[I]srael is one of the most historically enlightening and beautiful countries in the world.
From the seaside resort of Eilat to the Holy Temples, Churches, and Mosques in Jerusalem, to the nightlife in Tel Aviv, Israel is a backpacking destination not to be missed.
Unfortunately, Israel is consistently plagued by wars with its Palestinian neighbor. As a result, Israel lives in constant fear of terrorist threats.
It requires all citizens to serve in the military and maintain their weapon even after their service is complete. They station heavily armed police at shopping malls, bus stations, and even at McDonalds.
And when it comes to border security, it doesn’t get any tighter.
Subsequently, as a backpacker there is a good chance you will be detained. It doesn’t matter whether you’re American, European, or Arab, everyone is a suspect at the border.
So, in order to reduce your chances of being held and interrogated, below are few essential tips to help you look less like a threat.
1. Do Not Carry A Brief Case
The briefcase bomb is the oldest trick in the book and you will be detained if you're carrying one. Not only that, but there is a good chance you will be hauled off and surrounded by armed guards until your brief case checks out.
And even if it does check out, it is likely they will take it away from you anyways. It's best to just leave it at home.
2. Look Presentable
If you look like a dirty, sweaty, sleepy, dreadlocked vagabond with nothing but a backpack, passport control is going to think you’re looking for work.
So be sure to hit the bathroom before you get in line, and try to make yourself look a bit less like a migrant worker.
3. Be Honest, But Not Too Honest
You don’t need to go into detail about your entire life story. Definitely don’t tell them about the time you farted at a batmistva. Don’t even mention your love for Latkas or Kugel.
Just answer their questions succinctly and truthfully. Too much detail will only lead to further questions and suspicions.
4. If You’re A Travel Blogger, Don't Mention It
If you were just in Egypt writing about the revolution, it’s best to leave that part out.
In general, Israeli security doesn’t take kind to politically inclined independent journalists.
And since travel blogging and journalism are inextricably linked, don't even think about promoting your blog here.
5. Pretend To Be Loaded
No matter what border you are trying to cross, if you have sufficient funds, you are going to have a lot easier time convincing them that you aren't looking for work.
It's best to have a few hundred dollars in cash as well as a bank statement with at least $1,000. But In truth, the more money you can prove you have, the better.
Unfortunately, even if you abide by the former tips, there is still a chance you will be ushered into a poorly lit back office and interrogated until you admit every fun-loving joke about Judaism you ever made.
If this does happen, be sure to stay calm, be patient and don’t take it personally.
After all, given the amount of rockets and bus bombs in the region, you really can’t blame them for being tough.
About the Author:
When Leif was 16 he ran away from home and explored much of Europe and the Middle East without a dime. He is currently working on a book about this adventure as he continues to make new ones traveling the world.
Through his experiences, advice and adventures, he hopes to prepare, empower, and inspire others to travel. Follow him on Facebook or visit him at RunawayGuide.com.
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please reference the author's byline in the post above for more information. If you would like to guest post on Go Backpacking, please read our submission guidelines. For information on advertising opportunities, go here.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Wednesday 21st of May 2014
Like why would you even go there?, I am not a hater but lets face it : its expensive, dangerous, and like visiting CA in the USA. There are plenty of places to see that are cheaper, easier to enter, and more welcoming and safer. Sure by all means go if its your birthright trip and all paid for if you can stand the propaganda but on purely a budget basis there are plenty more places in the region and around the world that are much nicer to see with a lot less hassle.
Wil @ Where's Wil
Wednesday 27th of February 2013
Israel is defiantly on my "to visit" list, it seems like such an amazing place.
Tuesday 26th of February 2013
I would add that all those Arab countries stamps on your passport could make it harder... the Israeli officer I got didn't like all my Egyptian visas, kept asking the same questions over and over again: why did you go there, who do you know there, why do you like that place (of course I didn't mention I was in Egypt during the revolution AND supporting it) and in the end she let me pass, but stamped my passport even though I asked for a separate stamp. Bye bye trip to Lebanon...