Since English is mandatory in almost every school in Israel, getting by shouldn’t be a problem. When it comes to Tel Aviv, you will find it hard to come by a local who doesn’t speak English or is not willing to help. In suburban areas, as you may have guessed, it will be a little harder without Hebrew but in general, Israelis speak English pretty well.
Some phrases that will help you get by are: Slicha – Excuse me/ Sorry; Eifo? – Where [is]; Matai? – When? [is]; Monit – Taxi; Kama zeh Oleh? – How much does this cost?; Ken – Yes; Lo – No; Todah – Thank you; Ani lo medaber Ivrit – I don’t speak Hebrew.
Remember that Tel Aviv is one of the most liberal cities in the world. The thing is, Israeli women are very confident, fierce and usually hard to get, so men are used to being a little persistent. This doesn’t mean they won’t back off, just that they aren’t afraid of rejection and may need to receive a clear message that you are not interested. This is also a great advantage as well, as Israeli men usually do not shy away from a challenge and aren’t easily scared.
Before you plan to visit a place, look it up to make sure there is nothing going on at the moment and that there are no restrictions. For example, Gaza is usually advised against travelling to, and the same goes for some areas in the West Bank. There are certain areas, like Bethlehem or Ramallah, you may prefer to visit with an organized group to make sure that you don’t wander off into dangerous areas.
Before you go anywhere new, be prepared to make sure you adhere to local customs and rules. For example, ultra-religious Jewish neighbourhoods will find it offensive if you wear revealing clothing. The same goes for some Muslim areas or holy Christian sites.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but hopping into an unregistered taxi or on an unofficial bus is not recommended in Israel. In general, public transport, although slow, is quite efficient in Israel and you should have no reason to take any risks.
There is absolutely no need to be anxious about travelling alone to Israel. Due to the volatile nature of this country, Israelis have learned how to defend themselves and there is security everywhere. Whenever you step inside a mall, club, or any public place for that matter, you will see security guards on alert. This doesn’t mean you should exercise no judgment – always make sure you are not walking alone at night or entering dangerous confrontation areas, but just remember that unlike Europe or the US, wherever there are many people, there is security.
Hitchhiking is not at all common in Israel. Although this is probably true to most places around the world, hopping into a car with a stranger is not a good idea in Israel.