Questions & Answers
Have questions? We've got answers!
The following are some of our most frequently asked questions - most of the answers apply to all of our programs,though program-specific information is also available. If you didn't find the answer to your particular question, just contact us
, and we'll be happy to help!
What's the Passport program about?
BBYO Passport is BBYO’s worldwide travel program for current 6th-12th graders of all Jewish backgrounds. Passport trips span five continents and connect teens with countries as diverse as Israel, Italy, Slovenia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Holland, Belgium, England, France, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, South Africa and the Western USA. Our programs include core elements such as active touring, community service, cross-cultural interactions, and meaningful Jewish experiences. All BBYO Passport trips embrace pluralistic Jewish values and are designed for Jewish teens with a spirit for adventure and a desire to experience the full color of the world. Learn More: The Passport Way
Do I have to be a BBYO member to go on Passport?
Passport trips are open to BBYO members and non-members alike*. The ratio of members to non-members tends to be half/half, so no one feels left out. Our experiences embrace pluralistic values and welcome all Jewish teens. We feel that Jewish diversity adds value to our groups and allows teens to learn not just from the countries they visit, but from each other as well. Prior involvement with BBYO is not required. *ILSI is designed primarily for BBYO members as a leadership experience.
What's included and not included in the price?
The tuition for each program DOES include: round trip flights from New York City*, all accommodations, all meals, professional guiding and local transportation, all activity costs and entrance fees, as well as medical insurance covering non-pre-existing conditions**, and gratuity for program staff. All you are responsible for is getting to the airport in New York to meet the group and bringing enough spending money to cover souvenirs and snacks. *NOTE: Trek West, Trek Costa Rica, Northwest, Southwest and Pacific Connect programs do not include a group flight in the core tuition. **Medical insurance is not included or available for domestic programs.
Are scholarships available?
In keeping with BBYO Passport's mission to share the experience of Israel with as many Jewish teens as possible, BBYO has established need-based scholarship funds for any trip traveling to Israel. Jewish communities throughout North America have created special funds to help high school age teens specifically for Israel travel. Check out the Scholarship Info page for more information. (Note: Funding is only available for trips going to Israel.)
How are trips staffed?
Each BBYO Passport program is staffed by at least two chaperones, a licensed guide, and a bus driver. Our Israel trips are also staffed by a licensed medic/security escort. Our Europe trips are also staffed by a program leader from Israel in addition to the locally licensed guide.
What is the group makeup?
Most groups are comprised of 30-40 participants. Over the years, we have found that the breakdown between males and females has varied and is often hard to predict. Passport trips attract Jewish teens from all over North America as well some international teens. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, while most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from many different locations, which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting.
How do connections work?
BBYO makes it easier than ever for teens to experience worldwide travel the way they want. Many of our programs are modular -- which means that two individual programs can be linked together for maximum summer globe-trotting travel. Due to the ability to connect multiple experiences, our participants may choose different connections.
What's your approach to safety & security?
As an organization that has been serving teens for over 85 years, and teen travel programs to Israel since 1956, our philosophy is to treat each and every BBYO Passport participant as a member of our own family. Safety and security considerations always come first. This means that we plan our itineraries to avoid areas of concern, limit opportunities for free time, generally use accommodations outside of city centers, and in certain countries we travel with a security/medical escort. Learn More: Security in Israel
How do I register and what does no-risk registration mean?
Just go to the Register Now page, follow the instructions, and submit all of the necessary forms. Getting registered is easy, but if you have any questions at all about the process, just give us a ring. You can register now with no risk at all through March 9th. Why register now? Apart from the comfort of our no-risk registration policy, the sooner you register, the sooner we can confirm your spot on the program of your choice before it closes out. (Note: the only way to confirm your spot on a trip is to pay the $250 deposit, which is included in the no-risk registration policy)
I am not ready to register, can I get more information?
While we do encourage you to take advantage of our no-risk registration and sign up well in advance, if you need time to make up your mind, you can always sign up for our Email Update List.
What is Shabbat like? Do I need to be religious?
On all Passport trips, we take advantage of Shabbat as a day to rest from a very busy schedule while enjoying the local surroundings. There is no bus travel on Shabbat, but there are often nature walks or neighborhood tours in addition to group discussions, festive meals, and free time to relax and possibly swim. On Friday evening and Shabbat morning there are egalitarian and participatory prayer services which allow for the sharing of personal customs and exposure to new ones. In countries outside of Israel, we try to visit local synagogues on Shabbat as a way to experience the unique customs of Jewish communities abroad. While all Passport participants are Jewish, our participants come from all Jewish backgrounds, and you do not need to be religious to participate or appreciate this program. Like most people, we do not like labels. That being said, the Passport experience is best described as being "pluralistic." What does that mean? It means that we have planned these trips carefully, and take great pride that participants from all Jewish backgrounds will feel comfortable traveling with us in Israel or around the world. Past experience has also taught us that having a group made up of participants from diverse Jewish backgrounds makes the BBYO Passport experience that much more special for everyone in the group.
