Tour Information Packet

What makes a great Israel tour? An open heart and open mind to God’s blessings! If well-prepared, you will come home having not simply visited Israel, but EXPERIENCED ISRAEL! We will take you places other tours don’t go, and we will customize opportunities that will cause you to return home filled to the brim with joy and excitement as your Bible goes from words on a page to experiences in your heart and mind. You will never read your Bible the same!

All great tours also include important information to prepare you for the ultimate experience. This is where you come for that information! If you have a question between now and our tour launch, it is likely answered here. If not, be sure to contact your trip leader.

Our tour lasts 13 glorious days, but the journey lasts a lifetime!

What about flights and airfare?

  • For those flying with the group from Phoenix:
    • We reserve a block of seats which locks in your price!
    • Cost of airfare is found on our EXPERIENCE ISRAEL Tour Page, and your tour leader will coordinate actual booking and payment at the appropriate time.
  • For those joining us from other places:
    • You may meet us in Phoenix if you wish to fly with the group. (Details worked out after registration.)
    • Otherwise, you will meet us in Tel Aviv. If assistance is needed, we are happy to help you book flights.
    • In order to catch our shuttle from the airport to the hotel, inbound flights to Tel Aviv must arrive prior to the group arrival.
    • Though our trips fill, we recommend not booking your flight until the tour is confirmed. (Minimum of 20.) We will keep you posted on details as they occur.

What do I need in order to travel to Israel?

Is it dangerous to travel to/in Israel?

  • The two most dangerous things when you go to Israel:
    • Getting to your hometown airport to fly out.
    • Overeating!
  • Israel’s crime rate is low.
  • Jews, Arabs, Palestinians and others in Israel have vested interest in keeping tourists safe…we are their bread and butter!
  • You will see IDF soldiers and police everywhere, typically with automatic weapons slung over their shoulders.  They protect the safety of everyone and are quick to respond to situations.
  • Palestinian-controlled areas are a different story, so please do not set out on your own private excursion!

What is the weather like in Israel?

  • Weather varies considerably by location and can fluctuate. Thus, it is best to dress in layers.
  • Specific weather forecasts are provided as the time draws near to our travel dates.  Meanwhile, here are averages:

How should I dress?

  • Jewish and Islamic cultures demand modesty of men and women.
    • Women: Avoid shorts, sleeveless or low-cut tops or tight-fitting clothes.
    • Men: You will need a head covering for Jewish holy sites. (Hat or kippah.)
  • Dress casual.  Jeans/pants are appropriate for both men and women. 
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
    • Pro Tip: Break them in before the trip.
  • Avoid expensive jewelry and watches.  We suggest not bringing valuables that have no practical purpose.
  • We will attend a Messianic worship service and dress is very much like we are accustomed to at many churches in the US.  Casual (though modest) is acceptable, but you may dress up if you wish.

What about etiquette with the group and with locals?

  • Stay with the group!  If you get left, you are solely responsible for catching up with the group, and a taxi ride across Israel could get expensive!
  • Follow instructions precisely.  There is a reason for every instruction given, so please avoid creating problems for the group by failing to follow them.
  • Respect locals.  We are guests in their land, so greet them with a smile and a “shalom,” and treat them kindly!  If someone does something kind to you, say “Todah!”  (Thank you!)
  • Be on time!  For example, if the bus is scheduled to leave at 8:00, show up in time to get on, get seated and be out of the way of others.  Tardiness wastes time for everyone, so avoid being “that person!”
  • This is a great adventure for us all.  If there is a legitimate issue that needs to be resolved, please address it with Kym Varner or John Kelley.
    • Pro Tip:  If it is not a legitimate complaint, don’t express it to anyone! LOL!

Will we be able to communicate with locals?

