Here’s a handy list for your luggage and your dig-bag. I hope this will unlock some of the mysteries of dig life for you, such as, “Do they have toothpaste in the Middle East?” and, “Will I hate doing my laundry in a bucket so much that I will want to bring 50,000 socks?” As always, feel free to ask us if you’re still unsure about something I haven’t mentioned.
So—firstly, and especially if you're traveling alone, I suggest that you pick up an Israeli sim card (or an international sim) for your cell phone. You can buy the former at the airport or anywhere in Tel Aviv, and you can top up at grocery stores, etc.—but not on the campus. Keep this in mind, as you will probably run through the minimum top-up on Israeli sims (65 shekels, I believe) with text messages and Where are you?! I’m lost in the Old City and they are trying to make me buy tacky souvenirs! calls during weekends away.
It’s probably also a good idea
to make sure that your phone actually works. Countless (adult!) team members have
frantically approached staff for help because their home cell phone company
said they unlocked their phone and set them up for international dialing, when
in fact they either hadn’t done it at all, or hadn’t explained how one dials
international numbers. This will be seriously frustrating for you if you need
to call us, especially on your way from the airport, so please make sure you
have it all sorted before you arrive. We are not cell phone experts, so the
last thing you want to do is have one of us try to figure it out (we are not so
good with fancy new things; that’s why we are archaeologists).
- Sneakers with a hard toe, preferably also breathable because of the heat. Tennis shoes will do, but if you can find something more protective for your toes, you'll be better off.
- A hat you like enough to wear every day (baseball cap, sun hat, fedora, a “buff” if you want to look like a gangster…). Indiana Jones-style leather hats are very uncomfortable and will leave you sweaty and smelling like a tannery. That is my final bit of advice on the matter. Suit yourself.
- Many, many pairs of socks (as in ten or a dozen); you won't want to wash yours every day, and they will get DIRTY.
- Say about a dozen pairs of underwear. Please do not go commando.
- Shirts: We usually dig in
tank-tops or t-shirts, specifically ones that are lightweight and easy to wash.
You might want to pick up an Underarmour or Techwick shirt if you think you'll
use it again, but you certainly don't need one. I suggest that you bring 5 or 6
- A sweatshirt or light
jacket—it's cold at 4:30am!
- If you have room in your
luggage, throw in any (easy-to-tote-around) snacks you think you'll miss from
home. Quick energy and protein should be kept in mind: some of my personal
favorites are beef jerky, granola bars (available on the campus) and fruit
leather. If you are a coffee- or tea-drinker, you might also consider bringing
a few packets of instant coffee or some tea bags for the first day, to hold you
over until you can go to the campus store to stock up.
For your dig-bag
- Well, a dig-bag to bring your stuff to site. Perhaps a small backpack, waist-pack or tote. Best if it zips up, and best if you don't like it too much, because it will get dirty.
- Hand sanitizer or baby wipes,
so you can have your on-site meal with clean fingers. I cannot sing the praises
of baby wipes enough. They will make your day. Trust me.
Other very important things
Some less-important things you might want to bring anyway
- A travel mug. I know I can’t
force down a whole cup of coffee at 4:15 in the morning; I like to indulge
slowly on the bus while contemplating my job and asking myself why I am up at
such an ungodly hour.
- An mp3 player. Everyone
listens to music on the way to the Tel in the morning. If you’re a Chatty
McChatter on the bus when your friends are trying to squeeze in those last few
precious minutes of sleep, you will get the stink eye. Best to bring your own
- Some people feel more comfortable using knee-pads in the trench. I always bring mine along so I can lend them to another poor soul with bad knees.
- You may bring your own trowel and handpick if you own them already (NOT in your carry-on luggage!), but we are stocked and will provide you with one if you don't. Of course, if you are so attached to your trowel that you have christened it with a special name and bejeweled it on the side, by all means bring it along.
That’s basically it. You don’t need to bring an army-size first aid kit, nor do you need body armor. But you might want to bring your favorite board game and your fuzzy slippers.