Thus far my overseas travel portfolio as far as overnight stays only applies to one nation and that is Israel. However, I have experienced traveling there staying in a hotel and staying in a bed and breakfast. This review is just my personal view as well as travel tips concerning both. On our first trip to Israel our entire stay with the exception of one overnight stay in a Kibbutz in Dimona was in a hotel. The location was perfect as this hotel was literally only a few feet from the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. This made traveling the land as a native extremely easy and so for the location I would say this was a pretty good choice. This is basically where the buck stops as it relates to staying in a hotel versus a bed and breakfast. The cost to stay in the hotel was roughly $89 a night and to stay in a bed and breakfast $25 a night.
Our hotel suite provided us more space then the average hotel room would as we did have a miniature refrigerator, a living room and dining table area which is an excellent space for guest with a beautiful view of the city. These amenities were nice to have, and staying in Israel means that any spot you stay in will be beaming with character, fortunately this is a trait that either a hotel or bed and breakfast will provide. Having said that the benefit of a bed and breakfast is that you have access to a kitchen, which will include some sort of cooking surface apparatus, a full size refrigerator, and occasionally laundry area both of which are excellent amenities if you keep the Sabbath or plan to stay for more than a few days in the country.
The other bonus to staying in a bed and breakfast is the personal connection you get to make with the host. Having a host that is dedicated to a few customers will always be more valuable than a hotel concierge who must see about the needs of potentially hundreds of guests. Not to mention a host is an invaluable resource to not just helping you get around affordably as a native, but helping you learn how to maneuver the area safely and can help you truly understand the culture from the eyes of a local. Especially if they speak both English and Hebrew or Arabic this means you have a translator just within a few feet of view, and all this for a price of between $25 and $39 per night. No hotel in Jerusalem will be able to compete with a deal that good or provide that personal touch.
Living in the U.S. bed and breakfast has a different meaning. We are used to victorian style homes which are beaming with character, but usually consists of uniquely designed rooms which may or may not include a private bathroom, and also means sharing the home with other strangers while the host makes you breakfast downstairs. Well, my experience overseas has been somewhat different as no one has made us breakfast and occasionally you’ll find fresh eggs in the refrigerator and home made bread that may be dropped off outside your door, but you will be cooking the eggs yourself and you have your own private apartment that you don’t have to share any of the common area with others. Obviously, the second image is usually more desirable then the first and unless you choose to share a space with strangers will be the likely accommodations you will receive. For the reasons mentioned in the U.S. bed and breakfast is not quite as popular yet as resort and hotel accommodations. However, in my albeit limited experience I was pleasantly delighted with the value and the security I felt living in the residential area of the land. Staying in a bed and breakfast is not as easy to choose as perhaps a hotel will be. Admittedly you do probably take more of a risk choosing this option as they will not come with the plethora of reviews that one will find for hotels which have been usually established for years and decades. However, there are a couple of reliable websites that will give you some reviews that are usually very thorough and provide lots of pictures and details so that you can make an informed decision about where you choose to stay.
There are two companies that we used in order to secure our bed and breakfast, and although there are others available online and I plan to write reviews on the other I mentioned in this article I will only give a review of the ones I actually used which includes:
Functions much like a social media community that focuses on everything traveling accept flight purchasing. While securing accommodations is its primary purpose it also provides you with information and options to purchase experiences along the way. I have yet to purchase any tours from there so this review will be mainly on my experience using them for accommodations. I just recently booked a room for national travel, but will have to update you about that experience later on. Airbnb is a good place to start because it is like a well established neighborhood, it has been in this space for a while now and as a result have lots of options for you to choose from. The pricing is fair just make sure that you read the sites thoroughly the price for the actual room is one thing and that can be alluring but these services also include other fees that can drive your overall price up higher then the per day quote. However, you will know before you pay what you will owe. They also take the money out immediately after you reserve the location. Another excellent feature of using this platform is you have access to the host before and obviously after you secure your accommodations to ask them whatever questions you need. This operates much the way e-mail does so it is fairly self explanatory. Get updates through the Airbnb app on your phone. As soon as your host has sent you a message it will come directly to your phone. Giving you real time information as needed for your trip.
