Some advice: Travelling alone to Palestine

Travelling alone to Palestine can be a daunting prospect. With security to consider, the thought of taking the journey to Palestine alone can be so intimidating as to stop travellers from going there altogether. However, do bear in mind that it is very much possible, and safer than one might expect. Plenty of travellers journey there every year for a multitude of reasons, often to teach English and to improve their Arabic. It is crucial to do research and make sure you are prepared in advance before travelling.

Part of this preparation should involve considerations of geography. Be knowledgeable about where you want to go and it will become clearer as to how to get there. For instance, if you want to travel to the West Bank then it is advisable to go through Jerusalem from the airport. It is best to go to Hebron and the Excellence Center in this way. Be thorough in the research of your routes and the climate of the place you want to go. This is advisable for journeys to Palestine, from Palestine and for travelling within the country. It is inadvisable to go to Gaza without NGO or government protection, but in the West Bank this is not necessary, and it is only advisable to bring your passport with your Israeli VISA to travel with you at all times.

Jerusalem, being the capital for both Israel and Palestine, has excellent transport links and provides a good universal ‘cross-over’ point between countries and within Palestine. There are often communal buses or shared taxis to your chosen destination, and the people are often very friendly and willing to help you should you get lost or be unsure of how to go get where you want to go. Carry a guidebook with a map with you at all times, and prepare in advance so that you know which direction you would like to go to.

When going through security, be calm and honest, and – as always – prepared. It is strongly advisable to bring any documents with you as supporting evidence for the intention of your visit. For instance, if you are going to Palestine with the intention of teaching English in a center such as The Excellence Center, then do bring your welcome letter and contract with you to show at the airport. Interrogation does happen sometimes but this can be randomly administrated as part of security procedures, so do remain calm and clear in your communication.

If English is not your first language, then it is advisable to try and improve your conversational English before coming to Israel and Palestine. Not everyone will speak English, but it is the most widely spoken language outside of the native tongue, and will help you if you need to ask for directions or for advice. Before coming to Palestine (especially if you’re travelling alone), it is also a wise idea to brush up on some basic Arabic phrases if you do not know any already. Polite phrases such as ‘hello’, ‘how are you’, ‘can you help me’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ will go a long way in assisting you.

Above all, once you are in Palestine, the sense of community here will become apparent, and you will be welcomed as a friend. The people in Palestine are as keen to learn from your culture as you are from them, and you will find upon travelling here alone that you will integrate into a community very quickly. Common sense should not go amiss: It is not advisable as a woman to travel alone at night, for instance, but you will find that Palestinians are very accommodating people, and the prospect of travelling here alone should not be frightening.

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