Is it safe to travel to Israel?
This is our most frequently asked question. In short: YES, it is SAFE.
For anyone who watches the news, Israel appears to be an extremely dangerous place. First there are misconceptions about Israel because what is on the news regarding the Middle East (especially concerning terrorism and violence by ISIS) often concerns events in the nations around Israel rather than what is going on in Israel. Furthermore, media reports focus so intensely on isolated events that these small hot-spots seem widespread across the country.
In fact, the vast majority of the State of Israel is safe and untouched by the violence so commonly pictured in the media. Statistically, for example, Israel is far safer than any urban area in the United States. Using Chicago, as an example:
Israel--7.3 million People
Chicago--2.7 million People
On a statistical basis:
Terrorist Activity in Israel = 1 civilian death per 2,433,000 people (about one per 2 1/2 half million)
Homicides in Chicago = 1 violent death per 6,506 people
Or to put it another way: It is vastly more dangerous to visit Chicago than Israel. In fact, a person is 6000 times more likely to experience a violent end in the city of Chicago than to be hurt in a terrorist attack in Israel.
Although danger is unlikely in Israel, safety is uppermost concern for our tours. In fact we prioritize it. Our travel will be in private motor-coaches, and our routes and itinerary are carefully selected to avoid areas where violence might be possible. For example, we will not visit Hebron, Samaria, or Shechem/Nablus because these sites are in the West Bank, and of course Gaza is not on our route.
We are in constant contact with the Land Agent throughout the trip. Should any potential problem arise, we will immediately change our itinerary to remain well clear of any trouble spot. Our Israeli guides and drivers are trained to look out for danger and maintain your safety as a top priority. Likewise, as a country, the Israeli government makes the security of its citizens and its guests a primary obligation.
People ask me if I'm nervous traveling to Israel and I always say, "Yes , but only from the time I leave my house until I get to O'Hare Airport. Once I'm off the Chicago expressways, I feel perfectly safe." Israel is a SAFE place and no one needs to fear going there.
There is so much to learn, see and experience in Israel. Your knowledge of the Scriptures and walk with the Lord will be enriched as you encounter the Bible on location. Do not let fear hold you back from this life changing opportunity.
Do I need TRIP/TRAVEL INSURANCE?
YES -- having trip insurance is a good idea. If you are forced to cancel your trip at the last minute due to an emergency, you will forfeit all money paid for the trip. Or if, while in Israel, you are needed back in the States for an emergency, or have a medical emergency that prevents you from returning with the group, this type of insurance would defray the cost of the return. Or if you have an emergency medical condition while in Israel that requires your immediate return to the States, this type of insurance will cover those costs.
We recommend all travelers have trip protection insurance. Messianic Journeys does not provide this insurance. Once you register for a trip, talk to your insurance agent. Or, you can choose a plan on-line. Messianic Journeys strongly recommends you have Travel Insurance of some type so the cost of your trip will be covered in case of emergency cancellation prior to the trip or a personal emergency while in Israel.
If you would like to speak with someone to help you acquire this type of Insurance, we suggest you call My Travel Agent and speak with our friend Chaim Limor or his staff 630-961-3606. Chaim and his staff are very helpful in sorting through all the options available and helping you select the best plan to suit your needs. Just mention you are traveling with the Rydelniks.
It is imperative to obtain trip insurance with 10 days of registering for a trip in order secure coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Suggested Reading: Scripture & Other Books
Reading is an excellent way to prepare for your trip. Begin by spending purposeful time in the Scriptures, and perhaps expand to reading non-fiction and even fiction as well.
The Study of Scripture is the best preparation for experiencing Israel.
Reading the Bible is the best way to prepare for a trip to Israel, because the Bible is the guide book to the Land, both geographically and spiritually. As you read, take notice of the many geographic locations that are mentioned, as well as the events that occurred there. Pray for the LORD to enrich your understanding of the Scriptures in preparation for your time in the Land of the Book.
Matthew: Reading through the Gospel of Matthew and Luke is a good way to prepare for this trip. Pray you will get to know the Savior in a deeper way as you spend time in His word, preparing to travel in His Holy land (Psalm 78:54). As you read the Scripture, notice the geographic locations that are mentioned, because you will be visiting a lot of these places.
