Tips for Traveling in Israel
We wanted to share a few tips you will find helpful during your next trip to Israel. Israel is a vibrant city with many similarities to the United States, so you’ll feel more at home than you might expect. With a little preparation, you can rest assured your experience will be unforgettable- and not for the wrong reasons!
How not to fry your electronics!
These days figuring out what adaptors and converters could prevent our expensive electronics from frying has been made much simpler with universal kits. Let’s face it, our iPhones, iPads and Galaxy Notes are very important to us! First, let’s explain the difference between the two. An adaptor allows the prongs from your appliance or gadget to fit into the wall outlets that you’ll see in Israel. A converter will change the voltage from your gadget to the voltage that is compatible with the local electrical system. There are universal kits available that include both adaptors and converters, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything you’ll need.
Shaping up for a walking tour
You can expect to do quite a bit of walking while touring Israel. No, you do not need to be a marathon runner to be able to keep up with your group, but you will need to be able to walk at a moderate pace every day. If you are not used to physical activity and have concerns about keeping up with your guide, we recommend that you start preparing for you tour by walking 20 minutes a day. If you can handle that, you’ll most likely be just fine for your tour.
How do I pay at local stores? US dollars?
Great news! The US dollar is accepted all over Israel (Jordan and Egypt too)! This means that if you want to convert currency, you certainly can but it is not necessary. Just be aware that whatever change you get will be in the New Israeli Shekel, or NIS, so try to pay as close to the amount due as possible. In other words, if you are purchasing something that is worth $3 US, avoid using a $20 bill. Unless you are a math whiz and can quickly convert currencies in your head, you won’t be able to catch any mistakes if they give you the wrong amount of change back. US credit and debit cards will also be accepted at most (if not all) stores that you will visit, so you may also choose to make purchases that way. Just don’t forget to alert your bank or credit card company to let them know the dates you will be traveling in Israel. Otherwise, once they see charges in another country they may freeze your card thinking it has been stolen.
Do I tip at restaurants and at the hotel?
You will quickly find that the guides we use in Israel are top notch to say the least. A certain amount of tipping will be expected for your guide, driver, and hotel staff. Fortunately, we make it easy for you! We will include detailed tipping information on your confirmation letter before you travel. The tips will be collected at the end of the tour and we will lay out the details of how much should go to each person. This way you don’t have to worry about surprises or trying to gather money for tips each day. Tips to the guide and driver are given in USD. If you have remaining ‘local money’, you may ask the front desk what it is worth and apply it toward your tips. Some find it easiest to put the tip money in envelopes in the bottom of your suitcase (or in the safe) and label one Guide and one Driver. Then you will have it already prepared when it is collected at the end of the tour. Of course, many people feel that their guide or driver deserve more than what is required and are welcome to add more.
Tips about luggage, carry-on items and more…
If our office got a dollar for every time someone asked us for packing advise, our staff could fly to Israel on a private plane complete with champagne brunch! We could write an entire article just on this subject… so we will! Keep an eye out for a detailed list of packing tips on our newsletter in the near future. In the meantime, just remember the following basics:
- Pack light! You will need comfortable casual clothing. There will not be any formal attire nights on the trip, so you can save the suits, dresses, and heels for your next cruise.
- Bring comfortable walking shoes. This may be the most important thing to remember. You’ll be doing a substantial amount of walking so you’ll want to keep those feet as happy as possible.
- Use the onion method. Layers are a great way to stay at a comfortable temperature. Even if it is a warm day, air conditioning may keep the bus or certain buildings chilly. It is always a good idea to bring a sweater or light jacket with you even in the summer months.
- Don’t forget your swim wear! You’ll have the opportunity to float in the Dead Sea and to be baptized in the Jordan River. If you plan on participating in either of these activities, you’ll want to come prepared.
- Check the weather before you pack. Like anywhere else, one year can be chillier than normal and then next could have an unprecedented heat wave. Looking at your favorite weather forecasting site will help you know what type of clothing to pack. For most tours to Israel, Jerusalem will be the coolest city you will visit and Tiberias will be the warmest. By looking up the forecast for these two cities, you will have a good idea of the temperature range you can expect for your trip.
- Israelis dress very similarly to those of us in the US. Even shorts and tank tops will be perfectly acceptable most days. However, there will be a couple days of touring where visits to certain Holy sites will require shoulders and knees to be covered. Your guide will let you know in advance so you may dress accordingly.
- Since most airlines have different size requirements for your luggage and limits on the number of carryon items. We highly suggest you call your airline in advance. If you would like for your carryon to fit in the overhead compartment, luggage measuring approximately 22” x 9” x 14” is recommended.
Don’t miss your flight!
Please reconfirm your flights with the airlines 24-48 hours prior to your flight’s departure, and let us know if your arrival or departure times change. We will not be notified with any last-minute changes to your flight itinerary.
Important documents. Put that copy machine to good use
Make a copy of your passport and any credit cards you will be taking. Leave one copy at home and perhaps put a copy in the bottom of your suitcase. It makes it much easier to replace if your passport is lost. We also recommend making a copy of the confirmation letter that you will be receiving before your tour’s departure to leave with a friend or family member at home. This way they will know which hotel you will be in each night and how to contact you in case of an emergency.
Staying connected with family and friends at home
If you plan to take your cell phone, call your service provider and ask about using it overseas. Some carriers offer inexpensive temporary international plans for traveling. Most carriers will allow you to text the U.S. for free when you are connected to Wi-Fi and you will find our hotels offer this amenity.
Tips about laundry
The hotels have ‘overnight’ laundry services but it can be very pricey and will only be available while staying in the hotel for multiple nights. There are no self-laundry machines. A tip from one of our travel experts: “In the evening, I would ‘spot clean’ my clothes if I thought I might want to wear them again later. Or while showering – wash it out with shampoo & roll in a towel then put on a hanger to dry”.
Things to carry with you
It is always a good idea to carry the following items just in case:
- Tissues– in case a public restroom is out of toilet paper or you get the sniffles
- Hand sanitizer– because germs are gross
- Small bills (either USD or shekels)– you’ll see vendors selling souvenirs and they may not always have change
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat– especially if you’re travelling in summer or warmer months
- A sweater or light jacket– to keep you comfortable on the air-conditioned bus
Hooray! No needles necessary! The Center for Disease Control does not recommend any additional immunizations beyond what it is already recommended for the United States, so you will not need to deal with any travel shots. Whew!
Oh, and don’t forget to pack patience, a sense of adventure, and a cheery attitude! These tips and tricks will help to make your tour to Israel stress free and enjoyable from start to finish.