Tourist tip #75 / Getting your media fix
Looking to stay up-to-date on your favorite TV series? You may not have the same access here that you're used to back home. But there are still plenty of sites available to keep you tuned in.
On your way to Israel, you'll lose several hours due to time change, a wad of cash on exchange fees and possibly your luggage. But it's only after you leave Ben-Gurion International Airport that you'll notice something else missing: many of your favorite websites.
Much of the media you're used to streaming online for little or no cost, including movies, television shows and music, is unavailable in Israel. That means no Netflix, Hulu, Pandora or Spotify, to name just a few. But before you cancel your trip in favor of a "Gilmore Girls" marathon on Netflix, it's worth considering a few alternatives.
A quick Internet search yields quite a few streaming websites that do work here, as long as you're willing to put up with plenty of racy pop-up ads.(For those with access to a television set, Israel's two cable providers HOT and Yes both air English-language programming – in some cases, mere days after the shows premiere in the United States.) As for music, there are plenty of free options, like YouTube, MySpace and, at least for now, Grooveshark, a Pandora imitator facing myriad lawsuits.
If you just can't live without your favorite American websites, you can invest in virtual private network software, which allows you to reroute your Internet access through networks outside of the country. This will allow you to surf the Web as though you're still at home, albeit with the occasional glitch. Most companies offer monthly, six-month and yearly subscriptions, with prices starting at $10 a month. And in a pinch, you can always take the old-fashioned approach and pay to download the movie, television show or song you want.