Acts: Reading the Book of Acts, especially chapters 1-12, will give you a overview of events in Israel during the early days of the Church. We will visit several of those locations on your Messianic Journey through Israel.
Psalms: Reading the Psalms is always a source of spiritual enrichment. Many of the Psalms of David reflect locations you will be visiting. Psalm 119 is especially encouraging about the Scripture itself. The Songs of Ascent (Psalm 120-134) were read on the steps of the Temple, which you'll visit in Jerusalem.
The Moody Bible Commentary (Rydelnik & Vanlaningham, eds) is an outstanding resource to help you understand the Scriptures. This commentary is written by the faculty of the Moody Bible Institute and is an excellent tool to keep on your desk as you study the Scriptures each day.
In addition to the Bible you might also enjoy reading non-fiction as well as fiction books concerning Israel in preparation for your time in Israel.
NON-FICTION to Understand the Middle East Situation
Understanding the Arab-Israeli Conflict: What the Headlines Haven't Told You (Michael Rydelnik) will give you an excellent understanding of the current events in Israel, from a Biblical perspective. Israel seems always to be in the headlines, usually in an unfavorable light. This book will help you understand why this happens and what the bigger picture reveals.
Making David into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel (Joshua Muravchik) During the Six Day War of 1967, polls showed that Americans, Europeans and the U.N. favored the Israelis and supported the existence of the Jewish Homeland in Israel, over the Arabs by overwhelming margins.
Fast forward to today and Israel has become perhaps the most reviled country in the world. Although Americans have remained constant in their sympathy for the Jewish state, almost all of the rest of the world treats Israel as a pariah.
Making David into Goliath traces the process by which material pressures (oil), political threats (terrorism) and intellectual fashions (the creation of the image of Palestinians as victims) reshaped world opinion against Israel in the Middle East conflict.
A Covenant People: Israel from Abraham to the Present (James P. Eckman) The twentieth century witnessed harsh anti-Semitism, vicious pogroms, and the unimaginable Holocaust. Over a third of the world's Jews were killed. Yet, today the largest concentration of Jews resides in Israel-a modern miracle. Theologian and historian Dr. Jim Eckman presents a riveting history of God's covenant people from the initial promises God made to Abraham to the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948.
Has the Church Replaced Israel (Michael Vlach) The relationship between Israel and the church continues to be a controversial topic: Does the church replace, supersede, or fulfill the nation of Israel in God's plan? Will Israel be saved and restored with a unique identity and role? Do the Jewish people today, and the Nation of Israel, still uniquely relate to the plan of God? Dr. Michael J. Vlach, professor of theology at the Master's Seminary, evaluates the doctrine of replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) down through history but ultimately argues in favor of the non-supersessionist position. Thoroughly vetting the most important hermeneutical and theological issues related to the Israel-Church relationship, Vlach explains why, "there are compelling scriptural reasons in both testaments to believe in a future salvation and restoration of the nation Israel."
O Jerusalem (Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre) is a historical account of the day by day struggle for Jerusalem and the birth of Israel, 1948. It reads like a whodunit, and you turn page after page to see what happens next . . . The pace is so swift, the drama so heightened by alternating flashes of tragedy and comedy that one has to stop frequently to catch breath and marvel.
DEVOTIONALS & Guide Books for the Journey
The Christian Traveler's Guide: New & Updated (Charles Dyer & Gregory Hatteberg) is an informative manual that explains how to prepare physically and spiritually for a trip to Bible lands. It provides Biblical and historical background for the most-visited sites.
Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus (Charles Dyer) is a 30 day devotional that is a spiritual journey through the Holy Word and the Holy Land. This 30-day devotional highlights specific areas of Israel where the Lord Jesus taught and ministered. It includes full-color photography to highlight the text and enrich your understanding of the person, work, and words of Jesus the Messiah.
Thirty Days in the Land of the Psalms (Charles Dyer) is a 30 day devotional studies from selected Psalms bringing these Biblical treasures to life. Each entry features a beautiful, full-color photo of a Holy Land site, a suggested reading from Scripture, and a reflection that incorporates Dr. Dyer's knowledge of the Land.of Israel and the Book of Psalms. Enjoy this book prior to your time in Israel, or read it when you return to see the Song Book of the Bible in an even more meaningful way.
