After getting our visas and flight ticket (which were done by our group organizers) the main step for us was to pack our stuff. Since my wife have not been to a third world (or for that matter any international destination) for the last 9 years and my daughter has not set foot in a developing country, it was just a challenge to start packing stuff according to the developed world standards. We knew that everybody drinks bottled water in Syria and Iraq and also the food in the hotels would all be clean, but still fear of the unknown took over us and we started to pack snacks and medicines (in case of sickness) and clothing for the duration of the trip.
We always over pack stuff and then regret it later on to carry heavy stuff on our carryon baggage. But as the saying goes “better safe than sorry”, we put clothing like there was no laundry in those countries. We also packed our laptop, since we assumed that in this day and age, the hotels in those countries would have wireless internet from where we can connect to the outside world. Anyway packing is the most stressful part of the journey and may take days to complete and even when you are done you want to make sure one more time before the night you leave that every thing in place.