Israel Travel Tips inhabit a world of their own. Making a trip to this part of the world seems to follow most of the basic rules of travel, but Israel travel tips often involve a little extra planning an awareness.

Israel travel tips, El Al plane arriving in Israel
Israel travel tips start at the airport. Getting in is complicated.

You’ve already done the hard part, getting your plans in place, and even for a country as small as Israel, this is no small feat. There is simply so much to see and do. If, for some reason, you’ve just thrown a dart at the map and picked this part of the world without knowing what to check out, I would refer you to this site, which has great advice for the top must-see spots. However, I’m assuming that most of your plans are already established at this point, and

I want to talk to you about my experience as a professional traveler and filmmaker, because there are five Israel travel tips you absolutely must keep in mind in order for everything else to go as smoothly as possible.

Israel Travel Tip #1: Getting In

There is one, and only one, point of entry for travelers visiting Israel, and that’s the David Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. And if you thought getting in and out of Rome, Mumbai or JFK was a hassle… TLV exists in a world of its own. The fact of the matter is this: security is a very big deal, and for obvious reasons. You should expect slow going at every step of the way, and this begins well before you’re anywhere near Israeli airspace. On my recent trip to Israel, filming for my series The Palette Project, it began at LAX. I was flying el Al, the national airline, and the airline uses its additional security to add an additional layer of sagety before you’re even close to the departure gate. You will be asked questions that often make no sense to you, but they’re designed that way – security wants to see how nervous you get in response to those questions. Expect extra hand scans for your checked and carry-on bags as well.
This continues when you arrive in Tel Aviv, and extends through passport control and customs. Be aware that if you have stamps in your passport from countries that do not recognize the existence of the state of Israel, you will likely be thoroughly questioned about why you were in those countries. One of the smartest things you can do, in fact, is to prepare a printed – yes, printed – list of the following:

– The name, address and phone number of your hotel
– The names addresses and phone numbers of people in Israel who are expecting to see you while you’re in the country.

It is also very likely that if you were expecting to be picked up by friends or family at the airport, they willl either be late or not there at all. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) really does not want unknown vehicles near the airport, especially if those vehicles aren’t filled with people who don’t have a boarding pass. Bottom line – expect it to take at least an hour and a half to get to fresh air, and start the timer from the moment you get off the plane,not when the plane lands.

Coming up in the next post: Israel Travel Tip #2: Getting Out

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