Fodor’s experienced travel correspondents highlight the best of Israel, including Jerusalem's holy sites, Tel Aviv's cafés and shops, and the Galilee's nature reserves and archaeological treasure in this 528 page travel guide. Color photos and maps will inspire and guide your trip to God’s Holy Land. This is a useful resource for arm chair traveling before the trip begins, and as a handy tool to identify your photographs when you return.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Jerusalem, Israel, Petra, and Sinai explores the culture, history, and architecture of this region, accompanied by full-color photographs, 3-D cutaway illustrations, and floor plans of the key sights.
The Holy Land an Oxford Archaeological Guide (Father Jerome Murphy-O'Cnnor) focuses on the history and archaeology of the sites and structures in Israel, with a Biblical and historic perspective. It presupposes little knowledge of the topic giving clear insights on both well and lesser know places. This useful book includes detailed maps, plans, and illustrations on these significant locales.
Exodus (Leon Uris) a novel of the birth of Israel from the early Zionist movement and Theoldore Herzel in the 1880s, through the Holocaust and the British Mandate struggle, to the birth of the Modern State of Israel in 1948.
The Haj (Leon Uris) an epic story of hate and love, vengeance and forgiveness. The Middle East is the powerful setting for this sweeping tale of a land where revenge is sacred and hatred noble. An Arab ruler tries to save his people from destruction but cannot save them from themselves as violence spreads across the land of British controlled Palestine and the Jewish State is on the brink of death or life.
The Source (James Mitchener) This compelling novel is part archaeology, part travelogue, part history, part fictional adventure. It weaves together an epic tale of love, strength, and faith moving back and forth from the founding of tel Makkor (based on the actual tel of Meggido/ Har Meggido = Armageddon) to the establishment of Israel and the modern conflicts in the Middle East. This is a compelling history of Israel, the Holy Land. The richly written saga is told through the family story of four modern men and women. It traces the colorful history of the Jewish people, including the impact of Christianity, the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition, all the way to the founding of present-day Israel and the Middle-East conflict. Although historically accurate in the periods of written history, Mitchener’s view of Creation, pre-history and the early Patriarchal period is not Biblical. Nonetheless, enjoy this worthwhile novel for the recorded history and the story, but not for the theology.
The Zion Chronicles (Bodie & Brack Thoene) This 5 book series covers the events surrounding the birth of Israel's statehood in 1948. Each book vividly portrays the intense struggle of the Jewish people in the aftermath of the Holocaust and the forces, within and without, which engulf the Middle East in conflict and controversy even today. Will there ever be peace in Zion? The Jewish people wonder as they stream into the British Mandate of Palestine after the devastation of World War II. What has happened to God's promises to their nation?
The Thoenes are gifted husband/wife authors who have written several series of books about the Jewish people throughout the centuries from Bible times to the modern era which can be found by author on line.
These books are available from your local book store or on-line.
A helpful web-page with information about Bible Sites (many of which are included on our Messianic Journey) is Bible Places.com
Passports, Visa & Vaccinations
Do I need a passport to travel to Israel?
Yes. A valid passport is required for all travel outside the USA. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months beyond your return date or you will be denied boarding.
How do I get a passport?
Apply for your passport immediately if you do not have one. It may takes 6 to 8 weeks to be issued. However, if you need a passport quickly, it is possible to obtain one in 3 days for an additional expediting fee. Getting a passport is not difficult, but do not delay if you do not already have one, or if you current passport will expire less than 6 months beyond your return date. Here is what to do: Get a passport application at your nearest post office, passport office or courthouse. You will need a certified birth certificate (with raised seal and file number), and 2 duplicate non-glossy photographs measuring 2 x 2 inches, taken within six months of application. For more info regarding passports, go to the U.S. Department of State web site at http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
Will I need a visa to travel to Israel? If the group goes to Petra (Jordan) do I need a visa?
Israel Visa: Citizens of the United States and Canada do not need a visa for Israel.
Petra/Jordan Visa: If the tour is going to Petra (and only some years we go to Petra; most often Petra is not part of the tour) Messianic Journeys will obtain a group visa for your travel to Petra, Jordan. Your fee for this Visa is included in your tour payment IF the tour is going to Petra.
Will I need vaccinations?
No. Vaccinations are not required for travel to Israel or Jordan.
Walking on the Tour
How much WALKING will I do? How can I get ready??
