Traveling to Israel? by yourself ? with Family? With a spouse, partner, or friend?
Here are some important tips to keep in mind.
In my experience as a Licensed Tour Guide in Israel, I have toured and traveled with many different people. Many plan their trip itinerary with the help of a tour guide or travel company. Others prefer to plan their own visit to the best of their ability. Everyone comes equipped with lists of places they want to see, places their friends and relatives have told them they must visit. Many have researched sites online, and come well prepared. They come with their own cell phone, loaded with the latest apps.
They seem ready to go.
Passports and tickets in hand, they board their plane and arrive in Israel. We meet and get to know one another. Till now, we have communicated via email or phone. Now the tour begins, and they are in my hands.
This is when it gets interesting. I start to ask them some basic yet important questions.
1: Did you bring a credit card to use along the way? Most people carry at least one of the major credit cards; Visa, MC, AMEX.
2: Do you know your PIN number?
This is where many people get caught off guard. I’ve toured with people who have no problem using their credit card to pay for entrance fees, meals, hotels, or incidentals as they go. In Israel most sites, restaurants, hotels, etc accept major credit cards. Visa and MC are the most preferred.
But when you need to withdraw cash, that’s another matter.
Some, forget their pin number. Others may not know their PIN number. They rely on their Apps or cell phone, which may have their PIN numbers already stored somewhere; perhaps in cyberspace. There are even some who try to hide their embarrassment, who tell me that they never use an ATM machine so they don’t need to know their PIN number.
In today’s world, it is imperative that you travel with a credit card and know your PIN number!
The next question I ask is, do you carry Travelers’ Insurance?
Many people are not prepared for this. They seem very surprised and even offended that I am asking about this. Truth be told most people have not thought about this. We think or feel that we are fine. Nothing drastic will happen to us on a trip.
And they are almost right. 99% of the time nothing drastic will happen.
But people are people. We do catch colds, infections, strep throats, teeth problems and all types of “normal” sicknesses and/or diseases while we travel. We may need to visit a doctor and /or an emergency room. Even for simple illnesses or injuries. Doctors, Dentists, etc all cost money!
Most, but not all doctors, dentists, or hospitals will accept major credit cards. Some will accept internationally recognized insurance plans. Some plans require you to pay the total upfront and apply it to be reimbursed. Other plans require small payment upfront, and the insurance company will cover the rest.
Check with your homeowner’s insurance, travel provider, credit card company and make sure you carry the travel insurance that is right for you!
Follow that old Boy Scout Motto. Be Prepared!
One more thing:
In Israel, each visitor must carry their passport on them at all times. I know that people are afraid that they may lose their passport while touring. Always have a copy! Scan your passport and any other important personal info into your phone or cyberspace. That way if it does get lost or stolen, you can prove your identity to the relevant authorities.
When arriving in Israel, whether by air, sea, or land you will be given a Gate Card. This Gate Card is an official form of identification of your Visa status while in Israel. It identifies you as a visiting tourist. Police and the security checkpoints require this card and may ask for it. All hotels ask to see the Gate Card when you check in to assure that you are a foreign tourist. If you do not show this Gate Card upon arriving at your hotel, they will have to charge additional V.A.T. tax to your bill, as if you are an Israeli!
Be sure to keep this card together with your passport. Keep it until you leave the country. Do not lose it!
Think about it. You have spent a lot of time preparing for your trip. Don’t let simple mistakes get in the way of enjoying your visit.