MUST Do When You Take A Trip To Israel
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Things You MUST Do When You Take A Trip To Israel

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MUST Do When You Take A Trip To Israel
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Don’t text me, I’m probably admiring the beautiful gardens in Haifa, or visiting the Israeli-Syrian border right now.

Israel is a very small Middle Eastern country that is full of culture, religion, and hidden gems. For those of us that identify as Jewish and have not had the pleasure of experiencing a trip to Israel, Taglit-Birthright Israel grants us this fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit a country so important to our religion.

I finally decided to cash in and take my free trip to Israel and could not have been more excited to head overseas for the first time ever!

During my 10-day excursion, I visited and experienced some of the most beautiful and incredible places I have ever seen and I wanted to share some of my favorites, with some pictures of course.

1. Jordan River Rafting

 

Don’t let “river rafting” scare you off from this experience, because it’s not at all as rough as you think it’s gonna be. Grab four to six of your friends, head to Israel, and jump in an inner tube to paddle down the Jordan River.

When are you ever going to be able to say you rafted down a major famous river in a foreign country? Never, unless you take this opportunity.

Don’t be afraid to get a little rough with your friends, if they’re okay with it, and soaks has each other and push each other into the water. It will be cold even on the hottest days, that’s a promise. However, the experience of being in the Jordan River is so worth it.

2. Stargazing

 

This experience seriously changed my life, no joke. While on birthright, we stayed at the Bedouin tents, which I’m not going to lie about, you should probably pass on that experience as a regular tourist.

However, we walked up a hill on the grounds and stargazed in the desert. One of the leaders on my trip read us something to help us relax, clear our minds, and let go of all the bad, evil, and hateful things happening in our lives.

This time of self-reflection was definitely needed for me, in real life and to decompress a little from the long, exhausting trip I was on and inspired me to do some self-reflection more often.

3. Netanya Beach

I live in South Florida, and let me tell y’all, Netanya beach is one of the most breathtaking beaches I’ve ever seen.

There are lots of people, especially on Shabbat where nobody drives, but it’s honestly so serene and no one bothers you while you’re laying out, playing ultimate frisbee in the crystal blue water, or grabbing a quick ice cream snack.

If you are stopping here for a visit while you’re in Israel, I also recommend you stay for sunset. You’ll thank me when you see it.

4. Tel Aviv

This entire city is amazing that I just had to make it its own listicle. From the amazing beach to the city right behind it, I got major Miami Beach/NYC vibes. There are amazing places to go explore and eat in this hub of Israel, so be sure to check out as much as you can!

There are even different types of tours (biking, food, graffiti, walking) that you can take to see one of the most amazing cities in the world! The Carmel Outdoor Market is a great experience for tourists to experience real Israeli culture and even do a little bargaining at the stands and shops.

There are even some cute places to take pictures so keep your eyes open for cute insta-picture spots!!

Also: for those of you that like cultural deserts, there’s is amazing Muhallebi (milk pudding) at the market. I didn’t think I’d be a fan, but you just have to trust me on this like I trusted the native Israelis on my trip.

5. Western Wall

By far the most religious destination in all of Israel, but a place every Jew should head to on their visits to pray. Make sure you bring a little pen and paper to leave a wish on the wall and be respectful of others there that may be more religious than yourself.

Pro tips for the Western Wall: Don’t turn your back to the wall and girls: cover-up!! Wear a skirt/dress that is at least knee-length and bring a shawl that covers at least your elbows!

6. Golan Heights

This breathtaking view is reason enough to come here, but it’s even more meaningful seeing as you’re at the Syrian/Israel Border.

Israel is known for its hikes, and Golan Heights is easily the least challenging and shortest of the hikes the country has to offer. Just an uphill walk to see something most people never get to experience.

I’d for sure recommend this one, and it’s a cute photo op.

7. Yad Vashem

This museum should be one of the first things you decide to do in Israel, and definitely invest in a tour guide. There is so much symbolism and many real artifacts of the Holocaust that makes this experience unlike any other.

8. Mount Herzl

This amazing memorial is a graveyard to honor fallen soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). This place creates truly moving and emotional experiences and is definitely a must-do to feel in touch with Jewish heritage.

I was lucky enough to be able to experience this place with currently active and serving IDF soldiers and watching them see their own, or even their friends reminds me of what I’m grateful for.

9. The Dead Sea

Obviously a straight-up tourist destination, but a cool one at that. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth and it’s super easy to float. So go get your relaxation on here, but be sure to bring water shoes as the ocean floor is salt rock.

Another pro tip, cover up any open wounds and don’t shave right before you go- this water is extremely salty and will sting vulnerable skin.

10. Machane Yehuda at night

This outdoor market turns into a trendy nightlife after sundown. With many shops and restaurants turning into bars, Machane Yehuda in Jerusalem is the place to be after dark.