You will enjoy doing a LOT of WALKING in Israel, because with Messianic Journeys you won’t just be seeing the sites through a bus window.
To participate in the tour you must be able to walk independently (without assistance, or the use of a cane, crutch, walker or additional support).
Israel is a “land of springs flowing in the valleys and hills” and on your journey you will be exploring this beautiful land from Dan to Beer Sheva and you will do a lot of walking up hill and down. The walks are not extremely strenuous, but some walking will be over uneven terrain and archaeological areas. Even the cities in Israel have a lot of hills, so you will walk up and down. Be prepared to climb the two flights of stairs on some of the excavation sites.
How can I prepare Physically for the Tour?
The best way to prepare is to begin walking daily, several weeks before the trip. Begin by walking every day, increasing the distance walked, so that by the time you leave for Israel, you can comfortably walk at least one mile and walk up two flights of stairs. Wear comfortable, walking shoes, the ones you will be wearing while in Israel as you prepare for the trip.
I have limited mobility. Is this a good Israel trip for me?
If you have limited mobility, traveling with Messianic Journeys is not the best trip for you. If you have mobility issues, need to walk with the aid of a cane or walker, our tours will be too physically demanding. Much of Israel is not handicap accessible. Most of the archaeological sites and National Parks are not equipped to meet special physical needs. On the tour, there will be a lot of walking in non-handicapped prepared areas, exploring rocky, hilly areas, as well as a lot of stairs to climb. Due to this lack of handicapped accessible facilities and the walking required on the tour, people needing canes, wheelchairs or ambulatory assistance will find travel on this tour prohibitive. If you have a question about your situation, please contact Messianic Journeys to discuss the issue.
How should I bring my prescription medicines?
Pack all prescriptions IN YOUR CARRY-ON bag, in the original bottle. Do NOT pack your prescriptions in your checked luggage. Bring enough medication for the whole tour, plus 2 days (in case of flight delays).
If you have medications which need to be refrigerated, you will need to make the appropriate arrangements with the airlines and hotels.
An ID bracelet or a letter from your doctor regarding any special treatments you are receiving are essential in event of an emergency.
How should I pack?
Pack light. Remember you are limited to one checked bag and one carry-on. Pack clothing that you can layer in the morning and evening if it is cool, and leave on the bus mid-day when it is warmer. Comfortable shoes are a must. On the flight to Israel, it is a good idea to include one change of clothes in your carry-on, so in the unlikely event that your bag is misplaced, you will have a fresh outfit available until your bag is located.
What should I wear on the tour?
Wear comfortable, casual clothing. You never need dress clothes. The trip is totally casual. Men do not need ties and jackets. Women do not need to wear skirts or dresses. It is fine for women to wear modest shorts, capris, slacks or jeans. Please do not wear tank tops, spaghetti straps, or halter tops. Some holy sites, churches or synagogues, require additional modest respectful dress. This means shoulders and knees [for men and women] must be covered. On days when visiting these sites the guide will alert you to wear long pants or a skirt and have something to cover your shoulders for an extra modesty/ cover-up at those sites.
Do I need a warm jacket?
Perhaps. Israel is a country with four seasons and several climate zones. See the Weather Question below. If you are traveling in Summer, Spring or Fall include a light jacket and/or a sweatshirt/hoody/sweater–something you can layer. If you are traveling in Winter, bring warmer jackets; but even in Spring or Summer you will still need a light jacket for chilly Jerusalem evenings and Galilee nights.
Should I bring a swim suit?
Bring a modest (no bikinis) swimsuit for a refreshing swims and a dip in the Dead Sea. Flip-flops or some sort of water sandals are essential at the Dead Sea and Hezekiah’s tunnel.
Do I need to wear a sun hat and sunglasses?
Yes. Wearing a hat is a good idea for protection against the Middle-Eastern sun. In Israel (and Petra) the sun is very direct and we will be spending a good amount of time in open areas. A hat is essential, as well as sunglasses to give you a glare free view of all the sites.
What non-prescription medicines should I bring?
Bring any non-prescription medications you usually take. There are modern pharmacies in Israel, but all of the brands are not the same as in the U.S., so some items may be hard to find and certainly more expensive. Useful non-prescription medications include over the counter necessities like antacids, Advil/Tylenol, decongestants, antihistamines, anti-diarrheal (Pepto Bismal chewable tablets). Pepto Bismal is generally more effective for traveler’s stomach than other anti-diarrheal due to its active ingredients.
