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FAQs

  • Israel
  • What should I wear?

    Dress code is casual, with good walking shoes. In the cooler season, we suggest that you wear  ‘peel on peel off clothes’. Jerusalem is always slightly cooler than Tiberias. In October/November when the ‘fist rain’ of the season falls – you should take care when walking on the slippery surfaces. Regardless of the time of the year, you should have sun tan protection (wear a sun hat) and drink at least 2 litres of water a day. Water is always available on your coach at a small charge. At holy sites you should ensure that you are covered below the knee and cover bare shoulders.

  • Can I get a VAT refund?

    In order to avoid Israeli VAT do not pay for extras (drinks etc.) at your hotel as you have them, but charge them to your bill and pay with either foreign currency or a credit card, the latter of which are widely accepted in Israel. If you make a purchase from a shop approved by the Ministry of Tourism, you can make a claim for a VAT refund upon departure as long as you have the necessary forms from the shop.

    There is no VAT reclaim for products purchased in Bethlehem and/ or within the Palestinian Authority area.

  • What are the passport requirements?

    Your passport should be a full 10-year one and should have at least 6 months validity on it. If you are a non-British passport holder you may require a visa. The Israeli passport control, do not stamp your passport on entry or departure.

  • What is my baggage allowance?

    This depends on with whom you are flying. For low - cost airlines baggage allowance is 20 Kilos and 23 Kilos on El Al. Hand luggage is 10 kilos on low cost airlines and 8 kilos on El Al. We advise that you recheck this when booking.

  • What is the voltage in Israel?

    The voltage is the same as the UK with round continental plugs - you will require an adaptor.

  • Do I require any inoculations?

    You do not require any inoculations. Make sure your tetanus is up to date.

  • How can we best make sure our suitcase is easily identified when coming off the conveyor belt?

    We will give you an ITS baggage sticker. Please stick this luggage label of ours on the bottom of your suitcase, which will give you easy identification when it comes off the conveyer belt.

  • What are the meals like in the hotels?

    Meals are all served ‘buffet style’. Which means that you can eat as much as you like. Breakfasts and dinner are huge, with a wide variety to meet all dietary requirements. The food in Israel at the majority of hotels is ‘kosher’ i.e. no milk and meat products served together and certain products are not available e.g. Shellfish and pork. You will not notice the difference.

  • What are the lunches like when we are touring?

    If they are not included in your package then I suggest a budget of £10.00 - £12.00 per person for lunch per day is ample. But you can get by with much less, bar a St Peter's fish lunch on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, which is £15.00 per person

  • Who do we tip?

    Gratuities are rarely included in you package. Hotel staff is left normally for you to give directly. But for your guide and driver there is a collection on the bus and we  suggest £3.00 per person for the guide and £1.50 per person for the driver - per sightseeing day.

  • Any security tips?

    Please do not accept from anyone any parcels/packages/envelopes for delivery to anyone in Israel; if you have to, please open it and declare this to security at the airport. Also if you have any concerns look at  – The Foreign & Commonwealth Office Travel Advisory Notices see https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

  • What currency do we take?

    All major credit cards are accepted in Israel. Tourist shops tend to price their products in US dollars. You can use the ATM’s with either your credit card or debit card. US dollars are the most widely used and accepted foreign currency.

  • Will my EHIC be accepted?

    Absolutely not! You must have fully comprehensive travel insurance. Medical care is excellent in Israel – but tourist must have travel insurance.

  • Any advice for swimming in the Dead Sea?

    If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure you should not go into the Dead Sea. You should not try and swim – just float on your back. You should not swallow any of the water. Do not wear any jewellery for the salt will strip it. Do not get the water into your eyes.

  • How can I best telephone home?

    The most expensive way is from your hotel room. The majority of hotels have free WIFI in the hotel lobby. You can purchase from kiosks telephone cards, which can be used from pay phones. You can also buy Israeli sim cards.

  • What happens if I get lost?

    If you are travelling with a group, you should always make sure you have the tour leader’s or the guide’s telephone number in your mobile phone. The key factor is that you should always have a ‘buddy’ on the coach who will make sure that you are on it before it sets off. The guide always counts before leaving a site and you can rest assured that they will not leave without you. So do not panic – stay where you are and they will find you.

  • What happens if it is too dangerous (i.e. outbreak of war) to visit a country where we have booked our holiday or whilst we are at the destination?

    1. Travel insurance does not cover for war.

    2. As members of ABTA we abide by their code of conduct. If two weeks prior to your departure the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issue a travel advisory notice that advises all but essential travel to that destination - we shall contact you and give you three choices.
    (a) Total refund bar the travel insurance premium.
    (b) Option to go to another destination
    (c) To postpone your departure

    3. If you are at the destination and a Foreign Office Travel Advisory Notice is issued against all but essential travel to your location; we and/or our local agents will be in touch with you immediately. You will have the choice to either continue your holiday or return as soon as possible. You will be refunded for any unused accommodation and or sightseeing booked.