  • Most Israelis are either fluent or are able to communicate to some degree in English.  It is a friendly culture and most Israelis are helpful.  Don’t hesitate to engage in conversation.
  • Here are a few common Hebrew words you may want to know:
    • “Shalom” = hello, good-bye, peace to you.
      • Pro Tip: If in doubt, say “Shalom!”
    • “Todah” = thank you.  This is a good word to use often!
    • “Tov” = good
    • “Ken” = yes
    • “Lo” = no
    • “Boker tov” = good morning.  Greet our guide and bus driver this way each morning!
    • “Erev tov” = good evening.  Appropriate to say at the end of the tour day.
    • “Lyla tov” = good night 
    • “Yisrael” = Israel
    • “Yalla” = hurry up!  You will hear guides say this to their groups.  Make sure they are not saying it to you!
  • If you somehow find yourself apart from the group and in need of assistance, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
    • Pro Tip: Contact info can be found on your tour badge!          
  • When you hear two or more Israelis conversing, it may sound like an argument.  Typically, it is not!  Many speak very straight-forwardly and are opinionated, thus sounding argumentative at times.
    • Pro Tip: Think New Yorkers!

How should I prepare for the trip?

  • On some days, we will do lots of walking.  If you are not currently active most of the day, start walking now!  No need to train for a marathon, but do create a routine of exercise.  We want you to be able to enjoy every bit of the tour.
  • In most places, the bus will drop us off close to the site we wish to see.  However, places like Masada and navigating through the Old City require extensive walking.
  • Obtain a written copy of your prescriptions in case you lose your meds.  If you wear glasses, you may want to bring a back-up pair.
    • Pro Tip: Pack essential meds in your carry-on, rather than in your checked bag. 
  • Make two copies of the information page of your passport.  Leave one at home with a trusted person, and pack the other (separate from your passport) to aid in replacing your passport if it is lost.  We will also keep a copy on file during the tour.
    • Pro Tip:  No one plans to lose their passport, so don’t overlook this thinking, “It can’t happen to me!”  Better to be prepared and not need it than stuck in a foreign country wishing you had a copy!
  • If you plan to use your cell phone in Israel, be sure to check costs and coverage options with your provider.  You don’t want surprises on your next cell phone bill!
  • Learn as much as you can about Israel between now and the tour.  Acquaint yourself with a map of Israel.  As our departure draws near, we will provide helpful information to whet your appetite for what we will see and experience!

Do I need to exchange American dollars for Israeli shekels?

  • It’s up to you!  Almost all places in Israel take American dollars…and like them!  However, you will get change in shekels, and merchants will always “round up” when calculating cost. (ie – you will get slightly short changed!)
  • The best place to exchange currency is at the airport.  However, ATM’s are available everywhere, so you will be able to exchange easily (for a fee!)
    • Pro Tip: Download a currency conversion app to remain abreast of the conversion rate.
  • Most places in Israel take Visa and MasterCard, though it is not recommended except at places with modern credit card security systems.
    • Pro Tip: There will be conversion fees, so check with your credit card company for details.
  • Do not use debit cards.  Credit cards are a safer option.
    • Pro Tip: Travelers checks are not recommended.  It can be difficult to cash them, and there is always a fee.

How much money do I need for essentials?

  • Almost all tour costs are covered, including tips, entrance fees, and all breakfasts and dinners.  You will be responsible for lunches, which can vary widely (~$8-20, depending upon your tastes).
    • Pro Tip: Jerusalem has lots of food stands with great food!
  • Water and coffee are included with meals.  Soft drinks and other beverages are available for additional charge.
  • Take a supply of $1 bills, which are good for street merchants and bottled water on the bus.
  • We do not schedule “shopping” stops! However, there will be plenty of souvenir shops and shopping opportunities at sites in which we stop!
  • Remember: whatever you buy, you have to bring home!  Pack lightly if you plan to return home with lots of souvenirs and mementos.
    • Pro Tip: Just about anything you want to purchase in Israel can be purchased via the internet!

Are there luggage restrictions?

  • Please limit luggage to one large suitcase and one carry-on.  Airlines will charge fees for additional bags, and doubling as a pack mule will suck the enjoyment out of your trip!
  • Airlines also have weight limitations (usually 40 lbs), so plan wisely.
  • Purses do not count as carry-ons, but keep it small!

What should I consider bringing, other than clothing and personal items?