Is the food kosher?
The food on all Israel trips is kosher throughout. On trips in Europe, the Americas and Africa, meals are either kosher or vegetarian. On most of our programs, we frequently provide a cash stipend so that participants can buy their own meals and directly choose what they wish to eat.
I have food issues, can you accommodate me?
Many meals during each trip are served buffet-style, so you will be able to choose your own food. You should certainly indicate on your registration forms if you have any health-related requirements, and our staff will do their best to assist you in making the proper selections.
Do I need to be in good physical shape to enjoy a Passport trip?
The bottom line is that Passport trips are meant to be enjoyed. Anyone with a basic spirit for adventure will feel more than comfortable on any of our trips. However, some of our trips tend to be more physically challenging than others. Specifically, Trek Israel, Trek West and our Connect programs are suited for those who love the outdoors and who are looking for a more active experience. That does not mean you need to be a super athlete to enjoy any of the Trek programs…and do not worry, you will not need to schlep your belongings on any hikes!
I’ve been there before with family. Will I be bored on this trip?
Although there are certain sites the group will tour that may already be familiar to you, there is much on the itinerary that is “off the beaten path.” It is also a very different experience to travel with family than to explore a country with a diverse group of peers, many of whom will likely become close friends in the process. Our trips offer an exciting chance to explore the local countryside and get close to nature during hikes, bike rides, zip lining, and a desert survival course, which are probably not things you did with your parents!
What do I need to know to prepare for the trip?
About two months prior to the start of the program, we will post a detailed pre-trip preparation manual for each trip, including the final itinerary, packing tips, emergency contact info, and instructions on how to rent a cell phone abroad or purchase an international calling card. If you have any specific questions that you would like answered in advance, please contact us. Pre-Trip Prep
What about health insurance?
The Passport tuition includes local health insurance coverage for all non-pre-existing conditions. If you are interested in purchasing cancellation insurance or insurance covering pre-existing conditions abroad, BBYO Passport recommends Travel Insured International. NOTE: Medical insurance is not included or available for domestic programs.
Do I need any immunizations before traveling?
You are not required to have any immunizations or medications to travel to the countries we visit. We view these issues as a matter of personal choice for which you should consult a trusted physician at least 4-6 weeks prior to trip departure. The Center for Disease Control can provide more details for each country we travel to. Most teens are up to date on all immunizations, as most schools require them before enrollment each year. We have provided the official recommendations by the CDC so you are aware, but please consult your physician who can help you to make an informed decision. Note: The CDC also defines some regions in Costa Rica as “malarial-risk areas” and recommends the anti-malarial drug chloroquine, but we do not travel to these areas.
How is medication handled?
Participants are in charge of carrying and keeping track of their own medication. Our staff should be made aware of any medical conditions and necessary prescriptions prior to the start of the program. In addition, our staff will have a limited amount of over the counter medications available so it is important for teens to plan wisely.
Do I need to make arrangements for a visa?
Citizens of the U.S. and Canada will automatically receive a three-month tourist visa upon entry to any of the countries we travel. Citizens of many other countries receive this courtesy as well. To visit most countries, your passport must be valid for at least six months after your departure. (NOTE: If you also have Israeli citizenship, you must enter and exit Israel using your Israeli passport, so make sure it is up-to-date as well!)
How much spending money is recommended?
How much money you will need depends mostly on your own shopping plans. All of your programming costs are covered, so you will only need money for snacks, personal souvenirs, and gifts for family and friends back home. You should not bring travelers’ checks, as you will not have an opportunity to cash them during the trip. Instead, we recommend a debit card system.
Are electrical adaptors needed?
The outlets in each country are a different shape from those in the U.S. (and sometimes from each other), so you will need a plug adapter to plug anything in. Converters and adapters can be purchased in most electronics or luggage stores. Remember, anything you bring with you is at your own risk, so we don't recommend bringing items that are extremely valuable to you. Visit this Electrical Outlet website for more details and pictures of each type of outlet. (Note: Costa Rica uses the same outlets, 120V as the USA)
Traveling with friends? How does rooming work?
During the registration process, you will have an opportunity to let us know with whom you want to travel and whether you have any special bus group requests. Please contact us directly if you plan to travel with a larger group of friends.
