Avoid taking more than one checkable suitcase and a carry-on. You’ll be carrying your own luggage, and likely be living, partly, out of your suitcase, on the base. You’ll be issued uniforms as work clothes, but your other garments are your own responsibility. DON’T TAKE VALUABLES.
You must have three copies of the picture page of your passport, your medical certificate, and proof of medical insurance coverage, as well as a list of your prescribed medications.
A record of charge-card numbers, safely stowed away from the originals, will be helpful if you lose the real things.
Packing check-list – Essentials.
You must supply the following:
- your own underwear, T-shirts, handkerchiefs, and any clothes that you wish to wear after work and off the base. (Women need skirts on Shabbat, in Orthodox areas.)
- closed-toe shoes, suitable for a work site
- in winter – rainwear, and waterproof footwear
- in spring and summer – sun hat
- a robe for getting to and from the showers; (they may not be very close to your bunk).
- soap, shampoo, towels; washcloths for a first-dry are useful, since they’ll dry more quickly than a wet towel, particularly in a damp winter environment
- scuffies for the shower (“rubber” sandals or “flip flops”)
- toiletries, prescription medications with copy of generic prescription
- medical devices (e.g. 220 v CPAP with extension cord and Israeli plug),
- Tylenol, Band-Aids, Imodium
- sunblock; insect repellent; spare eyeglasses with prescription, sunglasses
- a pair of cot-sized or single sheets, pillowcase and small pillow. You will be issued blankets or a sleeping bag.
- Laundry detergent, clothespins and string for clothesline
You will usually get clean uniforms as needed but you are on your own for other laundry. Easy wash and-wear clothes are essential. Some bases have a washing machine and dryer, but most do not.
Laundry detergent is essential too; clothespins and string for clothesline can be useful, if you don’t find some already on the base. (Optionally some experienced Sar-Elniks carry a small plastic container as a laundry basin. That’s not as crazy as it sounds. It doesn’t weigh much and can be filled with socks, underwear etc. in your luggage. And it’s cheap enough to leave behind if you don’t want to carry it back home.)
Packing Checklist – Optional
- work gloves, rubber or plastic gloves, may be useful.
- Scotch tape, duck tape, elastic bands, small scissors
- if you use a hair-dryer or electric razor, remember that Israel uses 220 volts; you must have 220 volt appliances or a transformer. The plug prongs are different too. so buy an adapter for Israel
- A small mirror can be useful; there are usually no electric outlets in the washrooms.
- a combination small lock for your locker
- a small flashlight, a camera
- a small portable radio
- ear plugs for yourself, and if you snore, (who doesn’t?) for your barrack-mates
- In spring and summer – shorts, bathing suit, sandals.
You must have proof of adequate health insurance. Sar-El provides no hospital/medical insurance for volunteers. So, review your out-of-country insurance, and if necessary, buy appropriate extra coverage.
Canadian Medicare, alone, is not adequate.
You must have access to sufficient funds to cover medical emergencies, since your insurance may not pay up front. Check with your insurance provider on their payment arrangements for service in Israel.
Credit cards, particularly VISA, are widely accepted. Traveler’s cheques can be a nuisance, particularly Canadian-dollar cheques. But many volunteers don’t bother with traveler’s cheques at all, using automatic teller machines (ATMs) instead. Bank Hapoalim, and other ATMs too, accept Canadian ATM cards
affiliated with PLUS or CIRRUS systems; insert your card and the screen message appears in English if that’s the “language of your card” back home. You withdraw money from your Canadian account, in shekels, and your account is automatically debited in Canadian dollars at a correct exchange rate and with a service charge. And ATMs are “open” when banks are closed.
Many bases no longer have pay phones, since Israelis are heavy cell phone users. But don’t ask your madricha (see below) to use her cell phone. It’s advisable to rent your own. You can arrange delivery of a cell phone in Canada, before you leave for Israel. Check with the Sar-El Canada office for information. In Israel, you don’t pay for incoming calls on an Israeli cell phone.
Israeli pay phones, when available, use Telecards, and other similar cards, which you can buy at the airport and, sometimes, more cheaply, at the base canteen. But remember: many bases don’t have pay phones.
To Canada or the US, dial 013-1, or 014-1, followed by the area code and the number. This works for both Telecard and cell-phone calls. Or use the special calling arrangements provided by your Canadian long distance supplier for calls to Canada.