10 things they didn’t tell me about being married to an Israeli tour guide

An Israeli tour guide in action, explaining the history, archaeology, religion, politics, and everything else you were too shy to ask.

1. Dinnertime is an oxymoron. There is no set time for dinner because there is no set time for ending the work day, and tourists may need to be dropped off at the end of a tour as far away as Eilat. Dinner may be at 6, 7, 8, 9, or even 10.

2. Breakfast, too, has no set time. There are days that start at 5 if, for example, the guide has to get from Jerusalem to Haifa to meet a cruise ship.

3. Don’t expect to see the country on your spouse’s day off. After spending all week on a bus, sharing the hotel’s worst room with a chain-saw-snoring driver, your guide will want to enjoy the comforts of home.

4. Forget about your spouse surprising you with a weekend at a luxury hotel on your anniversary. There isn’t a hotel  in the country that your spouse can associate with celebrating.

5. Planning on having kids? Hire an au pair. Your spouse will meet them at their bar mitzvah.

6. Need to hop to the supermarket? Forget about driving your spouse’s car if it has a tourism emblem on it, which means that only a licensed guide may drive it. Or consider getting a guide’s license (it takes just two years).

7. Never make plans that involve your spouse. Jobs have a way of turning up at the last minute, even when you have tickets to the last performance ever of the Rolling Stones.

8. You may meet some nice people (they might even invite you to dinner), but you’ll also hear about the clients you didn’t meet, like the man who complained at the palace at Masada that he was shown only rocks and wanted to know where the furniture was.

9. Expect to have the income tax authorities breathing down your neck, forever. After all, all tour guides are liars. So are writers.

10. You and your spouse will have many, many reasons to travel abroad, and you may even get to be the guide. Go and enjoy.

Text and photo copyright 2010 by Esther Hecht. No part of the text or photo may be used without written permission of the author.


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5 Responses to “10 things they didn’t tell me about being married to an Israeli tour guide”

  1. Mitch Weinstock Says:


  2. do-be peled Says:

    you really opened my eyes. now i think i understand you a little better. do-be

  3. Mark McGreevey Says:

    In Israel there is so much history and so much at stake that the tourguides are licensed after two years’ study. Not so in USA, where anyone can get started by winging it and then broaden out with reading and exploring on his/her own.

    I agree that the hours are crazy. But set wages at a good family income level as in Israel? Forget it! That is the priviledge of your husband. \

    I wonder if you also work as a tourguide or what have you studied?

    I met an older tourguide here in San Francisco who wanted to be a guide. She was English and did not have the money to study as a young woman. She heard that in Israel the training was free if one became an Israeli. She figured, why not? And away she went, although she wasn’t Jewish, and got her “free” (well, someone paid) training, and then she moved to the USA.

    So there! That’s pretty neat, eh? Did your husband have to pay for his training or who subsidizes it? Does the money come from taxes?

    In USA you better cough up your own money to become one.


    • estherhecht Says:

      Dear Mr. McGreevey,
      Thank you for all your interesting comments.
      In answer to your questions: I have a license as an Israeli tour guide but I don’t work as a guide. I’m a journalist and travel writer.
      The tour guide course in Israel costs money. I don’t know under what arrangement the lady in question studied.
      Esther Hecht

  4. Mark McGreevey Says:

    By the way, it was by being “Israeli” that she was able to emigrate to USA!!!

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