  • Is it safe to drink the water?

    From country to country the biological contents of the drinking water differ; hence we always advise that you drink only bottled water. We advise extra care for your personal hygiene (i.e. wash your hands regularly and try to use a handkerchief if you sneeze) because when you are on a coach, in close proximity with other travellers, it is very easy to catch a bug.

Do’s & Don’ts for travelling in Israel

DO:

  • Do use local greetings: You are not likely to offend anyone in Israel by trying to use the country’s traditional greeting. Just as us Brits do not take offence to visitors from other countries saying “hello,” you are welcome to use the Israeli greeting “shalom” when you visit. It will help you blend in with the locals. The literal translation of the traditional greeting is “peace,” and it is used for both hello and goodbye across Israel. Hence it is often said Israelis do not know if they are coming or going!
  • Do ask questions: Be curious about the places you visit. In Israel, there is a proud culture among its citizens. They enjoy talking about their country, the sites to see, the Jewish religion and even politics. You should not shy away from talking to locals about these subjects if you are in a conversation with a person who knows all about the area. There is no better way to discover the differences in Israel and your own hometown than this – and that is what you are there for.
  • Do remember to drink plenty of water, especially during the hot season (June through November). At least 2 liters (1/2 gallon pp. per day).
  • Do wear comfortable shoes and clothing (light layers); also a hat that will provide sun protection. Remember, in Israel, comfortable is  “in”.
  • Do download and use Waze for the best navigational guide available. It will guide you in English or Hebrew or whatever language your require and give you real time updates on traffic, accidents, speed cameras, and other road hazards and get you to your destination.
  • Do make sure women in your group are wearing long sleeves and pants when visiting religious sites.
  • Do remain patient (Savlanut) as sometimes things move slower than you are accustomed to but in the end it gets done.
  • Do sample the food everywhere you visit. There is so much more offered than the traditional Israeli street food “felafel”! The Israeli food is really amazing and the Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest in the world.
  • Do indulge in Israeli made wines. They are really world class!
  • Do agree on a fixed price for your destination before you enter a taxi. Drivers have a habit of adjusting the price for foreigners.

DON’TS

  • Don’t forget sunscreen. Israel is a sunny place with a very high average daily U.V. rating. I recommend you bring your own..
  • Don’t buy any non-Israeli made specialty products as they are likely to actually cost more than buying them in your home country and many times are cheap imitations.
  • Don’t go anywhere without your mobile phone. It is relatively inexpensive and you can even call overseas. Buy a local sim card
  • Don’t plan to return from the Northern Israel on a Saturday evening unless you are prepared to sit in traffic for a few hours. Also travelling to Jerusalem on Sunday morning is probably not recommended for the same reason.
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle in the Shuks (open air markets). It is an expected part of the culture and if you don’t, you will likely overpay.
  • Don’t wander around the Golan Heights without a guide. This is a very tenuous area especially now. There are areas near the Syrian border that you need to stay away from plus there are still live minefields, believe it or not, from past wars. Remember the Golan Heights was a battlefield for a long time.
  • Don’t enter the sea in late June-July without first checking for jellyfish washed up on the beach. They are not deadly but can provide a pretty painful sting.
  • Don’t practice your newly discovered Hebrew or Arabic curse words or hand gestures on the locals. Remember the culture here is different and you may really offend someone without intending to.
  • Don’t wear your best bathing suit into the Dead Sea or Mineral Springs. It is possible that it may retain the smell of sulphur no matter how many times you wash it.
  • Don’t go into the Dead Sea with jewellery on, you may have a big surprise when you find that that gold ring is not gold at all. Never get the water into your eyes and if you have heart problems do not enter the Dead Sea.
  • Don’t smoke on Saturday: Smoking is bad for your health. Most people agree on that. But those who smoke might not realize it is also considered ill manners to smoke at certain times or in certain places in Israel. Of course, you will want to observe no-smoking signs wherever you are in Israel, but keep in mind that smoking is in direct violation of the “Shabbat,” a religious day observed on Saturdays in Israel. If you can refrain from smoking that day, that’s a plus. Otherwise, you should at least avoid doing it around religious places or in the presence of Orthodox Jews, who will find it offensive.
  • Don’t dress inappropriately: Dress codes are pretty simple and are common sense in Israel, but there are a few rules you might not be accustomed to. Make sure you pack conservative clothes for visiting any religious sites. Men should not wear shorts or go without shirts around these sites. When visiting Jewish shrines or memorials, it is also proper for men to cover their heads. Often there will be a complimentary yarmulke, a small skullcap, available to visitors who need to cover their heads. Women should not dress in anything that exposes bare legs or shoulders while visiting a holy site.
  • Don’t drink tap water: Drink bottled water, which is normally available on your tour bus or at supermarkets and kiosks. It is cheap and during the hot summers it is essential you drink at least 2 litres a day. Drinking tap water could cause you an upset stomach.
  • Don’t extend a handshake to a religiously observant person of the opposite sex. Displays of affection are inappropriate in religious areas and displays of same-sex affection are not well received anywhere. On the bus do not sit next to an ultra-Orthodox passenger of the opposite sex. On ultra-Orthodox segregated busses, women must sit at the back.
  • Don’t try to chastise people who cut into lines ‘just to ask a question’ or to pay for one item at the cash register. Take it in good humour. Use the same approach when it comes to being on time. Punctuality is not a priority for locals.

