There’s so much to do and see while you’re in Israel — and also a few things you’ll need to get ready for before you go! Prepare for your adventure with BBYO Passport by reading this helpful guide below —and start getting excited for the journey that awaits!
We hope you will take the time to review this document in its entirety. In particular, please ensure that you have:
- Arranged travel to/from the departure airport or the pre-approved meeting point and submitted your travel plans to us.
- Added a supervised hotel stay-over for the outbound and/or inbound flights if necessary by contacting the office via email to make the request.
- Uploaded a copy of your passport and ensured that it is valid for at least six months after our return date.
- Signed up friends and family to receive updates during your trip (parents will automatically receive the updates).
- Added a travel insurance policy (optional).
- Arranged for a local SIM or phone (optional) rental.
- Entered arrangements for the optional Host Family Weekend (with the exception of ILSI) before the start of the program.
- Joined the program Whatsapp group for either teens or parents. (Only teen participants will be accepted into the teen group.)
- “Liked” BBYO Passport on Facebook – this is where we’ll post photo albums over the summer.
- Reviewed the Program Rules & Expectations together as a family.
- Reviewed the packing advice in this document.
- Reviewed BBYO Passport's commitment to:
- Reviewed your Israel trip specific FAQ Page and General FAQs page:
- Made a plan for accessing spending money during the program.
- Submitted all forms to your account: Physical Medical, Passport Information, Health History Questionnaire, Parent Waiver and Release of Liability, Teen Waiver and Release of Liability.
Each group forms its own traveling community and the size of each group varies by program date. We will release more details approximately 3-4 weeks prior to our departure.
- If you are participating in a program that includes electives, the composition of your group will change during the electives period.
- Teens arriving in Israel from a separate BBYO Passport destination are usually integrated into a new program group in Israel – although we always keep the original connecting groups together.
- While on the road, you may also meet with other groups at different points.
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors), a licensed Israeli guide, a security/medical escort, and a dedicated bus driver. In Israel, senior staff circulates between the groups as well. Staff names are posted approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure, and you can expect a staff welcome call leading up to your departure!
Standard accommodations are based on 2-4 teens per room with the same amount of sleeping accommodations. Every time we move to a new overnight location, we will rotate rooming assignments to provide a better opportunity for our teens to get to know one another and promote group bonding.
The projected itinerary is announced 3-4 weeks prior to departure. Please note that even the confirmed itinerary will be subject to change on the ground. We will do our best to notify parents and teens in advance if necessary.
KASHRUT & DIETARY NEEDS
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. All food provided by BBYO Passport experiences in Israel is kosher. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program. Expect to eat Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods such as falafel, hummus, schnitzel, shakshouka, bourekas, and much more.
Shabbat is a special time and can be an amazing opportunity for rest and reflection. Friday nights and Saturdays will include prayer, informal discussions, and various Shabbat programming. When possible, we try to include visits to local synagogues to give teens a taste of how Judaism is observed locally. Often times our best or only option is a traditional Orthodox service. Even if this is not part of your tradition, it is an opportunity for a rich cultural experience that can be meaningful too. We strive to provide a number of alternative options for celebrating Shabbat, and teens are encouraged to take a leadership role in how the experience is shared with the group.
As a program, we do not drive on Shabbat and we do not oblige or encourage teens to break the rules of Shabbat which we observe. We do however require that teens carry items on Shabbat such as water bottles. At the same time, what teens do during non-programmed time on Shabbat is their own personal decision. We only ask that everyone be mindful and considerate of each other’s practices.
BBYO is a teen leadership organization, and as such, we place great trust and responsibility on our teens. By agreeing to participate in the program, you are agreeing to abide by the terms of our Waiver & Release Form, the BBYO Code of Conduct and these conduct guidelines:
CURFEW & ROOMING
To fully appreciate the program, a good night’s sleep is essential. A curfew will be enforced at the discretion of program staff. Teens are expected to abide by these curfew rules. Hotel rooms are assigned on a single-gender basis. Teens are not allowed to be in any other room other than the room they are assigned to without permission from the staff at any time during the program.
