Israel & Jordan: Deserts & the Dead Sea
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
If you have any questions, chat in, or give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
Border Crossing Information
As of March 2022, all travelers are required to submit a “Declaration of entry into Israel” to be completed 48 hours before the border crossing.
Travel Documents & Tour Preparation
- Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
- Visa: To visit Jordan for Business or Tourism, you require a visa. A visa on arrival is obtained at the port of entry before reaching immigration. When you arrive in Jordan, you can purchase a visa on arrival at the airport. For all other visas, visit the government site.
- Travel Insurance: All travelers are required to provide proof of international medical insurance. Travelers must bring a certificate of proof of purchase and coverage. Check out the cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers here.
Talk with your doctor: Although there are no health entry requirements for US citizens visiting the Middle East, it is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
Travelling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals. To combat any language barriers, you may encounter while out on your free time, we recommend having cards in English and in Spanish stating what foods you must avoid.
Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan so you can stay connected while on the road. While free Wi-Fi may be available it won’t be everywhere nor as strong as we are used to. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
Complete you pre-tour checklist: this can be found in your account.
Health & Safety
Staying Healthy while Traveling
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon nap, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Be Prepared: We recommend bringing a small first aid kit including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
Safety while Abroad
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi or Uber, and always have cash on hand.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
Money & Tipping
We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.
Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour
We recommend budgeting $40-$50 per day for meals, gratuities, shopping, and free time activities. For this trip, that means roughly $440-$550 but you know your spending habits best. If you’re looking to #treatyourself to the max, you may want to budget a little more.
Israel's official currency is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). You will have time to change dollars into Israeli shekels at the airport, but you can also obtain Israeli currency for your local bank prior to departure as well as currency exchange windows or vending machines in many international airports.
Jordan is a cash society and its official currency is the Dinar. ATMs can be found in most of the larger towns and throughout Amman and in most places, the only acceptable method of payment is cash dinars (not Dollars or other foreign currencies). It is worth mentioning that the tourist town of Petra has a higher-than-usual prevalence of overcharging, so it's helpful to be on your guard here more than elsewhere. American Express, Visa, Diners Club and Mastercard are accepted in hotels, restaurants and larger shops.
- You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees.
- Inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
- International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
Pro Tip: Do you have a credit card that offers zero international transaction fees? If so, bring that bad boy to save some money for purchases abroad.
When it comes to tipping, it’s standard to leave 10-12% tip in restaurants, 5% tip in bars, and no tip for taxis. As it is also customary to tip for services provided, we recommend the following for this tour:
- Local Guides: $1-$2
- Bus Driver: You will have two Bus Drivers on this trip and should prepare to tip each Bus Drive $11-$22 given at the end of their designated country.
- Tour Directors: You will have two Tour Directors on this trip and should prepare to tip each Tour Director at the end of their designated country (Jordan & Israel). Please prepare tips in local currency ($30 for Jordan Tour Director to be given on Day 6, $36 for the Israel Tour Director to be given on the last day of tour).
Dressing for Jordan
Jordan is a Muslim country, so it is important for both men and women to dress modestly. Women (especially Western) should to take additional measures to ensure they are respecting the cultural norms through their outward appearance.
See below for details on how women should dress in Jordan:
- Avoid showing cleavage and stomach unless at the beach. Please note: Swimwear, including bikinis, can be worn at the beach, but bring a non-sheer cover up (also noted under 'Packing').
- Longer shorts may be worn in more touristy areas or on the beach, but short shorts and skirts should be avoided.
- Pants, leggings or long skirts can be worn throughout Jordan and will be necessary when visiting mosques and other religious sites.
- T-shirts are okay to wear, but make sure to bring layers in order to cover arms prior to entry into mosques and other religious sites.
- Avoid showing off curves and instead, choose looser fitting clothing with options to layer.
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website. We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. Please note that temperatures will dip with changes in elevation throughout your tour. Because of this, we recommend lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can easily be layered.
See more packing tips below:
- A smaller backpack to keep your clothes and items in during active days. We also recommend zip-lock bags to keep your phone and valuables dry
- 1 light wind/rain jacket
- Comfortable walking/active shoes
- Waterproof shoes or sandals
- 1-2 pairs shorts
- 1-2 longer pants for walks, hikes and areas of the city in Jordan
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- 1-2 bathing suits
- 1 non-sheer cover up (for the beach)
- Beach – we love the Microfiber travel towel
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine – motion-sickness medicine if you’re prone to it
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat
- Reusable water bottle
- Something to cover your shoulders (you may be denied access to some churches, temples or other religious sites with bare legs or shoulders)
- Phone or camera, waterproof phone/cases bags encouraged!
- Passport. We also recommend that you make two color photocopies of your passport. Leave one copy at home with a friend or relative, and bring one copy with you, keeping it separate from the original documents.
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
Please note: If you are planning on visiting a religious spot, such as Jerusalem or an orthodox neighborhood, you will need to be dressed appropriately with your shoulders, elbows and knees covered.
Electronics: In Israel the power plugs and sockets are of type C and H. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. You need a power plug adapter for sockets type C and H and a voltage converter. Amazon has combined plug adapter/voltage converters!
