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Travel Guide

Last Website Revision 9/5/2023

Last PDF Revision 6/20/2022: Download PDF Here

PROGRAM EMPHASIS 

The Bible story and its message of salvation are rooted in a historical and geographic setting – a real-time and a real place in history. To better understand that setting is to understand the Biblical story better. 

Bible Land Passages is dedicated to helping others to understand better and appreciate the Bible, and thereby deepen their faith in the sacred text and in the God who gave us the Bible. We want everyone to know that when they read about places like Athens, Rome, Beersheba, Jericho, Jerusalem, Caesarea, and cities surrounding the Sea of Galilee, that those places existed just as the Bible describes. 

But Bible Land Passages is more than just about defending Christianity and its historical roots, we are also dedicated to examining and showcasing the lands of the Bible and its environs because they provide for us a window into the ancient past. By sifting through the archaeological data, by traveling down the pathways of the Bible lands and by traversing through the passages of its ancient cities, trade routes, and caves we come to not only better understand and appreciate the challenges of life faced by our religious forbearers, but we also come to see how God used the historical and geographic setting of the Bible lands to refine and develop their faith. 

Those same real places and same real settings - when examined in our modern era - can likewise become a passage for us in developing greater faith and devotion for God. Bible Land Passages is, therefore, all about helping connect people to God and encouraging others in their own personal walk of faith. 

 ELIGIBLE PARTICIPANTS  

 Bible Land Passage Tours believes that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and our teaching and devotions reflect our conviction that the Word of God is all-sufficient for instruction in righteousness. As we are followers of Christ and of His message of redemption, it is our mission to reach lost souls through His word and present the many evidences (archaeological/historical) for the verity of the Christian faith that we will encounter on our trip to Israel. Furthermore, it is vitally important that Bible Land Passage 

Tours maintain an environment of learning, unity, peace, and respect for our environment while we travel together. Thus, though we welcome with open arms any Christian who wants to join us on this amazing journey, we do reserve the right to refuse application, request a background check, or letter of reference to ensure the safety and enjoyment of the entire group. In addition, consider the following rules for eligibility:

 

  1. Participants must be 12 years of age or older. 

  2. Those under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult family member, legal guardian, or have special permission from the Tour Directors to attend. For a minor under the age of 18, in order to travel outside of the United States without either both parents or legal guardians, a notarized affidavit must be obtained and presented to airport or governmental officials upon departure and return to the US. 

  3. Participants must have a valid passport not expiring within six months of departure date. 

  4. Participants must agree to the terms and conditions as outlined on the registration documents. 

  5. Participants must agree to abide by the principles of conduct as outlined in the New Testament. 

  6. Participants must meet the health and physical disabilities criteria outlined below: Travelers must be medically and physically fit for this tour. This tour requires significant walking, as motor coaches are not always permitted to pick up and drop off in front of major sites. The tour is not wheelchair-accessible in most places. Any special medical conditions or equipment must be advised in writing for evaluation of feasibility at the time of making your reservation. 

 CONDUCT   

Bible Land Passage participants are expected to act within the principles and values of biblical Christianity. Conduct that exemplifies the character of Jesus should be demonstrated at all times, especially to the staff at all hotels, places of service, airline employees, and to all citizens and people in general in the respective countries where we visit. Please remember that we are representing the cause of Christ and that by our kind and cheerful attitude and benevolent deeds we may open the door for evangelistic opportunities. We also ask that each participant remain courteous, kind, patient, and respectful to all other BLP passengers. Traveling long hours together may at times stretch the limits of or patience and understanding, so please be longsuffering, loving, and Christ-like at all times. 

In effort to ensure companionable group membership, Bible Land Passage Tours reserves the right to accept, reject, or expel any person whose conduct is deemed incompatible with the general well-being of the group as a whole. 

Alcohol: The consumption or purchase of alcoholic beverages is prohibited 

 PASSPORT   

You must have a valid passport from your country of citizenship. Further, it must not expire until at least six months after your departure from Israel. Be sure to check your passport for its expiration date and, if necessary, make application for its renewal well in advance of your departure date. Remember to sign your passport and keep it with you at all times. Also keep a record of your passport number, and credit card numbers in a safe place. 

 VISA   

North American citizens are NOT required to obtain any special visa before traveling to Bible Land Passage destinations. For those who would wish to stay longer than six months within a given country, some governments would then require a visa. For participants living outside of the US, please consult with the Israeli government for specific requirements. 

