How many times have you attempted to search on the Internet for specific information and failed miserably, not wanting to trust a Yahoo answer from 2007?
If you are similar to me, your answer will range from “Often” to “[sigh] All the time.” While being in the Holy Land, however, I was introduced to different Facebook pages that are useful, safe spaces for me to ask my questions. The answers come within minutes and are relevant. It is also a place for me to learn something new by reading other people’s questions and answers.
These Facebook groups are regional and are called: “Secret Jerusalem”, “Secret Al Quds – East Jerusalem“, “Secret Tel Aviv”, “Secret Ramallah”, “Secret Bethlehem”, and “Secret Haifa”. Nearly all the posts are in English. These groups are also used for selling products and promoting upcoming events. There are additional groups on Facebook, however, the posts are frequently in Arabic or Hebrew.
These groups directly show the culture in this region, even amongst native English speakers. People openly connect with each other. When people have questions, they ask them. When people hear/see asked questions, they answer (although sometimes this happens without a question being asked!).
While talking with a friend who also lives here, she talked about how such pages “keep people from falling into tourist traps” and it helps people “find the trendy, hip places.” She admitted that on her free time she scrolls through these pages because it is both entertaining and beneficial.
For example, you can find posts like these:
And also posts like these:
Traveling abroad can be a bit stressful, especially when visiting a new place. Luckily with technology racing ahead, it’s never been easier to find local information with the simple swipe of a finger. Prepare for your Holy Land travel adventures by downloading our top 18 smartphone apps (in no particular order) to simplify your trip and make you look like a local!
Your guide to public transportation, this app contains local bus routes and train schedules. With availability in several countries, it is a travel must have for locals and tourists alike.
What better way to capture your journey and share it with friends and family at home? Upload pictures and videos to your account and share across multiple social media platforms.
Hail a cab to the airport or just out to dinner with this convenient app. Car service arrives in minutes and you can pay either with cash or credit card, so one less thing to worry about. Available in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv.
Get tips from other travelers on the best spots in Israel, from hotels to restaurants to tourist attractions, you’ll never run out of things to do!
Crucial if you’re planning on renting a car during your trip to the Holy Land, Waze will help you navigate through Israel using the real-time advice of other drivers. Learn about traffic, adverse conditions, or simply receive alternate route suggestions.
6. XE Currency
Convert every world currency and calculate your travel expenses in advance using this free app.
Thinking of booking a quick trip to Eilat or want to keep track of your return flight in real time? Kayak will aggregate hundreds of sites to help manage your travel logistics.
Built for Android, this app will give you life-saving information for your travels abroad. Easily access local numbers for police, fire, medical, or even your country’s embassy.
Telobike is a great way to find the closest bike rental stations for your adventures around Tel Aviv on the city’s communal bike system.
This digital travel guide focuses on the countless historical sites throughout Israel, and allows users to also get detailed cultural and social information as well.
11. Chronus Imaging
This app provides self-guided tours of the Holy Land complete with audio and video explanations of specific site heritage.
12. A Hebrew/English translator. There are so many options out there, it’s best to test a few and see which ones are the most comfortable for you.
Stay up-to-speed with the latest local and world news broadcast in English, French, and Arabic from studios at the port of Jaffa.
Stay in touch with friends and family back home with Skype’s easy communication interface. You can pre-pay for minutes. (FaceTime is another great –free- option if you’ll be within reach of WiFi.)
15. Packing Pro
If you’re prone to over- (or under-) packing, this app will help you stay organized using lists and reminders of your Holy Land travel must-haves.
16. Palestine and Palestinians – a new travel app (no reviews yet at the Apple store) but if its like the travel book of the same name – it should be good
17. Palestine Guide and Map – also unrated – ($7.99) though worth checking out on the Apple Store
18. Israel Travel Guide – Rated 3 stars ($.99)
It’s also a good idea to search for city-specific guides if you’re planning to spend an extended period in a certain place. Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv are just some of the cities that offer detailed information for your mobile device.
Also, for most travel destinations it can be crucial to have a reliable weather app in your device. Israel and the Palestinian Territories has relatively consistent regional weather, so if you check on the weather one day, it will most likely stay the same for the duration of your trip. Hope you enjoy sunshine!
Other honorable mentions:
WhatsApp – A messager that allows you to SMS friends worldwide at no additional cost.
Chabad’s Shabbat & Holiday Times – Determine what times businesses will close for the weekend based on your satellite location.
Even without a smartphone, your trip to Israel will be amazing. But doesn’t it feel wonderful to have all this information available at your fingertips?