- Do we need a passport or VISA? A visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days. The traveler must be in possession of a passport valid for 6 months beyond your stay and a round-trip or onward ticket.
- Should I have my passport renewed? Your passport must NOT expire within six months of your return from Israel. If your passport expires 6 months before the RETURN of your trip renew it.
- Do we need to be immunized? No. This isn’t a third world country.
- What kind of weather can we expect? The weather is much like So Cal – Galilee will be like LA; Jerusalem will be like Crestline and The Dead Sea / Masada will be like Palm Springs in early December. I suggest checking weather.com the week before for forecasts. Israel’s winter weather fluctuates. Some winters are mild, sunny, while some are severe, overcast. There’s often heavy rain. Temperatures range in the 50-60F (10-15C) in most places, but in the ’40sF (5C) in Jerusalem and the Galilee hills, where it can be very cold at night.
- What do we wear? Casual dress; No shorts and some areas require arms covered; There will be no formal evenings. I will be in jeans and a collared or T-shirt each day. Some venues require no exposed arms for ladies. Your best bet is “layering” your clothes starting the early morning with a light jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt.
- Do we need to have head covering? Some areas will require head covering that they will provide. Ladies, bring a scarf just to be safe and keep it in your bag.
- Can we take photographs? Yes. Most places will allow picture taking while some areas are “Holy Ground” and will not allow photos.
- What does the average day look like? Around 6.30 am Breakfast Buffet; 8:00 am Leave on buses; 5:00 – 6:00 Dinner Buffet; Some evenings we will have a time of worship and teaching after dinner, depending on the day’s itinerary.
- Will we be with the same people every day? Yes. Everyone is assigned a bus for the trip. You will be with these people every day throughout the trip. Your bus will have a tour guide. You will be in a room with the same person for the trip, unless you pay in advance for a single room.
- Is this a very structured, fast-paced tour? Yes, but there will be time for personal reflection and shopping at each site. Moderate walking is normal.
- What do I do if I take prescription drugs? Three key issues here: 1) Ask your doctor for a paper prescription sheet for EVERY drug you take. This is in case you would lose your medication while on the trip. 2) Take your prescriptions in their original bottles. This assures that when you need to refill them there will be no problem. It also removes any questions that might pop up about what kind of drugs you are carrying. 3) MOST IMPORTANT: NEVER put your drugs in your checked luggage. ALWAYS put your prescription drugs in your carry on and make sure they are with you at all times. This ensures that they aren’t removed in the screening process for whatever reason.
- Do they take American money and credit cards? Yes. It is suggested to bring nothing higher than $20 bills and lots of $1 bills! (Bring about $300-$400 total, including the $100 tip money you will give to Doc Smith to distribute for you, $100 for lunches, estimated, $50 for inexpensive souvenirs from street vendors, $50 for optional activities like shows, taxis, group photos, and $100 cushion of cash.) Don’t worry about exchanging dollars for shekels because everyone takes American currency giving change in Shekels.
- Will we stay in a few different hotels? Yes. We will spend three nights in Tiberius by the Sea of Galilee and then five nights in Jerusalem.
- What about the electric in Israel? The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets in Israel have three pin holes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs. Visitors who want to use shavers, traveling irons, and other small appliances may need both transformers and adaptor plugs. Consider this one from Amazon: Maxah MX-UC1 Surge Protector by MAXAH® http://amzn.to/2jbqzV7.
- Can I be baptized in the Jordan River? Yes. If it’s your first time or you’d like to be baptized again, Dr. Smith will baptize you!
- What about calling home? We HIGHLY recommend whatsapp.com. It’s a free app for your cell phone. Once installed, if your contacts have the app, calling and texting them is FREE!
- Meals – Lunches average at least $15 a day so for 7 days this equals $105 or rounded off to $100.
- What’s the food like? Israel has great food. You’ll generally have breakfast and dinner at the hotel which is part of your package price. Most of the hotels are kosher so there are dietary restrictions of no meat products in the morning or dairy products in the evening. But there’s such a vast variety and abundance of delicious foods at all the meals that it’s unlikely you’ll miss those items.
You will purchase your lunches at the restaurants the Tour Guide will take your group and there you may tip if you desire but in some cases it’s not necessary. Most people are probably familiar with Falafel which fried ground chickpeas served with salad in a pita.
Meat eaters will love shawarma which is meat sliced off a spit and served in pita (similar to gyros). Both are inexpensive, filling meals. Lots of other Mediterranean specialties like shishlik (shish kebab), baklava (sweetmeat made of dough, honey, and nuts) and moussaka (baked eggplant, minced meat, onion, and parsley) will stimulate your taste buds.
