Traveling to Israel: Insurance Information & Travel Tips for the Trip of a Lifetime
Israel offers many destinations and experiences that have cultural and religious significance for Christians, Jews, and Muslims throughout the world, making it a top-rated travel destination full of unique adventures and learning opportunities. However, traveling to Israel is an expensive endeavor. And while you’re looking forward to your trip, you must protect yourself and your financial investment in the event of a cancellation, change of plans, or unfortunate occurrence. And that’s where travel insurance comes in. In the following, we’ll look at what travel insurance covers, how much it costs, and whether or not you need it to travel to Israel. Then we’ll give you some of our top tips to make sure that your Israel vacation is one for the books!
Travel Insurance for a Trip to Israel
If you’re not familiar with travel insurance, it’s a protection plan that is designed to cover the financial investment in booking your trip, as well as cover unexpected expenses such as emergency medical bills. Similar to the insurance you get when you purchase a new car, travel insurance covers you if something out of your control happens, and you have to cancel your trip or if you experience unforeseen situations during your trip.
While the hope is that nothing unfortunate happens while you’re abroad, it’s always logical to have a plan B in place. If there’s an emergency back home, a sudden loss of employment, or even a natural disaster that prevents you from traveling, travel insurance can protect your financial investment and ensures your money is reimbursed (when cancelling or interrupting a trip for a covered reason). And with multiple coverage options, you can protect yourself from events like lost or stolen belongings, passport problems, and even medical emergencies — which you’ll thank yourself for later.
Do I Need Insurance to Travel to Israel?
No, it’s not required to get travel insurance to go to Israel. However, it’s in your best interest to do so if something unexpected happens that ruins your travel plans. In Israel, though a safe country for the most part, there is a lot of political and religious tension – especially on the West Bank and Gaza strip. If you find yourself caught in a protest or demonstration, travel insurance can provide coverage for emergency medical evacuations and the cost of medical care in Israel.
Speaking of medical coverage, you may think that you don’t need it. However, it’s important to note that most domestic insurance policies do not cover medical services outside of your country. Medicare does not cover any foreign medical bills at all. If you’re seriously injured, you could run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills while you recover. If you have medical coverage under your travel insurance policy, it can help you cover these medical costs without making a dent in your own pocket.
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost for My Trip to Israel?
As with most things, the cost of travel insurance depends on your coverage options and your individual situation. Based on the value of your trip, basic coverage can run 3-4%, while premium coverage can go up to 10-12%. It all depends on which policies you choose, the provider you select, and your specific circumstances.
To make sure that you’re getting the best deal for the travel insurance policy and options you need, you should always compare a variety of providers. The total cost can vary significantly by provider for the same coverage. To make sure you’re getting the best deal, use our travel insurance comparison tool. It allows you to customize your insurance policy and compare rates from multiple providers in just a few clicks. The best part is, you can purchase your travel insurance for Israel directly through our comparison engine with a lowest price guarantee, making it extremely simple to compare and purchase your ideal policy in under five minutes.
Now that your travel insurance is purchased and the tedious parts of planning your trip are settled, it’s time to plan an exciting itinerary! To help you get the most out of your trip, we’ve put together a list of tips to answer your questions regarding money and packing, as well as suggestions that’ll ensure you have a truly immersive experience.
Money: Currency & Tipping
The official currency in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (ILS). There are 100 agorot in each Shekel, and you can get notes in values of 20, 50, 100, or 200 Shekel. There are also coins, which you’ll see in values of NIS 10, NIS 5, NIS 2, NIS 1 and 50 and 10 agorot.
It’s essential to make sure that you have cash with you before you arrive in Israel, for transportation to your hotel and airport. Exchange rates at airports are usually terribly high, and the lines will be very long. Do yourself a favor and exchange before you leave the country. Credit cards are accepted in most city shops, but not as much in rural areas. You can find international ATMs throughout the country, too, and they usually have a decent exchange rate. Avoid traveler’s checks, as they’re becoming less and less popular, and many places no longer accept them.
One thing you should be cautious of, though, is counterfeit money. Many black market street dealers will try to pass you pre-1985 shekel notes that are in denominations of 500 or 1,000. These notes are useless and have no value. To confirm that you’re not receiving counterfeit money, be sure that all notes you accept are clearly marked “New Shekels” in English.
Similar to the United States, when it comes to tipping, it is discretionary, but expected for restaurant, taxi, and hospitality services. Waiters and servers typically make a lower hourly wage and depend on tips to make their money. It’s expected to leave 10-15% for your server after a meal.
Packing Suggestions & What to Wear
Israel has two seasons. Summer lasts from April through September, and the weather can be hot, scorching, and humid. The Dead Sea is known for being the lowest point in the world, and temperatures still reach 104-degrees in the summer! If you’re traveling during the summer, bring lightweight, airy clothing made from linen and cotton to stay cool.
Winter, or the wet season is from October through March with temperatures between 50 and 70-degrees F, and can dip into the 50-degree area overnight. If you’re going to Israel in the wintertime, you can really depend on your summer wardrobe, but you should come prepared with layers such as cardigans and tunics.
One thing to note is that because Israel has a variety of religious and holy locations, you need to be mindful of modesty when visiting. Mosques, temples, and the Wailing Wall, as well as other sacred and holy sites, will require you to cover up your legs, shoulders, and chest. Don’t be surprised if you’re also asked to cover your elbows or head in some places, as well. It’s always a good idea to carry a cardigan and scarf of your own for these situations. Plus, as an added bonus, taking these around can help you stay comfortable when you experience some serious air conditioning!
Immerse Yourself in the Local Culture
There is so much to see and do in Israel that you might find yourself overwhelmed by it all. However, relatively speaking, it’s not a very big country. You can actually get pretty much anywhere within two hours. The cultural changes will be astounding when you move between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. They’re so close, but the cultures are polar opposites!
In Jerusalem, take the opportunity to learn the history of the country, and its importance in Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions. It’s a great place to experience the Israeli weekend, which runs from sundown on Friday evening until sunset on Saturday evening. Known as “Shabbat” – or the Jewish day of rest – nothing is open, and there is no public transportation available. However, this is a great time to explore the city because it’s quiet. When the sun goes down, go to the Western Wall and watch how the Jewish people mark the start of Shabbat. It’s quite an experience! And, if you can find a non-kosher restaurant to visit afterward, you’ll be able to make a night of it!
For a completely different experience, head over to Tel Aviv. Only two hours from the holiest city in western religion, you’ll find an urban oasis, where beaches rule the days and clubs rule the nights. Tel Aviv is a very liberal city that doesn’t close down over Shabbat, and where you can enjoy a cocktail by the beach while mingling with young Israeli people.
One place that you don’t want to miss while you’re in Israel is the West Bank. Tourists are welcomed at this restricted area between Israel and Palestine with authorized tour guides. If you’re looking to get insight and understanding about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the underlying issues that keep this conflict alive, this is a great place to learn about it. Also, while you’re here, visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center, which is a moving tribute to the Jewish people lost during the genocide of World War II.
Popular Destinations in Israel
Planning a trip to Israel can be overwhelming considering all the activities you want to do and the places you want to go to. Fortunately, it’s a small country, so it doesn’t take much time to get from one end to the other. Here, we’ve listed our top 10 most popular places to visit in Israel. Plus, we’ve thrown in a few less-popular, off-the-beaten-track places if that’s more your speed. Select a few or see them all!
Top 10 Most Popular Places to Visit in Israel
- Tel Aviv
- The Dead Sea
Top 5 Unique Places to Visit in Israel
- Golan Heights
- Ramon Crater