Ultimate Bug-out Bag For a Jewish Traveler

Bug-Out Bags

bug-out bagIf you plan to travel around the world without stopping in any Jewish communities, you’ll need to be prepared with a Jewish version of a Bug-out Bag.

I first learned about Bug-out Bags from books on surviving disasters and disappearing from your past (see my post – If Jason Bourne Was Jewish).

To quote Wikipedia:

“A Bug-out Bag is a portable kit that contains the items one would require to survive for seventy-two hours, when evacuating from a disaster. The kits are also popular in the survivalism and prepper subcultures. Other names for such a bag are a BOB, 72-hour kit, a grab bag, a battle box, a Personal Emergency Relocation Kits (PERK), a go bag, a GOOD bag (Get Out Of Dodge) or INCHbag (I’m Never Coming Home).”

It occurred to me that every Jew who takes to the road, whether for business, vacation, a disaster G-d forbid, or just to escape for a while from the daily grind, needs a “Jewish Bug-out Bag”. I’m not talking about Kosher food (see my post on eating Kosher anywhere), but about all the other ingredients needed to keep a Jewish lifestyle anywhere you go.

bug-out bag
Jewish Chaplain’s Kit

With a bit of research and experience in the military, I compiled a list of all the materials, products and equipment you’ll need for keeping the Tradition throughout the year. Many of them (like apples and honey for the Rosh Hashanah, a boiled egg for the Seder Plate or even the raw materials for a Succah) aren’t inherently Jewish and you can get them anywhere on the globe.  Some of the list, though (like Tefillin or a Mezuza) need to be purchased at a reliable Jewish supplier.

For your convenience you can download the list as a two page PDF for printing on one double-sided page –  The Ultimate Jewish Traveler’s Checklist. Obviously you won’t need them all for every trip. Just check it out before you leave, compare it to your itinerary and the Jewish calendar, get what won’t be available later and you’re good to go.

The Ultimate Jewish Traveler’s Checklist

Kosher Eating
  • Meat / Milk / Parve stickers
  • Blue/Red/Yellow permanent markers
  • Laws of Kashrut
  • Disposable dishes
  • Flour sifter
  • Magnifying Glass (for bugs)
  • Kosher Symbols List
  • Cup for washing before bread
Prayer, Blessings & Torah Study
  • Siddur (Prayer book)
  • Chumash (Pentateuch)
  • Tefillin
  • Tallit
  • Tallit Katan
  • Tsitsit (spare fringes)
  • Kippa (for men)
  • Snood/hair-covering (for women)
  • Torah Scroll (if there’s a Minyan)
  • Halachic Time Charts (MyZmanim.com)
  • Compass for locating Jerusalem
  • Book of Tehillim (Psalms)
  • Traveler’s Prayer
  • Blessing for candle lighting
  • Birkon (prayer after meals)
  • Jewish Daily Laws & Customs
Shabbat & Festivals
  • Laws of Shabbat
  • Laws of Festivals
  • Candlesticks
  • Candles / oil / wicks
  • Blessing for candle lighting
  • Matches
  • Kiddush / Havdallah cup
  • Wine / Grape juice
  • Challah
  • Challah cover
  • Challah cutting board
  • Challah knife
  • Salt
  • Shabbat hot plate / “Blech”
  • Shabbat “Key Belt”
  • Havdalah spices
  • Havdallah candle
Rosh Hashanah
  • Book of Selichot
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Shofar
  • Honey / Apple / Dates
  • Fish head / Pomegranate
  • New fruit for Blessing
  • Yahrzeit candle
Yom Kippur
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Rubber / cloth shoes
  • Kittel
  • Shofar
  • Yahrzeit candle
  • Bedikat Chametz Kit
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Seder Plate
  • Egg / Shank bone / Celery / Potato
  • Marror /Lettuce
  • Charoset (apple /cinnamon/ginger/nuts/wine)
  • Matsah (hand-made)
  • Matsah (machine-made)
  • Kittel
  • Cup for washing at Karpas
  • Yahrzeit candle
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Lulav / Etrog / Hadas / Arava
  • “Koishiklach” (leaves for tying)
  • Holder for 4 Minim
  • Succah (+ decorations)
  • Aravot for Hoshanah Rabba
  • Yahrzeit candle
Simchat Torah
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Torah Scroll for dancing
  • Flags (for kids)
  • Yahrzeit candle
  • Machzor (Prayerbook)
  • Tikun Shavuot
  • Cheese Cake
  • Yahrzeit candle
  • Channukah candelabra
  • Channukah candles (oil + wicks)
  • Blessing on candles
  • Ma’oz Tsur Song
  • “Latkes” / “Sufganiot”
  • Megilat Esther (parchment / printed)
  • “Grogger” (noise-maker)
  • Wine (for festive meal)
  • Hamentaschen (Oznei Haman)
Fast of 9th Av
  • Kinot for 9th Av
  • Rubber / cloth shoes
  • Low chair
  • Mezuzah(s)
Sitting Shiva (Mourning)
  • Laws of Mourning
  • Spare shirt/blouse for tearing
  • Rubber / cloth shoes
  • Low chair
  • Yahrzeit candle