A note on security, like ebay and any other platform that relies on positive feedback to continue to thrive, Airbnb operates much the same way. People typically leave feedback when they have stayed in these places and rest assured if its not a new listing and people have stayed there with a complaint this spot will be the first place they make known their problems. Be mindful when you read though of the age or purpose of the visit if this information is provided by the one giving a review. For instance, a couple may be looking for different things then a few college students on vacation backtracking through Israel. Their assessment of a property will not necessarily measure up to the experience you desire to have. So try to find reviews if available that are very detailed and specifically take in consideration the date of their stay especially if multiple reviews are listed, and details like if this was a couple, a family, or a college students review. This will help give you a balanced view of the review so that you can book with your eyes wide open. I personally won’t stay in a place that has no photos available for me to view. I also will not book if the only pictures are pictures of the surrounding area, you will find pictures of what might be views from the property, but none of the property.
Also, always be sure to read the cancellation policy and the house rules before you book. Another important point to consider is make sure that when searching criteria that you specify if you have a preference concerning sharing a space, renting a private room, or entire home. There are some really good prices out there no matter which you choose but if you are looking for a space that will accommodate two people and it is a 6 bedroom apartment for $20.00 for instance then more then likely this is for a private room in a house rather then you having the entire house. This is not necessarily a problem, just be aware that this may mean sharing a bathroom with someone else, and if you don’t have a private key to your room could also be a security concern. Whenever we have booked we have been sure to look specifically for properties rented as “entire home/apartment” and my review is based on renting an entire space.
If you’re not completely sold out on doing a bed and breakfast then booking.com is an excellent resource to consider. This will not limit you to bed and breakfast properties, but will allow you to shop a whole host of different properties from hotels, resorts, airbnb’s, or whatever is available to be rented you can pretty much get. Functioning more like Expedia or like many commercial online travel sites this website allows for you to see all the options available in a given area with whatever your criteria is from price range to ratings. Another great feature is many of the properties that you search from here do not require payment for reservations and typically will offer more flexible cancellation policies. Booking also unlike Airbnb does not provide an option for renting a room for an apartment as far as I have seen the entire space was rented out which means you don’t have to concern yourself with the possibility of renting a space that has unexpected strangers sharing your common areas. However, as far as bed and breakfast properties go you won’t find quite as many as you will with Airbnb so I would highly recommend that you shop both before making your final decision.
Also, Booking.com also offers a phone app that will help you to keep track of any of your reservations and make changes as necessary with your own secure account much like Airbnb your personal information is kept safe and secure. Rest easy knowing that your vacation is booked and there is nothing left for you to do but to pack and go.
The Critique is working on a comprehensive video that will give you step by step instructions and is available with workbook that will show you how to get the most out of your Holy Land trip at an affordable price. Under The Jerusalem Sun will be a must have item for planning a trip to the Holy Land and with a video download price of $20 you can’t beat it, or purchase a bundle and get the downloadable workbook that includes fill in the blank checklists and worksheets to make each step of the process easy to follow, order the bundle for only $39.99. Unfortunately, the documentary is not ready, but will be soon.
Ready to take that next trip to an exotic location? Don’t forget to travel lite, and by lite I mean without the baggage of inferior skin care and hygiene products that contain carcinogenic materials and skin irritants. Keep the trend that you have begun at home while you are away with this travel friendly pack. As you know traveling with liquids can be somewhat of a pain, so we have made it easy for you by providing travel ready products that you can carry on board or stow away. These lightweight bottles will keep your bags lite without compromising on superior quality. Included in your Bon Voyage Travel kit:
- Thieves® AromaBright Toothpaste, 60ml
- Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier, 29.5ml
- Thieves Dental Floss
- Thieves Fresh Essence Plus Mouthwash, 60ml
- Young Living Toothbrush
- Lavender Shampoo, 60ml
- Lavender Conditioner, 60ml
- Cinnamint Lip Balm
- Morning Start™ Bath & Shower Gel, 60ml
- Genesis™ Hand & Body Lotion, 60ml
- ART® Light Moisturizer, 10g
Retail Price $72.37
Email me to find out how you can get this kit for $55.00.
This kit is what you need once you get to your destination, but to keep you safe while you’re in the air be sure to order an airplane survivor kit assembled by yours truly.
A 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.
