Packing for Gaza - or Someplace You Visit Frequently

Today's guest post comes to us from my Prince Charming, who generously offered up this advice after I generously complimented his speedy (ten minute) packing for a trip to Gaza. Considering it still takes me an hour to pack, I was impressed. He makes this trip to Gaza so frequently because he has a lot of work to do in the Gaza office of his organization; he sort of lives there for a few days every couple of weeks. This information will be helpful to you if you:

a) Often travel to the Gaza Strip. b) Often travel to any one location (for example, you travel to your sister's house every couple of weeks to accompany her to medical appointments). c) Are a minimalist international (or national) traveler.

How to Pack for a Split Life in Gaza

5306626By Prince Charming

For a visit every two-three weeks, when you start traveling each time you come, bring at least one or two items you can leave behind. The things you leave behind should be

  • toiletries
  • a pair of jeans
  • a clean white t-shirt
  • pajamas
  • flip-flops or slippers
  • a hat
  • a sweater
  • extra socks
  • underwear


If you arrived as a minimalist and only have one of each of these things, slowly acquire cheap extras as you build up your Gaza closet. In an ideal world, if you will have lots of important meetings, it is good to leave a sports jacket or suit behind as well as a tie or two, one tone no fancy design, in blue, yellow, or red.

I brought in an extra flashlight, travel alarm clock, and two pictures of my wife (can I get a collective "awww" says Genevieve) for my bed stand.

Once you’ve got a basic after-work attire settled there, all you need to bring in is work attire. I usually stay 2 – 3 days at a time.

My usual clothes packing list is:

  • 2 pair khakis
  • 2 -3 pair socks and underwear (enough to leave at least one clean pair of each behind for the next visit)
  • 2 t-shirts, exchange with the last one you left behind
  • 1 Work sweater if winter
  • 1 – 2 long sleeve knit shirts or button down depending on weather
  • 1 jacket, casual if no special meetings planned
  • 1 pair of shorts if summer

In the event that I have to stay longer than three days, there is a washing machine available.

I also bring:

  • dual-sim card cell phone (to cover the trip from Palestine-Israel-Palestine,)
  • Kindle
  • travel umbrella if looking like rain
  • reading glasses
  • a snack
  • R2-D2 (a small good luck token - see above photo)
  • my work laptop
  • phone charger or mini-usb cable for phone charging on laptop

I usually bring a phone charger, but that is only because I’ve been too lazy to pick one up in Gaza. An even easier approach is to bring a mini-usb cable and charge the phone through my laptop. A travel speaker such as our Jawbone is good if going for a longer visit. I take the projector from my office and use it with my laptop and speaker to watch movies in the evening.

Of course, you can assess the local market and buy within Gaza as needed too if you don’t want to shuttle items back and forth. I bought a chess set and cards locally for the guesthouse in case anyone else is staying aside from me and wants to play a match. You can get a pocket knife locally as well; don’t bring one across the border, and don’t bring any spirits either.

Having done this, it now takes me ten minutes to pack for Gaza and for a while I was leaving with less than what I brought it.

Packing Solutions for England Trip

I get on a plane bound for England today, (yesterday if you are reading this on Tuesday) and I've solved my packing dilemmas of last week.The big concession I made was deciding not to bring my laptop. I'll have to do a lot of writing longhand in a small notebook. It's been a while since I've worked that way, so it should be interesting to see if I can get done what I need to get done: reading and making notes on my book manuscript, and drafting part of screenplay number four.  I love to have my laptop with me for quick and easy writing and web surfing. I'm very comfortable and at home on it and it lets me get work done fast. But for this trip, there just isn't room. When it's time to publish the blog, I'll borrow Calli's computer.I took some photos of the packing process. As you can see below, the camera will take up a lot of weight and space in the bag.  I'm just getting started here...
That's more like it. You can see my face paints up in the left hand corner. I'll put those in the green toiletries bag, if they fit. Everything on the green towel is what I will wear on the plane, so it doesn't have to go in the bag. Almost as big as my laptop is the printed manuscript, which you can see in the middle of the growing pile:

You can see that I am not bringing a hand bag. That little gold wristlet will have to do. I might decide to throw in a lightweight fabric roll-up shopping bag if there's space at the end. Also, a major concession is that I'm bringing almost no cold-weather clothes. I don't have them anyway, and Calli and her friends are glad to lend me what I need, for example, Wellies for tromping around muddy wetlands. I'll bring my trusty knitted cap, and a light jacket that I'll wear on the plane.  As far as shoes, I'm bringing just one pair in addition to the sneakers I wear on the plane. I hope my old grey leather boots will be dressy enough for a fancy restaurant or club. It's time for everything to go in the bag:
Okay, I managed to zip it up. It weighs in on my American scale at 19 pounds, which is 8.6 kilograms, well under the limit of 20 kilograms for easyJet luggage. Now it's time to measure it...
It comes in at or under the maximum allowed dimensions. Except for one sort of bulgy part, which is just over, but I figure if they pull out their tape measure I can just repack it so there's no bulgy part. Later, I realized I forgot my cell phone charger, the battery for the camera,  ear buds for the plane, and a converter to plug in the camera battery charger and my phone charger in England.  This is one reason why it's good to pack well in advance.Those are small items and will be easy to throw in... momentarily  as soon as I find them. I'm hoping that I can use my unlocked smart phone to get on a free WiFi connection in England so I can chat with Prince Charming on my phone using a Skype app and/or WhatsApp but my phone today is showing an error message when I try to get online. We'll see if Charming can take a look at it. I've got blogging and packing to finish.I'm proud to be traveling so lightly on this trip.Calli and England, here I come!

Pack With Style

Your Basic Wardrobe

This is a basic wardrobe list whether you are packing to travel the world, or staying where you are and simply updating your classic minimalist closet. .I created this list for people with a stylish bent, not for those who don't care how they look. It is aimed toward women, but men may get helpful hints out of it and can adjust it for their needs.It won't work in extremely cold weather, but it's great for everything else.

You may also enjoy my Pinterest board, What to Pack to Travel the World.


  • Little Black Skirt
  • Little Black Tank

Together, they create an LBD look

  • Trench Coat - great for wearing with the above LBD look. The classic trench coat is not meant to handle rain, but if you can get one that doubles as a rain coat, all the better.
  • Cream V-neck Tee
  • Classic Button up shirt - white is the standard color, but you can also pick any solid neutral color that flatters you: think grey, tan, gold, cream, etc.  Pick a color that looks nice with your trench coat, as the trench and the collared button-up are a classic combo.
  • Medium or Dark rinse jeans that make you look and feel great. Keep embellishments and trendy details to minimum.
  • Jacket - Probably in black. find one that emphasizes your waist and makes you feel amazing. Style can be lapel, tuxedo, double-breasted, mandarin collar, whatever style suits you. I have a light black jacket in thick cotton. I can roll up the sleeve a little for a warmer day.
  • "Business in the front, Party every where else" top - this is a top that can look modest in the front for wearing with a jacket in conservative parts of the world. It doubles as a cute flattering top for going out without the jacket. Maybe a silky backless halter top, a tee with cut outs, or an embellished tank?
  • Black cotton yoga pants - for lounging and sleeping in - and doing yoga after a long day of tourism.
  • Soft tee for sleeping. PJ preferences vary widely, but bring something super soft and comfy that is reserved for bedtime.
  •  Soft, long sleeved, high neckline shirt. For wearing in the cold or conservative religious areas.

I recommend one  of the following, depending on your destination:

  • Long, comfy skirt that goes with everything. - better in conservative places.
  • Day dress - a super comfy mini dress, probably in cotton, that is easy to throw on for shopping, hitting the beach, or touring on a hot day. Can be worn with heels and jewelry for a night out. Ideally, it goes with your jacket and your trench coat. This is better for destinations where it is acceptable for women to show their legs.

If you are a runner or like to exercise, add:

  • Long pants for running (shorts are not frequently seen in many parts of the world)
  • Sports bra
  • Running shoes
  • Quick drying tank or tee.