Tips for travelling in Israel

Names:

Israelis are disarmingly informal. Unless they are providing a formal service (such as hotel staff, doctors, or a religious official), they will immediately assume a first-name basis, and you can do the same.

Sabbath Dinner:

If invited to Sabbath (Shabbat) dinner in an observant home, do not request milk products with a meat meal; refrain from smoking; check with the host before turning the lights on or off; silence your cell phone; bring a small gift; and, if you bring wine, make sure it is Kosher and do not expect the bottle to be opened the same evening.

Arrival and Departure

Israeli security checks are comprehensive, so be prepared for a potentially long wait at the airport. If you are of Arabic appearance, have stamps issued by Arabic countries in your passport or hold a Palestinian Authority identification number, expect to be questioned intensively and possibly detained.  If you accept a parcel for a third party to take on the plane; you must open before the person giving it to you and you must declare it to the security staff at check in. Know your itinerary well beforehand and if you have a entry visa, ensure it covers all the entries e,g, if you are visiting Egypt or Jordan as well. Never joke with the security personnel.

Personal Safety

Israel’s independence was in 1948 and since then they have suffered a few problems; hence yours and their security is paramount. Avoid public demonstrations and if you venture out alone tell people where you are going and what time you expect to return.

Religious Holidays

Bear religious holidays in mind when you’re planning your time in Israel to avoid inflated prices and poor or nonexistent service. In Jewish areas, shops close and public transportation stops running on Friday afternoon to observe the Sabbath, and does not gear up again until after sunset on Saturday. Many non-Orthodox Jews drive to parks or beaches on their day off, so the roads are likely to be busy, but don’t attempt to drive in ultra-Orthodox areas where the roads are typically closed. Alternatively, Israel’s Arab population observes the Islamic calendar, meaning the holy month of Ramadan is an important time for them. Held in late summer — the precise dates vary each year — Ramadan is a time when Muslims fast during the daylight hours, so you’ll find it difficult to eat out during the day at this time of year.

Shopping

Negotiate in the East and not in the West! Which means half the fun of shopping in areas under Palestinian influence, e.g. Jericho, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem expect you to negotiate; not so in Israel.

Synagogues

There is no rule that active synagogues are not open to non Jews. They are open for prayer on Friday night – around sunset and again on the Sabbath from the early morning. Remember – men and women sit separately. Normally there is a ladies gallery.

Tipping

In Arabic it is called Bucksheesh – something for nothing. It is widely given and also expected. Your guides, coach drivers, in a restaurant and taxi drivers. Deserving hotel staff should also be rewarded.

Israeli VAT

In order to avoid Israeli VAT do not pay for extras (drinks etc.) at your hotel as you have them, but charge them to your bill and pay with either foreign currency or a credit card, the latter of which are widely accepted in Israel.

Inncoulations

You do not require any inoculations. But you should always ensure that your tetanus is up to date.

Money

All major credit cards are accepted in Israel Tourist shops tend to price their products in US dollars. ATMS are easy to find.

MonthWeatherCost Considerations
January *Winter – cool expect rainLow season
February *Winter – cool expect rainLow season – flights at half term maybe more expensive
MarchSpring – getting warmerHigh season depending on when Easter and Passover falls
AprilSpring – very pleasantHigh season depending on when Easter and Passover falls
May *Spring very warmHigh season depending when Pentecost – Shavout falls
June *Spring/Summer hotHigh season depending when Pentecost – Shavout falls
JulySummer – very hotHigh Season
AugustSummer – hottest monthHigh Season
SeptemberEnd summer – very hotHigh season depending when Jewish New Year, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles falls
October *Autumn – very pleasant – maybe a little rainHigh season depending when Jewish New Year, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles falls
November *Autumn – very pleasant – maybe a little rain - coolerLow season
DecemberAutumn/winter – mixed weatherLow season except for Christmas period for flights

* Popular months for pilgrimage travel

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