We hope the following information will be useful to you in preparing for and during your trip.
Climate and wearing apparel: The Holy Land enjoys Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers, and mild, wet winters. In spring and fall, temperatures range from the low 60’s to mid-70’s during the day. We suggest medium weight apparel, with warm sweaters and jackets for early morning and evening. In summer, temperatures range from the high 60’s to high 80’s during the day. You may wish to pack light weight apparel, keeping in mind that shoulders and knees must be covered when visiting religious sites. In winter, temperatures range from the low 40’s to high 50’s during the day. We suggest heavy weight apparel, with warm sweaters and coats. It would be wise to pack a travel umbrella for an occasional shower that may occur.
Cuisine: The Israeli cuisine is closely related to the wider Mediterranean region, with lunch, rather than dinner, being the main meal of the day. Light meals may consist of various types of cheeses, yogurt, vegetables and salads, olives, pickled and smoked herring, and a variety of breads. Although not all Jews in Israel keep kosher, the tradition of kashrut strongly influences the availability of certain foods and their preparation in many restaurants.
Currency: The local currency is the Israeli New Shekel (₪). You will find coins of 1, 5, 10, 50 agorot, ₪1.00, ₪5.00, ₪10.00 and paper bills of ₪20, ₪50, ₪100, and ₪200. For the current exchange rate, please visit Bloomberg.com. Our recommendation to obtain cash quickly and at a competitive rate is directly from an ATM, once your reach your first destination. Credit cards are accepted, at the hotels and some stores/restaurants. If you intend using your bank card, consult your bank before departure to ensure that your ATM card is internationally compatible.
Dress code: Casual and comfortable are key words especially in footwear as there will be a lot of walking to do. Women are not required to cover their heads in the Holy Land.
Hair dryers/Irons: Please note that the hotels are equipped with hair dryers. Irons/ironing boards are not provided.
Itinerary: Exact departure times can be found on the bulletin board that your tour leader will post each day, at your hotel.
Flights: Enclosed with your final documents, you will find a detailed flight itinerary. Check-in time varies from carrier to carrier. We suggest check-in at least two hours prior to departure.
Hotels: You will find the name/address/phone number of your hotels, following your tour itinerary, in your final documents. Hotel rooms are usually available for check-in after 2:00 pm. Check-out time is usually 12 noon.
Insurance: Israel has a socialized medicine system. Anyone requiring emergency treatment or hospitalization will be accepted in public hospitals. We suggest checking personal insurance coverage, while traveling abroad.
Language: The official national languages in Israel are Modern Hebrew and Arabic, even though English is commonly spoken in hotels, some restaurants and stores. Useful words to know are “Shalom” (hello / good/bye), and “Rav todot” (thank you).
Luggage: For convenience and faster handling during your trip, the baggage handling on tour is limited to one piece per person. Baggage allowance regulations limit the weight of the checked in luggage to 50 lbs. with linear dimensions (W+H+D) not to exceed 62 inches. The carry on weight limitation is 15 lbs. with linear dimensions not to exceed 45 inches. In addition to the carry on, you may bring with you a personal item such as a purse, briefcase or laptop computer. You will find a travel bag included in your final documents of a convenient size for your personal items. For more information about U.S. carry-on baggage restrictions please read the complete details on the U.S. government airport regulations website, www.tsa.gov.
Mail: Post offices are everywhere, and are the ideal place to buy stamps, mail letters or packages. Most hotels’ front desks or concierges have stamps too.
Medical: No special vaccinations are required for travel to the Holy Land. Anyone taking prescription medicine should be careful to bring an adequate supply for the entire trip and should remember not to pack it in check-in luggage.
Passport and Visa: All U.S. citizens are required to have a valid passport, with an expiration date of no less than six months from the date of return. A visa is not required to enter Israel for U.S. citizens. However, you will receive a slip of paper upon entering Israel that confirms you have paid the reciprocity fee. This slip must be turned in when you depart. Non U.S. citizens must check requirements with their respective consulate.
Phones: It is possible to make calls from all of your hotels with a service charge. Remember when you call the States to dial 001 followed by the area code and phone number you are trying to reach. We suggest checking if your carrier offers an internation call & data plan.
Shopping: Israel is famous for its skin-care products made from mineral-rich Dead Sea mud, silver jewelry, diamonds, glass, art, leather coats, painted tiles, embroidery, religious items and antiques. There are countless opportunities for shopping in Israel in the shopping centers, 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. Most stores are open from Sunday to Thursday between 9:00 in the morning and 7:00 in the evening. Stores that close for a break between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon have a sign with their hours posted on the door. In some cities, stores are closed on Tuesday afternoons.
Time difference: Israel is 7, 8, 9 and 10 hours ahead of Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific Time, respectively.
Tips: General tips to porters at the hotel and waiters at the restaurants are included. It is customary to leave small change for restroom attendants, during your en route stops, and also at the café’s when consuming a beverage or snack. What is not included is the tip to guides, tour escort and driver. The suggested guidelines are $3-4 per person per day for the tour escort and $1-2 per person per day for the driver. In restaurants tip 12-15%, however some automatically include a 12.5% service charge.
Transportation: When taking public transportation, please be sure to put anything valuable in a safe place, out of reach of pick pockets that thrive in any large, tourist filled city. You may wish to make a copy of your passport to have with you and leave the original at the hotel.
Voltage: The voltage is 230V. Appliances you bring should have dual voltage and be equipped with the adapter from the two flat prongs to two round ones. It would be beneficial to purchase this adapter before leaving the U.S.