There’s so much to do and see while you’re in Israel – and also a few things you’ll need to get ready for before you go. Check out the information we’ve compiled for you below, and start getting excited (and ready) for the trip you’ve been waiting for!
WHAT YOU’LL FLY
Birthright Israel makes use of multiple airlines. Some Israel Outdoors flights are on EL AL Airlines, and many are non-stop from the listed departure city. Some flights include a change of planes within North America or in Europe.
ARRIVING AT THE AIRPORT
Soon after confirming your trip spot, we will send you detailed flight information via email. Hold off on making any travel plans until we give you the official ok. Once confirmed, you will be responsible for getting to and from the gateway airport, and you must arrive at the terminal at least four hours ahead of the departure time for check-in and for orientation. Flights to Israel are frequently overbooked, so it is critical to arrive on time for check in.
You will be met at the check-in area by an Israel Outdoors representative wearing a bright blue Israel Outdoors t-shirt who will give you instructions on how to check in. Do not check in for your flight before meeting with Israel Outdoors staff.
When making your travel arrangements, consider ground travel to your gateway airport. In our experience, this greatly reduces the chances that you will miss your flight to Israel. If you are arriving at the gateway airport on a domestic flight, we HIGHLY recommend arriving a day early to reduce the chance of missing your flight to Israel. If you must arrive on the day of departure, allow plenty of time to spare.
In the event that you are late or delayed on departure day, let us know immediately. We will try to re-schedule you on the next available flight, but you will be traveling to Israel without staff, and there are no guarantees that you can be rescheduled successfully.
RETURN TRAVEL TO AMERICA
When scheduling your domestic flight to return home, please plan for at least three hours between our international flight and your connecting flight home. This should give you sufficient time to clear customs and/or border control.
MEALS, MILES, LUGGAGE & SEATING
- Any special seating requests should be made at the airport on the day of departure at check-in — special seating requests CANNOT be made in advance
- If you noted a special meal request as part of your registration, we will submit it on your behalf to the airline.
- Sorry, participants are not eligible to receive mileage points for their group flight.
- Participants are always allowed to check one bag and bring one piece of carry-on luggage as well as a small carry-on bag at no additional charge.
EXTENDING YOUR TICKET
So you decided to stay in Israel after the 10 day Birthright Trip is over? Brilliant! In most cases, you can extend your ticket either before you depart or after you arrive in Israel. Extensions prior to departure can only be handled by Gil Travel, Birthright Israel’s official travel agency. Check your airline’s flight extension policies for specific details.
Be sure to allow plenty of time for your extension request to be arranged. Most extension requests must be submitted at least seven business days before departure. Although some airlines permit flight extensions to be made in Israel, it can be a time consuming process, and seats are limited. If you stay in Israel for longer than the airline allows, you will be responsible for buying your own return flight. Some airlines DO NOT permit extensions once in Israel at all. Some airlines limit the number of tickets that can be extended within the group.
Here are some tips for planning your extension:
- PLAN AHEAD (WE MEAN IT!)
Your group flight ticket can be extended, but some airlines limit how many tickets can be extended in the group, and availability for date changes can become very limited or even non-existent during peak summer and winter holiday seasons.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE
You will be flying on a group ticket, which means you can only change the date of the return – you can’t change the route on the ticket to include another destination. Sorry, you also won’t be allowed to extend your ticket on the front end and meet the group in Israel.
- PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR AIRLINE
Each airline has different rules in terms of how long a ticket can be extended for and what it will cost you. Learn more about your airline’s flight extension policies.
- IT’S NOT OVER TILL IT’S OVER
While we encourage extensions, you must participate in the entire Israel Outdoors trip right until we return to the airport at the end. No exceptions to this Birthright Israel rule.
- FORFEITING YOUR RETURN TICKET?
You do have the option of forfeiting your return ticket and making your own travel plans home, but you must notify us in advance to avoid losing your $250 deposit (read on).
- YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN!
If you extend your stay in Israel you will no longer be under our supervision or responsibility once the Birthright Israel trip is over.
