Israel Fascination

Posted By Trav


When I returned from Israel, I released a podcast with Puzzle Israel founders Nir and Guy that talked a bit about the tour that I went on.

But we didn’t really get into the activities that we did, and the experiences that we had that were so impactful.

So we’ve decided to release another podcast today with listener favorite, Napkins, joining me to flip the script and ask ME some questions about my trip to Israel.

We discuss everything from the theoretical to the actual. My knowledge before going to Israel (nothing. I didn’t even know there was a desert!) to how much I’ve learned since visiting, some of the amazing experiences that I had along the way, and how breaking my phone made all the difference.

Israel is a fascinating country, and I highly recommend a visit, hopefully after this talk you’ll be pumped and ready to add it to your (ever growing) travel list!

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Today’s episode has been sponsored by our friends at Tortuga Backpacks!

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In This Episode

  • 04:00 Why I decided a group tour
  • 09:00 Thousands of years of history
  • 18:30 Such varied geography
  • 23:40 First impressions & broken phones
  • 32:00 The itinerary
  • 55:00 2 extra days
  • 57:17 Hearing about the conflict from people who have lived it
  • 69:00 Safety on the tour
  • 74:00 A trip to Jaffa


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  1. Jen Landa says:

    Hey Travis,

    I just finished listening to your Israel podcast. I am myself a total travel nerd but since I’ve never traveled long-term, I’ve never considered myself an expert despite a pretty extensive short-term travel history. Anyway, I learned about you through Jason M’s Zero to Travel podcast and love both of your shows. My husband and I plan to retire early (within the next few years) and travel the world by sailboat and motorbike. We do both now in short bites when we can.

    Anyway, Israel…We just traveled there in Dec 2015 – me, my husband, 2 teenage kids and my 73yo Dad. Like you, we hate tours so we rented a van and did it our on our own and had some pretty awesome experiences. I don’t know if it’s as easy to do in other places but we got multiple different local guides, all in the same age range as your guides. All the tour guides in Israel are required to study for 2 years so they’re all super knowledgeable. We love local and authentic experiences as well and got that through these guides. We were lucky enough to have an Israeli friend who is a tour guide but was booked while we were there who referred us to a guide who referred us to another and one to another, etc… I also got the recommendation to do the Golan Heights jeep tour which I set up independently and I think we did the same one – it was totally awesome. My teenagers can’t even believe it to this day that I took them that close to Syria! We actually heard gunfire!! We also got the recommendation from a friend to do rapelling and we did with an amazing guide who took us rapelling and then to the Bar Kochva caves. If you didn’t do them, when you go back, you’ve got to check them out! It’s where the Jews hid in about 135AD running from Romans and it’s a network of underground caves you can explore sometimes crawling on your belly and you can find treasures in the sand in there. We found a 2000yo jug handle – so cool! BTW we were totally ALONE there except for our guide!!! With our very ADHD teenage kids along, we knew we had to make the trip exciting or we’d hear a lot of whining or see heads buried in their iphones! Mission accomplished!

    Thanks for the great reminiscence of our trip!

    Since I’m Jewish and my Dad is a Holocaust survivor and we’d never been to Israel before, the trip was super emotional for us. You didn’t mention Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Museum) in Jerusalem. I can understand why your guides may have skipped it b/c you don’t need a guide really although there are plenty of guided tours. For us, this was a very heavy day, BUT I think it sheds even more light on the formation of Israel and why it’s deemed so necessary for Jews to have a homeland. The museum is beautifully done and it was a worthwhile day but more than anything it shows the recent evolution of our people from terrible oppression into what is now a modern day thriving Israel that is incredible beyond words.

    I totally agree with what you said about not understanding the place until you’re there and talk to the people.
    This was mine and my husband’s big takeaway:
    Despite the fact that people don’t think it’s safe, going there as a Jew for the first time, I feel that Israel might just be the safest place in the world for me. If there had been an Israel during Hitler’s time, the Jews might have had somewhere to go to be safe. If the “sh*t” ever hit the fan again for Jews, without a doubt, Israel would be the first place I’d run and I know they’d welcome me and my family with open arms. I totally get why people go and never leave. BTW, I always look at the real estate and want to move too and Israel would definitely be on the wish list!!

    Thanks for the amazing work you do inspiring people like me to keep up the travel and the travel dreams!

    I hope one day to meet up with you and Heather when we’re all traveling the world!

    BTW, I love your recent top 10’s. They made me realize how well traveled I am and of course, added to my bucket list in a BIG way!!

    All the best,

    1. Trav says:

      @Jen – Thanks so much for sharing your amazing experience and story. The country really does have a hold on a lot of people, and it sounds like you did it in a unique, authentic, and really fun way.

      Unfortunately, we missed the Holocaust museum but everyone we talked to (and even the Puzzle Israel people) all said they would highly, highly recommend it so I have it on my list for next time, for sure.

      It’s nice to have another real estate fanatic listening to the podcast, and really glad you love the top 10 episodes. We’ll keep them coming!

  2. Lewis says:

    Hi Travis!
    I enjoyed listening to this episode.
    Will you please post your itinerary?

    1. Trav says:

      @Lewis – Yes, I’ll try to post my actual itinerary as well. Glad you liked it!

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