Click here for the PDF of The Ultimate Jewish Traveler’s Checklist.

Be prepared!

6 thoughts on “Ultimate Bug-out Bag For a Jewish Traveler”

  1. This is a nice list of important things to have with you, but i disagree with your describing this as a “bug-out-bag”. According to the Wikipedia article you quote, “A Bug-out Bag is a portable kit that contains the items one would require to survive for seventy-two hours, when evacuating from a disaster.” A lot of this stuff is not actually necessary. Yes, performing hiddurim and minhagim are good, but can be skipped in an emergency (such as when you actually need a BOB).

    Some things that might be extra:

    * Stickers AND markers for marking food items seems a bit OTT.
    * A compass shouldn’t really be necessary. As long as you know what part of the world you’re in, you can approximate using the sun. And if you still don’t know which way to face, just daven in whatever direction. That’s the halacha. That said, a compass might still be useful in an ordinary BOB…
    * While a bentcher (birkon) and candle-lighting brachot might be useful, i hardly think it’s the most important thing. Most people who regularly say them will have it memorized.
    * A lot of the things you list for Shabbat can be worked around or can be given up this once.
    ** Assuming you have candles in your regular BOB, that should cover both erev Shabbat and havdalah.
    ** I’m think that in an emergency, kiddush can be made on bread.
    ** Also, you don’t need a challah board or knife — pulling it apart will do.
    ** While a blech is nice, you really might not get hot food in this situation…
    * Skip the simanim if you’re out in the wilderness for Rosh Hashanah.
    * Kittel on Yom Kippur and Pesach is also only a minhag.
    * On Succot, koishiklach and the holder are really hiddurim. Assuming you’re even able to get your arba minim, holding them together with a rubber band (such as is the Chabad custom) will suffice.
    * Succah plus decorations?! Seriously? Skip the decorations. You can probably even skip the succah. If you have a car handy, see http://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/2964/5151. You can collect some branches to use as schach.
    * Again, on Simchat Torah, dancing with the Torah, and certainly waving flags, are only customs, and can be dispensed with in this situation.
    * And i never knew that cheesecake was a halacha of Shavuot…
    * A chanukiah can be “hacked” together in an emergency. For some methods, see http://judaism.stackexchange.com/q/50918/5151 and http://lifehacks.stackexchange.com/q/1910/141
    * Once more, most traditional foods are only customs. So, sorry to disappoint, but you might not get your latkes, sufganiot, or hamentaschen this time.
    * On Purim, it is a) not necessary to make noise when Haman’s name is read, and b) that can be done anyways without a grogger. Try whistling, banging, or stamping your feet.
    * Try sitting on the floor for Tisha Bav.