- FORFEITING YOUR RETURN FLIGHT
If you will not be using your return ticket at all, you should formally forfeit your return ticket. To do so, you must notify us in advance or you will lose your $250 deposit.
- WHAT TO DO IN ISRAEL
Israel Outdoors covers so much ground, but there’s even more you can explore on your own. Check out this city guide and day tour options.
Forfeiting your return flight is different than extending your return flight. By forfeiting your return ticket you will be canceling your return flight altogether and will be responsible for arranging your own flight home from Israel. To forfeit the return flight before the trip, email [email protected] with the subject “Return Flight Forfeit.” If you decide to forfeit your return flight during the trip, notify the airline at least 24 hours in advance to avoid losing your deposit.
Passports & Visas
Make sure you know where your passport is and that it is not expired or nearly expired. If your passport expires within six months of your final scheduled day in Israel, it must be renewed in advance of the trip. You will actually be denied boarding on the group flight if your passport expires less than six months from your final scheduled day in Israel.
If you travel with an American, Canadian, or EU passport, good news – you don’t need a visa to enter Israel. If you travel with a passport from another country or if you have a USA Travel Document as opposed to a regular passport, you may need a visa. Contact your local Israeli Consulate for details.
You are required to submit a copy of the inside cover page of your passport to our office — i.e. the page with your picture and passport number. If you haven’t done so already, upload your passport copy in section five of your Secondary Application. If you have a problem with the upload, you can email it to [email protected], fax it to 202-315-3269 or mail it to:
5185 MacArthur Blvd, NW #640
Washington, DC 20016
Finally, if you did not post your passport number when you first registered, please submit this required information to your Primary Application.
RULES FOR ISRAELI CITIZENS OR CHILDREN OF ISRAELI CITIZENS
If either of your parents are citizens of Israel, or if you lived in Israel at some point in the past, it is your responsibility to make sure your status with the Israeli Defense Forces is worked out and clear. If you hold an Israeli passport, you must enter Israel with your Israeli passport.
If either of your parents are Israeli citizens, you may still have obligations to the State of Israel that must be worked out prior to your trip, even if you do not have an Israeli passport. It is critical that you take care of these matters before you arrive in Israel.
If you do not take care of these matters prior to your trip, you may be obligated to stay in Israel by the State of Israel until resolution. If this applies to you, you will be solely responsible for your own situation and any costs involved. Again, we highly recommend you be extremely cautious about these matters and contact one of the regional Israel consulate offices if you have any questions.
You are required to come to Israel with your own health insurance policy that is valid in Israel. This rule comes directly from Birthright Israel, and is strictly enforced. We are required to record your health insurance provider and policy number as part of the Secondary Application. We also HIGHLY encourage you to purchase travel insurance for coverage against cancellations, lost luggage, theft and more.
GET LOW COST HEALTH & TRAVEL INSURANCE
If you are not insured or if your home medical insurance policy does not cover you abroad, then you NEED an insurance policy that covers you for the entire trip in Israel. An inexpensive and easy way to fulfill this requirement is to purchase travelers insurance through CTAS, which is underwritten by Harel Insurance Company, Israel’s largest medical insurer. Get Covered!
WHAT IT COVERS
- Medical insurance in Israel with coverage for most pre-existing conditions* included
- Insurance in case your baggage is lost, damaged, or stolen (up to $800)
- Optional cancellation insurance for coverage of domestic flight costs (coverage up to $200, and an additional $10 add-on fee applies).
This coverage applies if you purchase a domestic flight for your Birthright Israel trip and end up missing that domestic flight due to death, illness, or injury to your or an immediate family member; or if there is a delay/change to your international Birthright Israel flight that causes you to miss/change your domestic flight.
*Pre-existing conditions are covered by CTAS so long as the condition has been stable for 12 months preceding arrival in Israel and so long as there has been no hospitalization for the condition in the six months preceding arrival in Israel. Additional exclusions include coverage for the treatment of cancer, AIDS, dialysis, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, and active psychiatric conditions.
