It depends on where you are travelling.
If you are visiting the Middle East (Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, or Israel), you can pay for almost everything with US dollars. So I would recommend that you bring a couple of hundred dollars in smaller bills ($1s, $5s, and $10s). You will need the smaller denominations right away to purchase water, snacks, bathrooms, and for tips, among other items. You can use a credit card for any larger purchase. Note: Any change you receive when make a purchase, will be in local currency.
Please make sure your money is in good physical shape and are not torn or written on. If the US bills are in poor condition, vendors may refuse to accept them. They have to be picky, since foreign banks will only accept bills in good condition.
You can also withdrawal money in the local currency from an ATM when you arrive in the airport, but if you are moving from one country to another, you run the risk of withdrawing too much money that you won’t be able to use in another country.
If you are visiting the European Union, you absolutely have to have Euros. You won’t be able to pay for anything with US dollars. The easiest way to get Euros is from an ATM, once you arrive in the airport. So I recommend that you use your debit card to withdraw a couple of hundred Euros for the trip. If you run out of money, it is usually easy to find an ATM to get more.
If you have a card with a SMART chip in it, you do not need to contact your bank.
Egypt? In Egypt you should definitely not eat anything unless it is cooked or you can peal off the skin. Yes, this applies in both hotels and restaurants. And you definitely should never eat food from street vendors. This will make life a little difficult for us at first—limiting our choice of food — no salads etc. Although it may look fine, don’t take the risk. You don’t want to get sick and be stuck running back and forth to the bathroom. The only exception to this rule is if you are on a cruise ship. The food on cruise ships is safe to eat since they don’t use tap water in preparing food. Any water they use is purified water since is brought on the ship. So if you are on a cruise ship you don’t have to worry about eating anything.
Jordan? Yes, but I would suggest that you do not eat food from street vendors.
Turkey? Yes, but I would suggest that you do not eat food from street vendors.
Only in Israel and European countries. In Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan, you should only drink bottled water. This is even true of the water in the airport. This means should not not even brush my teeth with tap water. The cheapest place to purchase water is from a local grocery store. You can also usually purchase water from the driver on our bus for usually around one dollar or one euro per bottle. Don’t try to save money by not drinking water. You don’t want to get dehydrated!
Yes, but make sure your cell phone company has a special international rate—and you are signed up for it. I know that AT&T has an International Day Pass plan for $10 a day. It allows you to use your phone in just like in the US—including internet.
There is wireless internet access in all our hotels, and it is almost always free. We might even have internet on our bus, though it is often not always that good.
Yes, hair dryers are a common amenity in the hotels we have booked.
You are allowed to check one suitcase for free. It cannot, however, be more than 50lbs and 62 linear inches (height + width + depth). You are also allowed to bring a small carry-on for the bus. Remember, however, that the overhead rack in the bus is narrow. If your carry-on is too large, you will be stuck holding it while we are driving. Do NOT bring any additional luggage. The nature of our trip and the size of our bus will not allow it.
Since luggage is often lost or delayed, I would strongly suggest you just bring a carryon suitcase. I always just bring a couple of different outfits that I plan to wash every couple of days. If you do this, just make sure you bring light weight clothing that can easily air dry overnight.
That is up to you, but whatever you wear should be modest. Dressing in a modest manner will also prevent undo attention being attracted to our group as a whole, and to any individual in particular.
This is not usually a problem for adults. I tell my student groups that basic guidelines for modesty include: No upper arms or shoulders showing, no low cut shirts or tops, and shorts must be the loose-fitting knee-length variety. This means, no short shorts, no cutoffs, no miniskirts, no shape-hugging shorts (or tights or leggings worn without shorts), and no spaghetti or tank tops or sleeveless shirts.
In addition, when we visit religious sites we need to be even more modest, especially women. This usually means that shoulders should be covered, no bare legs, or low necklines. If there is a problem, religious sites will usually provide some sort of extra covering.
Yes, if you want to swim in the pool at one of our hotels or, depending on where we are traveling, in the Mediterranean Sea.
