Plan Your Trip to Israel
Traveling to Israel on your own can be rewarding.
However it requires detailed and carefully planned arrangements to ensure an optimal tour.
Contemplate what you want to get out of your tour and what kind of experience you desire, and then make a checklist for planning.
Several factors you should consider are:
• Buying Your Ticket
• Booking Hotels
• Car Rental
• Driving Times and Visiting Hours
Buying Your Ticket
Traditionally, purchasing an airline ticket through a travel agent is the easiest and most secured option. It can also be the more expensive option, unless they provide you with a supply of low fares. Another advantage is that the agent will ensure you have, or get, all the required documentation for your international travel.
Most passports do not require a separate Israeli visa;
still it is an important detail to verify along with your up-to-date passport. Both travelers’ and health insurance are easily purchased from the ticketing agent and most will offer various options, where as you would otherwise need to research and purchase your options on your own.
Online, you have endless ticketing options across a whole spectrum of prices, airlines, routes, and packages. Be aware of online fraud, as the online ticketing industry is susceptible. Furthermore, travelers’ insurance is available with online ticketing, yet it is not always evident what exactly will be covered, and if it covers Israel. You will also have the option of buying a whole package including airfare, car rental, and hotel. However, when touring around the country you may not stay in any one location long enough to make buying a hotel package worthwhile.
Research the areas and sites you want to visit and what experience you want to get out of your overall tour.
Your schedule and sleeping arrangements should be made accordingly. Be sure to make your hotel reservations within appropriate distance and duration for the locations you want to visit within any one area of the country. Additionally, you will need to factor check-in and check-out times into your travel arrangements, particularly if you plan on moving location before, during, or after Holiday and Shabbat hours; from Friday afternoon through Saturday night.
If you plan to visit many cities that are far away from each other, you could stay at rooms by hour anywhere in the country, which is a cheaper option for tourists looking to move around a lot.
Also, renting a car is essential to touring Israel.
The roads are modern and easily navigated with a good map and GPS navigation system available to hire with your rental. Israel does offer an extensive public transport system; however, you will save significant time traveling by car and many tourists’ sites are not served by public transportation.
Driving Times and Visiting Hours
There are numerous sites in any one area of Israel, and it is probable that you will not reach each destination on your list. As such, decide in advance those sites that are of most interest to you, and determine which sites you can visit briefly on your way, and where you would want to spend more time exploring. When planning, you do not necessarily have to have your own detailed itinerary, as an organized tour would follow, however your tour will be more effective when you plan each location in an order of sequence, and for what duration of time. Be aware of the various open hours for each site.
It is recommended to purchase an in-depth guidebook, such as Lonely Planet or Foder’s, which will help you determine where to visit, when, how long to plan for as well as providing interesting information on each site.
Also, if an area is particularly interesting to you then consider joining a day tour of that particular area, for more comprehensive experience and broader perspective than the guidebook. Day tours can be integrated into your independent travel. Consider joining a tour in a dense area like Jerusalem to visit the optimum amount of sites possible. Day tours also provide a good source of occasional company on your solo tour.
Travel alone or within a group?
There are pros and cons to touring on you own.
You will have the freedom to go at your own pace and customize your trip design for the experience that you desire. It is probably the cheaper option over joining an organized tour, but it is definitely more time consuming on the front end. Israel is geared towards English speaking tourists, so you will not have difficulty communicating on your own, but you will not have the security and safety of traveling within a group.
If you are touring on your own, there will be a significant amount of solitude, which is either an upside or a downside to your trip—depending on your preference.
Take advantage of opportunities to meet people; Israelis are friendly and you may meet other tourists also traveling on their own. Do not be afraid to start conversations with people you meet along the way, as they will enrich your experience.
This is an additional advantage over touring on your own rather than joining a group in which you may be herded from site to site and often remain separate from the culture and people of Israel.