Although many news reports seem to discourage it, travel to the Holy Land is still entirely possible, and entirely safe.
Although some sites, such as Bethlehem, may be more difficult to travel to, many more holy sites throughout the land (such as those around Jerusalem and Tiberias) are still easily accessible and are great tourist destinations.
For anyone who is planning on traveling throughout Israel, here are a few tips that can make your journey more relaxed and worry-free.
“Lose One Day”
Realize that you will “lose one day” when you’re flying over the Atlantic Ocean to Israel.
Because of this, try to purchase your flight tickets in a way that would best accommodate the time difference.
For example, if you are traveling from the United States, I would suggest leaving on a mid-afternoon flight (from the East Coast); this would put you into Tel Aviv’s airport around the later morning/early afternoon hours-a fairly easy “jet lag” to overcome if you simply sleep on the flight over.
Also, be aware if you will be arriving in Israel on their Sabbath day (Saturday.) If you are arriving on the Shabbat, most “change centers” (for the changing of currency into the local shekels) will be closed down-including the one in the Tel Aviv airport.
Because of this, it would be a good plan to exchange your dollars for shekels at whatever airport in the United States that you are flying out of before you arrive in Israel.
Having shekels will be crucial for even the minute details of your trip-like paying for a parking pass.
The Holy Places
If you are traveling to many of the “holy sites” throughout the land (most of which are traditionally maintained by the Catholic Church) be well aware of the opening and closing times of these sites.
Most of them open and close at very specific hours, so check before you arrive.
Also, as a sign of respect, it is requested that all visitors to such sites have both their knees and shoulders covered-both men and women.
This means that no shorts or tank tops should be worn (unless you have a shawl or some sort of covering over the tank top’s shoulders).
Out of respect for the people maintaining the holy sites, it is important that you follow these rules.
Water Water Water
Take the same precautions that you would in any area that is hot and dry. Drink plenty of water continuously throughout the day, as it is easy to become dehydrated in the arid desert climate without realizing it.
Many tourist shops in the region sell containers for the popular 1.5 liter water bottles; I would suggest purchasing such a caddy because its strap allows you to easily keep the water with you at all times and the caddy keeps the water nice and cool.
Also, regularly apply sun block throughout the day. Although it is rumored that you can’t get sunburned at certain locations (such as the Dead Sea) that are below sea level, it is always a good idea to take the extra precaution of protecting your skin and wearing sunscreen.
Visiting Israel can be a great experience. Go ahead and explore this important country today!