11. Camel Riding

I actually almost forgot to put this on the list and I’m upset with myself because this was a huge highlight of my trip. People genuinely and literally ride camels in Israel. Find a place, do it. You will not regret it. Probably my one of my most favorite parts about my trip.

Israel is such a cultural place with so many sights to see and things to do. I hope you take my advice and visit these amazing places and do these amazing things, but don’t stop here. Venture out beyond these sights and activities and make sure you maximize your Israel experience to include everything the beautiful country has to offer, should you choose to visit.

Most importantly, make sure you eat lots of pita, hummus, Israeli salad, shawarma, and falafel! Oh and for those of you that are 18 and older, drink some Tubi and Goldstar responsibly!!

Yalla (that means “let’s go” in Hebrew) on over to Israel and happy traveling!!

 

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Travel abroad is poised ‘for a big comeback’ in 2023 as Americans eye trips to Asia, Europe

Madison Franz

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Travel abroad is poised ‘for a big comeback’ in 2023 as Americans eye trips to Asia, Europe
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KEY POINTS
  • Thirty-one percent of Americans are more interested in international than domestic travel, according to a recent poll by tourism market research firm Destination Analysts.
  • Households are continuing to unleash two or three years’ worth of pent-up demand as Covid-19 fears wane and the last vestiges of pandemic-era border restrictions have eased.
  • Asia-Pacific is drawing particularly vigorous interest, although European destinations retain their popularity, too.

Americans are poised to travel overseas in a big way in 2023.

Households are continuing to unleash two or three years’ worth of pent-up demand as Covid-19 fears wane and the last vestiges of pandemic-era border restrictions have eased.

The U.S. dollar also remains relatively strong versus currencies like the euro, hybrid work yields more flexibility for big trips and some airlines have added new long-haul routes to overseas destinations, according to travel experts.

“The travel industry is just going gangbusters,” said Erin Florio, executive editor of Condé Nast Traveler.

Why travel abroad is poised ‘for a big comeback’

D3sign | Moment | Getty Images

Thirty-one percent of Americans are more interested in international than domestic travel, according to a recent poll by tourism market research firm Destination Analysts. That was a six-point increase from February and a year-to-date high, according to the survey, published in November.

Meanwhile, 62% of 2023 flight searches in the first week of December were for international destinations, up from 55% the same time last year, according to a recent Hopper report. It cited international travel among the top three trends for 2023, saying it’s poised “for a big comeback.”

Searches on Kayak for flights abroad are up 1.3% versus a year ago, according to company data as of Dec. 18. Those for domestic flights were down 13%.

Thailand will be a stand-out country in 2023, says economist

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Thailand will be a stand-out country in 2023, says economist
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In 2022, the share of international trips for which Americans bought travel insurance was on par with 2019 levels, the first time that had occurred in the pandemic era, according to data from online travel insurance marketplace Squaremouth. The trend has continued for trips booked for 2023.

American travelers largely stayed within U.S. borders in 2020 and 2021 amid health concerns and overseas Covid-related restrictions such as testing requirements, mandatory quarantines or outright bans on foreign tourists. Visits to U.S. national parks boomed and RV rentals soared as outdoor vacations offered the dual benefits of travel and relative virus safety.

Now, fear of the virus has waned. In September, the share of travelers unconcerned about contracting Covid surpassed those who are concerned, the first time that had happened in the pandemic era, according to Destination Analysts.

‘There’s a lot of pent-up travel demand’

Tower Bridge, London.
Tower Bridge, London.
Karl Hendon | Moment | Getty Images

2022 was also a year for more big trips abroad — but a spike in virus cases toward the end of 2021 and into the new year, fueled by the highly contagious omicron variant, somewhat dampened enthusiasm, experts said.

“There’s a lot of pent-up travel demand,” said Jessica Griscavage, a travel advisor and CEO of Runway Travel. “We missed travel for two to three years.”

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This so-called “revenge travel” trend — a term recently coined to describe burgeoning, pent-up wanderlust — coincides with looser health rules abroad and at home.

The U.S. dropped a Covid testing requirement for inbound air travelers from abroad in June. That rule, which also applied to U.S. citizens, mandated a negative test within a day of flying.

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Many countries had also fully closed their borders to foreign tourists. Now, most are again welcoming visitors — especially those with a Covid vaccine.

Fully vaccinated tourists can access 197 countries without Covid-19 testing or quarantine, and an additional 16 are open but require testing, according to Kayak data.

More Read: Visit

“We’re pretty much at a place where we can go anywhere,” Florio said.

Just 12 countries, including China, Libya, Turkmenistan and Yemen, are still closed to vaccinated Americans, according to Kayak.

