Electricity: Do we need adapters or transformers?

A tourist asked, “Do I have to use a transformer or adapter for my electrical devices in Israel?”

Electricity in Israel is rated at 220v (220v-240v) 50hz compared to the 110v 60hz that is common in North America. That difference requires certain precautions when using North American appliances and electrical devices, including telephones and computers.

plugadapter

First, let’s clarify the difference between adapters and transformers/converters. Adapters affect the plug; they change the standard American flat posts to Israeli/European round posts. At the right, you can see the standard 2-pin plug used in Israel. Transformers or converters affect the electricity; in this case, they reduce Israel’s 220v down to 110v; transformers or converters do not affect the hz.

Today, many electronic devices (e.g. computers, battery chargers, tablets, phones, etc.) have an internal transformer and can operate safely on 110v or 220v. Check the specs label on your device to see if yours does. Click here for an example. If your device is rated to operate on 110v-240v, you should only need an adapter like the one in the photo at the top right. You can easily find a 6-pack available on Amazon for less than $10.

If you would like a 3-prong adapter that also has USB charging outlets, this may be what you want. Alternatively, for about $10 you can get a 3-pack of 3-prong adapters.

If your device does not operate on 220v, you will need a converter. The size depends on the type of device you want to operate. A 50-watt converter is usually sufficient for basic electronic devices like phones and computers. Heating devices (e.g. curling irons and blow dryers) usually require a more robust converter of at least 1800 watts. Many Israeli hotels have hair dryers and 110 electric outlets for shavers in the bathrooms, which may be a better option than trying to get a North American hair dryer to work properly. Many travelers end up burning up their hair dryers when trying to use them in Israel. The hair dryer at the right and/or this flat iron both work in Israel (with a plug adapter) and have received good customer reviews. They cost about $20 each.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the links provided in this post serve to illustrate the kinds of devices that are typically used by tourists and should not be construed as endorsement of the quality or dependability of any of the devices. Discipleship Travel LLC assumes no liability for your correct or incorrect use of any items linked or described in this post. The purchase and/or use of any of these or similar items indicates your acceptance of personal responsibility and liability for any damage that may result.

Tips for Traveling During Winter Storms

Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

When winter weather hits, here are some top tips to help travelers get to their destinations safely.

Skip the first and last flights. If you’re traveling during seasons with a high likelihood of inclement weather, you may want to avoid the first or last flight of the day since these flights have a higher frequency of being canceled, depending on the start and end time of the storm.

Reroute a connecting flight. There are times the weather in your departure city and at your destination is clear, but weather in your connecting city is less than desirable. If that happens, a travel advisor can help you reroute your connection flight through an airport with no delays.

Take advantage of travel waivers. Often airlines will issue travel waivers that allow you to re-book your ticket away from the affected dates at no additional charge. You should take advantage of these when they post. Your travel advisor monitors these, but you can, too.

Avoid booking flights at the ticket counter. If you must buy a new ticket, avoid doing so at the airport ticket counter, or else you will likely pay a higher rate. Call a travel advisor to book you, even if you are standing in an airport.

Consider larger airports and travel light. If you suspect there may be severe weather threats during your time of travel, consider flying from a larger airport. Larger international airports will have a greater chance of more alternate flights, and they are also better equipped to clear runways faster or with de-icing of a plane.

Pack carry-on with necessities. If you travel with only a carry-on, you’ll be in a better position to change flights quickly in the event of a cancellation. If you must check luggage, make sure your carry-on has essential necessities, such as all of your prescription medications and a couple of changes of clothes. If you’re flying to a warm-weather destination, include your swim wear so you can relax by the pool or on the beach while the rest of your luggage catches up with you.

Hotels offer cancellation waivers. If severe weather will keep you from arriving at your destination hotel, your hotel management is often quite accommodating by offering cancellation waivers to help you avoid no-show or late arrival fees. However, do notify your hotel as soon as possible if you will not be able to make it to your destination, or contact your travel advisor who can reach out to all of your reservations, from car rental to hotel or group tours to let them know.

Book a room early if you’re facing an overnight delay. If it seems weather conditions will keep you from getting to your final destination that same day, it is important to make a room reservation for an overnight stay as soon as possible. A travel advisor who has built relationships with hotels should be able to help find you a room so that you’re not sleeping on an airport cot with stranded travelers.

Sign up for travel insurance. For those instances where you may miss a flight because you were stuck in traffic or your ship sailed without you when your flight was canceled or delayed, travel insurance can be your saving grace to recoup all or part of your travel investment. Your Travel Consultant can help explain your various options for the different types of travel insurance.

Get travel advisories or weather alerts delivered to your phone. There are several apps that allow you to receive email or text message notifications from your airline about your flight’s status. A weather.com app can keep you updated about conditions.

Stay on the main roads. If you’re driving between destinations, stick to major highways or well-traveled roads to facilitate other people coming to your rescue easily should you need assistance. Travel also during daylight hours or when car repair shops or convenience stores are more likely to be open. If you’re stranded in your vehicle for an extended period, run your engine for only a few minutes once or twice an hour to stay warm and conserve gas. While the car is running, be sure to slightly roll down a window to keep carbon monoxide from building up inside.

Pack an emergency travel kit. Whether you’re driving, flying or traveling by rail, prepare for possible delays with a few essentials. Pack a small bag with an extra sweater, gloves or small throw, as well as water and high-energy or high-protein foods such as granola bars or beef jerky. You may also want to pack a toothbrush and toothpaste, a change of underwear and any needed prescription medications. Remember also a flashlight, extra batteries, or phone charger, a first aid kit and a good book.

