Tourist Tip #197 / Passover Eve Travels

As the entire nation travels to their respective Passover seders, drivers beware: Like the Jews wandering in Egypt, you could find yourself stuck on the road for longer than intended.

Driving in Israel on Passover Eve can be an excruciatingly tedious experience, unless you actually like traffic jams.

On holidays one might think the whole country is on the move, though one may assume somebody's staying home to make that gefilte fish. This writer once spent six hours crawling north from Tel Aviv to Haifa in a van with three relatives and a cat, a journey that would normally take about an hour.

But it didn't. Tip No. 1 is to make sure you have enough gas in the car. Israel's roads have plenty of gas stations but if it's going to take hours to drive between them, forewarned is forearmed.

If you're traveling with kids, make sure to have entertainment in the car, preferably not books unless you find car-sickness entertaining. You might also want to provide snacks and drinks, though of course, making a pit-stop at short notice may be a problem.

You might want entertainment and food for yourself, too, though please note, driver, that under Israeli law you’re supposed to drive with both hands on the wheel unless actually using one of those hands to do something driver-y like turning on the blinker. Now you know. (You should also know that you aren't allowed to drink and drive here, either, so getting blind drunk isn't the answer to the tedium.)

What are your alternatives? Public transportation, especially by train, as buses will get caught in the same intercity traffic. But make sure to check the train and bus schedules before setting off. For instance, the earliest train from Malkha Station in Jerusalem to Tel Aviv was at 5:56 A.M. today – and the last one traveling that line sets off at 13:54, says Israel Railways. Miss that train and you've missed your boat.

As for going home by public transportation, there isn't any after the Seder feast; as on the Israeli weekend, there are no buses or trains from the holiday eve on Monday afternoon to Tuesday night.

To check Israel Railways scheduling: http://www.rail.co.il/EN/Pages/Homepage.aspx. You will need to know which station you intend to leave from, and which to reach.

To check Egged bus scheduling: http://www.egged.co.il/eng/

Reuters