Packing for the Summer of a Lifetime

Packing for the Summer

What to bring, what to bring...

I am packed and ready to go.  For those of your volunteering this summer, filling your empty suitcases will happen soon enough.  To help, I have some advice.  

First, the obvious; all the usual necessities, toiletries, and electronics that you never leave home without.  If you are bringing your laptop, smart phone, iPad or tablet you will need to bring adaptors.  It's very easy to find ones suitable for Israel.  The bigger problem will be sharing the small number of outlets available in your room with your roommates.

Second, the digging.  Closed-toe shoes are an absolute necessity.  You will not be allowed to dig in sandals, so prepare accordingly.  T-shirts, pants and/or shorts are the standard outfit.  You may want to bring a long-sleeved shirt for the mornings which are sometimes damp and cool for at least the first hour or so.  Bring a hat, gloves, if desired, and lots and lots of sunscreen.  Most importantly, a water bottle.  We have water canteens for each excavation area but you'll want your own.  If your supervisor is paying attention, you'll be encouraged to drink two or three bottles a day while in the field.  And, of course, you'll want to bring a trowel.  Marshalltown is the most common, the 6 inch size the most popular.  Remember, you want a pointed trowel, not a squared-off one.  Don't have a trowel?  Don't worry.  The dig has plenty of hand-me-downs.

Third, general climatic notes.  The days are generally hot and sunny (no surprise there) but it often cools down at night.  Having layers handy is advisable.  The beach is very close and, of course, the hotel has a pool so for many people a swimsuit is a necessity. One of the benefits of living in a hotel is that we have air conditioning.  Depending on the preferences of you and your roommates, the room might get downright chilly.

Random thoughts...  

The hotel rooms have small refrigerators and electric teapots so go ahead and bring your Via and even dream of having a cold Coke to come home to at the end of the work day.  Reading material, either good old fashioned paper or eBooks, is always a good thing.  Music is a must, particularly since many grids allowing the playing of music on occasion.  A good playlist is always appreciated.

Bring your insurance card.  If medical treatment is necessary, you'll want it.  Bring your ATM card, it is often the fastest way to get shekels.  Just remember, using the ATM does result in a transaction fee.  You can also bring dollars.  There are any number of locations where they can be exchanged for shekels.

Feeling hungry?  You can always bring snacks with you.  You can also find most everything you are used to eating here at home in Ashkelon.  There is a small corner market only a five minute walk from the hotel.  There is a large grocery store about a 15-20 minute walk away.  And that really is the good news.  The site is in the middle of a city so if you forget something at home, there is a good chance you will be able to find what you need in Ashkelon.

Again, sunscreen, sunglasses, Gatorade, Crystal Light or some other type of drink (rehydration fluid is not yummy) if you want more than just plain water, a party outfit for the end of the season shindig, and whatever else you cannot live without.

If you can live without it, leave it behind.  If you are a volunteer, you'll be living in a room with several other people and while the rooms aren't tiny, they aren't palatial either.  Space will be at a premium.  If you love it, leave it behind.  While we have laundry service twice a week, a rare luxury on an excavation I admit, it is laundry service in a big hotel laundry.  While care is taken with our clothing, accidents do happen.

Have I forgotten things?  Yes, almost certainly.  But this list will get you started.  Nichole and I did a video version of this with her husband Aaron today.  (Yes, she loved it so much she is coming back and bringing Aaron with her.)  Look for it soon.