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  • Writer's pictureJodi Samuels

Kosher Travel, Budget-Style

Updated: Mar 12, 2021


always dreamed of traveling. When I was in high school I wanted to go on a trip to Israel organized by my youth group. My parents could not afford such luxuries, so at age 14 I got a job at a supermarket and paid for the entire trip myself. I have now been to almost 70 countries, and the more I see the more I want to explore the world.

It seems that I have passed this travel bug on to my kids. Meron is 10 and he counts the States (32) and countries (17) that he has traveled to. Recently I saw him looking up all the oceans and seas, counting how many he has swum in.

I am writing this blog while trying to pass time, as we have been sitting at a bus station in Turkey for almost 3 hours waiting and waiting for our third 12-hour overnight bus in seven days. We have been all over Turkey. We love traveling and the only way we can afford to do so much travel as a family is budget style. It makes for some tough, rugged travel but we love it. Gavin’s analogy is a little boy who loves cherry pie but someone forgot to remove the cherry pits. You can either have a small piece of pie without a lot pits or a large piece of cherry pie with pits. We would rather have a big piece of pie with pits.

I love the fact that my kids travel and experience the world. They see the world and constantly question and learn. Every time they ask a question prompted by experiences or places we are seeing, I simply Google and share the answer. I am so envious – when I was kid, when I asked a question I had to go home and look it up in World Book Encyclopedia. We all learn so much through questioning and researching the answers.

Our biggest challenge is kosher food. We schlep it all – and it’s hard to eat crackers and peanut butter when the local food looks and smells so good and is often cheaper than the bottle of peanut butter from the US. There is however no surer way to drive home the message to our kids of our Jewish identity than the constant reminder about food!

As Turkey is not exactly the most Israel friendly country we have hidden our Jewish identity. The boys have worn caps. On Shabbat we needed help to get onto the room as the doors require an electronic key. Gavin was not sure how we would explain our dilemma. As soon as he asked the guy at the front desk for help he said “Are you guys Jewish?” and was very happy to help. Even in small town Turkey they know about Orthodox Jews.

We experience a country in depth. By going on public transport you see the locals, you see kids sleeping on the floor at their parents’ feet, you are in a world where no-one speaks English. This is also the world of cherry pies with pits…. The bus is frankly just not comfortable. Who would fly three times in one week to Israel? Yet we did three eleven hour overnight buses, without the luxury of a toilet or meals served. Then you arrive at your destination sweaty and tired and continue touring as though we had a restful night. I guess the kids learn one word: ADAPTABILITY.

I don’t think many (if any) of our friends could do this style of travel. Most of you are probably horrified and wondering why we subject ourselves to this, especially with 3 kids and the challenge of kosher food. There is actually just one family that I can think of who could join us on this kind of adventure travel – the same people who call us up in 25 degrees F and ask us to go with them for a snow BBQ at Bear Mountain.

The proof that we are hardy and eager for the next trip can be determined from our family agreed and approved top 10 places to go next: India, Russia, Vietnam, Cuba, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Uganda, Tunisia, Chile, Iceland, Norway.

Anyone joining us?

Originally published: August 22, 2012

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