DRUGS & ALCOHOL
Possession, consumption, purchase, and/or being in the presence of drugs and/or alcohol will not be tolerated on any BBYO Passport program and may result in immediate dismissal. If ever you are in a situation that puts you in possession or presence of drugs and/or alcohol, reach out to a staff member as soon as possible. Additionally, sharing, selling or otherwise dispensing prescription medication is not tolerated and may result in immediate dismissal. Moreover, it is the policy of BBYO Passport to allow the police and justice departments of the respective countries visited to prosecute when infractions have occurred without intervention by BBYO Passport.
LEAVING THE PROGRAM WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION
As part of our general approach to safety and security, teens on all BBYO Passport programs are not allowed to leave the supervision of the program at any time. There will be occasions for limited free time in specific areas that are deemed secure by program staff. However, the general rule is that there is no leaving the program at any time and for any reason whatsoever during the day or at night. Leaving the program without specific staff authorization is grounds for immediate dismissal.
TIMELINESS & COOPERATION WITH STAFF
Behind the scenes of each BBYO Passport program is a complicated logistical plan which requires us to keep to an exact schedule. Staying on schedule requires the cooperation of every teen. It means waking up in the morning on time, not wandering from the group, and respecting the overall schedule of the program. The consequence of being late is that elements of the program will be canceled. We need every teen’s cooperation to ensure that the program to be fully experienced.
We believe in the unique power of a group experience as opposed to a collection of individual experiences. As a member of a traveling community, each teen has a responsibility to treat their fellow teens with respect and decency. We aim to create an inclusive atmosphere where everyone on the program is made to feel welcomed and comfortable; each teen plays a role in making this possible. These same principles apply to virtual and social platforms before, during, and after the program.
The purchase or possession of a weapon or an item that may be construed as a weapon is not allowed during the program, and any such items will be confiscated.
MOBILE DEVICE USE
Cell phone use is a privilege, not a right. Use of communication devices during scheduled program time is not permitted. During other times, teens must exercise discretion when using the phones (i.e. respect sleeping roommates, etc.). If necessary, program staff reserves the right to suspend or even terminate a cell phone rental if these privileges are abused.
RESPECT FOR PROPERTY
It is expected that teens will behave responsibly and with respect regarding belongings and property throughout the program. Should property be damaged or defaced by a fellow teen, those responsible will be held accountable for payment of damages. Please note: there is a fee at many hotels and kibbutzim for lost room keys.
TATTOOING & PIERCING
Such activities during the program are forbidden and may result in disciplinary action or dismissal from the program. Tattooing and piercings can be unsafe in foreign countries and any resulting medical complications would not be covered under the program’s medical insurance policy. Teens will be required to remove any piercings that they acquire during the program.
TOBACCO & MARIJUANA
The purchase or possession of tobacco and marijuana products is not allowed, regardless of age. Additionally, purchasing or possessing smoking paraphernalia is forbidden. This policy includes, but is not limited to, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and water pipes.
For the sake of creating a safe and successful program experience, BBYO Passport has established a series of disciplinary guidelines. Each disciplinary situation is approached individually and may include a staff-teen conversation, a formal warning, loss of free time or other privileges, program probation, and ultimately dismissal. As a general rule, infractions related to physical violence, drugs/controlled substances, tobacco, alcohol, and leaving the group without authorization are grounds for removal from the program. A single infraction may result in immediate separation from the group. BBYO Passport reserves the right to make these decisions within its sole authority, and there may also be further consequences for BBYO members within their local regions back at home.
In the event of program dismissal, the parents/guardians of the dismissed teen will be solely responsible for all associated fees, including the cost of special transportation to the airport, a flight chaperone if necessary, or an airline change fee. No portion of the program fee will be refunded, and any scholarship funds awarded will need to be reimbursed in full to BBYO or the issuing agency. Given the international nature of the program, the consequences of dismissal are extremely serious, costly, and disruptive to the rest of the group.