  • Scarf - in almost any color or pattern. It should look good next to your face. Since most of your clothes are neutral tones, almost any kind of scarf should go. I like a pretty big scarf for doubling as a swimsuit cover up.
  • Swim suits - two. Interchangeable bikinis are my favorite.
  • Jewelry - I like to bring inexpensive, colorful statement jewelry, plus a couple of special delicate things that add a little shimmer.
  • Cap - keep your heat in your head on those cold nights. Consider a sunhat for desert and beach locations.
  • Big sunglasses - big, dark sunglasses are a great for so many reasons. They protect your eyes, and the skin on your face from wrinkles and sun damage. They provide privacy from staring eyes in parts of the world where ladies that look like you are a rare sight.
  • Optional for rainy locations: Umbrella or rain poncho.

Foundation Wear

  • 1 black bra
  • 1 skin-toned bra
  • As many pairs of clean socks as you want. (This is a personal pet peeve of me and Prince Charming's we both like to have clean, dry socks to change into anytime. If your feet are happy, the rest of you is happy.)
  • 1 black thong
  • 1 skin toned thong
  • 1 black underwear
  • 1 skin-toned underwear

Get your underwear in in quick-drying material (hanky panky is the is the best brand - quick drying, long-lasting, and very comfortable). I recommend thongs because they dry even faster (overnight) and you can do a quick sink wash and have clean, dry knickers in the morning.


Ah, shoes. I love pretty shoes, but pretty and good for travel rarely go together. So it's always a source of fun to meet the challenge of finding a shoe that can do so many things.If you are a runner, you must bring running shoes. Running shoes usually take up the most space in my bag. My running shoes are good for hiking, too.For non-runners, or people whose main exercise will be walking around as  a tourist (which is very good exercise), I recommend:

1. One pair of calf high or knee high boots (for walking in cool weather). You should be able to wear them  with a skirt, dress, or jeans. No heel for comfort (unless you are one of those rare people who can do everything in heels - in which case, go ahead!)

2. One pair of beach-appropriate sandals - I have a pair of gold flip flops that I feel comfortable walking around a city in, and also getting wet and sandy on the beach. A better option would probably be something that stays closer to my foot (to keep rocks and dirt further from my feet). Something like a gladiator sandal or Birkenstocks or Tivvas. However, I haven't been able to find anything that has met my aesthetic sensibilities as well as my gold flip flops.

3. One pair of going out shoes. You'll be able to go out at night to casual venues in any of your shoes (except your running shoes) but optionally, pack a special pair with a heel. Anything you want.


  • Classic black heels
  • Eye-catching Red heels
  • Strappy gold heels
  • Turqoise Peep-toes with a kitten-heel
  • Espadrilles (a super summery option)

4. One pair of cute walking shoes. I saved the most challenging for last. My style-friendly pick would be a sturdy ballet flat.  Make sure there is a good buffer between your soles and the hard, rocky street.

Other  options:

  •  a classic sneaker, from Converse or Puma, for example.
  •  A flat, lace up ankle boot.
  • Comfy leather sandals.
  • Peep-toe flats (especially in a hot climate).

For versatility, this shoe should look good with a skirt, dress, and jeans. Your choice will depend on your body type and personal style.

I hope this helps you have fun with fashion while having a light bag.

Lust for Fashion? How to Pack a Minimal Wardrobe...

...And Still Look Incredibly Amazing

Ladies, my travel fashion philosophy is this: wear what makes you feel beautiful and comfortable. Wear what feels good against your skin. Wear things that have positive, loving emotions associated with them.More Do's and Don'ts:

  • Don't try keep up with trends, unless that is a passion for you.
  • Do choose things that are flattering with your skin and hair color.
  • Do pick a few colors that go together and only pack things in those colors.
  • Do pack pieces that show off your favorite things about your body.
  • Do select items that can be worn in at least two ways, if not more.
  • Don't be afraid to cycle through clothes and experiment.
  • Don't be afraid to throw or give away clothes that don't work for you.
  • Do pack lots of hair accessories, bright scarves, and a few colorful pieces of statement jewelry.

