Both the web and many travel guide books are packed with travel information that can assist you with your preparations for your visit to Israel.
I offer some additional recommendations which I have listed in the following categories. My tips are based mainly on my personal experience and include ideas from friends and colleagues.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months from your planned return date. You will not be allowed to fly if this is not the case.
Photocopies: I recommend making two sets of photocopies of all your documents. One set should be left with a family member at home, and the other set should be kept with you but separate from the original document. Alternatively, an excellent idea is to scan all your documents and email them to your online account. This way your documents can be accessed when needed.
Drivers: bring your driving license even if you are not planning to drive.
Many hotels in Israel belong to international chains so if you are a member of the hotel chain clubs bring your membership card with you.
Prescriptions: Bring your medical and eye prescriptions – just in case!
Buying Shekels: The best way to obtain shekels is by using your ATM card. Only ATM cards with 4 digit PIN numbers will work in the Israeli banking system. Money can also be exchanged at hotels, in banks, and in official money changing bureaus.
Shopping: You can pay almost anywhere with an internationally recognized credit card. My advice is to mainly use plastic. Additionally, all prices in stores and most vendors usually include all taxes in the price displayed. As a tourist you are entitled to a V.A.T. exemption. Ask the sales person for a receipt, and fill out the forms, which you will need to hand in at Ben Gurion Airport when you leave the country. You will receive the refund by mail at home at a later date.
My main advice is to dress casually and to be comfortable – everywhere you go! Israel has a very, very casual dress code as a way of life. Unless your group has plans that require it, you don’t need jackets, ties or cocktail gowns!!
Sabbath: The dressiest event you will be attending is Friday night dinner. For this, a white shirt, or a nice blouse is suitable attire.
Climate, seasons and dressing: Layers work!
Winter: Israel has a moderate climate, even in the winter. You do not need have snow parkas, winter boots, wool pants or very warm sweaters. You won’t need to wear them! Rather, light layers work best: T shirts and long sleeve polos; fleece pullovers; light jackets and light rain gear usually work for all conditions.
Summer: In the summer, I would recommend a few articles Israelis love and should be adopted by you:
Sandals! I spend the whole summer wearing my sandals and I recommend you do the same.
Bring a lightweight fleece jacket for summer evenings in the mountains where it can be chilly or for traveling on air-conditioned busses and indoor venues that may be overcooled.
Bring with you that incredible invention of pants with zip-off parts. These are perfect for touring in Israel, enabling you to visit a holy site in the morning and then go hiking in the afternoon. Zip the bottom part of the pants on or off, and you are dressed for all occasions.
Women will need to cover their arms for visiting the kotel, mosques, and some churches. Also the synagogues in Sefad require modest attire. Be sure to have a scarf to put over your head and shoulders or a long sleeved blouse with you for visiting these sights. It is preferable to wear a skirt rather than pants or shorts.
I recommend that every traveler carries a day pack containing a few useful items for daily use: sun block, hat, water bottle, book, jacket or pullover. You won’t need to carry your daypack to all the sites but having these items handy on the tour bus or in the mini-van will be essential for your comfort throughout the tour.
Traveling in modern times we carry many devices and appliances that need to be charged occasionally: laptop, digital camera, shaver, I-pod, hair dryer. The power in Israel differs from the US both with the outlet size and shape, and also with a different voltage system. To charge your appliances, you will need both an adapter and a converter. Bring them with you from home, as they are more expensive to buy in Israel.
The three major health issues that affect travelers to Israel are:
- Stomach upsets
My tips to prevent these hazards are:
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
- Be generous with your sun block and stay out of the sun at midday to prevent sunburn.
- Wash your hands often to prevent stomach issues.