Any specific questions related to our rules or disciplinary approach should be directed to Aaron Robbin.
SAFETY & WELLBEING
SUN & HYDRATION
The sun in Israel is strong and is often stronger than teens are accustomed to. Dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn are serious concerns, especially in the desert. These are some common-sense rules we employ whenever we go on hikes or whenever we will be outdoors for an extended period of time:
- Wear a hat
- No tank tops
- Use sunscreen
- Carry at least two liters of water
Proper hydration is essential during a program of this nature. You should be drinking at least two liters of water per day. You can expect that the staff will constantly be reminding you to drink, drink, drink! Ultimately, you must be responsible for this task. The water in Israel is properly treated and is perfectly safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available and inexpensive, and you will have many opportunities to purchase it. Similarly, you will be able to refill your own water bottles with tap water frequently. Teens will not be allowed off the bus without full water bottles.
A rare condition known as leishmaniasis can develop from a sandfly bite. The condition impacts over 90 countries with tropical and sub-tropical climates, including parts of Israel and the United States. Although no teen on BBYO Passport has ever contracted the condition, it is a concern. Sandflies are most prevalent in the desert and most active in the evenings. Whenever our groups are out in the desert during dusk-to-dawn hours, we recommend that teens follow these precautions:
- Minimize the amount of exposed (uncovered) skin
Plan to wear lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks - and tuck your shirt into your pants.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin
Be sure to cover under the ends of sleeves and pant legs. Follow the instructions on the label of the repellent. The most effective repellents are those that contain the chemical DEET.
If contracted, leishmaniasis will typically show symptoms after a few weeks - which in most cases will be after the end of the program. Please be vigilant if you see abnormal-looking bumps or bite marks, as early treatment is important. To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website
Teens are responsible for carrying and self-administering their own medication. With the exception of over-the-counter treatments and EpiPines (or similar), our staff is not allowed to hold or administer prescribed medication and cannot be responsible for ensuring that prescribed medication is taken by teens during the program. If you have special requests (i.e. refrigeration requirements), note them on your health forms. Teens are never allowed to share or dispense prescribed medication. Some medications must be taken at the same time every day. Take into account the time difference and consult your doctor if necessary.
Vaccine guidelines vary by country and are continually evolving. We recommend consulting with your physician as well as the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. BBYO Passport requires its teens to be up-to-date with most vaccines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control. Please review our immunization policy.
As a program, we take a number of precautions to reduce security risks. We travel on a private coach bus, we stay at accommodations with security, we plan our itineraries to avoid areas of concern, we always travel with an armed guard, and we are registered for monitoring through Israel's Situation Room.
We also ask our teens to follow some basic security-related guidelines:
- Be aware of suspicious objects
Be aware not to leave behind personal items that may be confused with a suspicious object.
- Stay together as a group
This is a supervised program, and we depend on our teens to stay together as a group at all times.
- Follow staff instructions
In addition to traveling with a guard, we travel with licensed guides who are trained in security procedures, and we depend on everyone following their instructions.
During the season, our emergency phone number is 202-643-2296 and is handled by one of our team members. A BBYO staff member in North America will be answering emergency calls 24-hours a day. Please only use the emergency phone number when there is an emergency as described below:
- Family health emergencies
- Urgent medical or safety situation
- Concerns about fatigue or social adjustment
- Requests for flight extensions
- Requests to be featured in photos
- General security concerns (email updates will be sent in such scenarios)
Non-emergency issues should be communicated to the North American office, open Monday-Friday from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm EST. Simply call 202-537-8091 or email email@example.com.
PASSPORT AND VISAS
Check to make sure that you know where your passport is and that it is not expired or about to expire. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you arrive in Israel. If your passport expires within this period, start the renewal process well in advance. Many airlines will deny you boarding if your passport is not valid according to this policy. Learn more about ordering a USA passport or a Canadian passport.
