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What to know before you go to
 
Israel

 
 

 

 
 

Travel Insurance
Many seasoned travelers are not aware that their health insurance may not cover them outside of the country.  If you need to cancel your trip due to an unforeseen emergency or serious illness, most of your trip may be non-refundable if you are not insured.  In the event you become ill during your travels, finding and receiving medical care may be very frustrating without insurance.  Travel insurance also covers lost baggage and worldwide emergency assistance.  For a minimal amount of money, travel insurance is a must. Speak with your Pilgrim Tours Representative or your Group Leader for travel Insurance options.

 

Passport Information

US citizens need a valid U.S. passport with at least six months validity beyond intended stay, to enter Israel. Make two photocopies of your passport.  Leave one copy at home and carry the other separately from your original.  

Israel:  You do not need a Visa when entering Israel.
Non U. S. Citizens are responsible to fulfill appropriate entry requirements of destination. Contact your Consulate office for requirements.

Languages Spoken
Hebrew, Arabic and English

 

Tipping
On some of our Israel tour programs you may have pre-paid your tips, so you do not need to tip the hotel staff, guide and driver individually. That will be taken care of for you by your pastor leader or our Pilgrim Tours representative. Review all your past and present documentation sent by Pilgrim Tours, to verify if your tips have been pre-paid. As a show of appreciation, and as only the minimum tipping amount has been pre-paid, Pilgrim encourages travelers to provide additional tips to the driver and guide for their services provided. Remember that a tip or gratuity is earned for services rendered in a courteous and professional manner.     

In Israel a service charge is often added to the bill in hotels and restaurants.  However, if it is omitted, a tip of 10-12% is customary.  A usual tip for tour bus drivers is $3.00 per person, per day and a tour escort usually receives $5.00 per person, per day.  Hotel Staff receives $1.00 per person, per day.  Do not tip taxi drivers in Israel.  Pay only by what the meter shows unless the cab driver is handling baggage for you.

Currency
The currency in Israel is the Shekel.  There are no restrictions on the import and export of Israeli or foreign currency.  Credit cards can be used in Israel for larger purchases.  ATMs in Israel are all connected to European and American banking systems.  Please be advised that the ATM machines dispense money in SHEKELS - NOT US DOLLARS.  U.S. dollars are recommended for use for small purchases and tipping. 

Please Note:  We suggest you call your bank and/or credit card company before you leave to let them know you will be out of the country and using your ATM card or credit card.

Voltage
Electricity is 220 volts.  You will need to bring along the necessary converters to operate any 120-volt appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, etc.  The plugs are round and have two prongs.

 

 

Health Requirements
None required for U.S. citizens.   Modern medical services are readily available in Israel's larger cities. Most doctors speak English fluently. Pharmacies can provide medication for minor aliments, but travelers should carry their own prescription medication. Israel meets western standards of sanitation and no special precautions usually need to be taken.  The water and food are safe to consume, and medical facilities are more than adequate.  Check with your doctor about updating any necessary immunizations.

 

Medication
If you are required to take medications, you should notify the leader of your group in the event of an emergency.  Ask your doctor to write an extra prescription to take with you if your medication is lost.

 

Baggage Allowance
Due to the size of baggage compartments in touring coaches, each passenger is restricted to ONE suitcase and ONE carry-on bag (in addition to your purse, camera case or video camera). 
Total dimensions of the bag to be checked on the airplane is not to exceed 62 inches (length + width + height) and should not weigh more than 50 lbs.  Carry-on luggage is not to exceed a 45-inch dimension (length + width + height) and should not weigh more than 11 lbs, as it must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment.  Due to the constant change in the air industry we recommend you check the baggage allowance for your air carrier before your departure.

Be sure your luggage is clearly marked on the inside and outside.  If you are traveling with a tour group, you must use the luggage tags provided along with your own.

Note:  Due to recent changes in baggage allowance in the industry we advise checking with your airlines before you depart to see if there has been a change in their regulations

 

Time Zone
Seven hours ahead of EST and two hours ahead of GMT.

 

Climate
In Israel the climate is temperate, and temperatures all year round are reasonable. Israel has two main seasons: Winter from November to March is cold and rainy in most parts of the country; summer from April to October is hot and dry with little or no rainfall. The desert areas can be extremely hot in summer time. The best time to visit is March-June or October-November, although climate shouldn't be a major consideration in choosing a time to visit.  

Jerusalem                     Average Temperature          Average Rain Fall

Jan-Mar                                      43-60F                                      4"

Apr-Jun                                       54-75F                                      1"

Jul-Sep                                       60-95F                                      0"

Oct-Dec                                      49-69F                                      2"

 

Pre-Flight
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 contact Pilgrim Tours at 800-322-0788.

