ARRIVAL IN ISRAEL
At passport control you will receive a small printed piece of paper with your picture on it which will serve as your visa during your stay in Israel. Please keep this with your passport at all times while in the country. They may ask you your plans while in Israel and occasionally want to know which hotel you are staying at in Jerusalem. The hotel we will be staying at is The Holy Land Hotel. Here is a quote from Israeli Authority: “Dear passenger, as you know, a security check is one of the necessary procedures for departing passengers. This security check is conducted thoroughly and efficiently in order to ensure a safe flight for you and your fellow passengers. We ask for your understandings and patience, and apologize in advance for any inconvenience that this procedure may entail…” Please remember this the days we fly in and out. Sometimes it can be a very long and tedious procedure. When we arrive we will have a bus there to greet us and take us to Jerusalem!
Passports need to be easily accessible for all airport and hotel check-ins. Make sure that you have included your signature as called for. Please carry it with you, not packed in a suitcase. It is recommended that you make a photocopy of the statistical page of your passport and carry this with you in one of your bags in case your passport should become lost or stolen. Just so you are aware Passports on the ‘black market’ are worth thousands of dollars, so we will want to keep them in a very secure place. Our agency in Israel also needs a copy of our passports for security reasons.
There have been some incidents of pick pocketing and thefts in Israel and Egypt, especially in the Old City of Jerusalem. Remember to take proper precautions to protect wallets, passports, and cameras. There is no reason to be paranoid about this, just be wise and cautious, especially with your passport.
Tipping (as noted on our web-site & brochure) is not covered in the price of the tour. Tipping is more of a way of life in the countries we visit. It is customary and courteous for tourists to tip the Israeli, Jordanian, & Egyptian guide, bus driver, guard, hosts, hotel receptionists, hotel maids, bell hops and of course restaurant staff. The total tip amount for this group adds up to be on average around $15 per day or $210 for the entire trip. We normally distribute these tips as we leave a hotel or to the driver and guide on the last day we are with them. You will have the option of giving it to them as individuals or we can collect your tip money and govern the distribution of these tips throughout the Tour. We have found the latter to be the most convenient and comfortable. You can choose to add this to your final payment or give it to your director on the first day. (If you choose to have us distribute the tip money for you and bring it with you would you please bring it in $5, $10, and $20 bills—Thanks!).
The accommodations on this tour are 4 and 5 star hotels (mostly all 5 star), but remember that we are in developing countries, not America.
Breakfast and dinner are provided for you in the price of the tour. You will buy lunches for yourselves as we will be out and about. Time will be provided for lunch, as breakfast and dinner are the main meals. On days you purchase lunch for yourself you can expect the price to be comparable to eating at fast food restaurant ($8 to $12 per person). There are a few days where our only choices are restaurants that are comparable to an average priced restaurant in the U.S. ($12 to $18 per person). This will be the case for our lunch near Masada as well as in Petra. We will try to communicate to you in advance when these occur. Drinks are provided at breakfast but are not typically included with lunches and dinners. Individuals will be charged individually for drinks consumed during provided lunches and dinners. It’s also not a bad idea to bring granola bars etc for snacks during the bus drives and while in Egypt.
ITEMS TO BRING
Please bring your scriptures and a hymnal for our on-site teaching and devotionals. We will use them daily! We recommend you bring the scriptures you use the most at home (physical or digital) because we like to write dates and notes in our scriptures as we visit the different sites. If you are concerned about carting around your heavy scriptures, you could use a lighter version or digitals and then transfer your notes when you get home. This is entirely up to your personal preference, but we recommend if possible the ones you use most at home. For most touring days wearing shorts and t-shirts will be fine and appropriate. There are some sacred sites where long shorts and modest shirts will be required (any and all mosques – our second day in Jerusalem and in Cairo). We will battle the heat on most days; however, on Mount Sinai it is windy and cool until the sun rises. Therefore, bring some protection like sweatshirts or a jacket for that event. Bring a swimming suit and towel for possible swimming in the Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, Red Sea, or at some of our hotels. (Watersocks or some form of water sandals are also helpful for these places). For those going through Hezekiah’s tunnel, an extra pair of old shoes (or watersocks) is suggested, as you will be walking through water. (A flashlight or headlamp will also be needed here). It can also be helpful to have a small backpack for when we climb Mount Sinai.
While in Jerusalem we will have the opportunity to attend the Jerusalem Branch for our Church service in the BYU Jerusalem Center. For men we recommend a white shirt and tie with some tan or khaki pants that can also worn on other travel days. For women we recommend a skirt that can also be worn on normal touring days. Many have found skirts to be the preferred attire for travel in these countries and the warm climate. They are very comfortable and keep you cool. We also recommend for both men and women that you wear your normal touring shoes to Church that day instead of packing a special pair of Church shoes. We will do a lot of walking following the Church service and plus the fashion police will not be on patrol that day. 🙂
LAUNDRY IN ISRAEL & EGYPT
Most laundry opportunities on this trip are those that offer the service of pick-up and delivery to the hotel. These are convenient, yet a little pricey. While at our hotel in the Galilee area we will have access to a guest laundry facility at the hotel. You may want to plan on bringing some Woolite and doing the essentials (underwear & socks – and maybe a shirt or two) in the sink of your hotel room. If it was all convenience then it wouldn’t be an adventure…right?
