Many seasoned travelers are not aware that their health insurance
will not cover them outside of the country. For a minimal amount of
money, travel insurance is a must. If you need to cancel your trip
due to an unforeseen emergency or serious illness, most of your trip
may be non-refundable. In the event you become ill during your
travels, finding and receiving medical care may be very frustrating.
Travel insurance also covers lost baggage, and worldwide emergency
Leave your travel information with a family member or friend,
including a copy of your passport, your flight itinerary, travel
itinerary, hotel names and phone numbers. In the event of an
emergency, family members may also contact Pilgrim Travel at
Most airlines restrict passengers to
one piece of carry-on luggage (in addition to your purse, laptop,
camera case). Sizes and weight of carry-on luggage are determined by
airline, so be sure to check with airline on dimension requirements
before you leave.
Keep important items and documents
with you at all times. Medicines should be carried in their original
packaging. Do not keep travelers checks, money, jewelry or travel
documents in your luggage.
Make sure your luggage is clearly
tagged on the inside as well as the outside.
Check-in time for international
flights is normally two hours prior to departure. When checking in
at the airport, a US passport (valid for nine months after your
return date) is needed as proof of identification to enter Israel.
No visa is necessary.
Do not leave your luggage unattended
for any length of time (no matter how short) or accept packages from
strangers to carry on to the plane for them.
Clearing customs in Israel may take a
little longer than in most foreign countries. Keep in mind that upon
arrival Israel you will need to go through customs and exchange
money. Therefore, it is wise to give yourself plenty of time between
landing and connecting to another form of transport. Lines through
customs may be long. Allow sufficient time for connecting with other
modes of transportation after landing.
What to Pack
Plan to dress casually, packing clothes which can be layered if the
weather changes. Choose comfort over fashion, planning your wardrobe
around one or two colors is ideal. If you plan on dining in
exclusive restaurants, you may want to pack just one dressy outfit.
Bring along a light-weight jacket which will not prove to be too
cumbersome if you end up carrying it for a few hours. Do not make
yourself a target by wearing expensive jewelry. A good way to
conceal your valuables is by purchasing an inexpensive but
light-weight pouch which attaches around your waist
and is worn under your clothes. Do not over-pack...leave room in
your suitcase for souvenirs.
It is highly recommend to bring a
hat, sunglasses and sunscreen as protection against the harmful rays
of the sun. Women should wear a scarf to cover their head and
If you are traveling with a
companion, cross-pack. Put half of your items in your companion's
luggage and vice-versa. This will ease the frustration of lost
Don't forget these travel sized
necessities: sewing kit, first aid kit, tissues, travel clock,
toiletries, notebook and pen, pre-printed address labels (for
sending post cards), plastic "zip locking" bags (for
storing open bottles).
Purchase your film and batteries in
Before you leave, ask your doctor to write a prescription for any
medications you may be taking with you in the event they are lost.
Keep all of your medications in their original bottles or packaging.
In Israel, it is customary to tip hotel personnel, guides and
drivers. A 15% tip is the average in restaurants. While tipping is
not mandatory for taxi drivers, some visitors choose to do so
anyhow. Remember that a tip or gratuity is earned for services
rendered in a courteous and professional manner.
The market in Jaffa remains a venerable, institution filled with
bargains. All of the old towns in Israel have bazaars but the
ultimate is to be found in the Old City of Jerusalem. Favorite times
to purchase include leather goods, pottery, crafts, olive-wood
carvings and hand blown glass. Vendors are anxious to bargain.
When traveling with a group, some meals are included. When you are
own your own, again, check with the front desk at your hotel for
suggestions (be sure to mention the price range you are looking
Most hotels in Israel will have 220 volts AC 50 Hz. You will need to
bring along necessary converters and adapters to operate any 120
volts, 60 Hz appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, etc.
Current Rate of
The currency in Israel is the shekel, sometimes called the new
shekel. One US dollar is equivalent to approximately 4 shekels. As
the economy fluctuates, it is wise to keep an eye on rates of
exchange as you approach your departure date.
It's a Long, Long
You're at the gate, your plane awaits...the excitements mounts.
After take-off and checking out all the neat little amenities and
freebies, the novelty wears off. Hours and miles across the Atlantic
yawn ahead of you. Below are some tips for the making your flight as
easy as possible.
Dress comfortably for the flight.
Wear comfortable clothes that allow freedom of movement as you will
most likely be trying to sleep on the flight. Wear shoes that slip
on and off easily.
In order to avoid jet-lag, do not
drink alcohol, caffeine or carbonated beverages. Choose natural
fruit juices and water. Bring your own bottled water on the plane
Before you leave, choose a good book
that will keep you occupied for most of the flight. Before your
return flight, buy another - not only will it pass the flight time
quickly but it will become a souvenir of your trip.
Store your coat and anything you are
not going to use in the overhead compartment. You'll be much more
comfortable with a minimum of things to shift around.
Take off your shoes and make yourself
as comfortable as possible right away.
Bring along a moisturizer as the air
in the cabin is extremely dry.
Get up once in a while and stretch
your arms and legs.
If you find yourself extremely
exhausted upon arrival in Israel, take a brief nap after check-in
and plan on beginning your sightseeing in the afternoon after
Israel's airport security is probably the tightest in the world, so
it is vital that you arrive in plenty of time to board your flight.
Be aware that you will need at least two hours for pre-departure
screening and even more time for check-in.
Odds and Ends
Wear very comfortable shoes. The streets of Jerusalem can be hilly
and uneven in places.
Sight-see with your hands free! No
one wants to walk around the city holding a soaking wet umbrella and
ten different shopping bags. A rain hat and poncho (or rain coat)
are a lot easier to deal with than an umbrella. Bring along a day
back-pack with a water bottle (fill it at the hotel before you
leave), tissues (a definite must), note-book and pen. Keep your
purchases in your day pack. You'll be less tempted to spend and
spend as the pack gets heavier and heavier.
Don't drive through the Me'a She'arim
Orthodox Jewish section of Jerusalem after sunset on Fridays or on
Saturdays before sunset. Doing so will interfere with their Sabbath.
When entering a mosque, be sure to
take your shoes off. Be sure to wear modest clothing when visiting
any religious shrine.
If you opt to sight-see with an
Israeli tour guide, you are in for a treat. The guides are extremely
knowledgeable, friendly and strictly regulated by the Israeli
Ministry of Tourism.
Carry a photo-copy of your passport
in your money pouch. You will most likely be asked to leave the
original at the hotel.
Plan your itinerary or prioritize
those places you must see before you leave the US. This will ensure
that you don't miss any of those important things you are traveling
across the ocean to see.
Three languages are spoken in Israel:
Hebrew, Arabic and English. Communications should not be a problem.
Israel meets western standards of
sanitation and no special precautions need to be taken. Both the
water and food are safe to consume and medical facilities, while not
quite up to US levels, are more than adequate.
If you are planning on traveling to
Egypt or Jordan from Israel, you will need a visa which is
obtainable at the borders of these countries. Have your passport
stamped on a separate piece of paper when leaving Israel.
Bring along the Bible. It could well
be the best guidebook for Israel.
Take lots of pictures, keep a
mini-journal, introduce yourself to people, seek out obscure little
places not mentioned in tour books. Many travelers say that Israel
has a great emotional and spiritual effect on them, whether they are
touched by the magnificent religious shrines or the perseverance of
the nation. Have a wonderful time!