Packing for the Holy Land

I traveled to the Holy Land for the first time in March of 2015.

This is what I packed, and updated with what I actually used.

I’ve been living in Rome for the past 15 months. As most of my trips are in Italy, I’ve typically only had to pack for 2 – 4 nights when I travel outside of Rome. My last group trip where I departed from the U.S. was October 2013.

For nine years I tweaked my packing style to near perfection (for me). But over the last year it’s gotten sloppy and I’ve gotten lazy. Living around the corner from my groups’ hotel, I’ve had access to much more than I could ever pack.

So here is my entire packing list for this trip, complete with brands, colors, and explanations. Way more info than most care about, but surprisingly answers questions I get all the time. More than anything, though, it gives me something to reference in the future.


I had my favorite Tom Bihn Tri-Star packed and ready and decided at the last minute to switch to a roll-aboard suitcase. I usually don’t shop, but think I might have to on this trip. I’m still using several Tom Bihn packing cubes and organizers for toiletries and electronics.
Update: I missed the Tom Bihn bag.


I lost nearly 20 pounds in just the first 6 months of living in Italy. I ate lots of pasta and gelato, but I also walked 8 miles a day. I seem to have plateaued at 132 lbs. My new goal is to get up to 140 lbs. I met with a trainer who is working with me. She recommended that I just eat more. Since I’m traveling and have a terrible diet while ‘working’ she suggested the Vega Protein Bar. I brought 16.
Update: The food was great, but I still ran out of these, I should have brought more. Note to people packing a lot of protein bars, put enough in a suitcase and the x-ray scanner may mistake it for something else.


One pair of Levi’s 501 in Clean Ridged.


One black Express button up. One white Banana Republic button up. Four black Banana Republic stretch t-shirts.


If you are scandalized by knowing what underwear I wear, well, you probably have issues 🙂 but you should probably skip this section.

For years I wore travel underwear, specifically ExOfficio. While it was nice that I could wash them and have them dry overnight, I really prefer cotton.

So I’ve packed 4 pair of Mack Weldon Trunks. Four??? For an eight day trip??? Yes.

I’ve tried more travel socks than I care to admit. They cost a lot of money, and for some reason, nearly every pair ended up with holes after one or two trips.

A few years ago I switched to Gold Toe. They are inexpensive. They come in black – a rare color in travel clothes. They are also well padded. I’m not a fan of thin socks. I’ve packed four pair.


Dr. Bronner Peppermint Soap. I’ve just recently replaced everything in my shower with this stuff. It’s now my soap, shampoo, and conditioner.

Harry’s Razor and shave cream.
Update: Didn’t use it there and haven’t used it since.

Bulldog moisturizer – anti-aging formula (ugh, 40).

Tom’s of Maine unscented deodorant.

Tom’s of Maine peppermint toothpaste (two travel size containers).
Update: Ran out. I bought something that looked like toothpaste in Jerusalem.

Radius toothbrush. This is the anti-travel toothbrush. It’s huge.

Glide dental floss.


iPhone 6 Plus. 128 GB. Unlocked. Space Grey.
Update: Purchased an Israeli SIM card at the airport in TLV and had 5 GB of data for about $20 US.

Macbook Pro 15”.
Update: Used zero times. Ugh.

Anker iPhone and iPad charger. Even on 18 hour touring days with heavy iPhone use, I have not come close to draining my battery. Still, it’s good to have a backup. This one will fully charge the iPhone one and a half times.

FujiFilm X100T. Long ago I replaced my dSLR with the iPhone. While I think I usually do a good job framing, composing, and editing. I do sometimes wish I had a better quality image, especially in low light. It’s small enough to not be annoying and it looks innocent enough to not intimidate people I shoot. For this trip, it was a must.
Update: I took a total of seven pictures with this camera compared to over a thousand on my iPhone.

What I’m wearing

I’ll be wearing one pair of Levi’s 501 jeans, in Iconic Black.

Underneath, compression socks. My mother told me to get these for years, but it wasn’t until a doctor friend convinced me that I finally bought them. Sorry, mom.

Long underwear from LL Bean. I am always cold on flights. Always.
Update: Always.

A fifth pair of Mack Weldon trunks.

One black stretchy Banana Republic t-shirt.

Black cotton cashmere quarter zip sweater.
Update: I ended up wearing this almost every day.

For shoes, Cole Hahn Chelsea Boots.
Update: I bought these days before the trip. A huge no-no in travel. But, they were perfect.

My day bag is the Tom Bihn Large Cafe Bag – in black.

Also in the day bag… a large Moleskine notebook, a small Field Notes notebook, Altoids, Purell, a few pens, and a Cha-Cha.
Update: Other than my Passport, the Field Notes notebook was the most important thing I brought with me. I didn’t use the Moleskine once.

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