- Plan to carry a photocopy of your passport during the program
Though our staff will hold onto your passport for safekeeping on the road, we recommend bringing a passport copy to place in your wallet, backpack, and suitcase at all times as a back-up form of identification.
- Check that the name entered in your flight form matches your passport
If you filled out the flight form with a nickname, your ticket will be printed accordingly, and you may be denied boarding. Contact us to make any corrections as soon as possible, a name change fee may apply.
If you are traveling to Israel on a USA, Canadian, or European Union member country passport, you do not need a visa to enter Israel. If you are traveling on a passport from another country (e.g. Russia, Ukraine, etc.), you may need a visa to enter Israel. Our office is able to provide you with an official ticket confirmation letter to assist with issuing any required visas or passport extensions.
A group flight will be offered, and a document with details will be sent to parents and teens in April. If you choose not to participate in the group flight, guidance will be provided as part of this same document. Contact us if you need assistance accessing the document.
- All tickets are issued electronically and staff will have a copy of your e-ticket at the airport.
- Seating is pre-assigned by the airline on our group flights. Special requests can be made at check-in, but not ahead of departure.
- If desired, teens are responsible for obtaining reward points via the airline using the ticket information obtained at check-in. Provide the agent at the counter with your appropriate information upon check to receive your reward points, or you may call the airline at a later time to obtain reward points.
Each airline has its own rules for mandatory "unaccompanied minors" and additional fees do apply. If your teen is 15 years or younger, refer to your chosen airline for information and contact us well in advance (2-3 weeks) if special arrangements need to be made with our staff.
Check with your specific airline for the most updated terms, however, the following are the basic luggage rules for transatlantic group flights:
- Checked Luggage: One bag of no more than 50 pounds and no more than 30 inches long
- Carry-on Luggage: One carry-on backpack
When deciding what kind of luggage to bring, keep in mind you will need to load your luggage on/off the bus and to/from our accommodations. Keep it manageable and be sure to bring luggage on wheels (we suggest a rolling duffel). Before packing, review updated restrictions on the TSA website.
MEETING THE GROUP
Plan to meet the group in the check-in area of our departure terminal four hours in advance of the group flight. Starting at about six hours prior to departure, our team will be on-hand wearing staff t-shirts and will greet teens as they arrive at our meeting location. The BBYO Passport t-shirt that you will receive before the program should be worn on departure day. We recommend that teens arrive at the airport with their personal cell phone and charger in case they need to contact a member of our team. Be sure the correct teen cell phone number is listed in your registration account.
When making your travel arrangements, we recommend that you consider ground travel to our departure airport as this greatly reduces the chances of delays. If you are traveling to the gateway airport on a connecting flight, we recommend arriving a day in advance of our international departure. An optional supervised airport hotel stay-over may be available for this purpose (read on). If you arrive on the day of departure, allow plenty of time to spare
SUPERVISED AIRPORT HOTEL STAY-OVERS
Optional supervised hotel stay-overs may be available on the night before your group’s departure and the night of your group’s return, if requested in advance. The cost of the supervised hotel stay-over is $200 per person which includes dinner and breakfast. Exact hotel arrangements and meeting instructions will be available at a later date. During the hotel stayover, teens are not permitted to leave the hotel for any reason without making prior arrangements with our staff. Sign-up for the supervised hotel stay-over by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited, and we may not be able to fulfill requests within a month of departure.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU ARE DELAYED
If you are delayed on departure day and will not meet the group on time, contact us ASAP. If possible, we will re-schedule you on the next available flight. However, there is no guarantee that we will be able to do so, and you will likely be traveling without staff. Additional fees may also apply.
ARRIVING AND RETURNING
ARRIVAL IN ISRAEL
On arrival, we proceed to passport control (customs) and then meet at baggage claim. Our Israel staff will have signs and will be wearing special badges to identify them. In baggage claim, there will be time for restroom breaks and to use an ATM*, but do not wander beyond baggage claim without staff. From there, we proceed to the bus loading zone which is where pre-ordered rental cell phones/SIM cards will be distributed.