WHAT IT COSTS
The CTAS policy costs $40 and provides coverage in Israel during the 10-day trip! If you extend your trip in Israel, your insurance policy can be extended for $3.50/day. There is a $10 insurance add-on if you wish to include the supplemental cancellation insurance.
More questions about CTAS policy? Here are some of the most common FAQ’s:
Order your CTAS Insurance at israeltravelinsurance.com
Staying in Touch
FRIENDS & FAMILY UPDATES
Keep your loved ones updated during the trip by signing them up for the Family & Friends Update List. We’ll track your arrival in Israel and send periodic updates during the program. You’ll probably also want to use social media to update folks back at home on your travels. Use the hashtags #IsraelOutdoors #Birthright and your group number to share the journey!
KEY PHONE NUMBERS
As your trip approaches, we’ll post hotel phone numbers, as well as the cell and office phone numbers for our key staff on your Trip Prep page. Calls to our cell phones will be answered 24 hours a day for emergencies only.
GET CONNECTED IN ISRAEL
Staying in touch during the trip is a key part of your experience!
It’s important for safety, for staying in touch with friends and family back home, and – let’s face it – for posting pictures to your social media accounts so everyone knows how awesome your trip is. Good news! Our partner, TalkNSave, provides easy, convenient and inexpensive options for you to call home and access the internet while you’re in Israel.
WHY ORDER WITH TALKnSAVE
- Bring your Smartphone to Israel
- Get a virtual US number making you reachable in Israel!
- Unlimited talk and text in Israel
- Unlimited talk to the USA!
- Unlimited internet! – First 6Gb at super fast speeds!
- Get personal Wi-fi Hotspots and Netsticks as well!
$3.80 per DAY
$4.50 per DAY
$4.97 per DAY
250 MB of 4G Data
|6GB of 4G Data||6GB of 4G Data|
|LOCAL TEXTING||Unlimited||17 cents/text||Unlimited|
1,000 texts free*
*19.9 cents per text after
HOW IT WORKS
Order in advance at www.israelicellphone.com
Your assigned phone number will be available in advance, and your actual phone, SIM, or internet device can be picked up at no additional charge upon arrival to Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. TIP: Make sure you know the “TL Code” for your trip to sign up for service.
NO FINE PRINT – NO SURPRISES!
- Deposit: No deposit required! (Deposits do apply to add-ons like netsticks and hotspot rentals
- Taxes: All rates shown do not include the Israeli VAT (17%).
ACCOMMODATIONS IN ISRAEL
In Israel, you and your fellow travelers will stay in a mix of hotels and kibbutz guest houses. Each room will house three people and is single-gender only; you will be allowed to choose your own roommates, although sometimes your trip leaders may choose for you. Of course, everyone gets their own bed and each room has a bathroom with their own shower. Exact accommodations will be posted as part of your full itinerary about 3-4 weeks prior to departure.
SPENDING MONEY IN ISRAEL
While this is a free trip, you’ll still want to bring some money! Two meals/day are included, so you should have money for lunch. You may occasionally want to buy bottled water (although tap water is safe), snacks, drinks, souvenirs, etc. We recommend that you bring $200-$250.
ACCESSING THE LOCAL CURRENCY
Israel uses the shekel as its currency, and each shekel is worth about 25-30 American cents. If you are bringing dollars to Israel, a currency exchange representative will meet the group as we board the bus at the airport. The exchange rate provided by this representative is better than what is available inside the airport, and much faster!
You should also bring an ATM and/or credit card to Israel; cards with a Visa or Mastercard logo work throughout Israel. If your ATM card is not part of Visa/Mastercard, you should check with your bank to make sure it will work in Israel. Finally, notify your bank or credit card company about your travel plans to avoid the potential suspension of your account due to irregular activity.
In Israel it is customary to tip both the tour guide and the bus driver. The program is jam-packed, and you will soon see that the guide and driver work around the clock to ensure the success of your experience.