Book with a travel advisor. Weather-related travel delays inevitably happen at times, from heavier traffic on the highways to delayed or canceled flights. However, the unexpected challenges need not stress out travelers with a little added planning and some advice from a seasoned travel agent. You travel advisors are trained to monitor situations like winter weather that may impact their clients’ travel plans. As result, they can work on alternative travel plans and can likely have those in place with the airline, hotel or car and driver the moment the need arises.

Lost Luggage? What to do before and after.

The following post is based on a Travelers United article by Charlie Leocha.

Three categories of lost luggage rules … before, during, and after travel.

Every traveler needs to be aware of the luggage rules that should be followed prior to traveling, during check-in and subsequent travel, then finally, upon discovery that their luggage has been damaged, delayed, or lost. Leoca suggests that, “Passengers who follow these rules have far fewer lost and delayed baggage problems and get top compensation from the airlines.

How can travelers reduce the chances of lost luggage? What should a passenger do if their luggage doesn’t arrive on the expected baggage claim carousel?

The basic lost luggage rules follow:

Plan for potential problems

Particularly for longer trips, travelers should use their carry on for essentials: a change of clothes (top to bottom), all prescription medications, and travel-size toiletries in a ziplock bag.

In most cases, airlines typically recover and deliver lost luggage within 24 hours.

Take photos

Travelers should take photos of the items they packed in their luggage to help provide evidence of loss if their luggage goes missing.

Verify that luggage will be transferred at connecting cities

This is typically a problem if the traveler is using airlines that partner with different alliances or are traveling on separately ticketed segments. For example, if your flight includes segments on both Delta and American, there is a good chance that you will need to claim your luggage at the end of the Delta segment and re-check it with American. Additionally, if you are continuing on with the same airline (same day, same city), but the segments are ticketed separately, you will likely need to claim your luggage and recheck it for the second segment. Ask the agent at check-in whether your luggage will be transferred or you will need to claim/re-check it.

Verify the destination

At check-in (whether curbside, self-service kiosk, or with an agent), visually verify that all your luggage is ticketed (or tagged) to the correct destination. Since the bag-tags will use a 3-letter code for the destination airport, make sure you know the correct letters for your intended airport. For example, the two airports in Dallas, Texas are Love Field (DAL) and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). A traveler who is not aware of the 3-letter codes, can easily confuse DAL with DFW because DAL clearly means Dallas and he is going to DALLAS Fort Worth Airport.

Submit your luggage on time

Be aware of your airport’s guidelines for luggage submission. Frequently, travelers that use smaller airports think “My airport is small; an hour is plenty of time.” While that might be sufficient most of the time, it may not always be enough, and certainly doesn’t meet airline/airport guidelines. Also, keep in mind that TSA may randomly pick your bag off the belt, adding additional delays for your luggage.

Identify luggage inside and out

Few travelers put identification and destination information inside their luggage, but this small effort will be amply rewarded if your luggage tag gets torn off. Especially if you don’t know exactly what your luggage looks like — and many travelers do not (ask anyone who has stood in a lost-luggage line). So take a moment to note the luggage maker (TravelPro, Samsonite, Delsey, American Tourister, etc.). Also, take a good look at the color. Is it dark blue or is it black? Is that a stripe or a wavy line? Better yet, if you have a camera phone, take a picture of your bag before you hand it over.

Know the compensation limits

Compensation for lost/delayed/damaged baggage is $3,500 per passenger, not per bag. Be aware that you will not be compensated more than $3,500 even if the value of your contents is higher. Be thoughtful in how much you pack.

Fill out all forms at the airport

If your luggage doesn’t arrive at the designated carousel, know the next steps. Contact the airline personnel, who may be able to locate the item(s) through their tracking system. At that point, the airline representative should be able to estimate the time of arrival of your property. If you can wait, do so. If not, complete all the necessary forms so that the airline may deliver your property to the appropriate location.

Ask what the airline can do for you

Depending on the airport, the lost luggage representative may be able to do different, and typically unknown, things for you. For example, if the agent can see that your bag(s) will be delayed for an extended period (i.e., some hours or a day or more), they may be able to give you petty cash to get some necessities. If you are on your way to the ski lodge, you may be able to get coupons for rental clothes for the mountain so that your vacation isn’t delayed.

In the case of damage, the airline may be able to have it repaired during your stay … if you let them know of the damage.

Make a claim

If your luggage is actually lost, which is pretty rare, the airline’s liability in domestic cases is $2,800. In international cases, their liability is less. Be aware of any benefits that you may have through a travel insurance policy, your credit card, or your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance. It’s not a bad idea to make an itemized list (even photograph) of the contents of your luggage in case you need to make an insurance claim.

Again, though completely losing your luggage is rare, it does happen. More often, your luggage may be delayed. In either case, your plans will be disrupted, and the disruption may cause you financial harm. The better prepared you are and the more closely you follow the above suggestions, the more likely your damages will be reduced.

Visiting Bethlehem’s Church of Nativity?

The star marks the traditional location of Jesus’ birth in the basement of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Photo Credit: BiblePlaces.com/Todd Bolen

Over the last several years, the number of visitors at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem have grown to unmanageable sizes. This growth has caused many visitors to the church to leave before actually getting to visit the basement, the most desired destination in the church.

As a result of the growing numbers of disappointed travelers, The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Tourism is developing a reservation app that is supposed to help reduce the wait time at the church.

For a more complete report on this development, see this article.

Are You a Windsurfer?

Are you a windsurfer? Interested in learning to windsurf? Let Discipleship Travel LLC arrange a windsurfing package for you in New Caledonia.

Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, New Caledonia is the third largest island in the Pacific. It is not only a nature lover’s paradise but also for watersports enthusiasts.

Windsurfing is one of the of the most popular sports in Nouméa, the French Territory’s capital. In fact, an international windsurfing competition called the Nouméa Dream Cup has been organized, attracting participants from across the globe.