Those traveling to Japan right now are 'mostly rich people,' says Japan Association of Travel Agents

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Those traveling to Japan right now are ‘mostly rich people,’ JATA says

Many countries have more restrictions in place for the unvaccinated. About 69% of Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends being up to date on vaccines before international travel.

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Many nations — including AustraliaBhutanIsraelJapanMalaysiaMoroccoNew Zealandthe Philippines and Singapore — eased border closures in 2022. Many European nations also dropped testing requirements for Americans. (Travelers should consult the U.S. State Department website for country-specific Covid restrictions.)

In addition, the pandemic-era surge in remote work has made “bucket-list trips more of an achievable reality,” said Nitya Chambers, executive editor and senior vice president of content at Lonely Planet.

Indeed, Hopper found 67% of travelers take trips more often and 20% travel farther away due to the flexibility of remote work.

Where travel is ramping up most

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Marty Windle | Moment | Getty Images

The Asia-Pacific region is poised for the biggest bounce in 2023 due to its broad reopening in the second half of 2022, travel experts said.

Japan has seen perhaps the biggest boost in interest, they said. The country re-opened its borders to travelers Oct. 11, with some remaining restrictions.

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“You almost can’t talk about travel without the country of Japan being referenced for 2023,” Florio said, adding that Australia and New Zealand are also “massive.”

Asia has surged in demand the most of all regions, according to Hopper data, which shows 27% of international flight searches are to Asian cities versus 19% last year.

Indeed, eight of the top 10 trending international flight destinations in early December were within Asia and Oceania, Hopper said. Tokyo; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Bangkok were the top three, with airfare averaging around $1,200 per round trip ticket.

Bangkok, Thailand.
Bangkok, Thailand.
Pakin Songmor | Moment | Getty Images

G Adventures, an international tour operator, has seen 2023 sales swell most for Japan, Thailand and Vietnam, said managing director Ben Perlo. This November was a record overall month for the company; sales for the three Asian nations each surpassed their November 2019 numbers, he said.

However, Europe has remained the most popular destination in terms of total volume, with European cities capturing a third of all international flight searches, about the same as 2021, Hopper said.

Long-term rentals (those 28 days or longer) have “become substantially more popular in Asia-Pacific compared to a year ago,” according to an AirBnb spokesperson. Most long-term stays are in Europe and North America, though.

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Major European hubs were among the top searched this year through Sept. 30, according to Google Flights data. London ranked No. 1, followed by Paris (No. 3), Rome (No. 6) and Lisbon (No. 9). Ho Chi Minh City was No. 2, while other Asian cities like Delhi and Mumbai also ranked highly (No. 4 and 7, respectively).

We’re pretty much at a place where we can go anywhere.

Italy, the U.K. and France ranked a respective first, third and fifth among top foreign destinations in 2023, according to a recent Destination Analysts poll. (Canada, Mexico and Japan ranked second, fourth and sixth, respectively.)

“Everybody wants to go to Europe,” said Griscavage. “It was a destination everyone missed through the pandemic.”

Due to the demand, people have gotten more “creative” on how to travel to Europe, she added. Many are opting for the typically less busy (and less costly) shoulder season, perhaps as early as March or in the late fall, Griscavage said.

More Read: Visit

Global demand for travel has played out similarly, with most interest directed at Europe and Asia, according to Expedia data. Edinburgh, Scotland, and Sydney, Australia, rank No. 1 and 6 partly due to respective major events like the Fringe, the world’s largest arts and media festival, and WorldPride, Expedia said.

Economic concerns, inflation ‘aren’t stopping people’

Edinburgh, Scotland.
Edinburgh, Scotland.
Joe Daniel Price | Moment | Getty Images

This isn’t all to say travel is without headwinds, though. Value has been of particular concern for travelers, whose budgets have been stressed by high inflation. Overall prices for airline fares and hotels are up 36% and 3%, respectively, in the past year, according to the consumer price index.

International trips are poised to be more expensive next year, Hopper said, despite signals from the consumer price index that airfare, hotel and rental car prices have been trending downward in recent months. The desire to travel abroad has swelled through 2022 despite these economic anxieties, said Destination Analysts.

The euro has been trading at historically weak levels against the U.S. dollar, meaning Americans have been able to get bargains when booking travel to countries like France, Germany, Italy and Portugal. That dynamic is likely driving at least part of the popularity, Perlo said. (The euro has strengthened a bit in recent weeks, though.)

“The economy right now and prices aren’t stopping people from traveling,” Chambers said. “People have been home, they want to get back out there, they have a list of things they want to experience and they’re doing that.”

