Planning a relaxing vacation – whether for the whole family or for one – can be more difficult for religiously observant Jews due to the need or desire to stick to a kosher lifestyle. From maintaining a kosher diet to making sure that you are staying within convenient distance of active synagogues, there are a lot more factors to consider when plotting out a kosher vacation.
The good news is that several vacation or travel agent services have sprung up specializing in kosher vacations. Leisure Time Tours, for instance, is a program that helps Jews plan luxurious kosher vacations for Passover each year. The program, which has been active for 55 years, offers getaways to numerous beautiful and exotic locales, including Boca Raton and Palm Beach, Florida; Fiuggi and Forte Dei Marmi, Italy; and Westchester, New York.
Other similar programs exist to assist with the planning of kosher vacations, including Totally Jewish Travel, VIP Kosher Vacations, and more. However, Leisure Time Tours was the first service to introduce and offer Kosher Passover vacation programs and is still the best place to look if you are interested a more pre-planned type of vacation experience.
For those more interested in blazing their own trails and designing their kosher vacation experiences from scratch, the planning process will be more difficult, but not impossible. Here are a few factors to consider if you do decide to go the “plan from scratch” route:
The Flight: If there is one part of your vacation you might forget to plan for, it’s probably the flight to your destination. Shorter flights don’t present much challenge to the kosher lifestyle, but longer flights – particularly overseas flights – will require some extra planning and foresight. Call the airline beforehand and ask if they will have kosher snacks or meals available to passengers. If the answer is no, you will either need to opt for a different airline or pack some snacks and a small meal for the trip.
The Hotel: While you might opt to dine out while you are on vacation, it’s still a good idea to search for a hotel with a kosher-friendly restaurant on-site. That way, if you can’t locate any kosher-friendly restaurants nearby, at least there is an option available to you. To start, to a Google search with the keyword “kosher hotel,” followed by your location destination. Some hotels may advertise on their websites that they have a kosher-friendly restaurant, room service, or continental breakfast. Other hotels won’t have that information on their sites, but you will be able to find it out based on comments from other kosher vacationers on review sites including TripAdvisor.com or Oyster.com.
If you can’t find the information you are looking for, start calling around to hotels in your destination area to ask the concierge directly. Be prepared, though, that the people you speak to may not necessarily be aware of the rules of kosher lifestyle and might not have any idea whether or not their restaurant menus meet the requirements, say, for kosher meat preparation.
The Synagogue: Making sure that you can continue your worship habits on your vacation is one of the most important factors to consider while planning a kosher vacation. Use Google Maps to find a synagogue in the vicinity of where you will be vacationing, and then use that location to find nearby hotels. One of the benefits of pre-packaged kosher vacations like those offered through Leisure Time Tours is that, usually, the hotels or resorts are situated within walking distance of active synagogues.
Restaurants and Markets: Once again, Google is your best friend here. Do a search for your destination with the keywords “kosher restaurants” or “kosher grocery stores.” Ideally, you’ll find a site like this one for Boca Raton, which comprehensively covers the kosher establishments in the area. Other times, you might have to dig around a bit on Yelp to find the kind of markets or dining spots you require. Usually, though, the internet will offer the resources you need.
Everyone deserves to have a relaxing vacation every once in awhile, be it a getaway from work or a chance to visit family or friends. You don’t have to miss out on that escapist opportunity just because you have a commitment to staying kosher. By doing a bit of research and taking advantage of online resources, you can plan the perfect kosher vacation for yourself and your family.