Bring only half of what you think you’ll need. Remember to leave some room to pack souvenirs for the trip home.
DO NOT pack your passport in your suitcase as you will need this document for your entry into Israel. It’s wise to make a photo copy of your passport and your air tickets and pack these in your suitcase to keep them separately from the originals.
In case your luggage doesn’t arrive at your destination when you do, always take important items in your carry-on bag, including of course your passport, air tickets, prescription medications, your own remedies for common travel ailments, reading material (it’s a long flight), a light sweater, etc.
Visa and Passports
Visas are not required for citizens of the USA or Canada.
Travel to Israel requires a passport which is valid for at least 6 months after your return from Israel.
If you are not a citizen of the USA or Canada, we highly recommend that you check with the Israeli Consulate closest to your home to ascertain what you must do in order to obtain an Israeli Tourist Visa.
Here is a list of the Israeli Consulates in the USA and Canada with their phone numbers.
Atlanta (404) 487-6500
San Francisco (415) 844-7500
Boston (617) 535-0200
Washington, D.C. (202) 364-5500
Chicago (312) 297-4800
Houston (832) 301-3500
Los Angeles (323) 852-5500
Miami (305) 925-9400
Toronto (416) 640-8500
Montreal (514) 940-8500
Ottawa (613) 567-6450 Ext: 228
You can also check Israel visa requirements online at:
Please arrive at the airport at least 3 hours prior to your scheduled departure time.
Transatlantic flights usually allow one (1) checked piece of luggage and one (1) carry-on bag. Please check your airline’s regulations as to the weight and size of the bags.
Airline Security departing from the USA & Israel
Security checks are routinely carried out for your protection and safety. No matter which airline you are flying, expect to be asked about the contents of your luggage, whether you packed your bags yourself, and if they have been in your possession for the entire time before reaching the airport. Do not accept any mail, packages or unknown items from anyone before arriving at the airport. Do not carry knives, scissors, or any sharp instruments on board with you. If you think you might be stopped, most probably you will be, so to be safe, pack these items in your suitcases.
Film and X-Ray Machines
X-Ray machines in the U.S. are usually safe for film of up to ISO 400 speed, but may damage film of ISO 800 speed and higher. Foreign X-Ray machines may be more powerful, so the chances of film damage, while small, are higher. Ask for a hand inspection of film, whenever you have to go through a security station with X-Ray equipment. Make this request easier and quicker by taking your film out of the canisters and carrying it in a clear plastic “ziploc” bag or lead-lined film bag.
Checking in at Your Hotel
If you arrive at your hotel before the customary 3:00 PM check-in time, your room may not be available. We suggest you store your baggage with the concierge and take the time to walk around and get a feel for your new city. Enjoy a cup of coffee at one of Israel’s excellent outdoor cafes and watch the world go by. Our hospitality staff will gladly recommend some restaurants or possible sites to visit.
In Israel, “casual” is the general rule for everyday sightseeing. In the evening, “elegant casual” would be the catchwords in both Tel Aviv & Jerusalem.
While September is the end of summer in Israel, it may still be quite hot particularly at the Dead Sea. Average temperatures in Tel Aviv are around 86; Jerusalem 71, the Galilee 90 and the Dead Sea around 100. So keep clothing loose fitting and lightweight. Cotton & linen garments will keep you comfortable and are easily laundered. Jerusalem can be cool in the evenings so pack a sweater or other lightweight outer garment. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit, sunscreen lotion, a hat, sunglasses, some comfortable walking shoes, sneakers and sandals.
For visits to holy sites modest dress is a must (no shorts or sleeveless shirts) and a head covering is required.
The Small Stuff
We recommend that you bring along shampoo and conditioner for hotels where it may not be supplied. We also encourage you to bring facial tissues, wash-n-dry towelettes, some safety pins, a small sewing kit, a travel alarm clock, a small flashlight, electrical adapters (a must), and of course a camera (if it’s digital, bring along an extra battery or charger).
The official language of Israel is Hebrew. Most signs in Israel are in three languages: Hebrew, English & Arabic. You will find that most Israelis do speak English fairly well.
Temperatures in mid-September are in the high 80’s and lower 90’s. Tel Aviv and the Galilee will be hot & humid, Jerusalem is drier and cooler, particularly at night. The Dead Sea and Masada are extremely hot, around 100 degrees but dry. Some good news – there most probably won’t be a drop of rain.
The currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS).One Israeli Shekel is worth around 28 cents.
Each Shekel is divided into 100 “agurot”. NIS bills come in denominations of 20, 50, 100 & 200 Shekels.
Coins are in denominations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 Shekels. On arrival in Israel, it’s a good idea to use your bank card to withdraw some Shekels from the ATM in the arrival hall at Ben Gurion Airport, or change some dollars or travelers’ checks at a bank. There are ATM machines all over Israel and credit cards are widely accepted.
Bank operating hours are generally Sunday through Thursday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm and from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Banks are closed on Fridays (some banks may be open on Friday morning) & Saturdays.
Tipping in Israel is discretionary but expected, similar to most of the Western world.
At restaurants, a regular tip for your waiter is 10-15% depending on how good the service was and how much you ordered. In a bar, you should usually leave a tip of a few shekels, depending on what you are ordering. Occasionally, the gratuity is automatically added to the bill, so be sure to keep an eye open for this. It is customary to leave US $1/person/day for the maid when checking out of the hotel.