We have been conditioned to without question accept that America is better, and once upon a time that might have been the case, but at least in aviation and I suspect in many other areas we are definitely falling behind. On this trip to Israel I was able to first hand experience the difference. Due to pricing we found the best rate with a Jordanian airline which has a in the country partnership with American Airline and in every area Royal Jordanian beat out American Airline. When managing my services online Royal Jordanian provided me with the ability to select services such as wheelchair assistance, select special meal needs, as well as choose seats. However, when using American Airlines from Dallas to New York or from Chicago to Dallas we were unable to choose seats, manage wheelchair needs and even worse was expected to pay extra for wheelchair services in the Dallas area. Another added bonus to Royal Jordanian is we were allowed to carry two checked bags 50lbs each for no additional charge. That alone made the ticket worth it.
The Onboard Difference
The staff of American Airlines was acceptable, but Royal Jordanian was exceptional. Royal Jordanian’s staff was well dressed, and always professional which made it easy to determine who worked for the airline and who was a guest onboard. A growing trend I have noticed in traveling within the states on many U.S. airline companies is the more casual approach to servicing customers. You know what I mean, flight attendants making jokes, flirting, or just simply feeling relaxed enough to speak over the intercom and to their customers like they are friends or co-workers. While for many this may be preferred, but in my opinion it is a slow simmering recipe that will lead to failure. Because inevitably at some point you will cross the line once you stop maintaining professionalism. Now, I will say my American Airline flight on this trip I didn’t witness this sort of behavior, but on many other flights with American fleets I have. I have witnessed airline attendants and even pilots over the intercom speak in a way that you felt like you were on a Carnival cruise party ship, but there is a reason why people will pay more to cruise with Royal Caribbean. Fortunately, neither airline made me feel like a second class citizen because I wasn’t in business class or first class seats. But Royal Jordanian made me feel like I was a business class customer even though I sat in economy seats. American Airlines did provide more leg room in its coach class then Jordanian, but as far as cleanliness and appearance, Royal Jordanian was far better. A class act to be sure that seriously sought to accommodate families needs, special needs, and personal needs.
is more difficult to judge since obviously shorter flights offer more limited services, but I will say the food quality onboard Royal Jordanian could have been better. Quantity of food was very modest, variety of options limited to only two, and staff was not knowledgeable about food being provided. For instance when asked what type of fish they were serving on the dinner menu, the flight attendants response was fillet fish. This doesn’t tell me what kind of fish it is just that there would be no bones based on the cut. Because my flight on American Airline was no more than two hours on both flights, meals were not provided, just the usual pretzel or peanut snack and a drink.
What I want my readers to take from this experience is if we allow our society induced biases to prevent us from stepping out of the box of “America is better” without testing it to see if that statement floats on water we can find ourselves paying for that way of thinking with more than our money. Don’t get me wrong I am an American, born and raised on American soil in a State that was a part of the original thirteen colonies, but if we are ever going to improve our current position in society and the world, we are going to have to know where we are positioned. We cannot afford to any longer judge our current status on our past accomplishments. Bottomline is we are slipping, we are slipping as it relates to customer service, we are slipping as it relates to quality, and we are slipping as it relates to security. If you are allowing fear of the unknown or the perceived political climate overseas to hinder you from stepping out and experiencing life amidst the borders we live in then you are doing yourself a disservice. The same people who were concerned about my safety overseas watch the news everyday and see four times as much violence, devastation, and disaster within the very same borders that we both share. Yet, an occasional terrorist attack or natural disaster in another country makes international news and we find ourselves paralyzed with fear to venture out, when the same attacks have infiltrated our borders and the same natural disasters have hit our homes. Don’t let what might happen in life hinder you from exploring life outside your borders. If lack of money is the problem, understandable, but don’t let fear be your excuse. You work hard to acquire whatever quality of life that you have received and if you have the health and financial ability to explore this beautiful world our Creator has given us then you owe it to yourself to take the leap of faith and fly wherever the Lord will lead you.
If you would like to read more reviews, travel tips, and to be kept abreast of my upcoming documentary that will guide you through traveling as a native in the land of Israel and Palestine then follow my blog. Full reviews, pictures, videos, and more will be added on the documentary such that I will be able to prepare you for travel from planning to landing in the land of Promise at prices you can afford and with information that will allow you to explore on your terms.