Preparation for a flight:
In your suitcase, pack all clothes, shoes, gifts and anything else that you may need during your trip. It is important to keep in mind that there is a weight limit and that the airlines are happy to collect an additional (substantial) payment for overweight luggage, which increases their profitability. For example, for a trip to Europe, travelers may take one suitcase weighing 20 kg. and for a trip to the U.S., one 23 kg. suitcase is permitted. Ask your travel agent about the weight limits for your destination. It is very unpleasant to stand at check-in and either try to remove items from your luggage or pay the additional fee.
You should not pack at the last minute. I, for instance, write a list of the items I plan on bringing and check off the items from my list as I pack them into my suitcase.
Likewise, you are allowed to take a carry-on bag with you on the plane (on El Al, the weight limit for carry-ons is 8 kg..) In your carry-on, pack your valuables such as tallis and tefillin, travel documents such as passports, and other things that you will need during the flight. Keep in mind that luggage does not always arrive with you to your destination and may even get lost, and that is why you have a carry-on bag. On the other hand, consider that the size and weight of your carry-on bag is very limited and must be able to fit in the overhead bin on the plane.
Verify with your travel agent what the local currency is in the country you will be traveling. I read recently about a tourist who travelled to the Czech Republic and was sure that the Euro was the legal currency there since the Czech Republic is part of the European Economic Community. To her surprise, however, she discovered that the currency there is actually the Czech Krona. Since it was the weekend and banks were closed, she encountered many uncomfortable situations until she succeeded in changing her Euros for Krona. In Poland as well, the currency is not the Euro but rather the Zloty.
Documents that you must bring with you and must not forget:
Items that you should take:
b) Writing utensil (believe me, this is necessary)
c) Plug adapter for electronics, so you don't get stuck with an electronic device from Israel that you can't use
f) A laptop can be very helpful – you can stay connected to Israel, check email,
i) A spare pair of glasses, if relevant
j) A book to read or study
k) Large laundry bag
l) Backpack, of course
Things to be sure to do:
a) It is very important to check that your passport is valid and current for at least half a year (my brother flew with an expired passport and it was not a pleasant experience.)
b) Make sure your visa is valid and current (if relevant.)
c) Make sure your international driver's license is valid and current.
d) Check with your travel agent about the weather in your destination country and pack weather-appropriate clothes.
e) Check the time difference (so that you don't call Grandma at 2AM. I once flew to Vienna on the day that the clocks changed. The pilot announced the time before landing without taking into account that the clocks had moved forward an hour. I leisurely lounged in the business lounge of the airport and when I approached the connecting flight's desk, was told that my plane had already left because the clocks had changed.)
f) Find out the country's dialing codes so you can make and receive calls.
g) Sign up for health insurance for everyone
h) Make a list of gifts for the family.
i) I almost forgot – make sure you label your suitcase with your address and your phone number.
j) Convert some cash into the local currency. If you are taking dollars or Euros with you to a country that does not use them, it is strongly recommended that you have a bit of local money to use for a cab, bus or drink until you can get to a money changer.
What not to bring: