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 ISRAEL - THE PROMISED LAND, 
IF NOT NOW, WHEN?

 
by David Nyce, President of Pilgrim Tours
I was sitting in the hotel restaurant just prior to the Gulf War, and as was the norm, enjoying a lovely Israeli breakfast, when I noticed a group begin to filter in and go through the buffet. It was a happy group that seemed to have a purpose with many interactions between them and, obviously, a lot in common. One thing that was apparent was their dress, specifically their T-shirts. Imprinted on the front was the following: "Israel - The Promised Land, IF NOT NOW, WHEN?" They were traveling about, with some restrictions, as honored guests in a land that has always been and always will be in turmoil. The restrictions, as is the case today, were protectionary measures that gave them confidence in the greatest security system in the world.
Today we face a similar situation in Israel, and the same resolve must be in place in order to enjoy this wonderful destination. You must have confidence that the Israeli government will protect their valued guests. You will not be allowed to travel near troubled areas, but you definitely will see a wide selection of Holy Land sights and return home with tremendous memories and special eternal blessings. If you are determined to reap these blessings and gain a renewed spiritual passion, we are determined to provide the means to this goal.
  "Israel -The Promised Land, IF NOT NOW, WHEN?"
You can probably get it in before the Rapture.

  Please read this testimony from one of our last tour participants. Click Here 

  
Travel Insurance
Many seasoned travelers are not aware that their health insurance will not cover them outside of the country. For a minimal amount of money, travel insurance is a must. If you need to cancel your trip due to an unforeseen emergency or serious illness, most of your trip may be non-refundable. In the event you become ill during your travels, finding and receiving medical care may be very frustrating. Travel insurance also covers lost baggage, and worldwide emergency assistance coverage.

Pre-Flight
Leave your travel information with a family member or friend, including a copy of your passport, your flight itinerary, travel itinerary, hotel names and phone numbers. In the event of an emergency, family members may also contact Pilgrim Travel at 800-322-0788.

Most airlines restrict passengers to one piece of carry-on luggage (in addition to your purse, laptop, camera case). Sizes and weight of carry-on luggage are determined by airline, so be sure to check with airline on dimension requirements before you leave.

Keep important items and documents with you at all times. Medicines should be carried in their original packaging. Do not keep travelers checks, money, jewelry or travel documents in your luggage.

Make sure your luggage is clearly tagged on the inside as well as the outside.

Check-in time for international flights is normally two hours prior to departure. When checking in at the airport, a US passport (valid for nine months after your return date) is needed as proof of identification to enter Israel. No visa is necessary.

Do not leave your luggage unattended for any length of time (no matter how short) or accept packages from strangers to carry on to the plane for them.

Clearing customs in Israel may take a little longer than in most foreign countries. Keep in mind that upon arrival Israel you will need to go through customs and exchange money. Therefore, it is wise to give yourself plenty of time between landing and connecting to another form of transport. Lines through customs may be long. Allow sufficient time for connecting with other modes of transportation after landing.

What to Pack
Plan to dress casually, packing clothes which can be layered if the weather changes. Choose comfort over fashion, planning your wardrobe around one or two colors is ideal. If you plan on dining in exclusive restaurants, you may want to pack just one dressy outfit. Bring along a light-weight jacket which will not prove to be too cumbersome if you end up carrying it for a few hours. Do not make yourself a target by wearing expensive jewelry. A good way to conceal your valuables is by purchasing an inexpensive but light-weight pouch which attaches around your waist
and is worn under your clothes. Do not over-pack...leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs.

It is highly recommend to bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen as protection against the harmful rays of the sun. Women should wear a scarf to cover their head and shoulders.

If you are traveling with a companion, cross-pack. Put half of your items in your companion's luggage and vice-versa. This will ease the frustration of lost luggage.

Don't forget these travel sized necessities: sewing kit, first aid kit, tissues, travel clock, toiletries, notebook and pen, pre-printed address labels (for sending post cards), plastic "zip locking" bags (for storing open bottles).

Purchase your film and batteries in the US.

Medications
Before you leave, ask your doctor to write a prescription for any medications you may be taking with you in the event they are lost. Keep all of your medications in their original bottles or packaging.

Climate
 

  Tel-Aviv
 
 

 Avg. Temp.

  Avg. Rain Fall

 Jan -Mar

 50-64F

  3"

 Apr-Jun

 62-76F

 0.33"

 Jul-Sep

 72-93F

 0"

 Oct-Dec

 59-73F

 4"

 
 

  Jerusalem
 
 

 Avg. Temp.

  Avg. Rain Fall

 Jan -Mar

 43-55F

 4"

 Apr-Jun

 54-75F

 1"

 Jul-Sep

 55-80F

 0"

 Oct-Dec

 49-63

 2"

Tipping
In Israel, it is customary to tip hotel personnel, guides and drivers. A 15% tip is the average in restaurants. While tipping is not mandatory for taxi drivers, some visitors choose to do so anyhow. Remember that a tip or gratuity is earned for services rendered in a courteous and professional manner.

Shopping
The market in Jaffa remains a venerable, institution filled with bargains. All of the old towns in Israel have bazaars but the ultimate is to be found in the Old City of Jerusalem. Favorite times to purchase include leather goods, pottery, crafts, olive-wood carvings and hand blown glass. Vendors are anxious to bargain.

Meals
When traveling with a group, some meals are included. When you are own your own, again, check with the front desk at your hotel for suggestions (be sure to mention the price range you are looking for).

Electric Current
Most hotels in Israel will have 220 volts AC 50 Hz. You will need to bring along necessary converters and adapters to operate any 120 volts, 60 Hz appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors, etc.

Current Rate of Exchange
The currency in Israel is the shekel, sometimes called the new shekel. One US dollar is equivalent to approximately 4 shekels. As the economy fluctuates, it is wise to keep an eye on rates of exchange as you approach your departure date.

It's a Long, Long Way
You're at the gate, your plane awaits...the excitements mounts. After take-off and checking out all the neat little amenities and freebies, the novelty wears off. Hours and miles across the Atlantic yawn ahead of you. Below are some tips for the making your flight as easy as possible.

Dress comfortably for the flight. Wear comfortable clothes that allow freedom of movement as you will most likely be trying to sleep on the flight. Wear shoes that slip on and off easily.

In order to avoid jet-lag, do not drink alcohol, caffeine or carbonated beverages. Choose natural fruit juices and water. Bring your own bottled water on the plane with you.

Before you leave, choose a good book that will keep you occupied for most of the flight. Before your return flight, buy another - not only will it pass the flight time quickly but it will become a souvenir of your trip.

Store your coat and anything you are not going to use in the overhead compartment. You'll be much more comfortable with a minimum of things to shift around.

Take off your shoes and make yourself as comfortable as possible right away.

Bring along a moisturizer as the air in the cabin is extremely dry.

Get up once in a while and stretch your arms and legs.

If you find yourself extremely exhausted upon arrival in Israel, take a brief nap after check-in and plan on beginning your sightseeing in the afternoon after resting.

Departing Israel
Israel's airport security is probably the tightest in the world, so it is vital that you arrive in plenty of time to board your flight. Be aware that you will need at least two hours for pre-departure screening and even more time for check-in.

Odds and Ends
Wear very comfortable shoes. The streets of Jerusalem can be hilly and uneven in places.

Sight-see with your hands free! No one wants to walk around the city holding a soaking wet umbrella and ten different shopping bags. A rain hat and poncho (or rain coat) are a lot easier to deal with than an umbrella. Bring along a day back-pack with a water bottle (fill it at the hotel before you leave), tissues (a definite must), note-book and pen. Keep your purchases in your day pack. You'll be less tempted to spend and spend as the pack gets heavier and heavier.

Don't drive through the Me'a She'arim Orthodox Jewish section of Jerusalem after sunset on Fridays or on Saturdays before sunset. Doing so will interfere with their Sabbath.

When entering a mosque, be sure to take your shoes off. Be sure to wear modest clothing when visiting any religious shrine.

If you opt to sight-see with an Israeli tour guide, you are in for a treat. The guides are extremely knowledgeable, friendly and strictly regulated by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.

Carry a photo-copy of your passport in your money pouch. You will most likely be asked to leave the original at the hotel.

Plan your itinerary or prioritize those places you must see before you leave the US. This will ensure that you don't miss any of those important things you are traveling across the ocean to see.

Three languages are spoken in Israel: Hebrew, Arabic and English. Communications should not be a problem.

Israel meets western standards of sanitation and no special precautions need to be taken. Both the water and food are safe to consume and medical facilities, while not quite up to US levels, are more than adequate.

If you are planning on traveling to Egypt or Jordan from Israel, you will need a visa which is obtainable at the borders of these countries. Have your passport stamped on a separate piece of paper when leaving Israel.

Bring along the Bible. It could well be the best guidebook for Israel.

Take lots of pictures, keep a mini-journal, introduce yourself to people, seek out obscure little places not mentioned in tour books. Many travelers say that Israel has a great emotional and spiritual effect on them, whether they are touched by the magnificent religious shrines or the perseverance of the nation. Have a wonderful time!

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