IMPORTANT INFORMATION BEFORE TRAVELING TO THE HOLY LAND
Your tour of Israel is going to be a wonderful experience! However, it will require quite a bit of walking. I suggest that you begin a daily walking exercise routine to help prepare you for the trip. I suggest walking up to about 2 miles per day. Of course you should consult your doctor if you have any physical circumstances of concern.
Two suitcases are allowed. Keep things light. Avoid charges for overweight luggage.
IMPORTANT: Check with the airline for specific details and current luggage charges.
Bring clothing that is easy to wash/line dry if necessary.
Keep in mind you will likely return with more than you left with due to purchases made on the trip.
Roll your clothes. This gives you more room and prevents wrinkles.
You will need a voltage converter/travel adapter to plug in your electrical appliances.
These can be easily purchased at department stores or online. (Israeli Voltage is 220!)
Keep large containers at home. Pack travel size containers of lotion, shampoo, etc.
Pack a lightweight collapsible nylon bag in your luggage.
En route, you can use it as a tote for water, purchases, maps, etc.
On the trip home, you can use it as your carry on for your purchases.
It’s strongly suggested that you purchase a money holder that is worn inside your clothing. As in any tourist area, there are those that would take advantage of travelers. Backpacks, purses over the shoulders, and back-pocket wallets are highly susceptible to pickpockets. You should keep your belongings close to you and concealed.
Many of the hotels have personal safes in your room closet in which you can place your valuables and extra cash. Those that don’t, have safety deposit boxes at the front desk. USE THEM!!!
Make a copy of your passport in case the original gets lost. Up until arrival at the first hotel in the land, you should keep your passport on you at all times. However, from the second day and onward, my suggestion to you is to keep the copy on you and put the original in the hotel safe or safety deposit box.
NEVER PACK YOUR PASSPORT IN YOUR CHECKED IN LUGGAGE.
Keep your travel documents organized (boarding pass, ID, passport, license) & readily accessible.
You will often need to display these documents more than once.
A lanyard type holder is very convenient and will expedite you through airport security lines hands free.
Make sure your entry documents are completed and ready before you get to the airport.
Avoid wearing clothing or jewelry that contains metal.
Avoid wearing shoes that contain metal, have thick soles or heels.
It’s wise to leave your valuables at home. Never travel with any item that is irreplaceable.
Travel with minimal jewelry.
Use colorful luggage tags to easily identify your luggage.
Do NOT use luggage locks unless you have TSA (or equivalent) recognized locks.
For more information go to:
Do not pack or bring prohibited items to the airport.
Go to http://www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/editorial/editorial_1012.xml for more information.
Keep all cameras and undeveloped film in your carry-on. Undeveloped film will be damaged by screening equipment used for checked baggage.
Snacks for the journey are nice. Be sure to include water and some breathe mints. I highly recommend getting a travel pillow for the flight and bringing a pair of extra warm socks so that you can kick your shoes off. Eyeshades are nice as well. The international part of your flight is a little more than 10 hours long to Israel and more than 11 hours on the way back. If you have trouble sleeping on planes then I suggest bringing some sleep aid or ibuprofen. Be sure to have stomach medication close at hand as well. I also highly recommend having access to a toothbrush and toothpaste. It is very refreshing to clean up a bit just prior to landing in Tel-Aviv and “dragon breath” is a sin in Israel… ?
Earplugs will help you from painful ear popping on takeoffs and landings.
A small inflatable travel neck pillow is a wise purchase for long flights.
Motion sickness meds should be carried in your purse in case they are needed in flight.
While traveling to/from your destination, wear comfortable clothes. Layers are a good choice.
Wearing a light raincoat/jacket on the flight lighten your luggage weight.
Your carry-on should include on clothing change, daily essentials, and toiletries in case there are delays with your luggage.
Once on the tour, there is no need for Sunday morning church clothes. “Casual” and “comfortable” are the key words. Regardless of when you are traveling to Israel, it is a good idea to have a light jacket or sweater for the evenings, especially while in Jerusalem. Even in the summer months it can get chilly in the evening. Sunglasses and a hat are also a must (cap hats and little back bags will be provided on arrival as a gift from “Tour Your Roots”). Sunscreen of at least 30 SPF is also recommended.
There will be days where you will be asked to avoid wearing sleeveless shirts and/or shorts as you will visit “holy sites” (i.e., sites maintained by orthodox Christians and/or Jews who consider shorts and sleeveless shirts as “unholy”/”disrespectful”).
FOOD, DRINKS & WATER
It is vitally important for you to drink lots of water while in Israel. Drink more than you think you need to drink. Most people do not get sick because of drinking the water in Israel; they get sick because they don’t drink enough water in Israel!!! Your water regimen should begin before you get on the international leg of your flight. Long airline flights can dehydrate you, so I recommend having at least one liter of bottled water with you for the flight. Of course the attendants will be glad to serve you, but sometimes it is more convenient to have your own. Please, be aware that while in Israel, drinks other than water or coffee have not been included in your meal price. If you desire a soft drink with your dinner it will be charged to your room bill and must by paid by you at the check out time. It will be very important for you to drink lots of water each day while on the trip as well. Drink bottled water. Most tour busses will have mineral bottled water on board for purchase (approx. $1 each).
