Frequently Asked Questions
Will I need a passport?
Yes. All American citizens need a passport valid at least 6 months after their departure.
Do I need a visa to travel to Israel?
You will NOT need a visa entering Israel if you are an American citizen. If you have a different nationality or have a passport from a different nation, please visit the Israeli Embassy website to see if you are required to have a visa to enter Israel.
Do I need insurance to travel?
Though it is not required, it is HIGHLY recommended. Depending on the particular policy, travel insurance packages can cover a variety of costs from sudden cancellation of a trip and missed connections to emergency sickness or medical care while in Israel, as well as loss of baggage, and more! EWMT offers travel insurance through Travelex Insurance Services, a leading provider of travel insurance in the United States offering a wide range of customizable options to help meet your travel insurance needs.
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Are vaccinations required to go to Israel?
As Israel is a modern developed country with high levels of health and hygiene equal to those of Western countries, visitors entering Israel are not required to undergo any vaccinations prior to their arrival.
Will I have to share a room on my trip?
The tour price includes double occupancy for the duration of the trip, which means that you should plan to share a room with one other traveler. If you would like your own room at an additional cost, please select single occupancy for pricing.
Currency & Exchange
Currency in Israel
The State of Israel’s currency is the New Israel Shekel (NIS) or “shekel” for short. Bank notes are in denominations of NIS 20, 50, 100, and 200; coins are in denominations of NIS 10, NIS 5, NIS 2, NIS 1, and 50 and 10 agorot. (There are 100 agorot in each shekel, similar to 100 pennies in a single dollar.)
What are the currency exchange rates?
The exchange rate varies but is approximately $1 USD to 3.3 NIS.
How much money should I exchange?
Because Israel is very accustomed to tourism most of the locations throughout the Land will accept USD, and often times give you a better rate for paying in USD. Therefore we recommend you only exchange a small amount into Shekels for the “just in case”. Suggested amount would be somewhere around 50 USD. Please Note: Change is always given in Shekels so please be prepared with small bills such as $1, $5, $10, and $20 to make purchases.
Where can I exchange money?
While money can be exchanged at a variety of locations in Israel, we recommend exchanging money at the kiosk located near baggage claim at Ben Gurion Airport when you arrive. With the rates changing from place to place and banks charging commission, we find the best rate and easiest exchange to be at the airport.
Can I make cash withdrawals?
You can make cash withdrawals from any ATM using your debit card, but remember, it will dispense in Shekels. Also, you must be sure to notify your bank before your international travel or your card may decline. We recommend you bring at least one credit card and one debit card with you on your trip. Though some banks may advise against this (due to the hassle of possible theft during travel), you never know if you are going to need additional funds during your trip. You may just find that perfect piece of artwork for your home, or “have to” take that impromptu camel ride. You just never know. Better to be prepared than sorry you missed out.
Can I use my credit cards in Israel and not bring cash?
While we do recommend you bring at least one credit and debit card with you on your trip, we don’t recommend that’s all you bring. We recommend you bring enough extra cash to cover daily lunches, personal spending money, and any additional travel expenses you can foresee. Remember, lunches are between $12-15 USD per day, and souvenir prices are the same as you would find in the states. (For example – you could spend $60 on a pair of Roman glass earrings, and artwork can range between $25 for prints, and up to thousands of dollars for the original oil paintings.)
We recommend you bring cash because not all the places you will travel will accept credit cards, and trying to find an ATM during the travel is not always possible within the itinerary for that day.
How do I exchange Shekels for USD when returning home?
Shekels can be converted back to USD at the Ben Gurion Airport, up to $500 USD. Any remaining shekels over this amount that were acquired during a single visit to Israel (up to a maximum of $5,000 USD) can be reconverted with bank receipts proving the original conversion of the foreign currency.
How do tips and bargaining work?
Tips for your hotel staff, bellmen, drivers, and guides will most likely be included in the overall pricing for your trip (check your terms and conditions to verify); however, tips are not included for any personal travel and dining expenses that deviate from the set itinerary. In Israel it is customary to tip primarily in restaurants. When the bill does not include service, a 12% tip should be added to the payment. In hotels, individuals should tip the bellhops or any other service providers. Taxi drivers are generally not tipped.