No, don’t plan on visiting a laundromat. I’m not sure we’d be able to find one if we wanted. When I travel, I do my own laundry by hand in the bathtub or sink and let it air dry overnight. That means you won’t want to bring in heavy clothes—like jeans—that don’t dry quickly. Some hotels do offer laundry service, but it is usually fairly expensive.
I’ve not had a problem in the past, but I have heard stories of people putting a bag down beside them and then finding it missing at hotels. So keep your eyes on your possessions at all times. It only takes a professional thief a few seconds to steal your belongings. You will have access to a small safe in our hotel rooms.
That is up to you. I use a luggage lock with my suitcase in the hotel room—just as a precaution from someone looking through my bag. I never lock my suitcase, however, if I check my luggage on the plane.
It depends on when and where we are traveling. I suggest looking at the ten-day forecast before our trip begins to get a general sense of the weather we will encounter. You can also look for the average temperature of the country we are visiting online.
When entering the various churches and other sites you will see signs that tell you whether or not flash cameras are allowed. Follow the signs as the guards will approach you, if you do not. A second offense may result in you being asked to leave.
Electrical outlets in Europe and the Middle East operate on 220 to 230 volts, 50 Hz. Egypt has round-prong European-style plugs that fit into recessed wall sockets. If you need electricity for charging your camera, laptop, or something else, this means TWO things for you:
A) You will need a plug adapter that can fit into the round recessed wall socket. Don’t make the mistake I did once of buying a universal adapter that was square—you can’t fit a square adapter into a round hole—unless it has an extension on it!
The adaptor you will need for Egypt is a Type C and/or F plug adapter. https://amzn.to/3RAUjXS
The adaptor you will need for Jordan is a Type “D” and /or “B” and/or “G”
The adaptor you will need for Israel is a Type “H” and /or “B”
The adaptor you will need in Italy is a Type “L” and/or “F”
The adaptor you will need in Malta is Type “G”
B) Whatever you need electricity for MAKE SURE it can handle 220 or 230 volts. If it can, your adapter should say “INPUT: A.C. 100-240V 50-60HZ. Typically curling irons, blow dryers, and electric razors require you to purchase a convertor that will step down the voltage. If you don’t, your curling iron will overheat and be fried—we’ve done that, so trust me.
Besides the typical medications for headaches, etc, I’d suggest the following:
Motion Sickness: We will be on a bus for various periods of time, so if you tend to get motion sickness you might want to bring some medicine along for that.
Travelers’ diarrhea: This the most common travel-related ailment. Someone always gets it! Fortunately it is not difficult to deal with, if you come prepared. Doctors say the best thing for it is Pepto-Bismol. Take two tables with the symptoms appear. Then take one table every couple of hours as needed. Some people also like charcoal tablets, but it is not as effective. I’ve had some people bring along Imodium.
I’m not a medical doctor, so I can only pass along what has been recommended to me. You may want to visit with your personal physician 4-8 weeks before departure to see what they have to say.
The following is what was recommended for me.
Hepatitis A Vaccine is recommended for all travelers over one year of age. It should be given at least two weeks (preferably four weeks or more) before departure. A booster should be given 6-12 months later to confer long-term immunity.
Hepatitis B Vaccine is recommended for all travelers if not previously vaccinated.
Tetanus-diphtheria vaccine is recommended for all travelers who have not received a tetanus-diphtheria immunization within the last 10 years.
Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine: two doses are recommended (if not previously given) for all travelers born after 1956, unless blood tests show immunity. Many adults born after 1956 and before 1970 received only one vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella as children and should be given a second dose before travel. MMR vaccine should not be given to pregnant or severely immunocompromised individuals.
Again, please check with your own physical to find out what is best for your situation.
In all the tours I’ve conducted, we’ve nearly never had a problem with working around dietary restrictions. Most of the places we eat in the Middle East will have a buffet where we can pick and chose what we want to eat. There are almost always several options of salads, fruits, vegetables, meats, desserts, etc. I’ve taken people with Celiac Disease and they’ve done fine, though to be safe they always take a long some snacks for an emergency. There will probably be one or two times when we will have a set menu. Yet even in these cases, the restaurant has always been generous in finding some other option.