The following packing list for Armenia has been submitted by Polly Barks. See all packing list posts here.
I recently went for a month jaunt through Armenia in late summer and, as it turned out, arrived woefully under prepared.
I (along with my husband) was going to arrange the production for the second issue of our online travel magazine Like a Local so we really went in with no real expectations, totally ready for the locals to lead the way. Thankfully, they helped us out immensely and we had so many amazing experiences in a country that sadly few people know anything about.
However, one thing the locals couldn’t help me with was the contents of my backpacks.
The capital city Yerevan was sweltering – the locals cheerfully noted that, as I melted in high 90s (30C) degree temperature, ‘it’s not so bad, it was 113F (45C) last month’. The unbearable heat, combined with Armenia’s religiously-driven conservatism, meant that no mini-skirt or shorts option was really available. Women sweated it out in jeans and t-shirts (or relatively modest dresses), no matter the heat.
After ten days of work and fun in Yerevan we gratefully escaped the city for a massive 5-day, 1700 kilometer road trip around the country. The views? Unbelievable. The culture? Fascinating. The roads? Not so great. The weather? Cold!
As I vaguely knew before we arrived, Armenia is a fairly mountainous country. As I quickly learned after we arrived, this means that the difference between a night in Yerevan and a night in mountainous villages can be a huge variation in temperature. (The coldest night we faced in mid-September was just above freezing overnight.) Let’s just say I froze enough nights and morning as we camped and trekked that I don’t want the same fate to befall you.
This packing list is for a week or ten-day trip to Armenia – what I’d consider the perfect amount of time to see the highlights of this amazing country.
2 tank tops. Perfect for Yerevan’s heat and layering in the colder areas.
1 long sleeved shirt. Thermal or heat-tech is preferable to fight off the mountain chill.
1 light sweater. I went with an Everlane cashmere sweater – perfect for nights in Yerevan and layering when we got to colder places.
1 packable jacket. A good jacket is indispensable when spending nights in higher-elevation areas but don’t let it take up your whole backpack!
1 pair of jeans. For chillier nights.
1 maxi skirt. The versatile maxi skirt will serve you well in many ways during your trip!
1-2 pair of leggings. While Yerevan will be hot well into September, Armenians are pretty demure and leggings are a good way to defer to their more conservative side without dying of heat stroke.
2-3 bras. Definitely include one sports bra for days with more strenuous activity.
6-7 pairs of underwear. While you’ll definitely have a chance to wash your underwear in a Yerevan hostel, not so much when you’re further afield.
3-4 pairs of socks. At least one or two should be wool to combat cold nights.
A sturdy pair of flats. Yerevan is a very walkable city so make sure you have shoes that can stand up to pounding the pavement all day long.
Hiking-appropriate shoes. You definitely don’t need full gear, but a lot of Armenia’s national treasures are located atop high, rocky areas so something with sturdy soles and good support are a must.
Flip flops. Because even the cleanest hostel showers are still shared showers!
Sunscreen. When you’re spending long days outside, this is a must.
Makeup. Makeup is very expensive in Armenia, so bring what you need from home. (Check out the low-key traveler’s beauty kit for minimal ideas.)
Prescriptions. Any medication you absolutely need should be brought with you; however, basically any other type of medication can be bought for much cheaper than in the west and without a prescription.
First-aid kit. Only necessary if you plan to go on an intense hike. Again, this could be assembled in Yerevan to save space and money.
Note: If you’re really lazy, you can forgo shampoo, soap, etc. and simply purchase it once you get to Yerevan. The prices are very reasonable and it saves you from hauling everything along with you. This goes for everything except sunscreen which – while available at pharmacies (аптека) – is incredibly expensive.
Phone. Bring an international smart phone – once you arrive in Yerevan you can purchase a local SIM card with a month of calls, texting, and mobile data for about $10.
Tablet. Perfect for downtime reading, gaming, and surfing the net if you can find WIFI.
Laptop. I actually don’t recommend bring a laptop with you unless you have work that absolutely must get done. Internet in Yerevan is painfully slow and non-existent everywhere else.
Camera. Armenia is so beautiful, you’ll want to capture every moment!
Chargers. Armenia has European-style outlets.
Summer and winter hats. The sun in Armenia can be really strong and the nights can be really cold. Be prepared for both with the proper hat.
Gloves. Night and early morning walks in the mountains will be much easier.
Travel towel. Most hostels will sell you a towel for daily use – better just to bring your own travel-sized towel.
- Warm months in Yerevan range from May until October. Warm months in higher elevations (AKA most of the remaining country) are in typical summer months but nights may still dip into uncomfortably cool temperatures. Fall lasts until about November in Yerevan; it’s the same to varying degrees in higher elevations.
- Do not bother packing any water purification items. Water in Yerevan and Armenia is incredibly clean and can be drunk straight from the tap.
- In most hostels in Yerevan there is a laundry service (often free) which you can take advantage of while you’re in the capital city.
- While Yerevan has a booming cafe culture, good WIFI has yet to catch on. Most hostels and hotels will have WIFI but the quality and regularity of it are very questionable. Beyond Yerevan there is basically no hope of finding WIFI, although a phone’s mobile data works almost all over the country.
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About the author: Polly Barks is an American writer who’s been living and working in Moscow, Russia since 2010. She blogs about the trials and tribulations of being an expat in Russia and her life with the Russky on her blog A Girl and Her Travels. She’s also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Like a Local mag, a quarterly online magazine dedicated to one city per issue, beyond the guidebook.
*All images except title image supplied by Polly Barks.
The tour starts In Yerevan, Armenia and includes 4 nights in 3* accommodation with breakfast, lunch and dinner, 4 day tours with entrance fees and tickets included; alongside a guide, transportation and a welcome dinner.
Day Tour to Sevan Lake, Tsakhkadzor Rope Way and Kecharis Monastery in Armenia – $35.00
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