Top 10 tips to make your Israel tours smooth and memorable

Before you leave

1.     Visas and Passports

Family trips to IsraelAll visitors to Israel require a passport valid for 6 months after your scheduled departure date. Be sure to check your passports before finalizing your bookings so you have time to renew if necessary.

Visitors from the US and Canada require a visitor Visa; the free visitor visa is printed out at the airport when arriving in the country. It is used to activate the turnstile to exit passport control.

Keep the visa with your passport at all times. During your Israel tours you will be required to show it at hotel check-in and other times for tourist rates and discounts.

2.     Health and traveling

Before travelling, consult your doctor to make sure you are fit for all activities planned for your Israel tours. Prior to arrival, inform Dekel Tours of any medical or physical needs of any member of your group so arrangements can be made.

Also, inform Dekel Tours of special dietary needs prior to arrival so appropriate arrangements can be made.

Planning your private tours in Israel, Dekel Tours will do it’s best to take all of the information into consideration.

3.     Flying & Baggage

Most major US and European airlines fly to Israel. The airport code for Ben Gurion is TLV. Flight schedules and prices change frequently but the best deals are offered to early bookings. Dekel Tours will find the best flight deals for your group or family trip to Israel, according to your dates that suit you and your budget.

Most transatlantic flights allow for 1 free checked bag and 1 carry on per passenger, with exceptions for business and first class flights. Check your airline’s website for size and weight limitations – for international flights, airlines are stricter with these limits; overweight fees will be charged at check-in. Additional bags can be checked for additional charges.

4.     Weather & Packing List

Israel has a Mediterranean climate characterized by hot and dry summers and cool rainy winters. Summers can be humid along the coast and very hot and dry in the interior areas. Rainy season runs from October to early May, rainfall peaks December through February. Rainfall can vary significantly across the country.

Download Dekel Tours’ summer packing list or winter packing list as a guide for your Israel tours.

On your visit

5.     Shabbat and Holidays

Private tours in IsraelIsrael’s work week runs from Sunday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday are the weekend.

Shabbat closures: All government offices are closed Friday and Saturday. Most business offices, banks, etc. are closed Friday and Saturday; some might have Friday morning hours. In Jerusalem, stores and most restaurants are closed Friday afternoon through Saturday. In other parts of the country, most stores and many restaurants are closed Friday afternoon through Saturday. Bus transportation stops one hour before the official start of Shabbat and resumes one hour after the official end of Shabbat.

All Jewish holidays begin at nightfall of the day before. Similar to Shabbat, offices, business and transportation will close prior to the start of the holiday.

Dekel Tours will plan your trip so you’ll make the most out of your private tours in Israel. In addition, it will provide 24-hour local support while you are in Israel, and your Israel private tour guide will be happy to supply advice and guidance.

6.     Local currency

The local currency of Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS) or, simply, shekel; plural is sh’kalim. One shekel contains 100 agorot. Coins come in 10 agorot, ½, 1, 2, 5, and 10 shekel denominations. Bills come in 20, 50, 100, and 200 denominations. Prices will be displayed with the “₪” symbol followed by numbers, eg. . ₪50

Exchange rates vary on a daily basis. Historically the shekel has ranged between 3 and 4.50 per US$. As with all foreign currency, tourists shouldn’t worry about leveraging exchange rate fluctuations. Change your currency to shekels and enjoy your Israel tours.

Visitors can exchange currency at change bureaus in the airport and most cities, at banks, and at hotels. Change bureaus often give the best exchange rate and lowest fees compared to banks and hotels. Shop around a bit.

Your bank ATM card may be used at Israeli ATMs. Check with your bank before leaving and inquire about ATM fees, foreign exchange fees, and be sure to change your PIN to 4 digits so it will work in all ATMs in Israel. Some banks and credit cards allow foreign ATM withdrawals with reduced or no fees.

Dekel Tours recommends traveling with a small amount of cash and using credit cards and ATMs during your Israel trips.

Be sure to contact companies of all credit cards and bank cards you plan to use and tell them you are traveling internationally. They will ask you the dates of your Israel tours and put a note in your record so your charges will not be blocked.

7.     Communications in Israel

Family trips to IsraelCell phone service in Israel uses GSM 900/1800 frequency which means you need a cell phone that supports GSM at 900 Mhz or 1800 Mhz. With such a phone, you can buy or rent a SIM card for the duration of your visit.

Many visitors rent a phone with a calling plan for their trip to Israel. There is a vast array of companies renting and selling SIMs and phones for Israeli tourists. Dekel Tours is proud to partner with Phone Away from Home for all your communication needs.

Calling the US is easy. Your contact’s number needs to be prefaced with “001” followed by area code & number; e.g. 001-212-555-5555. If it is important for you to call back home, select a rental plan that includes international calling. Some plans also give you a US number so your family and friends can call you without dialing internationally.

Many visitors will find their hotel Wi-Fi and internet cafes cover their needs. However, sophisticated visitors and visitors with remote itineraries on their Israel trips might want to rent MiFi devices for their visit.

8.     Electronic Appliances in Israel

Unlike the US and Canada, Israel’ power is based on 220volts. Most power cables with power supplies (mostly for consumer electronics) will work in Israel with a simple plug converter. Check the power description on the device; if it reads “Input: 100-240v” then all you will need is an adaptor to change the plug style. Adaptors can be bought in any travel related store or online for less than US$5.00

If your device does not have this designation, you will need a transformer. Most hotels have an outlet and/or power convertor in the bathroom for blow-dryers and electric shavers only. Any other appliance will require power and outlet converter. Transformers are expensive and heavy to pack. Make a careful plan of what appliances you really need on your Israel tours.

9.     Transportation

Private tours in IsraelTravel around Israel is easy. The country has a long history of good public transportation focused on getting its citizens around town and around the country.

Egged busses serve all major cities and provide many intercity bus routes; all at reasonable pricing. Tickets can be purchased from the bus driver. For the Jerusalem light rail, tickets must be purchased prior to boarding and must be validated when boarding. An anonymous Rav Kav card can be purchased from the bus driver and loaded with single or multi-ride tickets. The advantage of Rav Kav is you can ride and transfer for 90 minutes without paying an additional fare. With regular tickets, each time you board a bus you pay a ticket.

Taxis in Israel are easy, inexpensive and everywhere. Be sure to insist on using the meter unless you really know the correct fare for the ride.

Intercity taxis provide a more comfortable ride than buses for a higher price. They can usually be picked up at the central bus stop. These taxis are mini-vans that fill up with passengers at one end and drop off at the other. You will need to wait until the taxi is full for your ride to start.

Let Dekel Tours plan your trip to Israel, including all of the logistics. Dekel Tours has tour vehicles of all sizes from family vehicles to charter buses, as well as luxury vans and VIP transportation, so you can choose one that fits your group’s needs.

10.  Checking into a Hotel

When checking into your hotel, you will be required to show both your Passport and your Visitor visa.