Our frequently asked questions answer many of the commonly asked questions that we receive. If you have a question but can't find an answer below, please feel free to contact us and we'll do our best to get you the answer. If you ask us a really great question, we'll even add it to our list below. Please click on the links below and the answers will appear.


The Trip


Is it really free? Why?


As hard as it may be to believe, the answer is YES! The gift includes a roundtrip flight to Israel from various departure cities in North America, overnight accommodations at 3- and 4-star hotels (plus one night under the stars at a Bedouin tent in the desert), two meals per day, and all organized activities and touring. What do you pay for? You are expected to get to the departure city airport in North America on your own. You are also responsible for spending money for souvenirs, personal purchases, most lunches, snacks and drinks. Additionally, applicants are required to submit a refundable $250 Trip Deposit.

The Taglit-Birthright Israel foundation was set up in order to give every young Jewish adult the chance to experience Israel at least one time in their life. As a licensed provider of Taglit-Birthright Israel trips, the Israel Outdoors program has no religious or political agenda. Our only goal is to ensure that your experience on the trip is both meaningful and enjoyable.


Why choose a community trip?


The San Diego Community Trip generally geared toward young adults who intend to remain living in San Diego, as well as their close friends and relatives. A community trip is an incredible resource to meeting others in your area, and ensures that you can stay personally connected with your trip mates after the experience in Israel. Additionally, we make sure to always provide our participants with the best possible trip itinerary, trip dates, and staff.


Is this trip intended for people who are religious?


Because Taglit-Birthright Israel is only open to individuals who have never been to Israel on an organized peer trip, it is natural that there will be many participants on the trip who are not religious or who may have only a very limited connection to their Jewish identity. Israel Outdoors accommodates Jewish applicants of all backgrounds. Although we do not like labels, the trip itself is considered “non-denominational,” which is to say that everyone should feel welcome and there is no religious agenda whatsoever. We've planned these trips carefully, and we take great pride in knowing that participants from all Jewish backgrounds will feel comfortable in traveling with us. Past experience has also taught us that having a group made up of participants from diverse Jewish backgrounds makes the Taglit-Birthright Israel experience that much more interesting and special.


Do I need to be an “outdoorsy” person to enjoy these trips?


The bottom line is that these trips are meant to be enjoyed. They are NOT meant to be an intense physical challenge. Anyone with a basic spirit for adventure will feel more than comfortable on any Taglit-Birthright Israel program. That being said, some trips are more relaxed than others, so look into all trip options if this is a major factor in your decision to go to Israel. Keep in mind that you will not need to schlep your belongings during the trip. Even though we try to keep you on the move and off the bus as much as possible, we still use a bus to get around!.


How can I apply to staff an Israel Outdoors trip?


We are always on the lookout for exceptional young adults from North America to staff our trips. In order to be considered for a staffing position, you must have experience in Israel, other than participating in a previous Taglit-Birthright Israel group. If you are interested in applying, please complete the Staff Application Form. If you are interested in staffing a San Diego Young Professionals trip, please contact us at contact us.  


Eligibility and Registration



Am I eligible if I went to Israel on a middle school or high school program?


Yes! As long as you went on the program before the age of 18, you are still eligible.


Are the eligibility rules serious?


Yes. Very serious. The generous funders of the Taglit-Birthright Israel gift have established clear eligibility rules for the program, and we expect all applicants to respect these rules with the highest level of seriousness. Each applicant must sign the Trip Waiver Form which verifies that they are in fact eligible for the program. Applicants who attempt to lie in order to secure a spot on the trip are committing theft and will be held legally and financially accountable for their actions. If you are confused about your eligibility status, that's okay, but it is your responsibility to get that cleared up with staff before your trip.


When can I register?


The trips are offered in two separate seasons. Winter trips are offered in December, January, February, and March. Registration typically opens for winter trips in mid-September each year. Summer trips are offered in May, June, July, and August. Registration typically opens for summer trips in mid-February each year. In general, registration only stays open for about one week each season. Registrations do not carry over from season to season, but returning applicants do receive priority status for future rounds if they are not selected. Visit our home page for a countdown to registration, or fill out a form for more information!


Am I guaranteed a spot on this trip?


The maximum number of total spaces for any round of trips will be determined by Taglit-Birthright Israel, based on available funding and other factors. If the total number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces available, some applicants will be assigned to a waitlist.


How is the order of trip assignments determined?


Because we know that there are frequently more eligible applicants than there are available spots on the trip, our goal as an organization is to keep the process as fair as possible. Israel Outdoors first tries to accommodate applicants who have applied in the past as well as applicants who are about to turn 27 and age out of the program. We also take into consideration when you complete your application. We consider your application to be complete after you have fully finished the Primary Application – including submitting the refundable trip deposit (Trip Deposit). We recommend completing the Primary Application with Israel Outdoors on the first day of registration to give yourself the best chance of getting on the trip you want. All applications received on the first day will be treated the same no matter what time of day they are received.


Can I go on the same trip as a friend/sibling?


Of course! After completing the registration process, you will have an opportunity to let us know who you would like to travel with in the Secondary Application. We will always do our best to accommodate you. Just keep in mind that since we take into account when you register, it is critical that you and your friends register and submit the required paperwork at the same time. Also, while we can try to make sure that you are in the same group as a friend, we are not able to assign specific seats on the flight to/from Israel. Requesting seats can only be done at the airport on the day of departure (an additional reason to get to the airport early).  


Preparing for the Trip


What should I pack?


