Travel Guide

Froride: For Traveling Like An American In Israel

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This has revolutionized my trips to Israel and is well worth every penny if you don’t want to find yourself stranded in a foreign land where English is not the first language.  The potential disadvantage of not having a prearranged tour package to Israel is thwarted by this little device that makes communication at home so easy.  Let’s face it everything and everyone communicate via cellphone and while renting a car to travel the land is doable a phone is a lot more affordable and will allow you to go beyond the Israeli/Palestinian borders to explore the Holy Land in its entirety.

Having a phone in Israel allows for you to arrange transportation when it is convenient for you, not on a pre-scheduled format.  It also allows for you to get current up-to-date news which could require you to have to change your plans for the day.  No different then it is in the U.S. if there is an accident on the Highway you don’t want to use up a vacation day sitting in traffic, or if there are major closes in the city then access to wifi will give you access to what’s new in Israel.

Gett Taxi is a service similar to Uber and Lyft and when you are in Israeli territory a very useful taxi service that allows you to arrange taxi service in advance.  However, fortunately if you want to save a few more pennies then public transportation is usually available unless you like to travel late at night.  Wifi in Jerusalem is usually available at least on Jaffa St.  but other places it can be skippy and although the buses promote WiFi usage I have found that to be unreliable in several occasions and when you are on a bus where the majority of the people on it don’t speak English this is not a time where you want to be without cellular service.

Arranging last minute sleeping arrangements:  Its also a nice feature when traveling by bus.  Sometimes because of public transportation, and the distance from Southern to Northern Israel it is more convenient to rent an apartment that can be your home base in Bethlehem and carry an overnight bag to stay in another distant area in Israel or Palestine.  This is especially true when traveling by bus for a number of reasons, one your travel can take a considerable chunk out of your day which means you may not see what you wanted to see the day you get there, secondly buses don’t travel to and fro all day unless you’re talking about within areas in Tel Aviv and the like.  The more remote the less frequent the bus or train stops which means that you could miss the last bus or train out.  With a phone this is not a problem within minutes you can find an airbnb, or a hotel and secure an overnight stay at a fraction of what you will pay as a walk-in.  Shopping around always has its perks.

So you can imagine how excited we were when we found out about froride a service that you can purchase from the U.S. that allows you to reserve a phone and pick up directly from the airport.  You just choose what you want online using their very simple program, provide them with your flight number and arrival time and they email you information as to where to go to meet them.  There they will be with phone in hand and ready to go.  If you feel confident that your phone can use an international simcard and function well then save yourself even more money by purchasing an international sim card.  We personally have always used the cell phone, although you can try the card once you get there we have found that should they run out of phones when you arrive and the simcard doesn’t work then you are out of communication while in the land and this can make maneuvering the land very difficult.  Last minute phone finding just doesn’t sound like a good idea, not to mention you run the risk of paying more money simply because well you need the supply which increases the demand and in the wash this scenario never works out in the best interest of the savvy traveler.  Thus my advice is unless you are 100% sure your phone will work with a sim card that you get the phone.  Another very helpful feature of the phone is apparently in Israel calling the U.S. is much cheaper then it is for us to call from here and as such calling the States or Canada comes with any phone you borrow.  The battery on these phones are amazing I can literally go a day and a half without charging no matter how much I use it, and trust me I use it a lot traveling the way we do.

So if you are planning a trip in Israel I HIGHLY recommend investing in renting this phone, its simple, easy, and well worth every penny when traveling as a native.  Click here to reserve your phone today!

FYI, they also offer other services as well so if you absolutely insist on renting a vehicle you may find their rates to be more competitive for your navigation device.  Also, they offer mobile hotspots this also is a viable option for those who would prefer to use their own cellular phone and service plan.  Having mobile date means you can communicate with Whats app, facebook, and other social media apps to stay connected.  If your accommodations are through Airbnb this is also a useful way to stay connected with your host family.  However, my personal preference is the phone simply because even if mobile data doesn’t work for some reason you still can have phone access.  If your phone doesn’t work in some places or for some reason you can’t get service everywhere the phone although it too can fail you it is still usually much more reliable in the long run.

Unfortunately, Froride is currently only available in Israel so if you are traveling anywhere else and find yourself in need of reliable cellular service then you’ll have to do your research.  If you should find some other services comparable in other countries please write a comment I will definitely check it out and would love to add it to my resources for others as well as for my own use.