How much luggage can I bring?
You may bring one checked suitcase (limit 50 lbs) plus one small personal bag to keep with you on the bus. Your personal bag must be small enough to be held in your lap or fit under your seat on the bus; it cannot be stowed in the luggage-bay of the bus. Although airlines may allow two checked suitcases, our tour bus size limits baggage to one piece per person.
Are there special luggage tags?
Two Messianic Journeys luggage tags will be sent to you before departure. Attach these to your luggage to insure that all the luggage for our group goes on our tour bus when we leave each hotel. We strongly recommend that you include an identification tag inside your bag.
Does my purse count as my carry on?
No, Most airlines do not count a purse as your carry on item. However, if your purse is very large, it may be considered as carry on.
Is there a size limit for personal (carry on) bag?
YES, there is a limit to the size of your personal bag which you will have with you on the bus. This is a small personal bag for items you will want with you each day on the bus such as your Bible, notebook, hat, camera, water-bottle, snacks. This bag should be small enough to fit comfortably in your lap or under your feet on the bus, not a rolling carry-on-weekender-bag that qualifies as air-line carry-on. Your personal carry-on bag for the tour is for your personal items, not an additional clothing bag. You will keep this bag with you on the bus, and perhaps take it off the bus at various sites since it will hold items you will want with you. It will not be stored under the bus, you will carry it with you as you tour.
What happens to my luggage when I get to the hotel?
At each hotel, you will be greeted, given your room key, and a room number sticker for your luggage. Place your room number sticker on your bag when it is unloaded from the bus. The hotel porters will then bring your bag to your room. (You will be responsible for your carry-on bag.) The morning you leave the hotel, place your packed bag outside your room at the designated time, and a porter will take it down to the bus. Before being loaded on the bus you will identify your luggage, and then it will be put on the bus for the next leg of the journey. DO NOT TIP the hotel porters. All tips are included in the cost of your Messianic Journeys tour.
What is the tour bus like?
Our tour buses are deluxe air conditioned touring coaches with seating for 50 passengers. There are no bathrooms on the bus, but we make plenty of comfort stops each day of travel.
Will I get motion sick on the bus?
Because the tour bus is very large, most people do not have a problem with motion sickness. If you are prone to motion sickness, you should follow your usual precautions, such as taking Dramamine or sitting near the front.
Will I have an assigned seat on the bus?
No, seats are not assigned. However, the front two rows of seats are reserved for the guide and teacher (s). Otherwise you may sit anywhere you like on your bus and change seats from day to day. If you are on a larger trip with multiple buses, you will travel on the same bus each day.
Are there bathrooms on the bus?
No. There are no bathrooms on the buses, but we make frequent comfort stops to meet your needs. Israel has ample public facilities. The tour guides are sensitive to your needs and there are regular comfort stops built into the plans throughout the day.
Can I leave items on the bus when we stop at sites?
Yes, you can leave items (book bags, sweaters, packages) on the bus when we stop at sites. You do not need to carry everything with you. The drivers are honest and the buses are securely locked when we leave the bus at each site.
What are the hotel rooms like?
Our hotels are European First Class or better accommodations. The hotel room will have a double bed for couples and twin beds for roommates. Each room will have a private bath, a phone and complete linen service. . . however, most Israeli hotels do not provide wash cloths, so you may want to bring your own. Hotels do have internet, but not all hotels have free wi-fi in the room.
Are hair dryers available?
Most Israeli hotels have hair dryers in the rooms. However, if you absolutely have to have a hair dryer every day, it is a good idea to bring your own. Remember, Israeli voltage is 220, so you will need your adapter and converter.
Will I have a chance to do laundry while on tour?
Israeli hotels do not have washers and dryers. However, laundry service is available at most hotels, but you must plan to send it out in time to get it back before we leave that hotel for the next one (and it is very expensive). If you want, you could rinse out a few things in your room and hang them over the bathtub to dry. Pack clothing that can be washed in your hotel room and that will dry quickly overnight. Bring small packets of laundry detergent for this purpose. Most hotels have an “ironing room” if you need to touch up your garments, but there are no irons in the rooms.