Our trip includes 2 meals a day. Please be aware that we will be in Israel so the food will be yummy! ?
You can bring non-perishable snacks with you (such as candy, gum, nuts, etc) but check online to be sure what’s allowed.
Israel is a modern country and most people have no problem drinking the water or eating the food. However, the water and food will be different and this could upset a sensitive stomach. It would be wise to bring some antacids and other stomach medication. Your family doctor can prescribe a general daily antibiotic to ward off some problems if you so desire. Just tell them you will be traveling abroad and they will know exactly what to prescribe. Bottled water will be available almost everywhere we will be. Israel is NOT a third world country and has some of the finest medical facilities in the world. It would be wise to make someone in the group (including myself) aware of any medication(s) you are taking, or special medical needs that you might have.
Make sure you do purchase a travel and health insurance before leaving on the tour!
Moreover: Consider packing the following:
* chewable Tums/Rolaids/Imodium, etc
* purse size first aid kit
* disposable packets of anti-bacterial hand sanitizer or towelettes
CASH AND CURRENCY
Israelis (still) love the US dollar! You will be able to spend your dollars in most shops. However, they prefer not to have bills larger than a twenty ($20)! You will be able to change some money into shekels if you desire but it is generally not necessary. You will begin to collect shekels in the change you receive from your purchases. The exchange rate is usually somewhere around the 4 shekels (“NIS” – New Israeli Shekels) per one US Dollar. You should bring about $40 in one dollar bills for small purchases such as soft drinks or water. Shops prefer CASH to travelers’ checks. You will be able to cash traveler’s checks at hotel front desks but there is usually a small fee to do so. Many stores also accept American Visa Cards, American Express, MasterCard and alike. If you intend to use your Visa Card or other credit cards while in Israel, you must call the 800 number on the back of your card and inform your card company that you will be using your card overseas! This will help you avoid having your card rejected when making a purchase.
Many people ask, “How much money should I bring?” This is difficult question to answer. Every part of your tour is paid for, except for each day’s lunch. You should budget between $8-$12 per lunch. The average cost of a Falafel (Israeli Sandwich) and a Soft Drink is $7. If your group stops at a self-serve cafeteria, you may expect to pay between $15-$18. In an Israeli cafeteria each item has a price. Please, be sure that you know what the cost per item is before putting it on your plate! Many have ignored this only to find themselves being charged excessive amounts.
My personal recommendation is that each person has about $250-300 for the trip. If you plan to buy large quantities of souvenirs, then I suggest using your credit card for those purchases to minimize the amount of cash you will need to have on you while touring.
FILM & PHOTOGRAPHY
Many people ask if there is a tax or charge for bringing a video camera into the country. There is no fee for bringing your personal video/digital camera. Make sure that you purchase big enough memory cards (or tapes if you still use the ‘old fashion’ kinds) in the USA, as they will be quite expensive in Israel.
Replace your camera batteries before coming to Israel. Most groups will have a professional photographer take a group shot, which can be purchased for $7 (usually on the Mt. of Olives and at the Jordan River). You are not obligated to purchase these pictures.
The cheapest way to call abroad would be by pre-purchasing a ‘telephone card’ (“Calling Card”, which you can purchase even at shops like “Wall Mart”). Almost every hotel in Israel will have ‘public phone’ (usually at their lobby) where you can use your Calling Card).
If you prefer to be more available throughout the tour days, International cell phones are needed; check with your local carrier or rent one for the trip (see http://www.traveldocs.com/)
For instructions on how to make international calls go to http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/freetool.htm
If you need to bring your laptop, make sure to carry an adapter to plug it in.
THE DEAD SEA "FLOATING EXPERIENCE"
We are going to take time to stop and float on the waters of the Dead Sea. It is impossible to sink in the water due to the high mineral and salt content. It is a fun experience. I’ll be giving you safety tips before entering the water. If you intend to enter the water, you will need a modest bathing suit and a pair of old tennis shoes or shower thongs. I recommend old shoes you can just throw away after taking your swim. WARNING: DO NOT WEAR ANY JEWELRY WHILE FLOATING ON THE WATER!!!
TIPPING & "LOVE OFFERINGS"
All tips for the hotel bellboys and waiters have already been included in your tour price and will be taken care of by “Tour Your Roots”. However, if you feel that you have received outstanding service from someone in the hotel, then you can bless him or her more if you choose. It is just as important to make management aware of these stellar employees. Believe me; they will appreciate your comments to their bosses more if you will take the time to put in writing. The bus driver and the guide’s tips have also been included in your package deal price. Again, if you wish to take up an extra "love offering" at the end of the tour you are welcome to do so. Please remember: This extra love offering is OPTIONAL and you should feel NO obligation at all!
MORE THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
ISRAEL TRAVEL FACTS:
Currency Converter: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
World Clock: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/
US Dept. of State: http://www.state.gov/
US Transportation Security Administration: http://www.tsa.gov/public/
US Customs and Border Protection: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/xp/cgov/travel/
Travel Clothing and Accessories:
Prepared for people who travel in the Promised Land with “Tour Your Roots”
Camel ride in I