Get Your Jewish Bearings
It’s wise to have the contact information of the local Chabad centerWhether or not you’ll be staying in an environment with a Jewish/religious infrastructure – such as a hotel resort complete with seders and prayer services, or religious Uncle Benny’s house – it would be wise to have the contact information of the local Chabad center.. Depending on your needs, you might want to join them at a communal seder , find out prayer service times, or simply have the number at hand in case a Jewish need arrives (“I just must have a kosher for Passover chocolate bar—where can I get one?” “Where’s the local mikvah?”).
Do Your Research
It is vital to ensure that the foods you will be eating during the course of Passover are 100% kosher for Passover, certified so by a reliable rabbinical agency.
If you are staying at family or friends, speak to them in advance and be clear about your standards—a classic case of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If you will be spending the holiday in a hotel, find out which rabbi or kosher supervision agency is providing kosher certification. If you are uncertain whether the rabbi or agency is reliable, have your local rabbi make inquiries for you.
Your host or caterer will probably provide Passover matzah. The optimal way, however, to fulfill the mitzvah at the seders is with special handmade shmurah matzah. If they won’t be serving this matzah at your seder, bring some along from home.
Search for Chametz
If you are a paying guest at your destination, e.g. you are staying in a hotel, then you are required to perform the traditional search for chametz in the room(s) that you lease. If you are a non-paying guest, then you are covered by the homeowner’s search. If you wish, however, you can “lease” the room where you will stay, by giving the owner a symbolic dollar or two, and as its owner, you can now do the search in that room. This leasing must be done before sunset of the night of the search.
With regards to the chametz back at your home:
A paying guest is required to search for chametz in the room(s) that he leasesIf you will be returning to your home before Passover’s end, then you must clean your home and make it chametz-free, and do the search for chametz the night before you leave your home. If this is before the conventional time for the search – the night before Passover, or, if the first day of Passover falls on Sunday, the Thursday night beforehand – the search is conducted without reciting the blessing.
If you will be away from your home for all of Passover, you presumably won’t want to do Passover cleaning – in all probability, avoiding that chore is one of the reasons why you are leaving in the first place… – instead, you will sell all your chametz through your rabbi, and do not need to conduct the chametz search in your home. You will suffice with the search you will conduct in your Passover accommodations.
The Israel/Diaspora Divide
In the Land of Israel, Passover is observed as biblically prescribed: one day of holiday, followed by five days of Chol Hamoed (semi-festive “intermediate” days), followed by one last day of holiday. In the Diaspora, we observe two days of holiday, followed by four days of Chol Hamoed, followed by another two days of holiday. (See Why are holidays celebrated an extra day in the Diaspora?)
The question is, what is the rule for an Israeli visiting the Diaspora for a holiday, or vice versa. This is a complex question, with variables involved, as well as different opinions amongst halachic authorities. Consult with your rabbi if you are planning such a trip.
Crossing the International Date Line
It is advisable not to cross the International Date Line between the second day of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot seven weeks later, as this can have an impact on the traveler’s counting of the omer and the date when he or she celebrates Shavuot. It is always possible to travel to the same destination using a longer route—for example, if traveling from the U.S. to Australia, this means taking an eastward route instead of the standard westerly one.
It is advisable not to cross the International Date Line between Passover and Shavuot If crossing the date line is absolutely necessary, or if you have already done so, consult with your rabbi as to the steps you should take.
The reason, in brief: The Torah does not ascribe a specific date to the holiday of Shavuot. Instead, each individual is required to count 49 days from the second day of Passover, and the fiftieth day is Shavuot. Or, even if one has been negligent in counting, Shavuot is observed when 49 days have elapsed since the second day of Passover. One who crosses the date line gains or loses a day. Gains, if traveling eastward; loses, if traveling westward. This causes the traveler’s omer count to differ from the local one, and consequently leads to Shavuot being a day earlier or later than locally observed.