Planning your Trip to Israel

Filed in Trip-planning by on 30/12/2012 1 Comment
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Ben Gurion Airport

At Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: Flavio, CC BY 2.0)

Planning Your Trip to Israel: Practical Help

You are almost on your way to an exciting trip to Israel but, you are not sure what to bring or, what to expect at the ports of entry.  Entry is either by flight at Ben Gurion International Airport or by sea at Haifa or Ashdod ports where cruises dock to allow some time for shore excursions. Over three million people visit Israel each year,  a very tourist friendly country that processes entries as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Passport and Visas

Obviously you need a valid passport. Israel requires that it will be valid for six months after the date you depart from your home country. So, before planning your trip to Israel, renew your passport if it has less than six months left before it expires. Photocopy the main page in your passport in case your passport gets lost.

Israel has an arrangement with many countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, France and many more whose travelers to Israel do not need a visa to enter and they are listed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you are planning to also visit Arab countries after your visit to Israel ask the clerk not to stamp your passport. You will be asked to fill out a form with your personal details that will be stamped. If your stay is for more than two weeks it is a good idea to register with the embassy of your country.

Flight to Tel Aviv (Photo: Curimedia, CC BY 2.0)

Flight to Tel Aviv (Photo: Curimedia, CC BY 2.0)

Booking your Flight

You can use a free app such as Tripit which organizes your itinerary into one place, add maps, travel notes,  and sharing with friends and family.  You can purchase more advanced options including mobile alerts about flight delays.  The Jets Flight & Seat Advisor  available at the App Store, helps you search flights online for the best seats for over 100,000 flights.

While there are many flights available to travel to Israel no doubt the safest one is El Al Israel Airlines and it handles the majority of flights in and out of Ben Gurion International Airport.  They have a long and interesting history of security and assisting those in need. You can read more  here.

If you are leaving from the United States you can check for latest updates on the TSA site to know exactly what is allowed on board.

Meds, Insurance and Vaccines

Bring your meds, an extra prescription and keep a supply with you in case something happens to your luggage. Most drugs can also be obtained in Israel  but are not necessarily the same brand that you are used to. You do not need any vaccinations for traveling to Israel and yes, you can drink the water but, you may choose not to as it is one less thing your body has to acclimatize to during your stay.

One of my colleagues had the experience of becoming completely dehydrated without realizing it.  Despite drinking plenty of water (or so she thought),  she began to experience symptoms similar to strep throat with intense headache, swollen glands, and extreme muscle aches.  An astute doctor assured her it was dehydration, despite her insistence she needed an antibiotic and within an hour of drinking plenty of water, this time keeping track, she was back on her feet.

Low cost bottled mineral water is readily available at all groceries, supers, snack stands, and restaurants. Check if your hotel offers it, but you will most likely need to purchase it. Purchasing large 1.5 or 2 liter sized bottles is generally cheaper than the smaller 500 ml ones!

Wireless and Cell Phones

Most hotels have wireless for a laptop computer. Remember to inquire if the cost is included. There are also Internet cafes. A cell phone is a good idea to have and reasonable data plans are available, along with airport pickup and drop off.

DID YOU KNOW?

Israel is well equipped to deal with travelers who have special needs, including tour guides experienced with those who have disabilities.  You can find more information at the Access Israel website, a nonprofit organization promoting accessibility to Israel.

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  1. Janette Hull says:

    Last year we took a cruise on MSC but only had 2 days and one night in port. We want to re visit Israel for a longer one or two week stay. Any suggestions for best companies to use. We would like to cruise to Med from US. The flights from CA are sooooo long. Israel and Greece are the only countries I care to return to, except my own. We have been to every continent and would like to see more of Israel than our 2 days stay. Thanks for any help. Does Msc let you get off and stay and than get back on 2 weeks later????

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