 

 

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In Search of the Mysterious 458 Bus Etiquette For Israeli Travel

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The busing system in Jerusalem is quite intricate. Many buses doing the same thing and going the same places. However for those interested in traveling to other further away areas of Israel you will find few buses and their locations further away from main bus station. Any English speaking person will be able to maneuver at most stops as they are in Hebrew and English. The problem comes in with special buses in that there arrival and departure points vary drastically. They also travel less frequently so you can easily tie your whole day up waiting as we did for our bus to Dimona. Now of course only God can make lemonade out of lemons and he did so. Special note English speakers if you see the word “alighten” next to bus number on bus stop this is for drop off not pickup. This mistake cost us valuable time in our day. Having started at 7:30am in Bethlehem from taxi to bus to train with 5 pieces of heavy luggage to the central bus station waiting till 2:16pm for a bus stop that neither information or any other person could correctly guide us to proved to be a futile effort. After missing the 458 bus we opted to go through Beersheva rather then wait on the 8pm 458 bus to appear in Jerusalem and lose an entire day. But again Yah orchestrated all, so after getting to Beersheva we met a couple who are attending the same event at the bus stop and they being English speakers have guided us as well. By the way after two hours of ministering to a young man from Canada even our six hour delay produced fruit for the kingdom of Yah and taught us something else, when you are delayed sometimes it’s on purpose.
Getting even closer to finishing the informentary on traveling as a native in Israel.  This will be a must have guide to getting the most out of your trip.  The more you go the more you learn.  We have made three trips now in less then 365 days and the knowledge and tips we acquired will be well worth purchasing this informentary and its accompanying workbook.

Gett Taxi – Israel

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gettaxiA must have app to have in areas that the train doesn’t go in after 7pm.  Straight forward, pay before they arrive and you can schedule in advance.  A safe, and excellent way to meet people indigenous to the area.  The rate is much more reasonable then haggling with regular taxi drivers.  I want to be charged a fair price for fair work and that’s what I got.  Depending on where you are traveling Get Taxi also provides you the option of paying a flat fee or “by the meter”.  In remote areas usually the only option available is “by the meter”.  Personally, this is a wild card for me because if you aren’t sure what the distance is from the location you are picked up at to the location you are going to you cannot estimate whether or not you are getting a good rate or not.  Sources online state that “by the meter” is best because Israel has a set rate that they can charge so this is allegedly regulated.  However, depending on the distance you could come out better using the flat fee.  Besides which if you’re like me I like knowing before I go what I am going to pay.  It gives me peace of mind and I can already have the money available in hand before we exit.  Don’t like surprises.  Also, I do like the fact that the money is taken out automatically with Gett taxi from your account through the third party vendor.  This means you can just get out, get your things and leave.

Also in Israel it is not customary to tip, so you pay in advance and go, and if you would like to pay a tip Gett taxi offers you that option as well. That’s what I call a sweet ride.

Beware, however the cons to this is if you are in an area with too few taxi services which we found to be the case in Nazareth. We never got a taxi even though we booked two hours in advance.  In Yeruham (pronounced Yerocham) service appeared to be available coming from larger areas only like Dimona, but the problem is Yeruham is virtually a new community area that doesn’t have street addresses properly posted so you run the risk of not being found. This is only a problem if you are carrying lots of luggage and traveling to a bus stop roughly a quarter of a mile away. Moral of that story if staying in Yeruham I suggest car renting or travel lite. Bus system however in Yeruham is regular, convenient, and is ALWAYS cheaper no matter what city you are in in Israel or Palestine. Also beware Gett taxi does have a lot of hidden fees to consider. If purchasing in advance there is an additional cost, 4.80 shekel, if you are late to your pick up additional cost, and if you have lots of luggage requiring assistance with additional cost. Biggest issue these additional fees other than the advance set up is not made known to you upfront. However when traveling in Israel/Palestine this is a convenient option, while again not most inexpensive, but you have lesser margin of error then you do if you travel public transit. As traveling outside of Jerusalem area by bus insures greater possibility your bus driver won’t speak English. This could mean you missing your stop if you’re not able to find signs in English, which is more frequent the case if traveling beyond the city.  These factors, plus the ability to pay in advance via credit card and know in advance the main fee by Gett taxi made this a great option where available.

Overall, where available Get taxi is an excellent tool to use even with the hidden fees.  It’s customized features include deciding what type of taxi service you use along with the ability to take a private taxi or a shared taxi also called in Israel a Sherut.  Shared taxi’s with get taxi will be based on availability and clearly will be a more affordable option where available. Due to the complex nature of renting a vehicle this may be the next best option where public transportation is not available.


