Preparations to get ready
Read this information below anytime in advance of your trip so that you have enough time to prepare. A few short weeks before your departure, you will see a page appear on this website for your specific group. It will be titled by your departure date or Tour Leader. That information will be specific only to your bus and will include more detail and last minute things to review.
If you desire to make phone calls on your trip and receive calls from home, you can use your own cell phone by calling your carrier and making certain that it will work. You can rent a phone off the internet. Just Google "phone rentals for international travel” to see a large variety of options. If you are using AT&T or Verizon, be certain to check on the rates and then know how to check your usage overseas.
Technology is rapidly changing so that what might have worked for you or a friend in the past may not be best now. Below are two apps that if you and those you may want to talk to at home, both download one of these, then your phone calls will be free. They work through the internet. Both your hotel and bus will have internet access so you can call at anytime. The two services or apps are called Signal and WhatsApp.
Depending on what time of the year you are there, you could be “layering” your clothes. So in the coldest climate you can start your day in the early morning with a light jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt. By midmorning you’ll be usually in short shirtsleeves until late in the afternoon.
There’s exceptions where you could be quite cool such as the beautiful boat ride on the Sea of Galilee in February or December where a jacket and sweater might be necessary. Below is a climate chart for Israel showing temperature averages.
Look at the chart below for the column showing your time of year. Then look at the 3 zones with stars that will cover your entire trip from the north to the south.
The water in Israel is safe to drink; nevertheless, it is different from what you are used to and people with sensitive stomachs may want to stick to bottled water. Also, Israelis don't usually put ice in their drinks, so if you want some, ask for kerakh.
Cold bottled water is provided on the bus at a very modest price. There will be a cooler in the front next to the Driver who proudly keeps that stocked at all times. Take one as you're getting on or off the bus but never get up from your seat while the bus is moving.
Israel has great food. You’ll generally have breakfast and dinner at the hotel which is part of your package price. You will NOT tip at those meals as the tipping you will pay to your Tour Leader covers those gratuities.
Most of the hotels are kosher so there’s dietary restrictions of no meat products in the morning or dairy products in the evening. But there’s such a vast variety and abundance of delicious foods at all the meals that it’s unlikely you’ll miss those items.
You will purchase your lunches at the restaurants the Tour Guide will take your group during your tours. There you may tip if you desire but in most all cases it's not necessary.
Typically you will have a choice of Falafels which fried ground chick peas served with salad in a pita bread. Meat eaters will love Shawarma which is meat sliced off a spit and served in pita (similar to gyros). Both are inexpensive, filling meals.
Lots of other Mediterranean specialties like Shishlik (shish kebab), Baklava (sweetmeat made of dough, honey, and nuts) and Moussaka (baked eggplant, minced meat, onion and parsley) will stimulate your taste buds.
The Americanization of Israel also means you'll find such familiar names as McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Dunkin' Donuts although it's unlikely your guide will take you there.
Dress is casual throughout. Comfortable pants, knit shirts, blouses are standard wardrobe. Only exception would be that major houses of worship expect respectful dress code including no shorts or sleeveless shirt or tops (for either gender) and no low cut blouses on women (draping a scarf around neck and arms is acceptable). Most Tour Guides will remind you of this each day. When you go to the Dead Sea you can wear shorts.
One or two pairs of good comfortable walking shoes with crepe soles or sport shoes such as tennis sneakers with good support are a must. Keep in mind that many streets are cobbled and slippery when wet.
Everyone should bring a swim suit. First, being baptized in the Jordan River is a highlight of the trip for those who wish to be baptized for the first time or be re-baptized a second time. You'll be provided for a small fee the following a gown to wear, a locker room to change and shower after the baptism, a towel, and a certificate.
The white gown provided becomes transparent when wet which necessitates the swim suit. The facility is extremely safe and you'll be surprised how comfortable the water can be anytime of the year. Friends from your bus who are not being baptized will hold your valuables and take photos. The facility is very sanitary and being in the water is very safe.
The second reason for bringing a swimsuit is for another highlight of the tour which is floating in the Dead Sea. You'll spend enough time at a Dead Sea shoreline facility that again, provides a locker for you to change into your swimsuit. You simply sit on the water and float without moving a muscle because of the high salt content.
Money / Currency
Do not carry large amounts of cash. Traveler’s checks are no longer preferable as they are difficult to cash. Hotels charge high fees for this service so use a bank or “service center” for this purpose. We recommend you consider other resources for obtaining local currency like ATM (bank) cards and credits cards.