More Read: Visit

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How to Become a Certified Flight Instructor

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Becoming a certified flight instructor is a rewarding career that combines a passion for aviation with a challenging career. As a flight instructor, you will be responsible for training student pilots who will one day become commercial, instrument, or multiengine pilots. As a flight instructor, you will have the opportunity to build hundreds of hours of flying experience, which is valuable for your professional development as a pilot. You can even turn your passion for flying into a lucrative profession.

There are two levels of certification. Obtaining a flight instructor certificate is required for commercial pilots. To earn a certificate as a flight instructor, you must have a commercial pilot license in a light-air aircraft. The FAA has specific requirements for becoming a flight instructor. To become a flight instructor, you must pass a practical exam.

The most common reason to become a CFI is to build flight time. Since most aviation jobs require a minimum amount of flight time, most candidates choose to teach flight training to build their hours. The teaching aspect of the job allows them to build their experience steadily while reinforcing the knowledge they learned during flight training. Additionally, flight instructors become knowledgeable pilots who are endorsed by other pilots to take practical tests.

After completing the ground school, applicants will undergo a comprehensive training program, which covers ground school fundamentals and flight instructor aeronautical knowledge. During this course, candidates will spend a considerable amount of time self-studying and teaching other students. They must be capable of providing safe flight instruction to their student pilots. The CFI course is designed to make this transition as seamless as possible for all participants.

The CFII flight rating enables instructors to teach students who are working towards an instrument rating. In addition to training students to earn their instrument rating, they may hold privileges of other instructor ratings. For example, a CFII can teach students how to fly an aircraft with a multi-engine or instrument rating. These two ratings are the highest in the aviation industry and are responsible for teaching student pilots.

A certified flight instructor can also become a seasoned instrument flying instructor. Instrument flying instruction is challenging and rewarding, but it does require a lot of work. The CFI training includes a knowledge test that covers instrument flying basics and flight procedures. There is also an exam known as the FAA checkride, which requires the student to answer questions related to the principles of learning. Practicing in a simulator is a great way to prepare for the checkride.

An instrument-rated flight instructor must have a flight instructor certificate and have at least 200 hours of experience teaching pilots. A flight instructor’s privileges are further restricted by the Federal Aviation Regulations. For example, flight instructors who teach in a flight school under 14 CFR parts 141 and 142 may require specialized authorization from the local controlling agency. The certification process can be arduous, but the rewards will be well worth it.

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US H-1B visa, green card process to get easier, Indians to benefit

Madison Franz

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US H-1B visa, green card process to get easier, Indians to benefit
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The White House is looking into a presidential commission’s recommendations to cut the processing time for Green Card applications to just six months and to clear the backlogs by April 2023 in a move that could help hundreds of thousands of immigrant families, especially those from China and India.

The President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders released its inaugural report on Friday. The report was approved on May 12 and transmitted to the President on August 24 and the White House Domestic Policy Council is currently reviewing its recommendations before they can sent to President Joe Biden for his decision.

The report states because of COVID-19-related closures and staffing limitations as well as the continued effect of the 2017 travel bans, processing green cards up to the annual cap has been difficult.

It recommends that the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) facility should hire additional officers to increase its capacity to process Green Card application interviews by 100 percent in three months from August 2022, and by increasing Green Card applications and visa interviews and adjudicate decisions by 150 percent by April 2023, and reduce the current backlog by the end of 2023.

The committee said in the report that Green Card visa interviews and visa processing timelines should be limited to a targeted goal of six months.Green Card visa interviews and visa processing timelines should be limited to a targeted goal of six months

The commission recommends to reduce the agency’s pending family-based Green Card backlog, US Citizenship and Immigration Services should review their processes, systems, and policies and establish new internal cycle time goals by streamlining processes, removing redundant steps, if any, and automating any manual approvals.

It says this should improve its internal dashboards and reporting system, and enhance policies to reduce the cycle time for processing all forms related to family-based Green Card applications

Family reunification has been delayed for years due to an increase in family-based immigration backlogs over the past three decades.

The report states that out of the 226,000 green cards available, only 65,452 family-based preference green cards were issued in FY 2021.

“If there is a query or more information is needed, USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and the Department of State (DOS) shall continue to process the applications outside the six-month goal and adjudicate decisions in a timely fashion,”

“If an application is not completed in six months, then it will not be terminated and will continue to be processed in a timely fashion ongoing,”, the report states.

The recommendations also include adjudicating requests for temporary work programmes, such as the H-1B and H-2A visas for agricultural workers within a span of two months extending the period of work permit extension to 365 days instead of the current 180 days.

A green card is a Permanent Resident Card issued to immigrants to the US as evidence that the bearer has been granted the privilege of residing permanently while the H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to hire foreign workers for specialized positions that call for theoretical or technical expertise.

If accepted and implemented the recommendations could be a big relief to immigrant families especially from India and China.

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