Spending a GAP year in Israel can be a wonderful opportunity for you child to grow and flourish but as a parent, the thought of sending your child for an entire year can seem daunting and overwhelming, especially if this is the first time you are doing it.

We're part of a wonderful Facebook group called "Israel Gap Year Parents" and we reached our on that group to experienced parents who have already sent a child on GAP year and asked them a simple question: "Give 3 tips to new GAP year parents that you wish someone would have told you before..."

They came up with some fabulous tips and we've consolidated them here for you in this short guide. Thanks to all the fantastic parents who contributed to this article!

Let your child figure things out

Learn how to be as hands off as possible - let them experience not just the year, but the ups and downs of their first true experience away from home.

When you speak to them, let them talk - they probably want someone they trust outside of their current context to listen to them (just because their complaining doesn't necessarily mean they need you to intervene). 

Consider how often you want to speak. 

Your child is an adult - Trust that you raised them right.

Encourage them to experience Israel as much as possible - even outside of school. Have them explore and learn to soak up the true Israel experience.

Let your child make decisions and remember, everything has a learning curve.

Pack light

Don’t overpack. They need less than you think they do, they can do laundry and Israel is a modern country!

Let them pack their own stuff. They know what they need and want (and will actually use) better than us.

Girls need three pairs of shoes. For hiking, for Shabbat and for lounging. Not 15. (Try convincing an 18 year old of this)

Send extra socks and underwear.

Don't underestimate the cold - pack for cold weather.

Pack less of the things that they can buy there and more of the things that they can't get there.

Give them a budget

Set your child a budget, leave wiggle room, and adjust your expectation that they'll stick to it.

Do not give them access to all their spending money at once. They are perhaps not savvy enough to space it out over the year and you will want to have plenty for breaks.

Keep an eye on the credit card bills. Not just how much but what the money is being spent on - It’s a good way to see what your child is up to…

Make sure they have a debit and a credit card for emergencies.

Set up a Venmo / Zelle account before your child leaves the US - a lot of times if a friend orders dinner, orders a cab, or if things are split, it's the best way to pay it back.

Stay sane as a parent

Turn off notifications while you sleep. My daughter called once at 3 am my time for input on her grocery shopping.

Remember to breathe. This time allows them to grow up.

If they call bugging out remember that they'll be over it faster than you will.

You are 1000's of miles away and the news here is often more dramatic than things actually are.

WhatsApp = Life

WhatsApp is all you need to communicate. You don’t need to pay extra for an American phone number. You just need data.

Remember to unlock their phones.

Back up their phones before they leave in case they lose them.

Bonus tips

Try to coordinate with the school if you're planning on visiting. You don't want to visit and pull them out of a trip or shabbaton.

On away shabbat, encourage your child to take a sleeping bag or sleep sack so that hosts don't need to provide linen

Bring an extra pair of glasses.

If you want to make friends fast, cook for them. Teens are always starving. Son got a hot plate and a pot, made a big bowl of chicken soup on the first Thursday night, and had a line out the door.

It can take a few months to really fully settle down... things will happen.

Relax and enjoy

Enjoy the year they are away!!

Relax. Don't Worry. Be Happy... our kids had amazing GAP Year experiences and came home better than when we sent them.

Happy packing!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. At Pack for Israel we provide everything you need for your gap year in Israel. You can order bedding and towelssmall appliancestoiletriesstorage accessories, and more that will ship directly to your school in Israel. We also have years of experience serving customers whose children go to Israel for the year, so if you have any questions please contact us and we’ll be glad to help. Happy Packing!