Our advice is that $70 in total is an appropriate gratuity. Tipping is not required, and if this is something that you cannot afford or do not want to participate in, do not be embarrassed to tip less or to refrain altogether. It is not customary to tip your North American staff or the Israeli guards.
If you plan to bring small electrical appliances to Israel, keep in mind Israel uses a 220 volt electrical current, and the outlet types are different as well (two circular prongs). In order to avoid “frying” any electrical items, bring a voltage converter (note: this is already built into most laptop computers). You will also need a simple adapter to plug your items into the wall.
All group meals, including meals on the plane, are kosher as certified under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. There is usually one meal per day you will be purchasing on your own (typically a light lunch), and you are free to eat whatever you wish. People with special dietary situations (i.e. lactose intolerance, vegetarian, etc.) should contact us in advance to make proper arrangements for the flight and during the program itself.
MEDICATION & CONTACT LENSES
If you take medication, we recommend you bring enough to last the entire time you expect to be in Israel. We also recommend you pack your medication as part of your carry-on luggage in case your checked luggage is delayed. If you have a notable medical condition, please inform us in advance – remember this is all for your safety (note: all medical records are kept confidential).
Israeli tap water is perfectly safe to drink. If you prefer bottled water, it is widely available and is inexpensive. We recommend buying a bottle of water when you arrive and refilling it with tap water for the rest of the program.
No special vaccinations are required or necessary in Israel. However, we recommend you come to Israel with an up-to-date tetanus shot.
The trip is only 10 days, and we are constantly on the move. We recommend leaving expensive electronics at home. Whatever you bring, your personal property is exclusively your responsibility at all times. Although theft is not common in Israel, it does happen.
FREE TIME AND REST
Our program is jam packed with touring – and you will find that 10 days is a very short time to be in Israel. There will certainly be some down time on the trip, and we suggest you use that time to relax and re-energize. If you would like to visit with friends or family members while you are in Israel, your best option is to extend your ticket and meet up after the program. If you can only meet during the program, the best time for visiting with family is on Saturday afternoon, which is typically a relaxed time during the trip. Keep in mind that Birthright Israel rules do not allow for leaving the group under any circumstances.
Shabbat is the day of rest, starting on Friday at sundown to twilight on Saturday. During the trip there will be a public observance of Shabbat, which means nothing in the program will force or encourage participants to violate the rules of Shabbat (or any other Jewish holidays that fall within the trip). How you choose to observe Shabbat is totally up to you. Keep in mind there will be participants on your trip of all Jewish backgrounds, and we only ask that each person be respectful of everyone else’s individual choices.
Keep Your Feet Happy!
We cannot stress enough: bring comfortable light-weight walking shoes! On group hikes and nature walks, you’ll be required to wear closed-toed shoes. You do not need to purchase special hiking boots, but participants have found rugged outdoor shoes – like Merrells or trail running shoes with tough soles – to be very useful. We do a lot of walking on our trips, and when your feet are happy, YOU are happy.
Additionally, there are water activities on most our trips, so we recommend bringing an extra pair of shoes that can get wet and stay on your feet while you are being active. Adventure sandals – such as Chacos, Keens, Tevas – that have supportive straps are perfect for this – you’ll be glad you have them when going into the Dead Sea, rafting, and during water hikes.
MODESTY AT THE WESTERN WALL
Israel is a casual country when it comes to dress. However, we will be visiting some religious sites such as the Western Wall where “modest” clothing is appropriate. On these days, women should wear clothing that covers their shoulders and knees. We suggest bringing a scarf or cardigan to throw over your shoulders, plus a skirt that can be easily pulled over shorts for a more “modest” look. Pants or capris are also acceptable. Men should have their shoulders covered on the days where religious sites are on the itinerary.
On Friday night, the pace of the trip slows down as we transition to celebrate Shabbat. To create a special atmosphere, we celebrate Shabbat with a fancier dinner. We recommend bringing something a bit nicer for Shabbat. A good rule of thumb is to bring something “a step up” from what you wear on a daily basis. Low cut, strapless, and mini clothing should be avoided on Shabbat. A polo or buttoned-down shirt with khakis or nice jeans is fitting for men.
