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Israel Traveler: Call Home

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

When traveling to Israel it’s wise to have your mobile phone at hand, just like at home. On your trip, use your phone to rent bikes, book tickets, make reservations, lurk or post on social media, share photos, read emails and text messages, keep up with local news, weather and sports, see your location on GPS, check on your flight, connect with family and friends….

Yet staying connected can be pricey. You can turn on your US phone to roam mode and as soon as you land you can be connected with your home number. The downside is that T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon will charge you about $10/day.

On my trips to Israel I have used different ways of staying connected. This past March I order a prepaid SIM card from Amazon to insert in my unlocked phone. For $19 I received the card loaded with 20GB data, 1K talk minutes and 1K SMS messages, which was more than needed. Prior to departing from the States, I was assigned my Israeli phone number, so I shared it with folks in Israel and the States. As soon as I touched down at Ben Gurion Airport, I turned on the phone with the SIM card inserted and was instantly connected.

My current favorite communication method is the Google Fi Unlimited Plus. As the name implies, Unlimited Plus includes unlimited calls, texts, and data plus hotspot tethering, cloud storage, and international data, including Israel. I get calls from the States from anyone dialing my number (even spam calls). To call the US, there is a $0.20/minute fee. To call friends and family in Israel, using my Google Pixel phone, I add the 972 and delete the first digit of the Israel phone number.

Since most places in Israel have Wi-Fi available, including your hotel room, my preference is to keep in touch using WhatsApp. Before leaving home I set up connections with everyone I intend to speak or message with. I also set up a WhatsApp group to share daily pictures and stories of my journey.

There are many other options to stay connected, for free or at a reasonable price, such as Google Voice, Duo, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype. But whatever you do, don’t leave home without your cell phone. Israel is a safe place to travel, so share your experience with your folks back home. They will be comforted and will enjoy your journey vicariously.

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