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Israel Travel: When Plans Go Wrong

By Sara | October 6, 2016

I’m going to be honest with you: planning Israel travel was harder than planning for any other country so far.

We decided to plan a trip to Israel after being invited by a friend we met in Spain. Since we had a free month in our plans before India, we bought flights and prepared for the trip.

Within a few hours I had an Airbnb lined up with a great host. The trip was out of mind for the rest of the month until…

the host canceled due to an electric issue. This is the one downside of booking Airbnb’s instead of hotels, and the first time we’ve dealt with a cancellation during our travels.

Luckily, Airbnb has a great policy which refunded our money plus an additional $20 coupon for the inconvenience. I rebooked at another listing, and changed the address in my calendar. Thirty minutes later, I received a second dreaded email – the new host had canceled as well.

Trying not to get worked up, I booked a third, and then fourth listing. They both canceled within 24 hours!

Frustrated, I called Airbnb to explain the situation. They offered to pay the difference on a listing above our budget, and were overall very helpful. Customer service done right! I thanked the agent helping me and messaged the new host. By the next morning, our host once again canceled.

We had nowhere to stay, and our trip was four days away. I’m proud to say that I’ve become a much more patient and relaxed person during this trip, but I really struggled with five cancelled bookings.

I called Airbnb again, and this time they issued us a travel voucher coupon so we could book a place right away. They also proposed that I message several hosts before booking. Eight emails (four of which replied saying that their dates were also not correct) and three days of headaches later, we had a fully confirmed booking.

The next day we packed up and spent a long day flying to Israel. Upon arrival at 11pm, we went through the fastest border control we’ve ever had crossing into a new country. The worker’s questioning consisted of rapid-fire inquiries designed to trip people up. Luckily, our answers were satisfactory enough to grant us entry.

In Israel, they no longer stamp passports, and instead give a small card to keep inside your passport. The reason for this is that some nearby countries don’t want visitors from Israel. Don’t forget to take the ID out after Israel travel!

We found a taxi without too much trouble, and headed to our Airbnb. Unfortunately, we were dropped off at the wrong street by mistake. The driver had left, and by this point both of our phones had died. In a foreign country, at 1:00am, we were completely and truly lost.

We ended up sitting on a curb to charge my phone with Greg’s laptop, and finally arrived at our Airbnb. We then tried to go grocery shopping, and were met with a new challenge. The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, started the same day we arrived. The holiday is a family affair, and everything in the country closes for two days.

We found a corner shop that was open and grabbed enough food to hold us over, then spent the next two days working and resting.

We enjoyed the break after the week of crazy planning we’d had and are excited to finally explore Tel Aviv and Jerusalem! A word to fellow travelers – when planning a trip to any country over a major event, book well in advance, do enough research to know what’s going on, and have a backup plan!