NOTE: A currency exchange representative will meet the group in the bus loading zone. The exchange rate provided is better than what is available inside the airport baggage claim area – and much faster, too!
We typically clear customs and baggage claim within 60-90 minutes of arrival. If scheduling a connecting flight home, allow for a window of at least three hours between flights within the same airport. Our staff will be on hand to escort teens through baggage claim and direct them to their connecting flights as requested, but our staff will not be available to escort teens to connecting flight terminals. While we will do our best to assist with any connecting flight delays, we cannot commit to having staff at the airport for more than three hours after the group's return.
MEDICAL & TRAVEL INSURANCE
Program costs in Israel include basic medical insurance that covers treatment and medication; however, it will not cover pre-existing medical conditions or self-induced injuries. This means that the policy covers treatment for issues such as a stomach bug, an incidental broken limb, dehydration, etc. without out-of-pocket expenses or paperwork. The policy does not cover any medical conditions for which a teen is already being treated for or treatment that has been received in the past. This exclusion rule also applies to all psychological care. For this reason, teens are required to travel with their own medical insurance policy, which includes coverage for short-term travel abroad. In the event that a teen needs to be treated for a pre-existing condition during the program, the parents of the teen will be solely responsible for any associated costs.
NOTE: Review a summary of our medical insurance terms.
Families are encouraged to sign-up for a travel insurance policy to protect their investment and plan for the unexpected. We have partnered with Travel Insured International to provide a discounted group travel insurance option for students. The cost of the travel insurance policy is based on the total cost of the program and other domestic travel expenses. Review travel insurance policy coverage and costs in advance. The policy is selected within your registration account and may be purchased up until the date you make full payment for the program.
Packing for the Journey
VISITS TO RELIGIOUS SITES
Since we will be visiting sacred and religious sites during the program. In these locations, it is custom to keep knees and shoulders covered, please pack accordingly. Specifically, when visiting the Kotel, girls should wear long flowy skirts, similar to a maxi skirt. Tight pants are not appropriate. On Shabbat, we ask that teens wear nicer clothing than what would be worn during the normal touring week; this helps to create a unique Shabbat atmosphere. For reference, you may wear similar clothing that you would wear for Shabbat at camp!
FOOTWEAR IS KEY
We will be doing a lot of walking and having comfortable shoes is important! Flip flops will not be allowed when we are on the move, and while athletic sandals like Tevas or Chacos are fine most days in Israel, they are not appropriate for days when we have hikes/nature walks. While it is not necessary to bring hiking boots, comfortable and sturdy walking shoes are a must for all programming.*
*If you are participating in the Sea-to-Sea Hike as part of Trek Israel or an elective, lightweight hiking shoes or sturdy gym shoes with ankle support are necessary.
LOCAL SUMMER WEATHER
In Israel, temperatures range from hot to hotter in the summer. Clothing should be lightweight and comfortable in the heat. Whenever outside for an extended period, teens will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. Overexposure to the hot Middle Eastern sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns. The good news is the heat is mostly dry – there is very little humidity, and the chance of rain in Israel during the summer is practically zero- no umbrellas needed!
Theft is not uncommon in any place where a large number of tourists congregate, and there have been instances in Israel in the past. Accordingly, we encourage you to leave valuable items at home and to carefully keep track of anything valuable that you do bring on the program. As a general rule, hotel rooms should always remain locked. However, even a locked hotel room should not be considered a secure area unless a safe with a lock is available. If you bring a lock for your suitcase, locking it in the room is an option. If it is possible to bring a locking suitcase, we recommend it, although it is not a solution by itself. Teen property is the sole responsibility of the teen.
Laundry service will be scheduled approximately every 8-10 days. Teens will be given a laundry bag to use, and we encourage teens to pair up so that whites and colors are combined in shared bags. We recommend labeling all clothing to be laundered. BBYO Passport and its program partners are not responsible for clothing lost or damaged during the laundry process.
