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Visiting Israel

Floating in the Dead Sea (courtesy Jez S at Flickr CC)I was reading a post on World Hum (a very eclectic and fun travel Web site) that made me think about travel to Israel and whether or not it is too dangerous, which is always a topic of travel discussion.

My own trip to Israel as a single person was very brief; a Navy ship port visit to the city of Haifa, and a guided tour to some of the country’s highlights. I will confess that the entire time on the tour van was a bit nerve-wracking, as we were all US Navy Sailors and made a rather high-visibility and easy terrorist target.

Fortunately, as a woman I was not so obviously a military person (I can avoid the whole short-hair thing, and I don’t wear blinding white athletic shoes like the average American.) I decided that I had a very generous life insurance policy, so if it was my time to croak, my family would hopefully have one heck of a party after my demise.

We didn’t spend much time in Haifa, and the tour included highlights of Bethlehem, amazing sights of Jerusalem like the Wailing Wall and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, the sobering Jewish stronghold of Masada, nightlife in Tel Aviv and a swim in the Dead Sea.

Here’s the deal, gals — DO NOT go swimming in the Dead Sea right after you shave your legs. The water has a super-high salt and mineral content (that’s what makes it so buoyant) and sticking freshly-shaved legs into it is like liquid styptic pencil. It’s like having your legs cauterized all at once. Ow.

Masada, Israel (courtesy laurgeo at Flickr CC)

If you’re considering a family trip to Israel (and here’s one family who made the trek) you will need to weigh the obvious dangers with the educational and spiritual benefit. Ironically, it’s very similar to my thoughts on travel with kids to Iran.

Keep abreast of the current situation, evaluate the dangers as unemotionally as possible, and make your best decision. As we so appallingly saw at Virginia Tech, there’s no hiding from nut-cases, so live your best and bravest life.

Next year, in Jerusalem….

Update 23 April 2007: Thanks to the very active and interesting Haveil Havalim blog carnival for featuring this post, and to Soccer Dad David Gerstman (the carnival host) for also recommending a book on family travel to Israel.

Technorati tags: travel, family travel, Israel, Middle East