Help me pack for a long-term trip overseas.
July 17, 2008 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I am moving from the US to Israel for a year. What should I bring with me, apart from the obvious, that is hard to find/incredibly expensive in Israel?

I'm an American who will be living in Israel for year while I work on an MA at an Israeli university. Before I depart, I'm trying to figure out if there's anything I should bring that is either:

A) Hard to find in Israel
B) Significantly more expensive in Israel than the US.

I've been led to understand that blue jeans are much more expensive there, as are consumer electronics like laptops, ipods, etc. What else should I keep in mind as I pack up the standard clothing/personal effects package?
posted by huskerdont to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd argue that some items, although more expensive, are probably just easier to purchase there - like sheets, towels, etc.

As a somewhat frequent move-to-a-different-country-for-a-year person, I'd say to bring your 'normal' clothes that you're already wearing as well as your laptop and other things you need, and go mid-level cheap on sheets, towels, pens, wireless router, pillows, and go super cheap on any kitchen or household supplies (and electronics - house phone, etc.) you'll need.

Some mistakes I made: buying a DVD player, buying a nicer wireless router (and repeater) than I needed to... and then when I left, I tried to sell all this stuff to friends or on Craigslist, but it was a real pain in the ass. Who wants 1 year used pillows? I ended up putting a lot of stuff in the donation bin.

If there is ANY WAY that you can get housemates who are more local than you are, do it! They can buy a slightly nicer router if they want to keep it afterwards.
posted by k8t at 9:40 AM on July 17, 2008

Good quality athletic shoes are a lot more expensive there as well.
posted by milestogo at 9:56 AM on July 17, 2008

i would bring (or arrange for someone to send) your favorite snack food, tea, gum, spice, whatever. while i'm a big fan of immersing oneself in a new culture, it's nice to have a few tastes of home (both for yourself, and to share).
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:35 AM on July 17, 2008

You've heard correctly about electronics and jeans (as well as most clothing/shoes) being more expensive. Additionally, if you're male, I've noticed that clothing sold in malls there tends to be made to fit men more tightly than is the norm here. Also, I'd recommend you bring your own coat/jacket for the winter instead of picking one up when you're there.

Don't forget to bring an adapters and voltage converters so you can plug in your own electronics.

Some people say to bring your own shampoos etc, but I find that Israeli products tend to work better with Israeli water. In any case, if you're picky about it, definitely bring your own hygiene items from the US as you'll be able to find the brands there but they'll be ridiculously expensive.

Other odds and ends, like your absolute favorite kind of gum or tic tacs or whatever, you're better off bringing some of your own.
posted by lullaby at 10:58 AM on July 17, 2008

When I was there in 1993, native Israeli toilet paper was the texture of crepe paper and, for some reason, green. I had been advised to bring along some of the American stuff, and I was glad to have it. I don't know if Israeli toilet paper technology has advanced in the intervening years.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:12 AM on July 17, 2008

Toilet paper has gotten better in the past few years. It's currently good enough that I wouldn't worry about it too much (you'll get used to it pretty quickly.) If you were going for a short time it might be a different story.

It's a small country, so anything with a small market will be imported, so best bring your own. I brought a wetsuit for a friend recently, for example.
posted by mhz at 11:38 AM on July 17, 2008

duct tape!

The dollar is very weak against the shekel now, so almost everything is going to be very expensive here. Bring whatever you can carry conveniently. Some things that haven't been mentioned are medicines, vitamins, advil.

Faint of Butt is just... :)
posted by egg drop at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2008

I spent several years moving back and forth btw the US and Europe. Here is stuff that my girlfriend and I brought with us when returning to Europe bc it is not generally available outside the US or because it is way more expensive outside the US:
Cold Medicine, Claritin, etc.
Starbucks Mints
Dr. Pepper
Kraft Mac & Cheese
IBC Root Beer (for a friend)
Books in English
Magazines in English (actually, I like to buy the English FHM at Schiphol airport)
Ro-tel & Velveeta to make Rotel cheese dip
Heinz Ketchup, for eating with patty melts (ok, not kosher)
posted by charlesv at 1:50 PM on July 17, 2008

It's not clear from your profile if you're a girl. I don't think you are, but just in case my hunch is wrong, or perhaps for the girls out there who have similar a similar question, find out if they have applicator tampons over there if that's your particular preference. (I've never been to Israel, so I don't know, but I have lived abroad before)
posted by Helga-woo at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2008

Jeans, and clothing in general, will be of a slightly different style and fit than you are used to, and possibly more expensive. In my experience, though, buying some of the "native fashion" can be a fun part of living abroad. It can also help you blend in a little. However, you should be sure to bring a few jeans, hoodies, etc. - the essentials.

Consumer electronics should definitely be brought along.

While things like favorite snacks are always good to take along when traveling, these are the items that particularly come to mind when I think of spending significant time in Israel.

Sneakers - very, very expensive.
Underwear and cosmetics/toiletries - hard to find brands/styles that you are comfortable with, which can make a big difference in your happiness when living abroad.
Adapters and voltage converters - easier and cheaper to buy (online) before going over.
English books (!) - slim pickings, and expensive.

Enjoy your year - it will be fantastic.
posted by Bun at 6:29 PM on July 17, 2008

I am moving from the US to Israel for a year.

Me too! We should hang out. :)

I just wanted to drop in and thank everyone for the advice.
posted by epimorph at 9:49 PM on July 17, 2008

Howdy. I live in the OPT but I make frequent trips over the wall to visit friends in Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem. From my experience, Israel is pretty much a carbon copy of the U.S. in most respects - my friends and I are always amazed by the mundane, western items that are available at every turn. That being said, I've found that it's much, much easier to obtain western amenities in Tel Aviv than it is in West Jerusalem. Also, I really wish I would have brought some more oil-free sunscreen - haven't really been able to find the aerosol spray kind. Bring a tent, if you can. You can travel around the region and go camping (camping equipment is really expensive here and you can get a really nice, super-lightweight tent from REI for a buck fifty, iirc).
Good luck! mefimail me when u get here. :D
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:52 AM on July 18, 2008

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