It is possible in Israel, Egypt, and Jordan to never exchange your U.S. currency into the local currency. Our currency is readily acceptable. You will receive change however in the local currency which you can spend before you leave. Some travelers believe in carrying $50 to $100 in 1’s and 5’s for bargaining with and paying street vendors. In European countries you must exchange your U.S. currency to Euros as vendors and restaurants will not accept dollars.
ATM machines are widely available especially in larger towns and cities. If you take your ATM card with you, be sure you have a personal identification number (PIN) designed to work overseas and, if you have not used your card overseas before, have verified with your bank that your card is connected with an international ATM network.
According to many reports, ATMs offer the best exchange rates. If you decide to use your ATM card as your primary source of funds, you should also have another source of money, a credit card that you can withdraw against in the rare case your ATM card becomes damaged or is unusable for any reason.
Major Credit Cards
VISA and MasterCard are widely accepted in most major cities, but fees and service charges vary from company to company. Visa is the most popular and is accepted even in many smaller shops. Call your credit card provider and bank to make them aware you’ll be traveling overseas. Your first charge might go through without notification to your provider but it’s very possible they’ll stop any further putting you in an uncomfortable situation.
We recommend that you take along one large suitcase per person with a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You may also take one carry on with maximum dimensions of 9” x 14” x 22”. However, most travelers need only the one large suitcase and perhaps a small carry on that will fit under their seat.
Airlines may allow even more luggage but we ask you to limit the amount in consideration of our bus storage and handling throughout the trip. For more information about luggage sizes you may check a website we recommend that is very clear and easy to follow regarding the different airlines. Simply click on the luggage logo.
Shampoo / Conditioner - be certain to bring your own as some hotels do not provide these handy containers.
Washcloth – most international hotels do not provide these. There will be all other towels.
Detergent and Universal Sink Stopper - if you wish to wash your clothes these are good to bring. A 50 lb. large suitcase should provide you enough clothes so this is not necessary.
Earplugs - muffle noise of plane w/sleeping
Eye drops - may become dry during flight
Digital Cameras - can be purchased inexpensively and take great photos. Bring with plenty of memory capacity for so many photo opportunities.
Be sure to bring:
Prescription drugs in original containers – and pack them in your carry-on luggage
Xerox copy of passport - kept separate from original, such as in suitcase. If original is lost or stolen, it usually can be re-issued within 24 hours with a copy. Without a copy reissuing can take 3 days or more.
Expensive jewelry - eliminates concern over possible thieves who look for easy targets.
Fanny packs - easy to pickpocket even when worn with the pocket facing in front.
Pack a supply of all medications you take regularly. Make sure your supply will be sufficient to last the entire trip, including any unexpected delays. It is a good idea to bring along a copy of your prescription. As an extra precaution, know the generic names of your medications because pharmaceutical companies overseas may use different brand names than those used in the United States
Medications available by prescription or over-the-counter sale in many countries do not necessarily meet the standards for safety, quality and consistency found at home, and familiar brands may not be available. Thus, the safest course of action is to pack plenty of what you are likely to need.
To prevent problems if your luggage is lost or misrouted, keep medications in their original containers and pack them in carry-on luggage.
Electrical Plug Adapters for your Hotel
There are two issues pertaining to electrical requirements for your appliances to be plugged into the wall outlets inside your hotel room to operate shavers and hair dryers or charge your phones. The first is very simple which is that the outlets in the walls of countries outside the U.S. have different wall outlets. So that’s easily remedied by an “Adapter” aptly named.
You simply plug your appliance into the adapter and that adapter fits perfectly into the wall electrical outlet. However each country may have a different wall outlet requiring a different adaptor. Below is a picture of those specific for Israel which also works in other countries as well. You’ll note there’s 2 prong as well as 3 prong to be properly grounded.
You can see they’re not expensive on the internet but buying them at a retail store is 2 or 3 times as expensive. Buy them at any large retailer or any luggage store. You need at least one but two per room is a good idea in case one is lost or left at the first hotel or you have multiple appliances.
Voltage Converters: may not be needed
The second concern is that the electric current you will encounter is 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 cycles. Because this is so much higher than the normal voltage for our appliances in the U.S., you’re hair dryer could melt if you plugged that into their outlet with your adapter. We say that to get your attention.
The way this is rectified is by purchasing a voltage converter which steps down their power of 220 to our 110. These converters can cost over $20 and you may only use them on this one trip unless you plan to travel internationally extensively. There is one step you should do before investing in a converter.
Look at the appliances you’ll be bringing with you. A hair dryer often has a switch that you can turn to make it safe to use in a 220 outlet. Most cell phones, computers, and tablets automatically adapt to a 220. Most equipment will adapt automatically or have a switch you can turn on to be DUAL VOLTAGE.
You must check for yourself that your appliance will work with the higher voltage.