Will my electrical appliances work in Israel? Do I need an Adapter?
The electric outlets in Israel are for round plugs -- not the same as America. The electric current in Israel is 220-volt A.C., single phase, 50 cycles which requires special adapter plugs with round prongs (click here for an image). The adapter is the same type used in Southern Europe (France & Germany); identified as the Israeli Type H or the European grounded Type C. If you take appliances (hair dryer, electric razor, computer) that are suitable for both 110 and 220 volts, you will need a set of adapter plugs. If your appliance is for 110 volts only, you will need a converter, made for the Israeli outlets (click here for image). Every piece of electrical equipment will need an adapter or a converter. Please check your appliance to verify its voltage. Don’t assume that it will work unless it clearly indicates that it will run on 220 volt. These adapters and converters are generally available at Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Target or Radio Shack, as well as the luggage section of major department stores. You cannot plug a U.S. electrical appliance into an Israeli outlet without an adapter. Travel prepared.
Food and Water
If lunch is not included, where will we eat lunch?
We will stop for lunch as a group every day. Israel has delightful small restaurants that cater to tourists. The menu is usually a la cart and includes some American-type items, as well as Israeli’s favorite fast food: falafel. Lunches are typically $7 to $10.
Is the water safe to drink?
Yes, in Israel the water is safe to drink. As in America, bottled water in Israel is very popular. There will be bottled water available for purchase inexpensively on the bus, as well as at most stops on the tour. You can also bring your own water bottle and refill it from fountains or at the hotel in the morning. It is important to drink lots of water every day on the tour; it is easy to become dehydrated in Israel.
In Jordan (Petra)– the water is not safe; in Jordan drink only bottled water.
What is the food like in Israel?
Delicious! There are a wide selection of delicious foods available at each hotel meal. Israel has an amazing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables; many types of dairy, yogurts and cheeses; rices, pastas, breads and sauces; salads and fish at every meal; as well as only kosher meats. Some of the foods are very American and some are wonderfully Israeli. Enjoy!
Can I have a special menu/diet?
Because of the large groups of tours served each day, it is not possible for hotels and restaurants to prepare special menus. However, a wide variety of foods are available and most travelers find it easy to meet their dietary needs. Vegetarians are always satisfied with Israeli food. If you do have specific limitations or requirements, you might want to bring along supplemental items for yourself.
Phones and Internet
Can I use my cell phone in Israel?
Perhaps. Before leaving for Israel, check with your cell phone company to verify that it will work internationally. Sometimes these international packages are costly. So, renting an Israeli cell phone is sometimes a better financial option.
If I don’t have a cell phone, can my family reach me in an emergency?
Yes. Emergency contact information will be included prior to your departure for Israel. There will be a number where you can be reached in Israel while you are on the tour.
Can I use a phone card in Israel?
Yes. Get an international calling card from your long distance provider (Sprint, AT&T) before you leave the States. Check on the best price plan for calling from Israel to multiple U.S. numbers, not just one number in case you want to call more than one phone. Double-check for any hotel connection charges. Depending on the restrictions of your calling card, it may be cheaper to call the States from a pay phone rather than from your hotel room.
Can I check my e-mail on the tour?
Yes. Israel is a high tech society and internet/e-mail access is everywhere. Most of our hotels have internet access available, some for free others for a minimal fee.
What type of currency is used in Israel?
Shekels are Israeli currency. The rate of exchange for dollars to shekles is about 4 shekels to a dollar, but this exchange rate varies from day to day. You can check the current exchange rarte at http://coinmill.com/ILS_USD.html . U.S. currency is widely accepted, as are credit cards.
Should I exchange money before departure or use traveler’s checks?
No, you do not need to exchange money before traveling. Although traveler's checks are acceptable in Israel, we consider using an ATM machine in Israel preferable. Banks and hotels often charge significant fees for cashing traveler's checks or exchanging cash.
What is my best plan for cash in Israel?
There are ATM machines throughout Israel. Using your ATM card is a good way to replenish your cash. The money you receive from the ATM will be in shekels, at the best current exchange rate. Using the ATM is preferable to traveler's checks and money changing.
Can I use my credit card?
