The Complete Israel GAP Year Preparation Checklist
Preparing to send a child to Israel for the year can feel very overwhelming in terms of knowing what to do, when to do it and how to get it all done. Tracy Schultz already sent one of her kids on GAP year. After sending her first kid and then getting ready to send her second child she realized that that "there are lots of packing lists floating around the internet, but no 'to-do' lists to prepare for the year".
So Tracy took action and decided to assemble a comprehensive preparation checklist for new GAP year parents. She got feedback from other GAP year parents and students and when we reached out to her to collaborate in publishing this checklist she was super happy to share.
All links and references to outside sources are there for your benefit but Pack for Israel does not take any responsibility for the service provided by these third parties.
This is not a blanket checklist for all schools. Each school may have specific requirements that the students must follow, such as specific cellphone plans or insurance plans.
Some of the options provided below are only available for Americans.
At least 6 months before
▢ Check passport expiration date. Be sure your child's passport expires at least 6 months after their expected return date. If your child is an Israeli citizen/dual citizen, be sure their Israeli passport is also valid. (Note that if one of the parents has ever been an Israeli citizen, you should reach out to the Israeli consulate to check on your child's status.)
▢ If your child takes medicine on a daily basis, see if you child's doctor can help you obtain as much of the medicine as possible prior to departure date.
At least 3 months before
▢ Make a doctor's appointment. Good to have in general, but may be necessary for insurance forms (see below).
▢ Be sure you have access to an original birth certificate.
At least 2 months before
▢ Look into Visa requirements. Most schools use MASA to set up their visa. Visit https://www.masaisrael.org/ to apply. Students who will not turn 18 within 3 months of the program start date will have to apply for a visa before departure. Students who are recognized as Israeli do not require a visa, but may need a petor (exemption) from the army.
▢ Check out Medical Insurance Options. Paperwork will be required to be signed by a doctor. Some schools require specific providers, so be sure you check with them before selecting one on your own. Here are some examples of insurance providers for GAP year students:
- EMA Care (concierge service) (https://emacare.com/students)
- AIM (https://www.aim.co.il/)
- Egert and Cohen (https://egertcohen.co.il/student-health-insurance/)
At least 1 month before
▢ Choose a Cell Phone Plan. Be sure your phone is UNLOCKED. Check if it has a SIM slot or requires an eSIM. Here are some examples of cell phone plan providers:
- Freedom Hot (Hot Mobile) - Nati Samet firstname.lastname@example.org whatsapp 9725432310756
- Hot Mobile - Libby Cohen Whatsapp 972523203040
- Simpatic - www.simpatic.net
- Talk n Save - https://www.talknsave.net/school-programs/
- Golan - https://www.golanisraelsim.com/
▢ Set up a bank account that has an ATM with no fees. This can be in your name or in your child’s name. Be sure to request a debit card.
Accounts with Fee Free ATMs:
- Capital One 360 - Fee Free ATMs only applicable if you set up an account online
- Charles Schwab - Fee free ATMs
Cards with no Foreign Transaction Fee:
- Capital One Quicksilver or Savor
- Chase Sapphire (preferred or reserve) *Has annual fees
- Wells Fargo Autograph
▢ Shop for luggage. Most airlines allow a maximum bag size for checked baggage of 62 inches of all the dimensions combined (length + width + height). Duffel bags tend to be more popular, as they weigh less than suitcases. Keep in mind wheels can get broken.
- Samsonite Tote a Ton is under 62”
- IT luggage (World’s lightest suitcase), commonly found at discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls
- Pack for Camp 36" rolling duffel bag. The 36 inch rolling duffel is very popular among GAP year students even though at capacity, it slightly exceeds the typical restrictions. (see more info here)
▢ Decide if you wish to order linens, towels, toiletries, storage items, storage Israeli 220v electrical items etc. from a service like Pack for Israel to be shipped directly to the dorms. Ordering in Israel saves valuable space and weight in your luggage. In addition, purchasing Israeli products ensures that your appliances will be compatible with the Israeli voltage system and that your linens will fit standard Israeli beds.
▢ Make arrangements for Sukkot. Decide if your child is keeping 1 or 2 days chag and be sure the hosts are aware of the plan and willing to accommodate.
▢ “Park” your child’s Cell Number to keep their Whatsapp number and their number upon return. Many services offer this, including Number Barn, Park My Phone or see if your cell provider offers a standby option. You can also port the number to Google Voice for a one-time fee.
▢ Install the following apps:
- Gett (taxis)
- One of the following to use for buses: Moovit or Rav Pass by HopOn. Both have the ability to pay for public transportation.
▢ Set up Zelle, Venmo or PayPal (less common) for payment between peers.
▢ Make color copies of Passport and Birth Certificate. Bring originals (if required by your school) and copies to Israel and leave a copy at home.
▢ Remove your child from your auto insurance on the day they leave and save a ton of money .
▢ Get a Rav Kav Card (with their photo and name) for public transportation from a Rav Kav Office. You can get a discounted child card if under 18 or a student card by showing a letter from your school.
Send us your feedback!
We hope this checklist has been helpful. This checklist is a work in progress. If you feel that any information is incorrect or missing, or if you have comments or suggestions, please contact us and we will try to incorporate your changes.
At Pack for Israel we provide everything you need for your gap year in Israel. You can order bedding and towels, small appliances, toiletries, storage accessories, and more that will ship directly to your school in Israel.
Good Luck and we hope you have a wonderful year in Israel!