 

Paris App Review

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parismapI know it’s been a minute, life happening stops a sole proprietorship in its tracks.  But don’t fret I have not neglected my travel business despite the craziness.

Our layover in Paris consisted of wanting to see one place and we had 6 hours only to make it happen.  Did as much planning as I could with all the possible apps I could and none were helpful.

Be sure when choosing apps going overseas that they are functional offline.  The main thing I needed was transit instructions on how to use public transportation to get around.  Travel or tourist by taxi or tour guide is ridiculously high.  Over $60 round trip for two travel from CDG airport to Tour Eiffel by transit would have cost me over $400 by private tour and by taxi at least double.  Though public transportation and traffic ate up the bulk of our time in Paris the ultimate goal was met, we made it to the tower.  I must admit it wasn’t what I expected, but it was amazing seeing how huge the city is.  One could easily walk in circles and we were almost one of them.

Reliable WiFi would be needed or an international phone to function overseas.  Unlike Jerusalem WiFi on the streets was not as easy to come by and GPS service unavailable without it.  The best thing you can use in the 21st century to maneuver the Parisienne streets is a good ole fashion street map.  Paris map allowed you to download maps, but make sure you know where it’s saved to and you have ample space on micro sd card to save it.  Sorry Apple users without extended space this could eat you up and if your phone is your camera space is gold for high quality videos and photos.

So with limited time to figure out how to maneuver offline and with one battery for my phone it was a race between finding the Eiffel and having enough juice on my phone which was also my camera to take pictures once there.  At the end of the day the app gets an “A” rating for organizing useful information for tourist, especially while you are in your home area, but a “F” for use when you need it once there.  It’s functionality becomes useless once you’re there, without WiFi, and let’s face it, being able to walk the streets of Paris from your home area with your fingers is not quite as useful as being able to maneuver around Paris once you’re there.

This app allows you to get general information when in your home area concerning attractions, currency converter, points of interest with GPS coordinates, maps, and history of the city.  Mostly information found online such as Wikipedia, centrally in one place.  An app with much promise, but not quite there yet.

Okay so, if you have been on my website you know that I am working on a documentary sharing how we traveled in Jerusalem as a native and saved a bundle.  The purpose of this documentary is to empower, encourage, and inform those interested in traveling abroad on your own terms with my personal reviews, tips, and resources to help you overcome the international travel phobias that may hinder you from taking the plunge.  If you would like to be kept abreast of when the documentary is available or to stay tuned for more useful reviews encourage you to follow the Critique and begin your adventure today.

Looking to make extra money for your trip but you don’t have much time to work another job?  Click here to find out how you can save money on your regular purchases and begin saving money for your next adventure.

Traveling Internationally As A Native

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I am back from my Jerusalem trip and my quest to travel as much as I could as a native is complete.  Considering all the potential pitfalls one can have not knowing the language of the lands you visit, as an English speaking person it is very possible with adequate research and limited navigation skills to travel in foreign lands, at least Paris and Jerusalem with limited skills, and take advantage of the travel benefits of public transportation.  

But the next question is which is better?  In Israel, public transportation was easily accessible, but in Palestine the bordering state it was not as easy to find public transportation, nor the English language as well known.  The language barrier indeed is the biggest problem one can have to international travelling.

However, for those of you adventurous enough to attempt world travel the native way I am working on a documentary of my trip.  The documentary is called, “Under The Jerusalem Sun” This documentary will aid you in your travel goals, from safe plane travel to useful apps, travel, hotel and food recommendations.  Enjoy photos taken from the trip, non professional, just with a smartphone, and video narration of Holy Sites as well.  Reviews of places stayed, foods eaten, and transportation taken.  What areas accepted American cash, and when local cash is essential to have.  Which is best when doing currency conversions, exchange in your country or abroad.  All the things I had to research and what was more cost effective for us. 

Find out why even on the nicest of planes you need to disinfect and AVOID complementary blankets, use your own jacket to stay warm.  My plan is to provide you with enough information to make travel for any English speaking individual possible, affordable and safe.

The goal of this documentary is to help make travelling to exotic places possible even on a modest household budget.  If you are looking for an affordable way to travel, look no further for a ten percent finders fee I can help you plan the trip of your dreams from plane fares to accommodations, saving you thousands of dollars.  In one hour I can save you days of research and in NO TIME you will be looking forward to a trip of a lifetime.