A detailed packing list, as well as a ton of other great information to help you get ready can be found in the Pre-Trip Preparation section of the Israel Outdoors web site. Check it out!.


Do I need a lot of outdoor gear?


Not at all! While most nights are spent at hotels, each trip also spends one night in the desert at a Bedouin tent, where you will be provided with sleeping mats and blankets. Otherwise, you will be staying at hotels and kibbutz guest houses in normal beds. Some trips may be more geared towards outdoor activities, where all gear will be provided. As for shoes, heavy duty hiking boots are never necessary. Good sturdy walking shoes or light weight hiking boots are your best bet. Athletic sandals like Tevas or Chacos work well, too (summer trips only). You are encouraged to bring a light daypack with you to carry water, a hat, extra clothing, etc. while we are on the move.


What about health insurance while I am in Israel?


All participants on a Taglit-Birthright Israel program are required to have health insurance that is valid in Israel. If you do not have your own policy or if your policy does not cover you abroad, you must arrange for temporary travelers insurance through your trip provider. You will be asked for your medical insurance policy number as part of the Secondary Application.


How will I exchange money?


There are several options for money exchange/payments in Israel:

  • Call your bank ahead of time, before you leave your trip. Many banks will exchange your dollars for shekels here in the US for no conversion fee.
  • ATMs throughout Israel will generally allow you to access your American card for a small fee. There will be
  • Most places in Israel actually accept US dollars.


Flight & Trip Logistics



Will I be safe?


your security and safety are the primary concerns of Taglit-Birthright Israel. Please refer to the Security & Safety portion of Birthright Israel's website for more information about our approach to providing a touring experience in Israel that is safe, secure and still incredibly exciting.


What airlines are used?


Our group flights are booked on EL AL Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, US Airways, Air Canada, and a number of European airlines. Most group flights originate from New York or Los Angeles. Some flights typically originate from Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, or Miami. Flights from New York may depart from JFK Airport, Newark Airport, or La Guardia Airport. Participants are always responsible for arranging their own travel to and from the departure airport, and confirmed flight details are released once we have assigned you to a trip.


How do I get my plane ticket?


All tickets are issued electronically, and you will receive a printed copy at the airport. It is impossible to reserve seats on the plane in advance. Additional airport meeting instructions will be sent to you once you have been confirmed on a specific flight group.


Can I extend my ticket?


Definitely. You can stay longer in Israel…normally up to 90 days depending on the airline and availability. And you can arrange for your extension before the trip or during the trip depending, again, on the airline's availability. Extra fees do apply. The specifics vary by airline and can be found in the Flight Info and Extensions section. Unfortunately, extensions can only be made for the end of the program. It is not possible to arrive in Israel ahead of the group.


How flexible are the group flight rules?


Not very. Here are some very important limitations to keep in mind:

  • You must depart for Israel with the group from the scheduled gateway airport.
  • You cannot meet the group in Israel…even if you are already in Europe at the time.
  • If you fail to extend your ticket until after the group flight departs Israel, your ticket will be void.
  • If you fail to show up for your return flight, you will forfeit your $250, unless you notify the airline prior to the flight's departure.
  • You cannot pay extra for a stopover or to change your return flight destination.
  • In many cases, it's impossible to get frequent flier miles or elite travel benefits for your ticket given the nature of the ticket fare rules.

If any of these limitations come as bad news to you, we are sorry! Please take our word that it is impossible to get around them! Many more flight details are available on our website in Flight Info and Extensions.


Who will be in my group?


Individual groups are typically made up of 40 participants plus staff. For about half of the program, the group is also joined by about 8 Israeli peers, who are also participants on the program. Groups are generally divided into two age brackets: 18-22 year olds and 22-26 year olds. These age brackets are intended to group you with peers who are most similar to you, making for the best possible experience.


How strict are the 18-22 and 22-26 age brackets?


Generally, we must adhere to these age requirements. However, we can usually accommodate special situations, especially siblings who are hoping to travel together.


Who staffs the trips?


Each individual group is comprised of one professional Israeli guide, two North American peer staffers, one or two medic/security escorts, and a bus driver. Our guides tend to be men and women in their late 20's or 30s. We choose guides that are energetic and charismatic and understand how to connect with the group and share the beauty of Israel. Our peer staffers from North America tend to be in their 20s (usually one male and one female), and we choose them based on their prior experience in Israel and their leadership skills. The medics/security escorts are usually men and women that recently completed their service in the Israel Defense Forces. They are with the group to help deal with any medical issues that come up and to make sure that we are always traveling in a safe environment. Finally, the bus driver usually provides the "color" for the group. There's nothing quite like an Israeli bus driver. You will have to experience it for yourself.


How many participants per hotel room?


The hotels that we use during the program accommodate three participants to a room with three separate beds. Room assignments are chosen by participants during the trip.


Can Israel Outdoors accommodate special dietary needs?


In most cases, yes. Please make sure to include this information in your Secondary Application and also notify our staff during the interview process.


Will I have any free time during the trip?


While the trip itinerary is quite intensive, we do set aside plenty of time for relaxation and personal exploration. That being said, because we take your safety and security so seriously, there will understandably be some limits on your free time, especially when we are touring in larger cities. If you have family or friends who wish to visit you during the trip, they are most welcome to meet you at one of the hotels where we will be staying. We recommend that they visit either at night or on a Saturday morning/afternoon (which is basically down time on the trip). Otherwise, we do make time for some group nights out where there will be time to explore and relax as group. In accordance with Taglit-Birthright Israel rules, you will not be able to leave the group during the program under any circumstance.