If you follow these guidelines, you can pack light and still feel well-styled.

Minimizing Makeup

Happiness is a light makeup bag.

In my previous packing list, I blithely skipped over listing out individual items in the toiletry department, as most packing lists do. I shall be different, and give you the details. Anyone who wears makeup might want to see what's in my bag.Caroline McGraw  of A Wish Come Clear writes, "I’ve lessened my ‘need’ for specialty products and reconsidered cosmetics. For now, my look is simply this: moisturizer with SPF, tweezed brows, curled lashes, a touch of lipstick (or tinted Burt’s Bees balm), a little concealer and vanilla extract for ‘perfume’. You don’t need tons of makeup to look beautiful, and you can care for yourself (and the planet!) with less. There is elegance and class in going low-maintenance."Inspired, I decided to simplify my makeup routine. I do love makeup. I love playing with it. It's all a fun, artistic experiment that allows me to be vain, which I enjoy.  But stuff is suffering. Happiness is a light makeup bag. So I experimented and the results are that I've whittled down my daily use make up products to this very small grouping that make me feel  pretty, smart (because of how many multi-use items are here) and light-of-bag:

  • 1. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 30: Sunscreen is an always-must-use. Every single day. I make sure to put a double dose it on places that face the noon sun: the top of my nose, my shoulders, and my boobs on a perky day. I'm looking for a better sun cream since this one smells chemically and feels bad on my skin.
  • 2. Concealer: This is a little container of the remainder of a large tube I had before I left. It is Sheer Tint Base from Glo. A little goes a long way. The original tube lasted over a year. I really like this product.
  • 3. Vaseline: The Queen of multi-use products.
  1. I use this on my lips before lip color,
  2. Then I blend a little lip color with some Vaseline in my palm and use it as a cheek stain.
  3.  I use it to groom my brows.
  4. I use it on small cuts or dry hangnails.
  5. I use it to remove eye make up.
  • 1. Red color stick: This is an organic Zuzu Luxe lipliner in Hazelnut that I bought at Whole Foods in LA. It works great on top of Vaseline on the lips and as a cheek stain when blended with Vaseline.
  • 2. Eyelash curler: Revlon, I think.
  • 3. Brow Tweezers: Revlon. Also good for splinters and picking up very tiny things.
  • 4. Brow/eye liner brush tool: I can use this to groom my browns and remove clumps of mascara. I use the other end to apply:
  • 5. Gel eyeliner: Maybelline Eye Studio, in brown. I just smudge it on with the small slanted brush mentioned above and it seems somewhat waterproof.
  • 6. Rimmel Volume Accelerator Mascara: In extreme black. Ick. I don't like this formula. It clumps my lashes together. When I run out I will try something else.
  • 7. GloMinerals Revive Hydration Mist: This is a luxury item that my sister gave me, but for me it replaces powder as a setting agent and feels much better than powder in this hot, dry season. It smells and feels nice to spritz on at the end of doing make up.

Perfume to me does not count as make up. I'll have to do another post about my perfume needs, er, desires.

Finally, these are the products I use daily, but I brought more with me, and I haven't gotten rid of them… yet. I don't know if I will since, like jewelry, cosmetics don't take up much space and provide variety in looks when one's clothing choices are slim due to bag space.

The Real Packing List

To: The Middle EastTrip Duration: Two Years

The packing situation for this trip was exceptional because we plan to be abroad for at least two years. Our home apartment in the West Bank will be our home base from which we will travel to Turkey, Greece, Egypt, and more.Since Prince Charming's company paid for the cost of shipping, we had three boxes sent our ahead of time. Well, those boxes are still sitting in customs. No matter, we'll get them sometime. Nothing in there was vital, mostly books and a few things to make our home more comfortable for us. The important point is that we didn't have to have those boxes sent. We sold and gave away most of our stuff before we left California, and we probably would've gotten rid of everything if the organization hadn't paid for us to bring a few boxes over.

So this list, which leaves out those non-essential in the boxes, is what I brought with me on the plane, the Real Packing List. (Not what I affectionately refer to as the Travel the World Indefinitely Packing List, which is even more minimal and is aspirational for me at this point).

First, a photo of almost everything (except for what I mention below) that went into two checked bags:

The Real List

    • One long, multicolored skirt.
    • Black skirt, knee length, classic
    • Black skirt, calf length, vintage silk lace
    • Reversible quick-drying work-out & yoga pants
    • Multi-colored dress, knee length
    • Black jacket, heavy cotton blend, double breasted style
    • Pink and grey workout jacket, quick drying, sporty
    • Grey cardigan, long, basic
    • Tan sweater, cropped
    • Black cardigan, short sleeved, flowy
    • Blue silk scarf, Mozart print
    • Pink umbrella, travel size
    • Ivory tee, v-neck
    • Black tank
    • Tan tank
    • Black tee, scoop neck
    • White hat, wide brimmed
    • Black hat, ball cap
    • Regular bra
    • Strapless bra
    • Lingerie
    • 12 pairs knickers
    • Two bikinis, interchangable colors, bikini bottoms double as knickers
    • 5-7 pairs socks
    • Black belt, skinny, woven
    • Tan and black belt, wide
    • Sunglasses
    • Gold flip flops
    • Silver heels
    • Red hand bag
    • Two neck stashes (one I'm bringing to my prince)
    • Two blank journals
    • Clothes drying cords, Rick Steves brand
    • Assorted kitchen-ware for my prince
    • Tape
    • Scissors
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Checkbooks
    • Small flashlight
    • Camera lens cover (bringing for my prince)
    • Assorted CD's (mostly for learning Arabic)
    • Camera
    • Video camera
    • Assorted cables for: phone, Kindle, camera
    • Batteries
    • Plug adaptors
    • Assorted jewelry
    • Assorted hair accessories
    • Pantiliners
    • Lunette (way better than pads or tampons in so many ways, ladies)
    • Small microfiber towel
    • Two nighties
    • Blue robe, vintage silk
    • Assorted toiletries: makeup, wet wipes, skincare, sexessories, etc.

And this is what I kept out until the last minute (plane outfit, workout clothes and shoes) and the things that went in my carry-on:

After my last workout before getting on the plane, I put these items into my checked bags:

  • Running/hiking shoes
  • sports bra (doubles as bikini top)
  • Black & white tank top, halter, quick-drying fabric
  • Black shorts, quick drying fabric
  • Mesh bag for dirty laundry
  • Laptop and charger
  • Mousepad
  • Mouse
  • Phone & Charger
  • Razor
  • Yellow pad of paper

Then there's what I wore on the plane:

  • Red tank with shelf bra
  • Red and white striped t-shirt, flowy scoop neck
  • turquoise necklace
  • Dark rinse jeans, wide-leg high-waist trouser style
  • Black and tan ballet flats

All that's left to list is what I carried on with me:

  • Travel documents (passport, forms, etc)
  • Wallet with cash, CA drivers license, debit cards, coins
  • Black Moleskine journal
  • Kindle
  • Cell phone
  • Cell phone charger
  • toothbrush
  • small makeup kit
  • toothpaste
  • hand moisterizer
  • comb
  • one pair of socks
  • extra pair of knickers
  • My prince's old sweater-shirt for warmth and snuggling

And that concludes the real list!

Things I'm Leaving Out Until the Last Minute

Things I am leaving out of the bags I'm packing for the Middle East move until the very last minute:

  • Phone and charger
  • Journal
  • Kindle
  • Computer, mouse, etc.
  • Wear-on-plane outfit
  • toothbrush

It's a very basic list, but writing this list down helped me decide what to pack first. I was feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start, so I sat down and created this short list before I could move on to the big list. The point here is that packing to go abroad for two years is a big job; to make it a little less daunting, divide it up into small parts and promise yourself a break after completing just one of those small parts.

