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10 Skills Every Traveler Must Know

1. How to use your phone abroad and avoid roaming fees

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To put it simply, roaming is evil. It will cost you a fortune, so turn it off now. Even if you don’t pickup the phone, you will be charged.

Step 1: To turn off roaming

On iOS, go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options and slide Data Roaming to OFF.
On Samsung, go to Settings > Connections > Data Usage > International Data Roaming and uncheck International Data.

Step 2: Put your phone on Airplane Mode and turn your Wifi on

Once you’ve done this, you can safely avoid fees back home. If you would like to use your phone for calls,  and more frequently than just when you have access to free wifi, we suggest you get a local sim card.

*FYI Sachlav has access to the cheapest all inclusive sim card plan for Birthright Israel participants, if you’re coming on a trip with us, make sure you take advantage of this perk.

2. How to find amazing local food wherever you travel

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Half of the travel experience is tasting the local cuisine. Here’s howto not fall into the MacDonalds trap:

a) Download the LocalEats app. It costs 99 cents, and it’s a very reliable source of information, as it provides restaurant recommendations based on top local food critics.

b) Use Tinder. Yup, you read that right. You can get chatting to locals and get their recommendations…and heck, maybe even a date!

c) Go on a tasting tour. When there’s a lot of variety, this is the perfect way to make sure you’re eating the best and not skipping anything on the local menu.

*FYI There’s an amazing tasting tour at the Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem which offers “bite cards” together with a list of recommended restaurants and  delis, so you make your way around the market with your card, having a bite to eat at each of the participating providers.

3. How to find the cheapest flights possible

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Unless you’re flying free with Birthright Israel, this an essential skill.

a) Search incognito – if you repeatedly search the same dates and destinations, airlines mark them as “in demand” and prices are automatically increased. So best keep it on the DL.

b) Use a good flight search tool, 3 of the best are Skyscanner,  Airfare Watchdog, and Jet Radar.

c) Find the cheapest day of the week to fly and book accordingly. You can do this on Skyscanner by searching for a one way ticket and instead of specifying your exact departure date, you select “whole month”.

d) Subscribe to email alerts for “mistake fares”, particularly from Secret Flying and The Flight Deal

4. How to save money while you’re traveling

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Aside from flying on the cheap, there are a few other simple things you can do to save money while you’re abroad
a) Public transport – car rentals and taxis cost the earth, and either way, tuk tuks, motorcycles and donkey carts are just more fun.
b) Overnight buses and trains – yup, that’s one less night in a hotel, and one more day to enjoy your destination.
c) Follow the “6 block rule”, never eat or buy souvenirs within 6 blocks of popular tourist sights.

5. How to barter in local markets

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As in many countries in the world, markets in Israel are a prime location for bartering. If you don’t at least try your hand at haggling for a better deal on that “My uncle went to Israel and all he brought me was this lousy t-shirt” shirt, then you have not only failed a good gift buying, but also as a savvy traveler – and we wouldn’t want that, so here’s how to do it:
a) Be friendly and keep a smile on your face
b) Keep your target price in mind but let the seller name their price first
c) Push, but if you reach your target price, don’t push further just for sport
d) The good-cop / bad-cop routine works wonders, so enlist your travel buddy as your partner

6. How to talk to and connect with locals

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It goes somewhat against the advice you were given as a kid, but you’ve really got to talk to strangers. Obviously, not suspicious strangers, but the bottom line is that people make the place and enrich the experience, so you really do want to connect with as many different people as possible – both the locals, and other people who might be on the same trip.

a) Be friendly and open to interaction with everyone ie. other travelers, the bus driver, shop keepers, waiters etc.
b) Remember that everyone has something they can teach you, make it your mission to find out what it is in each person you encounter.
c) If you’re going somewhere where English isn’t predominantly spoken, buy a phrase book. If that place happens to be Israel you can start with these 10 phrases.

7. How to keep safe while you travel

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a)  Think. Be logical, be aware, be conscious of the people around you and your surroundings. Trust your gut.
b) Get the relevant vaccines and make sure you have health and travel insurance that covers you internationally and for adventure activities. (FYI, in Israel you don’t need any specific vaccines)
c) Leave the bling at home and carry valuables on the front of your body, not in pockets, but in something that can be zipped closed (Yikes! Are we actually suggesting a fanny pack!? Possibly.)

8. How to drive a stick shift

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Fortunately, this is not one you’ll need to know in Israel, and especially not on a Birthright Israel trip. However if you’re travelling in Europe it’s much easier and cheaper to rent a car if you know how to drive a stick shift. Unfortunately, this isn’t one we can just explain to you, you’ll need to enlist a friend or driving instructors help to show you the ropes.

9. How to navigate

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GPS is a lifesaver, and there are some great navigation apps out there, but you’re not always gauranteed to have signal or battery life.

a) Learn how to read a map and use a compass
b) Download Waze, Google Maps, and Moovit – Moovit is great for walking directions and public transport info
c) Plan ahead, and use Google Maps offline by typing “OK Maps” and the visible area will save for future access

10. How to realistically make travel part of your life

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Now to actually make it happen.

a) Set up an automatic savings account which sets aside a little bit of money each month. The account should be invisible/inaccessible  from your internet banking so that you’re not tempted to transfer the money and spend it. If you want to access the money you physically have to go to the bank to get your hands on it.
b) At the beginning of the year go through your schedule and reserve time in your calendar for a trip, mark it clearly on your calendar and count down to it – Even if you don’t know where you are going yet or have the money!
c) When there’s an obvious good opportunity staring you in the face – take it. Don’t hesitate, go where the memories can be made and figure the rest out later.

If you haven’t signed up for Priority Status for a Free trip to Israel with Birthright Israel, then what are you waiting for? Having “Priority Status” doesn’t commit you to anything, but it does allow you to skip the line and get first choice on trip dates. Sign Up here.