NOTE: Bringing a large size Ziploc bag is a good solution for storing dirty clothes in between laundry.
Do NOT send packages to teens in Israel. Packages often get delayed by Israeli customs, and even if a package does get through, it may be difficult to get the package to our group. If you forget a necessary item, the staff will do their best to purchase or obtain the item in a timely fashion.
MEDICATION AND CONTACT LENSES
If you are taking prescription medication, bring enough for the duration of the program as well as an extra written prescription record in case you misplace or lose your medicine. Take all medication (OTC and prescription) on the plane with you in your carry-on luggage. Do NOT pack any medication with your checked baggage. The same applies to contact lenses. Review TSA restrictions on traveling with medication and liquids.
If you are musically inclined and willing to bring your instrument, please feel free to do so! There will be plenty of occasions to showcase your skills. Remember that as with any other valuable item, bringing an instrument on the program is done at your own risk of loss or damage.
The electrical plugs in Israel are different than North American ones, with two rounded prongs that are separated slightly further apart. Therefore, you will need a voltage converter if you are bringing electronic items (unless they have a built-in one), as well as an adapter for plugging in your items. If you are unsure of which plugs to purchase, check with your local electronics or travel store. A travel adapter can be purchased online and should be no more than $5.
As with most hotels, the majority of the ones visited will supply small bottles of basic toiletries (shampoo, body wash, etc.) It is always a good idea to pack a small amount to have on hand.
SAMPLE PACKING LIST
Please use this packing list as a guideline and keep in mind that laundry will be done every 8-10 days.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
- 10 t-shirts (no tank tops)
- 5 pairs of shorts
- 2 pairs of jeans or khakis
- 12 pairs of underwear & socks
- 2 long sleeve shirts
- 1 windbreaker or lightweight sweater
- 2-3 bathing suits
- 2-3 pajamas
- 1 beach towel
- 2 Shabbat/nicer outfits (modest) plus longer skirts/shirts for Kotel, etc.
- Sturdy walking shoes (closed-toed)
- 1 pair of water shoes (e.g. Aqua Socks, Tevas, Chacos, Keens, etc.)
- 1-2 hats for protection from the sun
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Soap, razor, deodorant, etc.
- Contact lens case, solution, and spare contact lenses
- Sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher)
- Bug spray
- Passport and photocopy of passport (must be valid for at least six months after our return date)
- Light Backpack
- Portable Charger
- Copy of prescriptions in case medicine is lost
- Water Bottle
- Voltage adapter/converter
- Kippah for Shabbat if it is your custom
- Medication (recommended to be packed in your carry-on)
- Various sized Ziploc bags for holding valuables on water hikes & wet clothing
WHAT WE DON'T RECOMMEND
- Linens, pillows or sleeping bag
- Luggage that is not easily carried
- Expensive jewelry or other valuables
- Heavy backpack or hiking boots
- Laptops or expensive electronics
- Pack a change of clothes, toiletries, contact lenses and prescription medication in your carry-on luggage in case your checked luggage is delayed in transit.
- You will receive two BBYO Passport luggage tags along with a program t-shirt in advance. Fill out the luggage tags and affix them to your carry-on and checked luggage for identification purposes.
- If you bring a suitcase that locks, do not lock it for the flight unless it is a TSA friendly-lock
ODDS AND ENDS
FRIENDS & FAMILY UPDATES
Parents of teens will automatically receive email notifications including updates from the road and a link to new pictures posted from the group. Additionally, friends and family will be able to sign-up to receive these same updates by filling out a short online form.
USING A CELL PHONE ABROAD
If you plan to bring your home cell phone abroad, contact your provider to understand the costs associated with international roaming. If you wish to rent a cell phone or purchase a local SIM card (for unlocked phones only), options are available through our partner, 019 Mobile.
HOW AND WHEN TO CALL
For parents and friends who wish to contact a teen during the program, keep in mind that Israel is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time. Please also remember that the use of communication devices during scheduled program time will not be permitted.