Travel The World Indefinitely Packing List

To: Everywhere and AnywhereTrip Duration: Undefined

This is the dream list, not the real list. I enjoy variety in clothes and shoes too much to be this minimalist, but I'm getting here one step at a time and one multi-use item discovery at a time.

The Two Bags

  • One carry on size back pack
  • One cross-body smaller bag, purse, or hip-bag for holding money, papers, small camera, etc.


  • Small laptop/netbook, cables, extra battery
  • All necessary adapters and battery chargers
  • Small camera & case
  • Phone/Ipad/Iphone /kindle? For entertainment, reading, skyping?
  • Doorstop alarm (or plastic door stop)
  • Earphones/headphones
  • Kindle and charger

Random But Important

  • Passport (with copies of all documents with trusted folks back hom)
  • Credit cards/debit cards
  • Cash
  • ID
  • Travel documents
  • Paper notebook
  • Pencil, pen
  • Jumping rope or parachute cable
  • Can opener
  • Flashlight
  • Small matches
  • Granola bar
  • 2-3 gallon ziploc bags
  • Very small cable lock
  • Small travel candle
  • Vitamins and/or emercenG
  • Scissors
  • tape


  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush
  • Fingernail clippers (share)
  • Comb
  • Solid shampoo/soap from Lush
  • Razor for shaving
  • Sexessories
  • Lip balm - burts bees spf 8 (share)
  • Tweezers
  • Face/body wipes (share)
  • Solid perfume
  • Travel GLO brush
  • GLO basic makeup pressed powder
  • Solid eyeliner- brown
  • GLO quadri-color eyes and cheeks
  • Band-aids (share)
  • Advil (share)
  • Eyebrow comber/thin brush
  • Small, super-absorbent towel (share)
  • Lunette
  • Pantiliners


 Liquids (limited)

  • Hair conditioner for hair and shaving
  • Nail polish
  • Jojoba oil (trader joes) for moisturizing
  • Toothpaste (share)
  • Waterproof Mascara
  • Face cleanser (share)
  • Acne spot cream
  • Small concealer
  • SPF (recomended riemann once a day spf 20) (share)
  • Neosporin (share)

Wardobe - Medium Climate


  • One strapless bra
  • One sports bra that doubles as a bikini top
  • One regular bra (wear)
  • Four pairs of underwear, one that doubles as a bikini bottom (wear one)
  • Three pairs of light-weight socks
  • black stockings, one pair


  • Inexpensive/hard to steal jewelry
  • Lightweight hair accessories/headbands
  • Hair bands
  • Hair pins
  • Watch
  • Running shoes
  • Ballet Flats (good for walking)
  • Medium weight scarf
  • One warm hat
  • Belt in the same color as my ballet flats
  • Sunglasses


  • Black tee
  • Black skirt
  • Black icebreaker bodyfit crew top
  • Nightgown
  • Long colorful broomstick skirt (wear as skirt or dress)
  • Light-weight jeans
  • yoga pants - dark color
  • Black workout shorts
  • One quick-drying workout top
  • One spagetti strap tank top
  • One long (tunic-dress) tee shirt
  • One tank top
  • Light weight trench coat with waterproof coating for travel
  • Emergency rain pain poncho (plastic)

Cold and/or Wet Climate Alterations

  • Boots instead of ballet flats (boots with caribiners)
  • Additional two pairs of heavy socks
  • Waterproof jacket with hood or warmer rain poncho
  • Gloves or mittens
  • Heavier weight scarf
  • Additional vest like ExOfficia women's convertible vest
  • Switch out warm cap to a extra warm hat with ear area warmth
  • Thermal underwear (long johns)
  • Switch out nightgown for warm pajama set

Hot Climate and/or Beach/Tropical Alterations

  • Flipflops instead of ballet flats
  • Additional swimsuit
  • Sarong/scarf instead of medium weight scarf
  • Sun hat instead of warm hat
  • Skip long yoga/travel pants

For more fantasy packing fun, check out my Pinterest board, What to Pack to Travel the World.

What About You?

Is there anything I left off that you think should be on there? Could you travel with this list? Need more? Need less?