US Dollars are accepted and loved at virtually every tourist shop in Israel, Jordan, & Egypt and most of the time you can get your best deals in dollars. However, local currency is nice to have for lunch and other non-tourist item purchases. It is suggested that you carry both. On our first day in Jerusalem one of the first things we will do together is visit a local money changer to exchange some dollars into shekels (Israeli currency). Occasionally personal checks can be used in Jerusalem. Credit cards are good to have as back up and to use for large souvenir purchases. There are ATM machines available throughout that will give you local currency. Most shops that will accept credit cards as well as personal checks and they will also ship larger items to your home. We strongly recommend that you bring some $1 bills as well as some $5’s, $10’s, and $20’s as well. You will be surprised how far $1 bills will stretch and how many things cost you just “One Dallah”. We recommend you carry around $30 to $50 in $1’s.
We like to begin each day of our Tour with a short devotional. It is not a tremendous deal, but just a little something to begin our day and invite the Spirit to be with us. Normally our devotionals consist of a Hymn, short spiritual message, and a prayer. We would like to give everyone on the Tour an opportunity to plan and prepare a devotional. We purposefully wait until a few days before the tour to give these assignments because we do NOT want you to make elaborate preparations. Devotionals should only last about 10 to 15 minutes. We will be sending out a proposed Devotional schedule a few days before departure. We hope each of you will be willing to participate in this way. Most of the time we will do them in our hotel before we depart for our sightseeing, but some of them will be done on the bus, on the roof of our hotel, on the beach of the Sea of Galilee, etc. If any of you are not comfortable with this please let us know and we will make other arrangements. Thanks!
CELL PHONES, COMPUTERS, ELECTRICITY, ETC
In order to charge your electronic devices (cell phone, computer, hair dryer, etc) you will need a power converter for Israel (They use the round two prong plugs also used in Europe). Jordan is a large 3 prong converter and in Egypt you need the small 2 prong converter as in Israel. Please avoid bringing hair dryers. They do not do well and virtually all of our hotels will have one in your room. You are welcome to bring your laptop on this tour if you would like. Most of our hotels will have wireless internet available (some of them for a price). Your computer will be safe to leave on our bus and at our hotels.
COMMUNICATING WITH HOME
There are several options for keeping in touch with your loved ones during this Tour. Most phone providers have an international option where you can call and text while in country for an extra fee. If you have T-mobile you get 2g in each country and can text and email in every country we visit. Another option is to rent a phone while in Israel (Email us for details). Virtually every hotel hotel will have wireless internet services (except in the Sinai).
GATORADE or ELECTROLYTE POWER
It is a good idea to bring some Gatorade or some other form of electrolyte substance in a powder form. In case you come down with any illness during the Tour it is nice to be able to get some nourishment that you can add to a water bottle. They don’t sell these things in Israel, Jordan, or Egypt. It can also be helpful to have a few granola bars and fruit snacks as well for the same reasons.
It is very important that each participant be sensitive to other tour members. Therefore, plan to be on time for each departure and event and rotate your position on the bus. Also be sensitive to the local population by not saying or doing things that offend them. This includes not picking up archaeological items at the sites.
ARRIVING / DEPARTING ISRAEL
This will apply as we depart the country but also as we arrive back into Israel from our day in Petra, Jordan. Here again is the quote from Israeli Authority: “Dear passenger, as you know, a security check is one of the necessary procedures for arriving and departing passengers. This security check is conducted thoroughly and efficiently in order to ensure a safe flight for you and your fellow passengers. We ask for your understandings and patience, and apologize in advance for any inconvenience that this procedure may entail…” Please remember this the days we fly in and out. It is a very long and tedious procedure.
TOUR BOOKLET AND DETAILS
When we meet on the first day of the tour, we will distribute a tour booklet. This includes the tour details for every day and gives some daily insights into the sites we will be visiting. Please take the time to review this material before we go to the sites. We will be giving additional information and lecture material to you as we are at the sites and in the booklet there are areas for you to journal or take notes at that time. Please do some research on your own before the tour departs so that you are familiar with the sites in order to appreciate them when you are actually there. We will send you a Study Guide several weeks prior to the Tour to assist in this.
SPIRITUAL AND MENTAL PREPARATION
In his book called Everyone Steals from God, author Edward Fischer makes this observation:
“When someone stops growing, his likes and dislikes freeze. At fifty he likes the same books he liked at twenty, the same films, and same television shows. As for the interior finishing of mind and spirit, he never puts anything aside and never adds anything new… If you want to witness this attitude at it’s most dramatic, travel abroad and watch the tourists. Several million of them get up enough nerve each year to leave home in body, but the landscape of their minds never alters. They are annoyed with anything unfamiliar, be it a brand of coffee [we haven’t had a lot of problems with this!!], the plumbing, or cultural patterns. They want the whole universe paved just like the streets they live on. They walk through castles and museums and cathedrals and are bored. If they were aware of their sagging spirits as they are or their aching feet, it would be a hopeful sign. The sense of awe is dried up in them and they seldom show wonder, unless you want to count the many times a day they say, “I wonder how far away the bus is parked?”Edward Fischer, Everyone steals from God, London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977, pp.122-123
Spiritual preparation can make a great deal of difference in what an individual receives from his or her tour of the Holy Land. When President Harold B. Lee visited there he said, “We pray that the Lord… would make us keenly sensitive to the spiritual feeling… we walked on sacred ground and felt influence of the greatest person who ever lived upon the earth, Jesus Christ.” (Harold B. Lee, “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked”, April 1972, Ensign).
Elder Joe J. Christensen, former president of Ricks College and quorum of the seventy, said it well: “You cannot expect to find Christ in the Holy Land unless you take him there with you”.