Arrival Information & Transportation
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
Note: All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you sleep in and miss your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
Arriving in Amman
Welcome to Jordan! Now that you have #landed, you will want to grab your luggage and pass through customs and immigration. (Yay! Passport stamps!)
Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!
Note: If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.
Getting from A to B
On this trip, you’ll take a private bus which can take anywhere between 2-8 hours depending on distance, local traffic, and bathroom or photo-stop breaks. The beauty of travel is that you get to explore a new place but note that it takes time and energy to see everything worth seeing!
Note: It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans Wi-Fi/ Cellular Data, bring a great book with you to read, or listen to music to pass the time. Download the Latino Vibes playlists on Spotify to get in the mood!
Language & Local Life
Speak the Language
The official language of Israel is Hebrew and the official language of Jordan is Arabic, but most locals also speak English. Try your hand at some of the local language:
- Hello: Salam (Arabic), Shalom (Hebrew)
- My name is: Ismi (Arabic), Shmi (Hebrew)
- How much is this?: Bekam Hada? (Arabic), Kama ze ole? (Hebrew)
- Yes: Na’am (Arabic), Ken (Hebrew)
- No: La’a (Arabic), Lo (Hebrew)
- Thank you: Shukran (Arabic), Toda (Hebrew)
- Where is the bathroom?: Ayn el-merhad? (Arabic), Eeifo Hanokhiyut? (Hebrew)
Note: Download Duolingo to practice your language skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!
Local Life in Jordan
- Taking photos of government and military buildings in Jordan is forbidden.
- It is considered very rude to take a photo of someone without their consent, especially the Bedouin women, who typically do not consent to picture taking.
- When visiting places of religious significance, display the utmost respect for whatever rules and customs are in place regardless of your own political or religious beliefs.
- The majority of Jordanian people speak English and are helpful when they know you are a visitor.
- In general, Jordan people are polite and kind, but sometimes there are instances of catcalling. In these instances, ignore and keep walking and you will not be disturbed. You can also contact the tourism police, who are stationed everywhere in Jordan.
- Do not interrupt, or pass in front of, a Muslim who may be praying in a public place.
- Do not panic if a new Jordanian acquaintance "pecks" you on the cheeks as a greeting. This is normal in Arab countries as a warm gesture of welcome and affection.
- Tipping is not necessary for taxi drivers, but appreciated.
- Tipping approximately 10% gratuity in addition to the bill (unless service charge is included).
- Do not consume alcohol in outside public areas.
Local Life in Israel
- The weekend starts on Fridays and Saturdays in Israel because of the Sabbath. This means that businesses and public transportation close from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown, except in more secular areas.
- When visiting religious areas, such as Jerusalem and orthodox neighborhoods, it is important to have your elbows, shoulders and knees covered.
- Israel is one of the few countries that require military service for both men and women after they turn 18 years old, so do not be surprised when you see soldiers with guns roaming the streets. This is normal!
- Israel is both conservative and liberal; Tel Aviv is modern, liberal and carefree with a large LGBTQ+ community and relaxed approached to partying/dress. Jerusalem, on the other hand, is very different. Modest dress is important and the city is conservative in nature, especially at places like the Western Wall.
LGBTQ+ Community in Jordan
Jordan is one of only three countries in the MENA region, alongside Bahrain and Iraq, where same-sex activity is not illegal, but remember you are subject to the laws of the country where you travel. In some countries, consensual same-sex sexual activity, public gathering, or dissemination of pro-LGBTI material may be illegal. Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Jordan and public displays of affection between same sex couples is frowned upon.
Food, Drink & Free Time
You’ll sample a variety of other local dishes on your trip, but read on for all the tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.
- Falafel: a combination of ground chickpeas, mixed with a variety of spices, then deep fried into mini patty like shapes, is one of the most common street food snacks or light meals in both Jordan and Israel.
- Moutabel: roasted and peeled eggplant is combined with yoghurt, tahini, garlic and lemon juice.
- Hummus: need we say more?
- Labneh: this strained yoghurt is very thick and creamy, and is served at almost every breakfast table in Jordan.
- Manakish: AKA "Arabic Pizza", whcih is a round of dough, topped with za’atar (an herb thyme spice mixture), olive oil, and can then optionally include toppings like white cheese (halloumi), eggs, or ground meat before its baked in a brick oven. YUM!
- Mujadara: a mixture of rice, lentils, and a seasoning that includes cumin (a favorite main dish for vegetarians in Jordan).
- Shawarma: layers of thin meat (lamb, beer or chicken) stacked and revolving either vertically or horizontally over a source of heat. Usually wrapped in bread with tahini and pickled vegetables.
- Sfenj: made from unsweetened dough that is left to rise before being shaped into rings, deep fried and dusted with sugar. A must have sweet treat in Israel!
- Khachapuri: one of Israel's most popular dishes for breakfast or brunch on the go. A pastry stuffed with cheese and topped with a fried egg.
- Shakshuka: a popular dish in Israel, especially at night, which is made with eggs poached directly into a tomato sauce, seasoned with chillies, peppers, onion and cumin. Dip with bread and enjoy!
- Burika: some describe this as Israel's best kept foodie secret. A savory crêpe filled with mashed potato and egg, which is deep fried until crisp.
Optimize Your Free Time
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log in to your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account here for available add-ons.
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.