Yes. Credit cards are safe to use in the hotels, National Parks, and major businesses. However, use of credit cards in other circumstances is only suggested if the tour leader says it is safe. VISA and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted in Israel. Most places do not accept Discover or American Express. Charges in Israel will appear in shekels, but on your statement at home, they will be calculated in U.S. dollars.
Do I need to have U.S. dollars with me?
You also might want to bring $150.00 in small bills for lunches, little bargains or ice cream as you tour. Bring some money for souvenirs—a money belt may be practical. Virtually every store in Israel will accept U.S. dollars, but will often give you change in shekels. (Remember: all sites, tips, breakfasts, dinners, and accommodations are included in the trip price.)
Time and Weather
What is the time difference between Israel and United States?
Since there are several time zones in the US, time differences vary. Eastern time is 7 hours earlier than Israel, Central time is 8 hours earlier, Mountain time is 9 hours earlier, and Western time is 10 hours earlier. For example, when it is 10 AM in New York, 9 AM in Chicago, 8 AM in Denver, and 7 AM in Los Angeles, it is 5 PM in Jerusalem. Alternately, when it is 8 AM in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, it is 1 AM in New York, Midnight in Chicago, 11 PM in Denver, and 10 PM in Los Angeles. There is a clock on our Welcome Page that is set to Jerusalem time.
What is the weather like in Israel?
Although Israel is a small country, only about the size of New Jersey, it has a wide variety of climate zones. Therefore, it has a wide variety of weather and four seasons in most geographic areas.
Summer and Fall is warm to hot and very dry (April-October). Conditions range from hot and humid along the Mediterranean coast to dry and very hot in the Negev and South. There may be a cool breeze in Jerusalem in the evenings, making the weather there feel a lot like Los Angeles. There is greater probability of rain as the days cool down in the Fall months.
Winter is generally mild (November-February) with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Galilee. There may even be a rare snowfall in Jerusalem and the Northern Galilee. Winter rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and center of the country, with much less in the Negev and almost no rain in the Southern area of Eilat.
Spring (March-April) is lush and green, with flowers blooming even in the desert. Nights can be chilly in Jerusalem and Galilee in the Springtime. The weather is pleasant with occasional rainfall. Expect cool to warm days and cool nights.
What is it like in Israel in Spring (March)?
This is the best time to be in Israel. The rain is usually over, the days are sunny and warm and the flowers are in full bloom. March in Israel is a lot like May in Chicago. Depending on where you travel in Israel (remember the North is cooler and the South is warmer) the average temperature ranges between a low of 50 and a high of 75/80. It is cooler in the North of Galilee and in Jerusalem; warmer in the Jordan Valley, the Negev and by the Dead Sea. The streams, filled with water from the winter rains, are rushing and beautiful. There may even be, although not likely, rainfall so it’s a good idea to bring a rain jacket and umbrella.
What is it like in Israel in the Fall (October)?
Lovely and warm–the hottest summer days are over and the winter rains have not yet begun. It feels a lot like the end of summer in Chicago. You may even need a light jacket. Temperatures are a bit warmer than in March, and there is less chance of rain. It is an ideal time to be in Israel.
What is it like in Israel in Winter (December/January)?
This is Israeli winter, but still a wonderful time to be in the Land. Winter in Israel does not mean the snow and ice of Chicago or the freezing rain of New York. It is between the major holidays (after Christmas/Hanukkah and before Easter/Passover) so there are fewer tourists, making the sites less crowded and no waiting in the restaurants. You can expect cool days and cooler nights, with the temperatures in the 40s in Jerusalem and Galilee to the 70s in the South. It is not bitter cold anywhere in Israel, but a warm jacket and even light gloves will make you a happier traveler in winter. Remember to bring protection for possible rain and wear waterproof shoes.
What is it like in Israel in the Summer?
HOT!! It is hot in most places, but there may be cool breezes in the evening in the higher elevations, like Jerusalem or Galilee. Dress cool, and wear sun screen. Wear cool cotton clothing and a hat. Pack a light sweater or jacket along with your swimsuit. Temperatures can be as high as 100 by the Dead Sea and the South, but much milder along the Mediterranean, in Galilee and Jerusalem. Israel is a lot of fun in the summer, and the busiest tourist season.
Airport Security and Passport Control
What will happen at Passport Control in Israel?