Bargaining is acceptable in Israel, but not everywhere. In the open-air markets, do not hesitate to bargain, as it is part of the experience and doing so can lower the price. In stores, however, shopkeepers are legally required to display prices and for the most part are usually not open to bargaining.
Packing & Climate
Packing for Summer Travel
We always recommend dressing in LAYERS, especially while touring the Land and being on the go. If you are traveling during the summer months it can be very hot in the afternoons especially while walking around, but then become very cool in the evenings. Typically a t-shirt and shorts, or modest tank top and capri pants work well for the days, along with sturdy sneakers or walking sandals. Then having a light jacket or sweater on hand should be just right for the cool evenings. You do not need to “dress up” on your trip unless otherwise specified by your group leader. One nicer outfit would be advisable to pack for any special events listed in your itinerary such as the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem or a special dinner out on your free day.
Travel Tip: There are very few religious sites on the trip that require shoulders and knees to be covered due to the sacred aspect of the site. Your tour guide can tell you what day you will be at those sites. However, even if you forget and are wearing shorts or a tank top that day, you can always quickly cover your knees or shoulders with a scarf or cardigan while touring that site.
Packing for Winter Travel
Like the summer months, we always recommend to dress in LAYERS, especially while touring the Land and being on the go. Israel’s winter is cold but typically not much into the freezing temperatures. You can, however, experience cold rain at times. You will need warm clothing to layer with, a light coat (but no need for a heavy winter parka), a rain jacket, and good closed-toe walking boots or sneakers. Gloves and scarves are always good to have on-hand as well just in case. You do not need to “dress up” on your trip unless otherwise specified by your group leader.
What kind of weather should I expect?
Israel’s seasons are the same as you would find in the U.S. When it is summer in the U.S. it is summer in Israel, and when it is winter in the U.S. it is winter in Israel, and so on. The difference is the temperatures. Israel enjoys very hot dry summers (April-October) with temperatures ranging between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night. However, if you are traveling to the Dead Sea/Masada area it can be significantly hotter during these months, as it is a desert climate with very hot days and cold nights.
Israel has very mild winters (November-March) with temperatures ranging between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the night, making snowfall rare in many parts of Israel.
Please note that even in the summer months it does get cool in the evenings, similar to the effect of a desert. Therefore, even if you are traveling in the summer months you still want to pack a light jacket and pants. More on packing details in “What should I pack?”
Israel Average Temperatures
Converters and Adaptors…can I bring my blow-dryer and laptop?
Simply put, converters convert the amount of electrical power you are using, and adapters merely adapt your plug to fit into the outlet in that country.
For laptops, iPhones, iPads and all other electronics – ALL you will need is an adapter for Middle Eastern/European plugs. They will be labeled as such in any adaptor kit you get. So for example, when you arrive in Israel, you simply attach the end of your laptop plug to the adaptor for the Middle East and then stick that adapter into the outlet on the wall and you are good to go. You will not burn out electronics in Israel by using only your adapter.
This is not the case, however, for blow dryers, flat irons, and other small appliances. To make it easier to understand, you would need a very large, heavy converter to be able to convert enough power for your blow dryer to work in Israel without sparking and burning out. Since most converters are about the size of your hand, they are for the most part useless in other countries. Fortunately, blow dryers are provided in the hotels throughout the Land. Simply call down to the front desk if it is not already provided in your room.
For those that absolutely must have a flat iron or electric shaver etc., we recommend that you research travel appliances that have the correct voltage for Israel (220 volts at 50 Hertz) to be safe. We have seen travelers burn their hair with flat irons, so please do be careful when choosing to bring an appliance with you.
Will I have access to wireless internet connection (WiFi) while in Israel?
Israel is a developed country much like the United States. Visitors of Israel can enjoy wireless internet services throughout the Land. Most hotels will be equipped with WiFi either throughout the hotel or in the main lobby areas. Restaurants and coffee bars throughout the Land often offer free WiFi services as well.
Should I rent a cell phone while in Israel?
With today’s technology, it is cheaper for you to get a temporary international plan on your phone than to rent an Israeli cell phone. Simply check with your service provider for plan options.
Travel Tip: For those that do not need the call and text access throughout the day, you can save by not purchasing an international plan on your phone, and just use the WiFi services at the hotel in the evenings to use FaceTime, Skype, answer email, etc.
