While American drones raining down on Pakistan and Yemen (bet you never read that intro in a travel piece) may disqualify them from being the ideal places for a female solo traveler, a large part of the Middle East is very much suitable for exploring and getting inspired. My no. 1 girl crush Sophia Bush recently made a trip through the Middle East and her little snippets of poetry and wisdom made my wanderlust even worse.

Luckily I’m heading to Beirut in August and thought I’d share a little packing list with you. If you fancy swapping your Sex on the Beach at a southern European beach with a feisty camel in the Egyptian desert this summer, please take a seat!


Hello sunshine. These sunny accessories are obvious because temperatures in this part of the world are higher than anything I’ve ever experienced. It’ll constantly be 35°C and above, so a few pairs of decent shades and sunscreen with an SPF of 20 or 30 are indispensable. I recently got new glasses and although I didn’t go for it, it is now possible to have a UV protection from both sides (at least at Boots). A strappy hat also doesn’t hurt and gives your sun-kissed hair a much-needed break from the heat.

Vaccinations. This is perhaps the least glam but most important part of your preps. Speak to your GP about possible vaccinations (especially if you’re planning to stay longer) to make sure you’re not lagging behind with your Hepatitis A, B and and Malaria vaccines and also stock up on any other pills you may need.

Mosquito net and and gel against insect bites. No big introduction needed, this stuff can save you a lot of swearing and might save your peaceful night. Fenistil gel is ace for that.


Hiking boots. These are heavy and a bit bulky but once you climbed that mountain in the desert, you’ll be glad you didn’t only pack heels, although these are still the most important pair of shoes of course. And just to clarify, Doc Martens don’t count as real hiking boots. Their surprisingly slippery nearly made me die in the Norwegian mountains, so please invest in a decent pair!

Uniqlo ultra-light jacket. This can be your cosy jumper, pillow or even blanket all in one. The best thing and the reason I will love mine forever, is: You can squash the jacket into a tiny little bag and won’t even look as old-lady as it may seem from Uniqlo’s website. No offense.


Dr Bronner’s magic soap. When I first saw a few bottles of this magic soap, I had a big laugh and shook my head in disbelief. Apparently you can wash your hair, brush your teeth, clean your clothes, shave, and do just about everything else with it. Just a few drops are enough for most of these activities which means that even a small travel-sized bottle will sort you out for a while. I don’t think these will ever leave my suitcase now.

Water bobble. These cute re-usable water bobbles filter your water up to 300 times and clean your H2O for a whole three months. That makes them a super useful and eco-friendly alternative to that daily $1 plastic bottle that you end up chucking anyway.


Beyroutes. Depending on where you’re going, pack some books about the area. I don’t necessarily mean guides though, get your hands on some local poetry or even English papers. I picked Beyroutes because of its stunning imagery and magazine format. That just gives you something to talk about in cafes or on the top of a lonely mountain. God, please get me on a plane right now.

Notebook. I will try and rely on as little technology as possible and if I wouldn’t be there for some writing work, I would substitute my laptop with an actual physical notebook where I would scribble down names and numbers of people, great locations and any random thoughts that shot through my head and will turn into gold on my return. Ahem.


Offline maps app. You know how you use Google maps for everything and sometimes struggle to even locate your way to your favourite restaurant? So it would be great if there was an app that doesn’t actually require a Wifi or 3G connection (or saves you the hassle of making certain parts available offline MapsWithMe is great and available for iOs and Android at a small charge but there’s a few others that are completely free, so just click your way through the Apple or Google Play stores.

If you’re thinking about doing a safari which of course you are, get your hands on some extra camera lenses and binoculars to make the most of these views. A general thing to remember also is that you should make an effort to live as natural as possible, so substitute any plastic with canvas bags, don’t eat too much sugary stuff and don’t be afraid to dig into the fascinating dynamics of the region. I cannot wait to share these with you and if you got any suggestions or even visited the Middle East/Lebanon before, please hit your keyboard!


All photos taken by Caroline Schmitt