While the trip is free, it is still a good idea to bring money. Two meals each day are already included as part of the program. Lunch is generally on your own and is typically at a quick and inexpensive stop. You may occasionally want to buy bottled water (although the tap water is perfectly fine in Israel), as well as snacks and drinks.
Additionally, it is customary in Israel to tip both the tour guide and the bus driver at the end of the program. There is a good reason for this. The professional staff on the trip work around the clock to ensure the success of the program. They put their heart into the experience, and tipping is a small way to say thanks. A $70 tip in total is appropriate and will be collected by your USA staff to give to the guide and driver. Tipping is technically not mandatory; however, it is the universal custom and the right thing to do. Please note that it is neither customary nor appropriate to tip the North American support staff or the Israeli guard/medic on the trip.
All in all, we recommend that you bring $200-$300 on the trip for personal expenses plus tip money.
What Is the Best Way to Bring Money?
The official currency of Israel is the shekel. It generally fluctuates from 3.75 – 3.95 shekels for every US dollar, but you should check online before you depart to see what the exchange rate is.
The best way to pay for things or to get cash is to bring a credit card and/or ATM card. In terms of credit cards, Visa and Mastercard are accepted everywhere in Israel. It would be a good idea to call your credit card/ATM provider before you depart to let them know that you are traveling to Israel. Otherwise they may think that your card has been stolen and suspend your account while you are abroad. In terms of ATM cards, most will work in Israel, but you should definitely call your bank ahead of time just to make sure the card will be accepted in Israel. NOTE: Any ATM card with a Visa or Mastercard logo will work for sure. Please DO NOT bring Travelers Checks or Israeli Bonds as there will be no time to get them cashed during the 10-day trip.
While you can bring cash, keep in mind your only real opportunity to exchange it will be at the airport at one of the currency exchange kiosks. Once you leave the airport, there will be virtually no opportunities to exchange dollars for shekels.