  • Bible, notebook and pen (or small tablet)
  • Camera (your phone will do unless you’re a professional!)
  • Waterproof jacket/coat
  • Round mailing tube that fits in your suitcase (for posters or other small items)
  • Comfortable, broken-in shoes
  • A few Zip-lock bags
  • Modest swimsuit
  • Inflatable neck pillow
  • Electricity converter/adapter
  • Small day bag
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen
  • Meds (Rx or OTC)
  • Tissues
  • Passport carrier/money belt

What is the food like in Israel?

  • Incredible!
  • Breakfast and dinner will be served buffet-style each morning/evening at the hotels.
  • Meals will be “kosher,” which means no mixing of meat and dairy and no Biblically “unclean” food.
    • Pro Tip:  Don’t ask for bacon!
    • Breakfasts are “dairy” buffets often containing yogurt, eggs, cheeses, breads, hummus, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, fish, cereal, etc (No meat.)
    • Lunches vary according to where we are that day.  Food stands often have excellent food, and other restaurants will have choices you will recognize.  (There are even a few fast food places in Israel, but who wants to go to Israel and eat “kosher” McDonald’s!)
    • Dinners are buffets with plenty of meat choices, but no dairy.
      • Pro Tip: At dinner, avoid asking for a glass of milk or butter for your bread, as mixing meat and dairy is not kosher. Asking for them at breakfast (when there is no meat) is okay!

How to Have an Enjoyable Tour:

  • Israelis take security very seriously!  DO NOT joke about weapons or explosives anywhere…unless you would like to spend time visiting Israeli detention centers!
  • We will encounter street merchants (mostly Palestinian).  Some are polite, some are aggressive (though not dangerous).  When the tour guide or teacher is talking, tell vendors (locals selling their wares) that you are not interested.
    • Pro Tip: “No” in Hebrew is “Lo,” and is understood by Arabs/Palestinians as well.
  • Avoid hand gestures such as thumbs up/down, and pointing toward a person.  Hand gestures mean different things in different countries, so just be cautious.
  • If there is a problem on the bus or in the hotel, please don’t complain to anyone.  Go to Kym Varner or John Kelley and we will do what is necessary to resolve the issue. 
  • If you simply want to complain, journal it, or better yet just….don’t!  We want this to be a “trip of a lifetime,” and complaining tends to dampen the spirit for everyone.
  • We have an itinerary, but changes may occur for a variety of reasons (some outside our control).
    • Pro Tip: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.”
  • Tips are covered, so just relax and enjoy the services of our guide, bus driver, and hotel staff.
  • DO NOT leave with anyone outside our group.  Also, do not accept any parcel, package or item from anyone you do not know.  This is for your protection.  Israel is a safe place, but even safe places have a few weird characters.
  • There are dozens of choices at breakfast and dinner.  However, if you don’t like the food or the way it is prepared, please avoid complaining.  There is plenty to eat, so select something different, and allow your Christian witness to shine. (I promise….you won’t starve!)
  • Shopkeepers in the markets can be very aggressive.  Kindly refuse to follow someone to their shop where they insist you will be given the best deal in the world!
    • Pro Tip: If they place something in your hand, you likely just bought the item!
  • The markets are fun to see, and negotiating is the name of the game there.  But keep in mind, they do this every day for a living.  Watch out for buyer’s remorse!
    • Pro Tip: If they offer you the bargain of the day, it will also be there tomorrow!
  • Avoid giving candy or money to kids unless you want to be mobbed!  Street kids (even young ones) are very streetwise!
  • Beware of pick-pockets, particularly in crowded areas of Jerusalem.  It is wise for men and women alike to carry money in an inside pocket or money pouch, and avoid taking out wads of cash in front of vendors.  Be discreet.
  • Don’t expect things to be like they are at home!  Part of the purpose of visiting other places is to experience different things.  Enjoy the culture, embrace the differences and go home with great appreciation for both their culture and ours.
  • Did I mention don’t whine or complain…..?  We’re having fun here!
  • Keep your passport with you always.  Never separate from it, as a missing passport will almost assuredly create problems!
  • On Temple Mount, Muslims do not allow any public displays of affection.
    • Pro Tip: Please avoid holding hands with your spouse.
  • Practice good manners with locals and with each other:
    • Do not be rude
    • Wait patiently
    • Share the window seats
    • Don’t be pushy
  • If you are sending cards back home, make pre-addressed stickers to put on postcards.