Travel advice from Mr. David Rosenbaum

Listed below, is an outline of the travel advice I’ve culled from Mr. David Rosenbaum – Pocket Guide publisher, as well as our employees. I’ve summarized them into 5 categories, but as you’ll see, some of them contain various points and tips within that category.

I’ve spent quite some time collecting and consolidating everyone’s piece of ‘most important thing to know, that most people don’t’, therefore I believe that your skill will ensure that all of this is presented in an informative and respectable fashion.

1] The importance of purchasing travel insurance, even when traveling alone, or for a very short time. Most insurance companies do not cover any medical expenses incurred while out of country. Of course, no one counts on such eventualities, but in the event that ch”v anything occurs – even something like a broken arm, stitches etc – you want to know that you can have the proper care and have it covered by insurance. Travel Insurance have different levels of coverage, but a basic plans is extremely cheap (think: approx $40), and an important purchase (when you’re paying that much more for your entire trip)

2] Car Rental – Many people rent a car for the duration of their stay. Although, one may find seemingly good deals online, Mr. Hirsch – one of our Israeli employees, says that it’s usually most sensible to go with a car rental agent, as when you book online, you have noone to contact for any issues your encounter (insurance, license etc). Your agent can offer you the widest range of options based on your budget, car size, and brand. Even more so, should you encounter any issues at the car rental desk at the airport, he will make sure you get the car you reserved, and ensure you don’t get charged for anything unnecessarily.

But, regardless, Mr Hirsch warns that all travelers should be wary of the additional insurance coverage that the car rental will try to convince you to purchase, when taking out the car. In almost all cases, it is absolutely unnecessary, because they are covered by the insurance on your credit card. Check with your agent, before signing or purchasing any additional coverage.

3] Many people agonize over whether to hire a driver\tour guide when they tour the country, or to rent their own car and do the driving themselves. Mr. Rosenbaum has categorized the pros and cons, based on his vast experience, to help you make a decision that’s right for you:

Renting A Car:

*If privacy while driving, is extremely important to you.

*If you would like to drive up North\ or South for several days, and will be going straight from there to the airport – many people like to give up their apartment in Yerushalayim, stick all their belongings in their car, and take it with them wherever they go. Meaning, you don’t need to pay for an apt ‘just so you can keep your packages there’.

*Also, if you have your own car, your belonging stay in your car, and you dont need to keep unloading and reloading each time you go somewhere new – for ex, if you are 2 nights in a hotel and then switch to an apt for Shabbos – you can leave part of you packages in your car, and take in only what you need for 2 nights. When you are ready to leave, you can check-out of the hotel, spend your day out, without first having to drop off your packages at your new location.

*Note of caution: Make sure you follow your GPS accurately, avoid Area C (Arab Neighborhoods), esp when driving yourself – We’ve heard of too many incidents where people accidentally landed in Arab territory, and being unfamiliar – it took them some time and some panic to find their way out…

Hiring A Driver:

If you are a new driver, and are hesitant to drive in an unfamiliar country, or are afraid of driving in Arab territory.

If you are looking to accomplish a lot in a day – a driver enables you to maximize your time – as they are familiar with the quickest routes, know which areas to do first to avoid traffic, and mostly – you’re not busy finding parking. You hop out of the car and head to the Kever, the attraction etc

When visiting Kevarim in Arab neighborhoods, it is advisable to go by group tour, or a seasoned Israeli driver. They are experienced in avoiding any unsafe situation, and are quick to assert themselves ch”v in case of any Arab stone throwing etc

Drivers are usually also familiar with lots of Historical info, and can serve as a tour guide as well and provide fascinating background info

When traveling with kids, drivers and tour guides are all worth it!! They entertain your kids will driving, know to point out different things while on the road, and it gives you a chance to catch your breath, or take care of a baby\or any kid that needs tending to

When planning a heavy trip, most people take drivers so they can either relax\ take a nap in the car, or if there are matters to tend to – they can make phonecalls or arrangements etc

Note of Caution: Many ppl or disappointed when they hire a driver or tour guide, and then have a hard time understanding what they are saying. Make sure that your driver speaks a language you’re comfortable with. Therefore, when Pocket Guide lists all drivers and tour guides, every driver has a small icon which indicates which language he speaks, so you don’t need to waste time calling drivers that don’t speak your language.

4] As discussed, about enhancing your vacation – It’s worth considering a quick stop-over in Europe when planning your trip to Israel. Generally, even a 3 day stop gives you enough time to do sightseeing in the important landmarks and tourist sites. Even more so, your airline tickets will be same price, or cheaper, and you get to brake up your flight, and make double use out of your travelarrangements… but, Mr. Rosenbaum cautions that his experience has proven it wise to consult a seasoned travel agent, or a trip planner, to ensure your choice of airport to land in (for ex: when going to Austria you can land in Salzburg or Vienna or nearby Munich- Germany, depending on where you’ll be lodging and what’s the primary places you’ll be visiting…), as well as when it’s worth doing Israel first, and then Europe or vice versa – depending on which day you leave your home country. (Generally, it’s worthwhile being in Israel over Shabbos, as there isn’t much sightseeing in EU on Shabbos – so it’s just a waste of your time and $)

[Pocket Guide has a comprehensive European Stop Over section along with the Israeli Travel Guide, to provide all info needed to enable a well rounded vacation]

5] Be equipped in case of any plans that don’t work out due to weather etc, or in case of emergency. (That’s why Pocket Guide is a recommended purchase, even if you’re familiar in Israel, or it’s just a short trip.) This phone # is important to keep handy – 1208

It’s an emergency number 1208 that works throughout Israel including the Judea and Samaria Area. The call goes to the nearest Emergency call center, and they contact the Police, Ambulance, Army etc.

Feel free to contact me for any further explanation, or information you may need.

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