Dress comfortably for the flight, wearing clothes that allow freedom of movement and shoes that slip on and off easily.

When at the airport, never leave your luggage unattended for any length of time…no matter how short.  Do not accept packages from strangers to carry on to the plane for them.

Check-in time for international flights is normally two-three hours prior to departure.  When checking in at the airport, a valid passport is needed as proof of identification of travelers flying to Israel.

Bring along a moisturizer, as the air in the plane cabin is extremely dry.

In order to avoid jet lag, avoid caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages.  Rather, opt for natural fruit juices and water.

 

What to Pack
Comfortable, casual clothing that can be layered to match the weather is a good suggestion.  Planning your wardrobe around one or two colors is also helpful.  You may choose to bring along one dressy outfit but it is not necessary.  Be sure to include comfortable walking shoes and a lightweight jacket for mornings and evenings.  

For programs including a Baptism service in the Jordan River or any other location in Israel, it is advise to wear proper footwear to protect ones feet from any foreign objects that may be present in the water.

A raincoat and rain hat (or poncho) is easier to use when sightseeing than an umbrella. The above climate listings will allow you to plan accordingly for Israel.

Women should always dress modestly.  It is an affront to some in Israel for women to be showing bare shoulders and legs.  Women should also pack a lightweight scarf for covering their heads only if entering a mosque or other religious location which require this.  Both men and women will need to remove their

shoes before entering a mosque as well.  When entering religious sites in Jerusalem, men and women need to make sure their legs are covered to at least below the knee.  Also, be sure to cover shoulders. 

Swimming attire should only be worn around swimming pools or beaches and not in public places.

Be sure to keep important items such as documents, money, medications, keys, etc. on your person or in your carry-on luggage.  Never pack these items in your checked luggage.

Do not make yourself a target by wearing expensive jewelry.  A good way to conceal your money and valuables is by purchasing an inexpensive, lightweight pouch that attaches around your waist and is worn under your clothes.

Do not over-pack.  Leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs.

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 luggage.

Take along a small backpack.  When you are touring, fill it with bottled water, tissues, notebook and pen.  It will also come in handy for carrying souvenirs.

Don't forget these travel sized necessities:  sewing kit, first-aid kid, tissues, travel clock, toiletries, notebook and pen, pre-printed address labels (for sending postcards), plastic "zip-locking" bags (for storing open bottles and containers).

Purchase your film and batteries in the US.  Remember to bring extra for your video camera. 

Fluids
To avoid dehydration which is very common in extremely dry climates, drink plenty of water.  Bottled water, not tap is recommended at all meals.  Pitchers of water will be supplied at dinner in Israel.  This water is safe to drink.  Carry bottled water with you when touring.  When buying bottled water, make sure the seal is not broken when you get the water. 

People with sensitive digestive systems need to be prepared by purchasing diarrehea medication ahead of time to take with you.  Electrolite supplements maybe needed during the warmer months.  Your doctor might be a helpful source for recommending precautionary medication to take along. 

Meals
For meals that are not included, check with your group leader or the front desk at the hotel for suggestions (be sure to mention the price range you are interested in).  There's a wide range of cuisine in Israel from Continental to Ethiopian.  There's even a First Century Roman restaurant (Cardo Culinaria) serving only food of that era, before tomatoes, potatoes and sugar were known in the Old World.  Other specialties include hummus and falafel (similar to a pita).

 

Shopping
Check with your group leader or the front desk for the best shopping areas.  Specify that you are interested in purchasing items that are known for their local and cultural appeal. 
There are countless opportunities for shopping in Israel in the shopping centers that have sprung up in the past few decades - including the Malkha Mall, the largest in the Middle East - as well as in the colorful markets, annual bazaars, street malls, and shops in the large cities - all of which offer attractive imported and locally-made items.  All of the towns in Israel have bazaars but the ultimate is to be found in the Old City of Jerusalem.  Favorite items to purchase include leather goods, pottery, crafts, olive-wood carvings and hand-blown glass.  Bargaining is acceptable but in your effort to keep the price low, do so without being insulting or arrogant towards the vendors.

 

In Israel
Show respect for the religious observances throughout Israel - do not eat or drink in or around religious shrines.  Remove your shoes before entering a mosque. 

Because of the large amount of religious sites throughout the country, the Bible could well be the best guidebook for the nation of Israel - bring one along. 

Women should never travel alone outside the main tourist areas.  They should also ignore any rude remarks directed at them and avoid eye contact with men. 

Be sure to ask permission before taking pictures of people and do not photograph anything with military significance or remotely connected with the government in Israel. 

If you plan on hiring a taxi, agree on the price before getting in. 

Be sure to carry your passport with you at all times.