Rooming is typically between two to four per room, and each participant will always have their own bed. We mix up the rooming assignments randomly in order to give all participants a chance to get to know each other better. Please understand, that while some teens come with friends, others come alone and we want to ensure that all of our participants feel comfortable.
Do you have any packing advice? Can I do laundry?
Prior to the start of the program, we will post a detailed pre-trip preparation manual for each trip, which will include suggestions for the type of clothing needed. In general, we recommend that you bring at least two weeks’ worth of the basics (T-shirts, underwear, socks, etc.) For trips that last longer than two weeks, you can expect that at least once during the trip you will have an opportunity to send out a load of laundry to a service that will return it within a day or two. You should try to pack as light as possible, in a rolling suitcase or duffel, because you will need to be able to transport your own bags between your bus and accommodations at each stop of the trip. Sleeping bags are not recommended for any of our programs. For trips that include camping experiences (Trek Israel & Trek West), all bedding will be provided.
Can family/friends visit me during the trip?
Depending on where your friends or family live, there may be an opportunity for them to visit you at your hotel during a Shabbat afternoon or after evening programming. Arrangements for such a visit should wait until you get to your destination and discuss the options with your trip guide and staff. To ensure the safety and security of all of our teens, participants are not allowed to leave the hotel or the group for any reason. *All of our trips to Israel, except for ILSI, include a home hospitality weekend during the trip when you can sign up in advance to stay with your family or friends. (Note: All BBYO Passport Rules apply during the home hospitality weekend)
What is the weather like?
In general, the weather in Israel during the summer is quite hot, averaging in the 90s (°F), although the climate varies significantly in different parts of the country. It is very dry in the desert, with intense heat in the daytime and cool & windy nights. Along the coast near Tel Aviv, it is much more humid. In the mountains up north and in the Jerusalem area both the temperature and humidity are more moderate, although it is still very warm. The good news is that you never have to worry about rain, so you can leave the umbrella at home. Because of the extremely strong sun, you will usually be required to wear a hat and a t-shirt whenever you are outside.
Spain & Italy: Average temperatures in June and July are in the mid 70s (°F), although it may go down into the 60s at certain times of day in some locations. Rain is a possibility, so bring a jacket that can handle it, preferably with a hood.
Bulgaria, Western & Central Europe: Average temperatures in June and July are in the low-mid 60s (°F), although it is likely to go up into the 70s or even down into the 50s at different times of day in some locations. Rain is a definite possibility, so bring a jacket that can handle it, preferably with a hood.
Average temperatures in Costa Rica in June and July are in the low-mid 70s (°F), although it could go up into the 80s or down into the 60s at different times of day in some locations. You will be traveling through the rainforests, so rain is a definite possibility! Bring a jacket that can handle it, preferably with a hood. Argentina Argentina in July has a wide range of weather throughout the region. The average temperature range is in the 50's and 60's (°F) , dropping into the 40s in the evenings in some locations. Rain and wind is a definite possibility, so bring a jacket (preferably with a hood) and many layers.
In general, the weather in the Southwest during the summer can be quite hot, although the climate varies significantly in different parts of the country. It is very dry in the desert, with intense heat in the daytime and cool & windy nights. Along the coast near San Francisco and Los Angeles, it is much more humid. In the mountains up north both the temperature and humidity are more moderate, although it is still very warm. Because of the extremely strong sun, you will usually be required to wear a hat and a shirt that covers your shoulders whenever you are outside.
Average temperatures in South Africa in July are in the 50's and 60's(°F) although it is likely to go down into the 40s at different times of day in some locations. Rain is a definite possibility, so bring a jacket that can handle it, preferably with a hood.
Will I have any free time during the trip?
While the trip itineraries are quite intensive, we do set aside time for relaxation, shopping, and personal exploration. Because we take your safety and security so seriously, there will understandably be some limits on our flexibility when it comes to free time -- especially when we are touring in the larger cities.
How do I keep in touch with friends & family back home?
For starters, since you will be busy seeing the world, our staff promises to keep your friends & family up to date with plenty of postings and pictures on our website. Meanwhile, as the trip gets closer, we will be distributing hotel phone numbers and an emergency number. In general, a lot of our participants decide to bring their smartphones with them and use it to be in touch with parents when they are able to connect to a wifi hotspot. Finally, you are free to rent a cell phone or purchase an international calling card through our provider, Global Phones. In most cases, the phone will be hand delivered to you upon arrival, and you will be sent your phone number in advance. While your phones must be off during programming, you will be able to use your phones during free time and in the evenings.