israelaptWhen we started planning our recent trip to Israel, we thought about all of our accommodation requirements and needs.  Since we were visiting family and friends in Israel, we wanted a different experience.  We wanted to live like locals and really immerse ourselves in the culture, rather than be outsiders looking in.Often, that’s how I feel when I stay at a hotel.  You are truly a visitor in a city.  As you pass though the lobby with bell hops and desk attendants at your beck and call, you are constantly reminded. 

We had a town in mind.  My brother-in-law lives in Raanana.  It’s known as the city in Israel where all the Anglos settle, and the majority of its residents are English-speaking, deriving primarily from South Africa, England, Canada, and America.  It’s a lovely town, just 20 minutes from Tel Aviv.  It has a great downtown high street, gorgeous parks, gardens and cultural programs.  It’s full of good restaurants. 

So, we turned to the web to find a place to stay in Israel for a week.  We started contacting various Israeli lodging sites like Janglo.net but most of the offerings required a visit of two weeks to one month.  We also checked Craig’s List, but I was afraid that some of the postings were not legitimate.  When we stumbled upon holiday-raanana, we were relieved.  There were short-term listings starting at $100 a night.  Alicia Bernstein, the broker I dealt with on the phone and via email, was very helpful. She listened to our needs and helped us find an apartment in the price range that we wanted.

Quite often, when you book a property on the Internet, it doesn’t look quite as good when you get there.  Thankfully, ours did.  We had a lovely patio in the front and a lovely, spacious apartment complete with cable, WIFI, a washer and dryer and plenty of room for the kids to run around.  The furniture was in good shape and the owners had been taking care of the place.  It was in good knick, as my husband would say, and almost looked like my own home.

We all felt right at home.  As soon as we got there, my son unpacked his bag and organized his things in his room he was set to share with his sister.  This actually enticed her to unpack also, a rarity for this little girl who usually takes forever to clean up or unpack.  There was a park right across the street and a set of food shops down the road for us to walk to. 

Israel is really safe, and I knew that my kids would be able to leave the flat on their own.  Coming from New York, at first they wouldn’t dream of it.  But it was only a matter of days before they were running out the door to go to the park alone.  It was truly home away from home.  But this was a good thing.  We were all comfortable and at ease.  The kids were so tired by the end of the day that they were able to crash in the same bed together, which they’re not capable of doing at home. 

When you are traveling to a city and plan to be stay for a week or more, do think about renting an apartment.  There are many web sites that cater to this particular need: Property Abroad, Transitions Abroad and many, many others depending on where you are going.  Do your homework.  Call many web sites, many places, get quotes, get a vibe from the broker.  Compare prices.  If you know someone who lives in the destination you are aiming to go to, have them take a look at the property before you book it.  But do remember, it’s really important to go with your instinct.  Fortunately, we did and had a great experience.