If you’re a woman planning a trip to the Middle East, you’ve undoubtedly questioned what is acceptable to wear. Visiting in the summer means it can be quite tricky to keep cool while staying modest (check out my Egypt packing list for ideas on that). But if you’re visiting in winter, it’s easy because you’ll want to be bundled up anyway! Don’t think it can get cold in the Middle East? Think again. We were out in 40 degree fahrenheit weather nearly every day, and the wind and drizzling rain made it bitterly cold when we visited Petra and especially at night on the Petra by Night tour. I was freezing in the above photo but I wanted to have a nice photo of myself at Petra without my heavy coat, scarf over my head, gloves and backpack, so I took all of that off for the photo but then put it immediately back on! Most of the time I looked like this:
Below you’ll find my packing list for three weeks spent in Turkey, Israel and Jordan during December/January with activities ranging from visiting the holy sites of Jerusalem to hiking Petra and camping in the desert. Remember, you can keep from overpacking by planning to recycle your outfits a few times (I washed clothes in the hotel sink). Though it looks like a lot, everything listed below fit into a carry-on bag!
Pants x 3 I took my favorite pair of prAna jeans and two pair of skinny stretchy pants.
Leggings On travel days especially, I like to be very comfortable in leggings paired with a long tunic.
Basic Tee x 2 Simple solid tees worked nicely layered under my sweaters and vests.
Long Sleeve Shirts x 5 I took comfortable long sleeve shirts from my wardrobe including some long tunics to wear over my tighter pants.
Sweaters x 2 On the moderate days when we were visiting museums all day or I just didn’t really want to be in a heavy coat, I wore a chunky cardigan to keep warm. On the very cold days, I wore this plus my heavy coat.
Pocket Vest It doesn’t look as ridiculous as it sounds and it comes in SO handy to have those pockets to keep my camera at hand, or documents on travel days. This one is pretty sleek.
Coat Temperatures were quite cold even in the daytime. This coat is thin and packable but gives a lot of warmth.
Scarf I wore my scarf every single day of the trip and it came in handy multiple times when we stepped into a church, synagogue or mosque and I needed to cover my head. There were also many times I wore it just to keep my ears warm! The checkered scarf pictured above is called a Keffiyeh and is a very common souvenir, so you can pick one up when you arrive.
Shoes I only took my Sanuk Moccodiles that I wore every single day. I was very happy with my choice because they were plenty warm and very comfortable, even for hiking, and they looked cute with all of my outfits. I had a pair of Sanuk sandals packed away to wear at the Dead Sea, and they also came in handy at the spa resort we stayed at and also to wear to the shower houses when we camped in the desert at Petra and at Wadi Rum.
Sleepwear Tee and shorts doubled at the spa over my swimsuit.
Swimsuit If you plan on visiting the Dead Sea.
Purse I hate wearing backpacks, so I usually take a small purse to carry my cash, phone and room key.
Gloves I took a pair of knit gloves and ended up wearing them way more than I expected I would.
The Essentials Underwear, bras, socks—you know what you need.
Luggage On this trip I took an Osprey Farpoint 40 and Shane took an Osprey Farpoint 70 (read our reviews here and here). Both are carry-on sized and we only had to check them on the way back because of the souvenirs we brought home (olive oil).
Packable Duffel These are a great solution to bring souvenirs home if you think you may run out of space.
Packing Cubes These allow you to roll your clothes and save tons of space.
Cameras I use my iPhone for photos when traveling, and Shane uses a Sony A7s. Remember to pack your camera battery, charger, and memory card. Shane carries a 256GB memory card and that’s usually more than enough for a two week trip.
Universal Power Adaptor This is the one we use because it has usb ports.
Flat Iron This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re going to take one, just be sure you have the right voltage. This is the one I took.
Headphones Shane always carries noise-canceling headphones for plane rides.
Flashlight If you plan on camping in the desert (but really, you could use your phone flashlight if you’re trying to save space).
Passport and Travel Documents I print out receipts of everything we booked in advance—airline tickets, hotels, airport transfers, tours, everything. If you need something to hold your passport and documents together, get one of these travel wallets that have RFID blocking.
Debit Card ATMs were easy to find to get cash. You may want to check with your bank before you leave to make sure they don’t charge international ATM fees. You’ll also want to inform them of your travel plans so they don’t block access to your account.
Essentials Chapstick, toothbrush, deodorant… you know what you need. All of the hotels we stayed at provided shampoo, conditioner and soap, so you can save some room by not packing those. I always carry ibuprofen, but you won’t have any trouble finding pharmacies if you need to pick up anything on the way. I carry everything in a shower bag.
Sound like a lot? Remember, this list was for three weeks, so if you’re only going for a week and a half, you should only need half the clothes. And believe it or not, everything I took fit in this carry-on sized bag: