Want to Live in Israel?

Artichokes ready for harvest.

Artichokes ready for harvest.

Have you ever thought about living in Israel, but didn’t know how you could do so? Ever thought of volunteering on an Israeli farm, working the “Land of Milk and Honey”? WWOOF ISRAEL provides a framework to do just that?

Through WWOOF you can access a list of farms that accept volunteer help from two day to six months. Each volunteer is required to work 5 days per week and will receive room and board in return, as well as the opportunity to live in Israel for a period of time.

A registration fee is required (NIS 160/270 single/couple) to join WWOOF, after which you can get the listing and contact details for participating farms.

If you are interested and/or have more questions you may want to check out their FAQ page.

NOTE: This information is offered for informational purposes only. No guarantees of any kind are offered or implied by Discipleship Travel LLC.

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?”

plugadapterElectricity in Israel is rated at 22ov (220v-240v) 50hz compared to the 110v 60hz in North America. That difference requires certain precautions when using North American appliances and electrical devices, including telephones and computers.

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/converters affect the electricity; in this case, they reduce Israel’s 220v down to 110v; transformers/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 $3 (Caution! The customer reviews on this product are not good). Here‘s another adapter that has better customer reviews.

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 1600 watts. Many Israeli hotels have hair dryers and 110 electric outlets for shavers in the restrooms, 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. This hair dryer works in Israel (with a plug adapter) and has received good customer reviews.

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.

 

Is it safe to drink the water in Israel?

Israel is a world leader in water technology, and the water is generally safe to drink.

While in the hotels it is usually okay to drink the filtered water that is served at meals. Also, it is generally safe to brush your teeth with the water in the hotel rooms. However, the safest course of action is to drink bottled water because your stomach may not be ready for microbes that are common for Israelis. (Likewise, Israelis may not be ready for microbes you have become accustomed to in the United States.)

We definitely recommend drinking only bottled water (i.e. no drinking fountains) while out touring. This will help ensure that you don’t need to stay behind for a day or more due to an upset stomach. Bottled water is available on your bus for a reasonable price. This makes it easy to get a few bottles for use in the hotel when you arrive for the evening, and then to refresh yourself throughout the day as needed.

The cost of bottled water is not included in the tour price and is the responsibility of the user. Each person may react differently to the various water sources available in Israel and is solely responsible for their decision to use or not use bottled water.

If you are on an extension to Egypt or Jordan, we suggest you use only bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth in those countries.

How do I get a Value Added Tax refund in Israel?

Photo: Bill Soper

In Israel, one of the powerful sales techniques used among higher-end souvenir shops is telling the tourist they will receive a “VAT refund at the airport.”

VAT stands for Value Added Tax, which currently is 16%. The VAT is what most of our travelers would know as sales tax, and is added to every transaction that involves money.  However, certain services and items related to tourists are exempt from VAT, if the proper procedures are followed.

In the tourist trade, vendors who are appropriately recognized by the government offer a special receipt that allows the buyer to get their VAT refunded for each item they take out of the country. However, this only occurs if:

  1. a certain purchase threshold is met, and
  2. if the shop is certified, and
  3. if the shop actually provides the appropriate form to the buyer, and
  4. the buyer shows the item at the VAT desk at the airport.

Up to this point, everything seems more or less reasonable. It’s a hassle, and some buyers don’t know the rules, or don’t receive the proper form, but it’s pretty nice to get 16% of the purchase price back.

The process is as follows:

  1. Shop in properly certified shops, which display a green TAX REFUND logo (see above).
  2. Purchase enough goods at the same time to meet the spending threshold. (we’ve heard different numbers, beginning at $100.)
  3. Get the proper form and keep the receipts.
  4. Do not pack the Duty Free item until it is presented to the VAT clerk located inside the departure hall at Ben Gurion Airport, prior to the first security checkpoint. After the clerk verifies the item and stamps the form, the item may be packed in checked luggage or hand carried. Jewelry is verified only beyond passport control at the Change Place VAT desk in Duty Free.
  5. After passing all security checks and passport control, present VAT refund forms at the Change Place VAT desk in the Duty Free hall.
  6. Receive a 16% rebate on your purchase(s) in dollars or shekels. You can receive the refund via credit card also, but we’ve been told it takes up to three months.
  7. Fly home happy with your purchase(s) and the extra money in your pocket.

Sounds easy enough. And it is, as long as you follow the procedure exactly. However, there is one catch: At step 6, don’t expect to get 16% as you were told by the sales clerk because there is a hefty 20% commission, which brings the actual refund to 12.8%.

We’ve been told there is a sliding commission scale, depending on how much VAT has been paid. Unfortunately, the Change Place website provides no such information. So, BUYER BEWARE! If your budget is dependent upon the VAT REFUND, you need to recalculate what you can afford to spend.

*This page does not constitute legal or financial advice specific to any individual’s situation. It is a general explanation of Discipleship Travel LLC’s understanding of the VAT refund system in Israel. Your experience may differ at certain points. The shopper assumes personal responsibility to verify the proper procedure for receiving a VAT refund.

**Any shopping expenses incurred are the responsibility of the shopper and are not included in the tour price.

Do I need travel insurance or can I use my US-based health insurance?

Discipleship Travel LLC acts only as an agent for suppliers and is not responsible for damage, loss, or theft of luggage and/or personal belongings, or for personal injury, accident and/or illness. For your own protection it is important that you have sufficient insurance to cover these possibilities.

Be aware that travel insurance benefits are not limited to health related incidents. After determining your coverage needs, check with your insurance agent to determine whether your insurance plan meets your needs in Israel (or wherever you are traveling), including personal health/injury, loss/damage to belongings, and trip interruption. Note: Many US-based insurance plans do not cover you outside the United States, so get confirmation of coverage in writing! You should carry proof of insurance in case you need medical attention while abroad.

Because of the risk of misunderstanding insurance benefits and the complications that often occur when using non-Israeli insurance policies in Israel, Discipleship Travel LLC recommends purchasing travel insurance. You can choose from among the different policies we sell by clicking the Travel Guard banner below.

NOTE: Insurance is optional, but STRONGLY RECOMMENDED!

VISIT OUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS PAGE