How to Plan a Trip to Israel, If you’re planning a trip to Israel you might be worried about your safety (is Israel safe to travel to?), airport security and the passport stamping situation. Here’s a quick guide where I’ll be sharing my story on getting into Israel as well as getting out. This should help you prepare your trip to Israel and know what to expect when you get there.
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How to Plan a Trip to Israel
This was my first trip to Israel and my experience was great! I’m pretty excited to be sharing all of this with you guys! If you want to plan your own trip to Israel, this Israel travel tips blog is where you should be starting! (I also visited Israel a second time, so I updated some information!)
Travel to Israel & Entering the Country
It was my last day in Bali. I couldn’t believe I’d be sleeping in Tel Aviv the next night.
I had heard some crazy stories that it could be hard to enter Israel. I was prepared for too many questions and I was quite excited about this trip.
As I always do before a big day of flying, it was quite late and I was trying to kill time before going to bed. Yes: the goal was to sleep on the plane.
And I got a message. My first flight would be delayed which would make me miss the second flight. Looks like I could sleep a bit longer in the morning and that I’d have an extra stopover on top of a fuel stop. I would arrive the next day instead. As there was not a lot I could do about it, I had to suck it up.
I was expecting many questions in my stopover in Hong Kong and in Jordan but it didn’t happen. They only asked me if I had an onward ticket and they didn’t even ask me for proof.
When I landed in Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion Airport I had the pleasure to meet my VIP guy who brought me faster through customs without having to wait in line.
Customs Agent: How long will you stay in Israel?
Me: 12 days
Customs Agent: What’s your plan in Israel?
Me: I’m going to visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (I thought I’d keep it short!)
Customs Agent: Will you go to the West Bank?
Me: I have no idea where that is, so I guess not!
Customs Agent: Are you visiting any friends/family?
I did go to the West Bank, but back then I didn’t know a lot about the situation in Israel and I just thought I should keep it simple.
And that was pretty much it! They gave me the “blue card” as they don’t stamp passports anymore and this card would basically become my ID for the next 12 days.
My VIP guy walked me outside the airport where I met my driver Sean.
“Welcome to Paradise”, he said. And he was right, Israel turned out to be sweet!
According to my friends, entering Israel can be more challenging than this. It could also depend on the airline. I didn’t have anything to complain about as I got quite lucky I guess!
Update: During my second visit to Israel, my entry was even faster. I didn’t get any questioning in Hong Kong and the whole thing was pretty quick.
On my way out it was totally different. I’ve heard it could be harder to leave than getting in and that was super accurate for me.
The security check is divided into three steps. I’d call them the questions, the big sweeping and the exit card.
The first thing you should know is to be ready – you should prepare a big dose of patience. The process will be long!
They asked me questions for around 20 minutes. Their questions were mostly about the fact I’ve been spending a lot of time in Indonesia and Malaysia which are Muslim countries. They asked me many questions and they repeated many of them to see if my answers would change too.
I was pretty surprised by this long process and more importantly, I wasn’t ready for this I guess. I did try to keep it simple and in the end, it played against me.
It was followed by the biggest bag inspection I’ve ever experienced so far. As I travel with a carry-on only it was even longer than expected. I had to remove all electronics and charging devices. Basically, my backpack was unpacked and I had to repack the whole thing afterward
The last step didn’t require any answers. They gave me an exit red card and there I was walking towards my gate with no time to charge my phone and almost no time to kill.
The whole process discourages me frankly and I’d be annoyed if I had to do it all again.
Of course, there were some current events in Israel that could have accentuated the questioning.
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In the end, I made it alive, didn’t I?
Update: During my second visit to Israel, leaving the country was pretty dramatic again. The questioning was a lot faster this time, but for some reason, I was flagged at the scanning/bag inspection. I was left with my stuff ready to scan and with agents who were literally ignoring me. After 15 minutes of waiting where no one would bother replying to me, someone would come and start inspecting all my stuff piece by piece including my dirty laundry. They opened everything (even what was sealed), scanned my shoes, my laptop and did an extra body scan. The whole thing took around 40 minutes. This experience really pulled me off. I mean… considering the number of travels I’ve done in my life, it’s the first time I’m confronted by this… and imagine… I was leaving the country!
Q&A about traveling in Israel | Travel Tips Blog Israel
Do you need a visa to enter Israel?
It depends on where you’re from. You should check the visa requirements for your country. Canadians don’t need a visa to enter Israel. Although you should have an onward ticket to get in.
Is it safe to travel to Israel?
If you’re wondering if it’s safe to travel to Israel you might have seen the news and the headlines. It does sound like a dangerous place to travel to.
So, here’s what you should know. Sean, my lovely driver, told me Israel was super safe and that I shouldn’t listen to what’s said in the news. If Sean says so, it might be true! (#Kidding!)
Honestly, I don’t believe in boycotting countries and I was not worried at all about coming to Israel. When I arrived in Tel Aviv I felt absolutely safe and I was amazed at how vibrant and friendly the city is. (Yes, a city can be friendly!) Did you know that Tel Aviv is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world? It’s also safe for women to walk at night time. I felt super safe the entire time.
If you’re wondering about the political situation in Israel, this is where it gets messy. I’d say this is DAMN complicated. I’m not into politics and it gets even worse if the political conversation is happening in English as my vocabulary is limited in this field. There are places you should avoid and some others you can get to with a group, but in you’re sticking to the typical traveling route you should be fine! You can also talk about the political situation with the locals while you’re there. Most are lovely and super open to talking about it!
How long should you go to Israel for?
Minimum a week! I’d suggest even more if you can! I was there for 12 days and I didn’t manage to see all the places I wanted to visit. I guess I’ll have to go back!
Is Israel expensive?
Unfortunately, yes! Accommodation is quite expensive and so is the food. It’s the average price if you compare it to Western Europe or North America. I’ll get back to this in a few weeks with budget tips!
What should you expect from Israel?
My friend, you’re about to get fed as you’ve never been before! Israeli food is fantastic! People are friendly and super welcoming. Israeli hospitality is something to remember and the country is absolutely beautiful!