Newspapers in Israel
Both local and International newspapers are readily available in a number of Languages. For English, you should look for The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz (the English edition comes together with the International Herald Tribune).
Time difference with Israel
Israel Standard time is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST) in the USA.
Almost all hotel rooms are equipped with hairdryers and all have shaver sockets. For other appliances, Israel’s electricity is 220V A/C, single phase 50-cycles; 110/220V transformers can be used. Israeli outlets have three prongs. We suggest that if you don’t have an adapter, visit a hardware/electrical supply store where adapter/converter kits that include the entire range of plugs can be obtained.
Israel uses the Metric system.
Distance – A meter is around 3 inches longer than a yard (39” and a bit). A kilometer (km) is just over 0.62 mile. Multiply km by 0.6 for a rough idea of how many miles you’ve gone.
Weight – A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds. Therefore, 500 grams is 1.1 lb, 250 grams is about a half-pound, etc.
Volume – A liter is just under 34 ounces. Therefore, a half-liter (a popular size for beer bottles) is a little more than a pint. Wine service by the glass is usually in the 125–200milliliter (ml) range. A 330 ml package is equal to 12 Ounces.
Food & Drink
Lunches & Dinners – When dining on your own, you may order as many or as few courses as you want and pay accordingly, “a la carte.” Note that meals in hotels tend to be more expensive than in local restaurants. Tea & Coffee aren’t included with hotel dinners.
Beverages – Water is generally safe for drinking. Bottled water is always a safe alternative for anyone who is overly cautious.
Health, Vaccinations and Medicines
Israel is an ultra-modern country with the world’s highest number of doctors per capita and a health and hospital system that is the envy of the world. No vaccinations are required to visit Israel (unless you have been in an area where there have been epidemics of cholera, yellow fever or ebola). You can purchase most standard over-the-counter equivalent of North American drugs in Israel. You can also bring supplies of your standard prescription drugs with you. If you need to bring vials of medicines and syringes, bring along a letter from your doctor attesting to the fact that you need these medicines. If the need arises to see a doctor while you are in Israel, check with your hotel concierge.
Travel Insurance (including medical coverage) is highly recommended for all foreign travel. After your initial deposit has been processed, you will be advised to return to the 2019 WSB Super Trip website for additional information. We will need everyone’s passport information, the names of those accompanying you, and the exact type of accommodation that you require (single, double or triple room). At that time, you will be able to see all information regarding travel insurance as well information on flights to Israel.
Staying in touch
Dialing Israel from the U.S.: Dial 011-972 and then the number in Israel.
Dialing the U.S. from Israel: Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint all have toll free access numbers. Ask your hotel operator how to dial directly from your room. Or use your cell phone. American Cell phones that work overseas will work in Israel as well.
U.S. Customs Regulations
Before leaving the U.S., register items of value such as expensive cameras and video gear with Customs at your Gateway City, and get a certificate to prove on your return that you took them with you.
Prescription drugs should be labeled and kept in their original containers to avoid any misunderstandings. All insulin-dependent diabetics should bring a letter from their physician confirming the need to carry insulin syringes and testing lancets, and these should be brought in their original containers clearly marked with the pharmacy prescription label.
Luggage is subject to examination upon arrival and departure. Returning to the U.S., residents are granted a tax exemption on articles totaling up to $400 in retail value provided they accompany you, are for your own use, and are declared. The $400 exemption may not be claimed if you have used the exemption, or any part of it, within the preceding 30-day period. The exemption is not cumulative. No more than 200 cigarettes (one carton) and 100 cigars maybe included in your exemption.
One liter (33.8 fl. Oz.) of alcoholic beverages is allowed duty-free for those over 21 years of age, if it is not in violation of the laws of the state in which you arrive.
Customs regulations permit U.S. citizens traveling abroad to send home one gift each day (excluding tobacco, perfume and liquor) not exceeding a value of $50. The package must be clearly marked “Gift Enclosed” and the value must be clearly indicated on the outside. Gifts mailed home in this way need not be included in your customs declaration.
VAT (Value Added Tax) Refund
Tourists can qualify for a VAT refund in Israel. VAT is added on to many of the items and merchandise tourists buy while visiting Israel. The current VAT in Israel is 17 percent. While that may seem somewhat high and add a good chunk of money to your more expensive purchases, the good news is that you can apply for the refund of that extra tax money before leaving the country at Ben Gurion Airport.
What qualifies for a VAT refund?
Chances are, you will purchase a few keepsakes to bring back home with you. In order to qualify for a VAT refund:
- Your purchase must have been made at a store that participates in this refund (it is easy to check this, there will be a “tax refund for tourists” sticker on the door or window of the shop)
- Your purchase must have cost more than 400 shekels (including the VAT tax)
- You must be taking the items out of the country and they must be for personal use
- Items may not be food, drinks or tobacco (these do not qualify for a VAT refund)
Simply having the receipt of an item will not guarantee a refund. When you make a purchase, ask the store owner for a special tax-refund invoice. It must contain the printed name of the store. You will need to have the invoice, the receipt and the item with you when applying for the refund.