compas (for the roadtrips and taxi`s (you want to be sure they’re not taking you somewhere else)
      Vade Retro thief!
      In a shared room put a plastic bag on top of your bag, so it will make noise if someone tries to open it.
    • The bathroom

      • A micro-fiber towel (not comfortable but useful)
      • A tweezer
      • A few toilet papers (useful back home, so imagine in the Middle-East)
      • A savon de Marseille or Aleppo soap to clean yourself and your clothing. Some use it to wash their hair. I say hell!
      • A hand disinfectant and baby wipes (I’m totally anti-wipes but there quite useful when travelling)
      • A “feet and hand” kit because they’re your best friends (nail clippers, nail file, moisturizer)
      • Cotton swabs
      • A razor
    • The pharmacy box

      • Band-aids; 2nd Skin for blisters, small sutures/stitches; Gauze,  etc
      • A pair of scissors
      • Antibiotic cream (only if your wound is infected)
      • Anti-inflammatory cream
      • Biafine, the perfect anti-burn
      • An anti-septic for the boo boos
      • An anti-diarrhea like Immodium. I try to only take it  if I’m about to board a bus for 8 hours.
      • Ibuprofen again pain
      • Thermometer
      • Lip balms
      • tissues
      • Anti-itch cream
      • Anti-mosquito sprays
      • And then, it all depends on your usual troubles. In my case:
        • Anti-histamine pills
        • Eye drops
        • Don’t forget your prescriptions!!!!
    • My photo camera
    • An extra battery for my camera
    • My iPhone for music and the compact camera
    • A basic cell phone, that will not bring all eyes on you
    • My Macbook air: it’s powerful enough to take care of my pictures and do cool stuff for YallaBye.eu, while it doesn’t weigh too much.
    • A craft envelop to hide my laptop
    • An external hard drive or USB stick to backup all my pictures
    • A Dropbox subscription to save all my pictures on ”The Cloud”
    • And of course, chargers, adaptators, …
    • On my wish-list: a go-pro camera, and an underwater camera
    • In some places, having a disposable camera can be a great idea!
    Vade Retro thief!
    Never put your computer and your external hard drive in the same place. In case of thief, you’ll still have one.
    Notebook and tablet vs laptop
    Have you plan to write (longs emails, a blog etc) ? If so, take it! I met so many people who regretted it not taking theirs with them.

    Smartphones are life changers while travelling. I wouldn’t travel without my iPhone. Discrete and light, I can check the internet through the WiFi in almost every coffee place, and use one of the many Apps.

    • ICOON When words just won’t work, pictures are useful
    • Booking.com, Hotels.com etc to book a room
    • Couchsurfing and Airbnb to sleep at locals.
    • Trip’it: forward your trip details or confirmation to TripIt, and it will build the full itinerary, accessible from mobile or the web.
    • A translation App (Wordreference, Google Translate etc)
    • A few photo App (Instagram is the most well-known)
    • And as usual: your bank App, wikipedia, a GPS…
  • Red paper and security

    Until now, nothing really bad happened to me. Still… I got my wallet stollen once, and went short on cash because I went over my withdrawal limit (be careful when you pay stuff for several persons!). I learned a few things from those incidents, and from other travelers. Here’s a few tips on how to got prepared.

    • Don’t bother yourself with anything else than your credit card. Traveller’s checks are so 1998. However, it can be useful to have 2 cards, especially as some country don’t accept Visa. I personally travel with a Visa and a MasterCard card.
      ! Write your code somewhere. From experience (don’t judge me), forgetting your code sucks…
    • Bring a copy and place a scan of your important papers on the Internet (Email or Cloud):
      • Passport, visa, driving license, etc
      • Any paper you could need to get a visa (in and out airplane ticket,  Bank information, ID pictures, bank attestation of sufficient funds  diploma)
      • Valuable product invoices
      • Your insurance and electronic insurance info, etc
    Manage your bills online and find a person of trust to handle your mail back home (I asked my mom, hi mom!). Inform your bank about your travel plans, so they won’t block your account after seeing operations in a foreign country.
    All the visa and vaccin requirements for every country in the world is on Vagabondish
    Name tag
    Put a note written in the local language in your wallet with your name,nationality, phone number et emergency number, allergies, blood group etc.

    Saving or earning money

    Here’s a selection of useful articles

  • From my first day in Lebanon, I regretted not learning Arabic before I left (read How i failed at learning Arabic). You don’t actually need Arabic to travel in the Middle-East, but it does help to better understand the region, to connect with the locals and feel like you belong. Oh, and also, it helps you when bargaining with the taxi drivers :D

    This is probably true with all the countries :)

    Learn any language

    The best solution is to spend one month somewhere to follow a course. Otherwise, here are a few options:

    Other tips and websites to recommend?
    • A Little Adrift: Shannon explains in details how to get ready for a round the world tour.
    • Legal Nomads: Jodi has lots of tips and links to share.
    • Off Track Planet: You are young, and love adventure and partis. this website is for you (truly of new kind)!
    • AmateurTraveler: is a travel blog reference and wrote 5 things to know when traveling the Middle-East. Must-read.
    • Yallah Bye’s Pearltrees: I compiled on that page all my fav articles on traveling, startups in the middle-east and traveling in the middle-east.
    I also refer to other website throughout Yalla Bye depending on the subjets. Open your eyes!
    Do you have other useful links to recommend?

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