EMAIL & INTERNET ACCESS
Some of the hotels, kibbutzim, and guest houses that we stay at will have internet stations and/or Wi-Fi available which teens are welcome to use during free time, often for an additional fee.
Our accommodations, all meals, in-country transportation, basic health insurance (excluding pre-existing conditions), and all activities are covered by the core program fees. The only spending that is your responsibility will be snacks, bottled water, souvenirs, gifts, etc. We estimate that $100-$150/week is sufficient.
There are a number of ways to bring money abroad. Read this section carefully, and keep in mind that BBYO Passport will be unable to facilitate money transfers to teens during the program. Plan accordingly.
ATM & CREDIT CARDS
If you choose to use your personal ATM card or credit card, we would ask that you be aware of
- If your ATM card has a Visa, MasterCard, Star, Cirrus, or Maestro logo imprint, you should have no difficulty withdrawing money while abroad. Other ATM network cards may work, but we encourage you to check with your local bank prior to travel.
- Some teens have experienced difficulty withdrawing money from savings accounts. We strongly recommend that ATM cards be linked to checking accounts only to prevent any potential complications in Israel.
- Major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are also accepted throughout Israel. Contact your bank ahead of travel to inform them that you are traveling abroad, and will be using your cards to make purchases.
- Do not send your child with prepaid gift/credit cards as they will likely not be accepted abroad.
US and Canadian dollars are not accepted abroad. If you plan to bring cash with you, either plan to exchange it to local currency before you depart for the program or at the airport in Israel. There will be very few opportunities to exchange funds during the program itself. If you are looking to purchase souvenirs on the program, most stores will accept credit cards. You will only need cash to use at smaller stores and stalls. We recommend mainly using credit cards during the program and using cash for times when credit is not accepted.
NOTE: A currency exchange representative will meet the group in the bus loading zone. The exchange rate provided is better than what is available inside the airport baggage claim area – and much faster, too!
THE LOCAL CURRENCY
In Israel, the local currency is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). Each shekel is worth about $0.25 USD. Keep in mind, coins in Israel come in higher values than what we are used to in North America. This means you need to watch your coins carefully. Additionally, keep in mind that there are 5 Shekel coins (~$1.45 USD) and 5 Agorot coins (~$0.01 USD). It is important to know the difference between the 10, 5, and 1 Shekel and Agurot coins, as they have drastically different values. NOTE: Exchange rates are constantly fluctuating, check the rates prior to your program.
HOST FAMILY WEEKEND
The second Shabbat in Israel is an optional Host Family Weekend. This is the perfect opportunity to visit with relatives or family friends while in Israel (excludes ILSI). Host Family Weekend begins Thursday late afternoon/evening and ends Saturday after Shabbat.
HOST FAMILY WEEKEND LOGISTICS
The BBYO Passport tour guide will be in touch with the host family 2-3 days before the host family weekend to make plans for your pick-up and drop-off. Generally, pick-up will happen Thursday evening and drop-off will take place Saturday evening. Locations are to be determined by the tour guide, while in Israel once the itinerary is confirmed and usually take place in and around Jerusalem and/or Tel Aviv.
To take advantage of the Host Family Weekend, submit a release form as part of your registration account. You will be asked to provide the name and cell phone of the person(s) responsible for pick-up on Thursday evening and drop-off on Saturday night. This person must be at least age 21 and must carry a form of identification. Finally, be advised that all program rules apply during this weekend. If you have more questions, please refer to the Host Family Weekend details email.
Participation in the Host Family Weekend is not mandatory and the itinerary during this weekend is fully programmed for those teens staying with the group.
OTHER VISITATION OPPORTUNITIES
Visitors are welcome at our accommodations during Shabbat or on an evening weeknight – as long as it is fully coordinated ahead of time and approved by your staff in advance. Teens are not permitted to be “checked out” of the program by friends or family under any circumstances outside of the designated Host Family Weekend.