How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Also known as The Holy Land, Israel is a beautiful and diverse Mediterranean country with a history of religious significance dating back thousands of years. Despite its small size, millions of tourists visit each year to explore the ancient landmarks, enjoy the breathtaking vistas, and experience the lively culture. If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Israel, the following guide will help you prepare.

Steps

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Determine the best time to go. Israel’s climate varies greatly from season to season, as well as region to region. Winters are generally cool and rainy, while summers are hot, sunny and dry. The remainder of the year is typically mild with on-and-off rainfall. You might also want to consider the best time to go politically, as while most of the time it is very safe, there are occasional periods of potentially dangerous instability and turmoil with its Middle Eastern neighbors as a result of the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict, so keep an eye on the news in the time leading up to your trip.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Find out what entry requirements may pertain to your nationality. Obtain a passport if you don’t have one already, or renew yours as soon as possible if it is due to expire within six months of the date you are scheduled to arrive in Israel. While citizens of most countries can enter Israel without a visa for up to 3 months (tourism purposes only), you should still check if there may be any visa requirements nevertheless, as Israel has some of the strictest policies in the world.

  • Be aware that some countries such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia prohibit their citizens from entering Israel, and may even consider the act of doing so to be a crime. If you are a citizen of one of these countries or any other with restrictions on visiting Israel, you may experience difficulties entering, and at the very least should have the Israeli immigration official who process you stamp a blank page in your passport that can be removed (and therefore not show evidence of having visited Israel upon return).

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Decide if you want to explore on your own or with a tour guide. With so many sights to see, it can prove to be a challenge arranging tours and transportation if you’re unfamiliar with the overall lay of the land. A tour guide or tour group can help you with all of that, and there are hundreds of agencies to choose from. Most reputable agencies will provide a local guide who is fluent in Hebrew, English and possibly other languages; can drive you or your group from Point A to Point B (and back as well), and is knowledgeable in what places they are showing off to you.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Plan your itinerary. Unless you’re the spontaneous type of traveler, it’s a good idea to have a basic outline of where you want to go and what you want to see/do planned out. You don’t necessarily have to be specific or detailed; just jot down a few of the major “can’t miss” cities and attractions, like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Galilee, the Negev desert, and the Dead Sea.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Choose your accommodations. Israel has an extensive array of lodging options to consider; from five-star luxury resorts to mid-range chain hotels to Bedouin-style tent camps in the Negev desert for a truly authentic experience. Don’t be reluctant to haggle for a better price than the rate initially offered.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Book your flight. El Al is the flagship airline of Israel, and has one of the world’s safest and most sophisticated fleets with dozens of international destinations. Still, you are likely to find cheaper fares or more destinations on other airlines, or if you don’t mind taking connecting flights. Be advised that almost all commercial air traffic into Israel comes in and out of Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, so you may need to drive a distance if your final destination is elsewhere in the country.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Invest in a calling card or international calling plan. This way, you can keep in touch with friends and family back home, and if you do your homework, you can avoid exorbitant cellular roaming fees.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Brush up on your Hebrew. English is widely understood throughout just about all of Israel, but knowing at least some basic Hebrew words and perhaps a few rudimentary phrases will go a long way, especially when interacting with locals. Arabic and Russian are also widely understood in the country.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Pack thoughtfully. You should make your first priority packing for the season of your visit, but in addition, pack plenty of modest dress too. This is because there are numerous religious sites such as synagogues, mosques, churches, temples, and shrines that warrant special dress codes to enter or even approach. As a general rule of thumb, men should wear a head covering and long pants while women should wear skirts, non open-toed shoes, and a head covering as well. If you have any questions, check with your tour guide, a local, or a religious representative that can guide you in the right direction.

How to Prepare for a Trip to Israel

Be prepared in general. If you use common sense, pack thoughtfully, plan well in advance, and expect the unexpected, you will have a meaningful and unforgettable trip.

Warnings

  • Stay safe and be aware of your surroundings once you arrive in Israel. Keep in mind that Israel, which is unfortunately the target of violence every so often, takes any and every security threat extremely seriously. Never leave a bag or backpack unattended, and do not, under any circumstances, joke about or make false threats about terrorism. It will not be taken lightly by the authorities. Thanks! Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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