The sun is much stronger in Israel than most places even in the U.S. Carrying a water bottle is mandatory, as your body will require much more frequent hydration than you are probably used to – between 2-4 liters of water per day. Alumni have found CamelBaks or other hydration pouches to be very helpful for both carrying water and personal belongings when on the go. Israelis often recycle their plastic store-bought bottles of water by refilling them from the tap (which is safe to drink!). If you don’t have a water bottle or CamelBak, we will be making plenty of stops for you to purchase water.
LUGGAGE – SUITCASES
You will be the one toting your luggage to the airport and between the bus and hotels, so pack your belongings in something you are comfortable carrying! We recommend a rolling duffel bag with wheels: big enough to contain all your clothes for ten days, but not too big that you go over the size and weight limits for your flight (generally 50 lbs).
LUGGAGE – DAY PACKS
We recommend bringing a small day pack or backpack to carry around your daily essentials when touring: wallet, water bottle, camera, hat, and extra layers (depending on the season). This bag can double as your carry on for your flight.
Short sleeve shirts and shorts (or pants)
1 sweatshirt and/or sweatpants (the desert gets cold at night!)
Underwear & socks
2 bathing suits
1 hat for hikes
Adventure water shoes
Comfortable walking shoes
Power adapters/converters for electronics
A combination of short & long sleeve shirts and pants
1 sweatshirt & sweatpants
1 warm coat (e.g., fleece jacket)
Underwear & socks
1 bathing suit
1 hat for hikes
Adventure water shoes
Comfortable walking shoes
Power adapters/converters for electronics
Frisbee, hacky sack, etc.
Over the counter meds (Tylenol, Dayquill, band-aids, etc.)
Snacks (granola bars, trail mix, etc. – especially if you are a picky eater!)
Rules to Remember
Once you have accepted your trip spot and we have officially assigned your ticket, you will forfeit your deposit if you cancel within 65 days of departure.
Cancellation deadlines are based on your departure date. To determine the date of your cancellation deadline, use the handy calculator below at israeloutdoors.com/deposit.
Be nice. Even if you do cancel after the deadline, please let us know ASAP since there are many people on the wait list who would love to go to Israel in your place!
The eligibility rules for the program are serious. Even if you have already been interviewed, we still rely on your personal integrity to ensure that you’re eligible. If you are worried you are not eligible or if you are confused about the rules, contact us today, and we will clear it up. Trust us, it’s better to resolve any such issues before you arrive in Israel.
CODE OF CONDUCT
There are some very basic conduct and behavior rules tor all Birthright Israel trips which must be followed. These rules are designed exclusively for your own safety and include:
- No illegal drugs of any kind
- No drunkenness or excessive alcohol consumption
On departure day at the airport, you’ll need to sign the Birthright Israel Alcohol Policy
- No separating from the group except during times designated by staff
- No opting out of group activities/programming
- Always treat your fellow travelers and staff with respect and dignity
Sorry to be blunt, but failure to abide by any of these core conduct rules may result in your removal from the program.
The experience doesn’t end after 10 days
Whether you’ve got a few days or a few months, here are some opportunities for you (and your family) to explore more with us.
Opportunities for aspiring young adults to intern, teach, volunteer and study in Israel. Connect with Israel as a society, not a destination, on these generously subsidized programs.
A special opportunity for Birthright Israel travelers and alumni to extend their experience on a 4-day hike from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee.
Israel Outdoors alumni are eligible for tuition discounts at Tel Aviv University. Earn undergrad credits or pursue a graduate degree at a global premier university on the Mediterranean.
Set in picturesque landscapes across North America, our Gatherings are designed to let you plug into an dynamic community while unplugging from the noise of every day life.
Design and book your own Israel adventure online. Choose your activities, sites, day tours and more on our iBookIsrael.com platform.
Travel to Israel or destinations around the world on an organized experience with opportunities for nearly all ages. Explore the possibilities!