What are the baggage restrictions for flying?
Each airline may vary, so connect with your airline for exact details. Typically, each traveler is permitted 1 suitcase (maximum of 50 pounds), 1 carry-on, and 1 personal item such as a purse.
*Important note: Please do not bring more than one suitcase and one carry-on bag per person. Due to the nature of our travels while in Israel, you must be able to manage your bags on your own at times.*
What are the religious customs like in Israel?
Are all the restaurants in Israel kosher?
Places offering kosher food usually display a kashrut certificate granted to them by the local rabbinate. Most hotels serve kosher food, as well as some restaurants. But there is no binding law. So if kashrut is important to you, you must check it out at each separate place where you dine.
Is everything closed on Shabbat?
Shabbat is the Jewish holy day of the week, and really breathtaking to see most of the country come to a reverent pause. Shabbat starts on Friday afternoon/evening and ends on Saturday evening. All public offices in Israel are closed on Shabbat, as are most private businesses such as stores. In most cities, public transportation does not operate. In mainly secular cities, like Tel Aviv, a lot of the restaurants and cafes are open, but throughout the rest of the country, many restaurants are closed. Your itinerary will reflect those places that you can visit on Shabbat. Please note: Your hotel will most likely have a Shabbat elevator – meaning that on Shabbat the elevator will stop on every floor to prevent any Jewish man or woman from having to push the button (or “do work”) on the Shabbat. So if you get on this elevator during Shabbat it may be a while. 😉
What is the food like in Israel?
Prepare yourself for a variety of delicious Mediterranean cuisine! Each day you will receive a robust breakfast and dinner buffet at your hotel with more than enough options to choose from. A typical meal in Israel could be schnitzel, fish, lamb, or beef with different side salads, including hummus and tahini, and served with rice or mashed potatoes, and vegetables. For lunches on the go, it’s easy to grab a falafel or shwarma on the street, usually stuffed in a pita with French fries (“chips”) and salad.
Travel Tip: In Israel, it isn’t Kosher to mix dairy and meat, so at breakfast, you will not find meat because they serve dairy in the mornings. In the evenings you will not find milk or cheese because they serve meat.
Can the food accommodate a gluten-free diet or those with allergies?
Absolutely! The daily breakfast and dinner buffets provide for a variety of food options to accommodate any sort of dietary needs, both for gluten-free and those with mild to severe allergies. There are more than enough options! Lunches will be on the go, however, and there typically is not a buffet option at the cafes, so if you have very strict dietary needs you can always bring snacks for the afternoons, just in case there isn’t something you can’t eat over lunch.
Can the food accommodate a gluten free diet or those with allergies?
Absolutely! The daily breakfast and dinner buffets provide for a variety of food options to accommodate any sort of dietary needs, both for gluten-free, or those with mild to severe allergies. There are more than enough options! Lunches will be on the go however and there typically is not a buffet option at the cafes, so if you have very strict dietary needs you can always bring snacks for the afternoons just in case there isn’t something you can’t eat over lunch.
Can you drink tap water in Israel?
You can drink tap water, but bottled water is recommended. While the purchase of bottled water is available throughout the trip, many choose to bring a water bottle to Israel with them to fill up at the breakfast buffet before starting the day. Please Note: It is important to make sure you drink A LOT of water during the trip, especially when the temperatures are high.
What is the time change in Israel?
Israel is 7 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time.
Isn't it dangerous to go to Israel?
Despite media portrayals, Israel is an extremely safe country to visit. In 2017 alone, 3.6 million tourists went to Israel, and all 3.6 million went back home safe and sound. Israel would not encourage tourists to come if they felt they would be in the slightest danger.
Eagles’ Wings Ministry Travel has been bringing groups to the Holy Land for over 20 years and we have never experienced any severe complications. That being said, if ever we believed we could not provide an experience that is both safe and celebratory, we would postpone the trip. We take every precaution and do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of the group as we would in any travel. Through our extensive network of contacts in the Land, which includes not only Christian and Jewish leaders but also representatives within the Israeli government, as well as our tour partners, we continually monitor if there would be any cause for concern in our travel plans. We are fully committed to making your experience in Israel both a safe and positive one!