Passport: US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the date of their arrival in Israel and Jordan. Always carry a photocopy of your passport somewhere in your belongings so that if it is lost or stolen you can apply for a new passport at the US Consulate and receive the new copy without significant delay.
Visa: If you are arriving in Tel Aviv, you do not need a visa. You must have a visa if you are traveling to Jordan. There are two ways of obtaining a visa. 1) If you are flying into Jordan, you can purchase your visa at the airport. 2) If you are crossing from Israel into Jordan you need to obtain your visa before leaving the USA. The Jordanian visa comes from its embassy in Washington DC. You can apply for a visa by mail. Instructions and applications are available on www.itseasy.com or www.travelvispro.com/visa/jordan. Note that you will have to send your passport with your visa application. If you are traveling in a group, your travel agent may obtain your visas for you.
Medical documents: If you have medical needs it is helpful for you to have a copy of pharmaceutical prescriptions, description of allergies, and any other documents from your doctor in case of illness or accident. There are no required vaccinations. International medical insurance is sometimes provided by your tour operator. If not, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and many others such as travelguard.com, www.imglobal.com and travelinsured.com offer plans.
Hospitality has a high value in the Middle East.
If you have the honor of going to a home, accept the food and drink that is offered. It is always good to bring small gifts with you from home to present to your host. If you know you’ll be visiting a school, bring books in English, art supplies, pads of paper, erasers, etc. in quantity.
Listen for the needs of the parishes and institutions you visit and consider making a more substantial gift when you return home. Consider continuing to support the Diocese of Jerusalem's work and people in the Holy Land. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org about making a gift to the Holy Land via AFEDJ, as your gift will be tax deductible. It will not be if you give it directly to the Diocese or an institution.
Tipping: Often your tour guide will include all the tips for restaurants, hotels/guest house reservations. However, it is expected that your group give your guide/teacher and bus driver a tip. The amount varies according the level of service you receive and the ability of the group to pay. A rule of thumb, unless you have a different arrangement in advance, is: Guide--$5.00 per person per day, and Driver: $3.00 per person. Total is somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 per person total. Tipping needs to discussed with the group before traveling.
Books: Schools appreciate receiving books for their libraries. Science for any grade level, biographies, books with positive values, etc.
Women: dress conservatively for the Holy sites. Skirts, slacks, or capris that cover the knees are good. No tank tops, shorts or sleeveless blouses. Short-sleeves are fine. Bermuda shorts are fine for the walking tour in the Galilee. You will want to be able to dress up slightly for church on Sunday and for special nights. In the warmer months you will also need a sweater or light jacket for potentially cool evenings. It is cold in the winter and it rains a lot! Be prepared for possible snow. Bring a scarf (or buy one) for your head if you expect to visit a mosque.
Men: long pants, jeans, or khakis are necessary most days. Bermuda shorts are fine for the walking tour in the Galilee. You’ll need a hat for sun. You might want some long-sleeved shirts for church and special nights. Again, it’s cold in winter. A warm hat and gloves will be welcomed!
A hat and sun glasses are a must in the summer, spring, and fall. Sneakers/walking shoes that can handle cobblestones are necessary. Again, check the seasonal weather patterns.
Shekels are the currency in Israel. As the rate is calculated daily, check with www.CoinMill.com or a similar website. You can either purchase shekels at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv or at ATM machines throughout the large cities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Amman, and Jericho. There are also Money Changers in the cities.
Inform your bank and credit card companies the dates of your departure and return so that they don’t block your card from use.
We recommend you bring at least $10 in $1 bills for street vendors who will not make change for purchases of postcards and other small items.
Cameras, phones and Internet
Generally there is no problem with photography. However, do not photograph or video at checkpoints, military or police installations. Visitors should also be discreet about taking photographs in Jewish Orthodox areas. Most sacred sites will indicate whether or not photography is permitted. Bring extra memory cards and batteries with you as these items are very expensive in Israel and Palestine.
Internet service is available in most hotels and guest houses. An increasing number of places are wired for wifi.
The country code for Israel is 972 and for Jordan it is 962.
Calling from the USA: enter 011+ country code + one digit area code + the seven digit number. For example calling from US to Jordan international dialing format: 011 + 962 + ? +
Calling from within Israel and/or Jordan drop the 011 and the country code. For more detailed information go to www.howtocallabroad.com
International Calling and Data Plans: Before you leave the US, call your phone service and sign up for international calling plan or international data plan or both. If you read email on your smart phone, this will save you a lot. Choose a calling plan if you expect to make or receive calls, or if you have an unlocked phone, buy a sim card at a local shop. You can put as much or as little money as you choose on it and the cost per minute is considerably less.
To avoid roaming charges, place your cell on "airplane mode" and only connect to wi-fi when needed.
Voltage is 230; Plugs H & C. You will need a plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances and computers. You probably won’t need a hair dryer, but if you bring one, buy a European one from a travel store. They use lower voltage.
The diet in the region is Mediterranean – lots of vegetables, fruit, bread, yogurt, mild cheeses, olives and chicken and lamb. There is little that is mysterious or spicy and most people find the menus delightful. Water in the hotels and in most areas is safe to drink; however when on the road, most tour guides prefer that you drink bottled water which is available on the bus. During the hot months and in the desert, hats and water are a must.
There are many opportunities to buy fresh juice, sweets, falafel and humus from street vendors or small cafes.