Qatar Airways Plane 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
According to figures compiled by Israeli travel company Issta, which specializes
in the youth and student market, a third of Israeli backpackers use Arab
airlines when flying to their post-army trips to the Far East, South America,
Africa and Oceania.
Every year some 40,000 young people embark on the
long-term trips, which have become something of a right of passage for many
Israelis upon completing their military service.
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October and November are
the months when the largest number of young travelers pack their backpacks, lace
their hiking boots and head off for exotic destinations, due to both the army’s
discharge cycles and the favorable travel weather in the destination
According to Ronen Karso, Issta’s deputy director in charge of
marketing, the average backpacker is aged 20-24 and his or her trips range from
four months to a year.
Roughly 60 percent of Israeli backpackers fly to
the Far East, 30% to Central and South America and 10% to Australia, New Zealand
and Africa. Karso said that for many the post-discharge trip is a once-ina-
lifetime opportunity that they spend several months preparing for, saving money
and plotting out their travel route.
According to Karso, those who manage
to save more money tend to travel to South America, where travel expenses are
Cost is also the main reason that the backpackers choose to fly
with Arab airlines, which, Karso said, are generally 30% cheaper than European
or Israeli carriers.
A majority of those who fly with Arab airlines fly
with Royal Jordanian Airlines, while others fly with Qatar Airways via Doha and
Ehitad Airways via Abu Dhabi.
Karso said that following the assassination
of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last year, Israelis stopped flying with Emirate
The average trip to South America begins in Argentina, Chile or
Peru and continues on to Bolivia and Colombia, with the aim of reaching Brazil
by February in time for the annual carnival. After Brazil the travelers usually
continue to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico. Others prefer to begin their trip
in the United States, where they work and save money for a few months before
A typical trip to the Far East includes travel through
Thailand, Nepal and India, with the more adventurous electing to go to countries
like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Many young people begin their trip working for
a while in Australia and New Zealand and then embark on their oriental
adventure. Others go to Japan first, to earn money for the trip.
most popular backpacking destinations according to Issta are: Thailand, India,
Brazil, Nepal, Peru, Mexico, Australia, China, Cuba and Argentina.