    So once again, while this is a good list for Jewish travels, i wouldn’t go so far as to call much of it essential.

    1. Just an addendum to my previous comment…

      First of all, i’m sorry if it came out as too snarky.

      Some of this stuff definitely depends on why you’re using a BOB. In a disaster situation (chv”ch), the stuff you choose to pack might be different than if your business trip leaves you stuck in Ashgabat over chag.
      In a case like that, bringing more sukkah/chanukiah supplies might make sense. I still think flags on Simchat Torah are unnecessary though.

      Also, a machzor isn’t always needed. I personally don’t bother with one except for on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as most siddurim print the Yom Tov davening in them as well. And if you know that you won’t get a minyan on the High Holidays, the silent Shmoneh Esrei is printed in many siddurim as well, which should suffice.

      Finally, this is a cool list. And if you had labeled it as “helpful stuff to take along while travelling”, i probably wouldn’t have had a problem with that. But labeling it as a BOB implies necessity, which, as i’ve pointed out, doesn’t apply to all the stuff on the list.

      1. Hi Scimonster, I really appreciate that you took the time to comment. As a new blogger it gives me encouragement to write and improve my site. I agree entirely with your comments. My list is not a BOB at all. In emergencies one can forgo most if not all Minhagim and Sukkah decorations or Hamantaschen are luxuries. The reason I started the post with BOB’s is because that is what gave me the idea of a total list of what a Jew needs in physical materials throughout the year. In fact I originally called the 2-page PDF download list “The Ultimate Jewish BOB Checklist” and at the last moment changed it to the Ultimate Jewish Travel Checklist. The reason I added extras like decorations, Sufganiot and such is because I believe that when one is far from home in a non-Jewish place these little things give us a taste of home and help us remain strong Jews (in a very subtle way). So a moment before one leaves on a long trip I hope that the list will help people prepare materially and emotionally as Jews. BTW the colored stickers/markers are for pots/pans. Personally I mix our pots even at home unless there’s some distinct marking 🙂 Thanks again and keep in touch. David

  2. Hi, I adjusted something in the system and at the bottom of every post in single post view (not home page) should be a comment box. Would appreciate it if you could check it out. Thanks.

  3. After my computer crashed, the beginning of my comments was still at your site – pff.

    A Leave a comment button should be at the bottom of each article, at least. (If you want one at the top of them too, that’s up to you. I looked for minutes where to leave a message.)

    I would call such a bag a Diaspora Survival Kit.

    You should mention that many rabbis frown upon Jews ever leaving the Holy Land except for the fulfillment of very special Commandments, like honoring parents. Some Jews are proud to have never left Israel, like our Forefather Isaac. For vacation, Israel offers everything a person would want: a tropical sea to swim in, a snow covered mountain to climb, stilled nature reserves to trek through, historical and modern cities, archaeological sites, natural wonders, etc. Youths that grow up in Israel often have this claustrophobic wish to travel the world, because of not having been able to go to bordering countries. The antidote is to have them walk the country, dip in all the local springs, and learn early about our nature (birds, plants, landscapes, etc.) and preservation. I hope that this site will be used mostly by Jewish travelers from the Diaspora before they settle down for a quiet and meaningful life in Israel.

    1. Hi MM !
      Thanks for your helpful comments. You have a good point about the location of the “Leave a Comment” button. WordPress defaults to the top for some strange reason. I’m checking it out and hope to find a solution soon.
      Like the idea of a Diaspora Survival Kit 🙂 🙂
      As for leaving Israel for traveling abroad, I wrote about it in one of my earlier posts. See “A Jew Traveling For Pleasure” http://jewishtraveling.com/jew-traveling-for-pleasure/. My blog is to assist people traveling abroad for reasons which are Halachicly permissible. Shabbat Shalom!

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