The Americanization of Israel also means you’ll find such familiar names as McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Holy Land Trip Tips and Tidbits
- Preparing for the Trip. The week before – get plenty of sleep. The flight is long (almost a day when you add the trip from California for most of us). Your internal clock will be messed up the first two-three days (sleeping when you are normally awake and vice-versa). You will need the sleep in advance to make up for this change. Dr. Smith brings Melatonin to sleep on the plane and the first couple of days.
- Pack lightly – the rule of thumb is this: “Lay out everything you want to take. Then, take half as much as you have laid out and take twice as much money as you planned.” I take a few pairs of slacks and shirts and then have the hotel do the laundry when we get to Jerusalem. Remember, you have to carry EVERYTHING you take with you for 10 days including SOUVENIRS! – to/from the plane to hotels to the coach.
- Meds – Also, if you are on medications, take your bottles with you and get a copy of your Rx from your doctor in case you lose your meds. NEVER PACK YOUR MEDICATIONS IN YOUR CHECKED BAGGAGE. ALWAYS HAVE THEM IN YOUR CARRY ON!
- Wallet – As we mentioned before, you should bring plenty of cash – you will be paying for your lunches and your souvenirs. (Some places will take Visa and MasterCard for larger purchases.) I own a “Passport wallet” which hangs around my neck and allows me to put my passport and money inside my clothing so that it is not accessible or visible. I highly recommend this!
- Credit Card use – We have discovered some credit card companies charge a “per-use” fee for use internationally. Please contact your company to discover what their policy is for use of your credit card in Israel.
- Water – While we cannot take water with us on the plane, our coach driver will have water bottles of water for sale. Having plenty of $1 bills available for this is a good idea. I highly recommend the Sawyer Water Filter Bottle. I will have mine with me. It removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium. Check it out on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2hSBAuf.
- Souvenirs – If you plan to purchase things in Israel you will want to bring a spare bag to return with. We usually make this a cloth bag that fits easily in our luggage on the way to Israel and transports our dirty laundry home, making room for the things we have purchased.
- Camera and batteries – Be sure your camera, phone, and anything else have all of the extra supplies. For your charger, pay attention to the electric information posted above for converters. Contact Journeys Unlimited to determine where to store your film (if you still use it) for safety in the screening process. Bring extra SD cards. You may be able to link to Wi-Fi to upload to the cloud.
- Postcards – While many take pictures (and we will take some group shots available for purchase in Jerusalem) one of the best ways to retrieve the sights we see is through the purchase of postcards. (They are the best shots by professionals!) Almost every stop includes a gift shop – and you will be able to purchase them there. Each stop has different cards, so another rule of thumb: If you see it – buy it! You may not see it again!
- Israel Information – while there, one of the things we most appreciated about touring was the specified booklets about each location found in the gift shops. These booklets for purchase are a wealth of information only found in this venue. We encourage you to get them when you see them! You may not ever see them at another stop!
- Gratuity for the coach driver and Israeli tour guide – Give this $100 tip mentioned on the flyer to your tour leader at the beginning of the trip. He will make sure it is properly distributed on your behalf.
Why go to Israel?
- Because of what it will do for your faith! While you ride across the Sea of Galilee and imagine the wind and the waves Jesus calmed, or you stand on Mount Carmel and sense the Prophet Elijah calling on God and fire falling from Heaven, or you walk the Via Dolorosa and realize the narrow streets Jesus stumbled in where everyone could either watch in horror or pray for him, or you rejoice in the Empty Tomb and celebrate His resurrection … these and so many other experiences await to energize your faith like never before!
- Because of how it will change your Bible reading forever! As you visit so many of the very places mentioned in the Bible, like the place where Jesus multiplied the fish and the loaves, or the place where He cast out the demons from the man and they ran off the cliff, or where Paul made his final defense to King Agrippa before his trip to Rome … you will be able to visualize these real places time and again after your return as you “walk again where Jesus walked” in your mind’s eye!
- Because of the places you will see and experience! On this tour we will be all over the Galilee where Jesus invested most of His life, visiting His childhood home in Nazareth along with seeing where Joseph and Mary’s homes were (They were caves, by the way), and we’ll walk through Jerusalem praying at the Temple wall, standing in the Kidron Valley and seeing the Eastern Gate where Jesus, Himself will enter one day to sit on the Throne of Israel. And, you’ll see so much more!
- Because of the commitments you’ll make! In Israel, with all the sights, sounds, people, and places, the Spirit of God works in us and through us in ways we’ve never experienced before. Our hearts are tender to the things of God and we sense His presence all around us opening us to following His will and ways all the more.
- Because of the hope you will leave Israel with! Everywhere in Israel we see life from the desert. God is blessing the people of Israel in abundant ways. As you sit in the square in the Old City of Jerusalem and realize David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, Jesus, Peter, Paul, John and so many other walked these stones, you breathe in their faith, their hope … because the Hope of the world is from this place, and He is coming back TO THIS PLACE! How can we not be filled with the hope of the resurrection by being here, in the Capital of the World!