When you land in Israel you will be directed to Passport Control. The agents there will ask you to present your passport and ask you questions such as:
1. What is your purpose for coming to Israel. (On a Bible tour of the Land.)
2. How long will you be in Israel? (Tell them the days of your tour.)
3. Where will you stay in Israel? (At the hotels arranged by the tour.)
4. Will you be traveling outside of Israel? (Perhaps if you went to Israel with an extension to Petra, Jordan).
After going through Passport Control you will be directed to the luggage claim area. From there you will gather with your Messianic Journeys tour group, near the baggage claim and walk together with the guide to your tour bus to begin your travels in Israel.
What will airport security be like when I leave for Israel?
Airport security for flights to Israel is the most thorough in the world. Security agents will check your suitcase and hand luggage. You may be asked a set of specific questions by highly trained Israeli security personnel. Do not feel intimidated; these people are doing an excellent job. The entire procedure is designed for your personal safety. We can be thankful that Israel is so security conscious!
This is for your safety, so please cooperate willingly and seriously. You may be asked questions such as:
1. Is this your own luggage?
2. Did you personally pack it?
3. Did anyone open your baggage after you packed it?
4. Have you been separated from your luggage since you packed it?
5. Did anyone give you a package to take with you?
6. Why are you traveling to Israel? What is the purpose of your visit to Israel? (I’m a tourist.)
7. Do you know anyone in Israel?
8. How long will you be staying in Israel? (Tell the length of your tour.)
Always answer clearly and honestly.
I’ve been ‘shopping tours’ and some are cheaper and some are more expensive–why is Messianic Journeys a good choice?
Good question. Every traveler wants to use their money and time wisely. A number of factors go into the cost and value of a trip to Israel: the caliber and location of the hotel accommodations, the quality and professionalism of the Israeli guides, drivers and staff; the season of the tour; the length of the tour; the hosts and teachers on the tour; hidden costs (tips, fees, taxes) in the package.
There are no hidden costs with Messianic Journeys. Our price is all inclusive: all taxes, tips and fees. Your only expense will be lunches, additional beverages, and personal items. Our goal is to provide you with an exceptional travel value in every aspect: financial as well as spiritual.
Messianic Journeys is committed to providing an experience which will be a trip of a lifetime. The guides, drivers and accommodations are carefully chosen to be of the highest quality. The itinerary goes beyond the usual tourist stops and churches to include sites seldom visited by the average tour companies, as well as an inside view of Israeli society and the Middle East situation. Our hosts and teachers are of the most exceptional quality. Their goal in leading your group is to enrich your walk with the Lord, love for the Messiah Jesus, and the knowledge of God’s Word, as you encounter the truth of Scriptures on location.
We hope you will decide to see Israel with Messianic Journeys; however, there are many fine tours to Israel, and it will be your joy to see the Scriptures come to life as you travel the Land with whomever you decide to travel. We are thankful for your love of the Land and your prayers for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).
Do I need to tip the bus driver, guide or porters in Israel?
You do not need to tip in Israel with Messianic Journeys--you have already cared for this. All of your tips are included in the price of your Messianic Journeys tour. Your guide, driver, hotel staff, porters, restaurant servers (everybody) will be tipped by your Messianic Journeys representative. So, put your wallet away.
If I don’t have a roommate, what can I do?
Accommodations on the tour are designed for double-occupancy. If possible, you should try and find a roommate. However, Messianic Journeys will try to find a roommate for you by pairing together individuals who are traveling alone, but want to share a room. We have been successful with this in the past, as there are generally several people who come on the tour alone, and are available to room with a new person. Ultimately, if no one is available to be your roommate, then you must pay for a single room. Likewise, if your roomate decides not to come at the last minute, you will have to pay for a single room.
Will the people in Israel understand English?
Yes. English is a second language in Israel and children study English in school as part of their regular curriculum. Of course our guide and driver will understand English. Our Israeli hotels are staffed by mainly English speaking personnel, and shop keepers communicate in English. Israel is tourist friendly, so language is not a barrier to travel.
What key words might describe my time in Israel with Messianic Journeys?
Coming with Messianic Journeys to Israel will be a spiritually enriching time of Bible Study, worship and drawing closer to the Lord as you see the text of Scripture come to life. It will be exciting, fun and life changing as you form friendships and have experiences in the Land of the Bible that will never be forgotten.