How to Prepare for Your First Trip to Israel and Palestine

Israel is a bucket list destination, but it’s also kind of intense, right? It’s a holy, important place with major emotionally-charged things to see and do for Christians, Jews, and Muslims. It’s small, but there are so many must-dos. It’s a place many people plan to visit only once, so understandably, you want to do it right the first time. Here is how to make that happen.

Update: We have a podcast! The Israel Travel Podcast is now live on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

Choose the Best Tour Operator

This is the one element that can truly make or break your trip. The best advice I can give you on this is to plan your trip with a company that specializes in Israel, not one that has operations all over the world. You’re just not going to get the authentic, specialized trip that you’ll get with a company that is only operating in Israel and the Middle East.

When researching Israel travel companies, look for one that is responsive to your questions. If it takes the company 3-4 days to respond to an email (if they respond at all), that means they are passing your question along, and the reply will either be incomplete or basically a non-answer. If they don’t want you to ask questions at all, that’s a massive red flag. Communication with clients should be a priority!

On my first trip to Israel, my tour guide actually refused to take me to the Mount of Olives! Don’t let that happen to you!
Related: Why You Should Visit Israel with Elevation Journeys

Pack Up

Packing for Israel brings up some questions: Is it always hot? (No—bring a jacket.) Do I need to cover every inch of me? (No.) Am I going to be allowed to wear my bathing suit? (Yes!)

It’s always a good idea to check out the average temperatures of the place you travel (just ask Google), and packing a scarf or light jacket is also handier than you expect. The other often-underestimated item you’ll want to have with you? Comfortable walking shoes. You’ll do a lot of walking over uneven surfaces on this trip!

You don’t need to keep your shoulders covered at all times, but you might still be glad you have a jacket for chilly moments!
More here: What to Pack for a Week in Israel

Wise Up

The key to being a respectful visitor to Israel, or really any country, is to listen more than you speak. Opinions about Israel are all across the spectrum, but no visitor can possibly understand every facet of the ongoing conflicts the way a local does who lives it every day. Your opinion is not important enough or world-altering enough to justify risking insult to the people who actually live in Israel and the West Bank.

Love your neighbor, even your neighbors in Israel.
Keep reading: 10 Things to Know Before Your First Trip to Israel

Read Up

Once you choose a company that wants to give you the best experience possible, start reading! Israel is complicated, but it’s also many thousands of years old. People have been living here since literal biblical times, y’all. There is a lot of history layered up on itself here.

The good news is, you won’t be expected to know all of it! Just do a little brushing up on the history and politics of Israel, just to give yourself a foundation to build on. Your tour guide will be able to fill in the rest of the gaps for you as needed. Here are some of my favorites:

Also helpful: What to Know about Shabbat in Israel

Want more? Get everything you need on my dedicated Israel and Palestine Page!

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