IMMUNIZATIONS 

North American participants do NOT require any special immunizations. Proof of Covid vaccination may prove helpful for entering some countries and venues but as of 4/20/22 it is NOT required. Passengers from countries other than Canada and the United States should check with their own consulates and the Israeli consulate in their country to determine immunization requirements for entrance into Israel. For participants living outside of the US, please consult with the Israeli government for specific requirements. 

All prescription medications must be in their original containers. Obtain extra medication for the length of your stay in Israel. Consult your doctor before travelling. 

COVID PROTOCOLS 

Covid Insurance is now required by Israel, and we also strongly recommend that you purchase trip insurance. Covid insurance is provided by the Israeli tourist board for $10.00 a person. If it is still required near the time of our departure it will be added to your invoice. Please see ITEMS LISTES BELOW FOR TRIP INSURANCE RECOMMENDATIONS. 

The protocols have continued to change but as of June 20, 2022, there are no longer any Covid requirements to enter Israel, Rome, or the United States. 

Mask are typically not required in most places where we will visit in either Israel and Italy. However, we suggest bringing an N95 mask or similar in the event we enter a facility which requires it. Please keep this mask with you at all times. 

IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO ISRAEL? 

We are aware that news coverage about the Middle East is sometimes portrayed as a dangerous and unsafe place to live or visit. Such news coverage seldom matches the scene that is witnessed on a daily basis in Israel. Israel is a modern country and highly advanced with excellent security. Nevertheless, we are aware as in our own country for the potential of areas that are prone to violence or crime. Thus we actively pay attention to the political situation and will rearrange field studies so as to avoid any potentially hazardous area. It is true that the US Embassy frequently issues advisories for US citizens to avoid the public places and bus stops. However, these advisories are typically issued for legal liability reasons as much as, if not more than, for safety reasons. The embassy takes a most cautious stance in order to protect itself from legal action, so that its advisories frequently have little bearing on the true safety of travelers. 

Almost everyone who returns from our trips remarks, “I never once felt unsafe.” Each time we have traveled within Israel, including the two months Carla and I lived there during the summer of 2017, we have been very impressed with the level of security and safety. We’ve traveled with groups before during a time when the United States had issued a travel warning, and we witnessed no issues whatsoever. Tourism 

is a huge industry in Israel for all Israeli citizens (both Arab and Jew) and for both Palestinians and Jews living in the West Bank and as a result we have always been treated with kindness and respect. 

We are highly confident in the Israeli government’s stance on security and concern for its citizens and visitors. If any protests or incidents happen to arise within the country, our guide will be alerted. Just as in the United States, of course we could not say we would never encounter some sort of incident, but I can say that we have the utmost confidence in the company organizing all of the logistics for the tour. Lindy Lazarow, who arranges our transportation, lodging, and guides, has been organizing tours in Israel for over 30 years. Safety and health has always been top priority with her, as with us. Our Israeli guides and bus drivers are knowledgeable and experienced group leaders, and are fully aware each day of any possible issues or concerns. 

WEATHER

We will be in some 3 -4 different climate regions. The temperatures in Jerusalem will likely be the coolest of the trip with the Dead Sea area the warmest. These temperatures apply to springtime tours. Summer will be much hotter, winter will be cooler. May will be very warm. Daily high temperatures increase by 4°F, from 76°F to 81°F, rarely falling below 69°F or exceeding 88°F. Daily low temperatures increase by 6°F, from 60°F to 66°F, rarely falling below 54°F or exceeding 70°F. Jerusalem will be slightly cooler in the late afternoon and evenings. Temperatures in the dessert will approach 97°F degrees during the day. In November, in Jerusalem, the average high-temperature drops, from a moderately hot 28.4°C (83.1°F) in October to a still warm 23.1°C (73.6°F). In November, the average low-temperature is 15.6°C (60.1°F). 

In Jerusalem, the average relative humidity is 51%. In November, in Jerusalem, the rain falls for 4.9 days. Throughout November, 13mm (0.51") of precipitation is accumulated. In Jerusalem, during the entire year, the rain falls for 45.2 days and collects up to 95mm (3.74") of precipitation. 

The weather in Rome and Athens in October is roughly the same:
October is the start of autumn in Rome, and you can expect good hours of sunshine, mild temperatures, and a reasonable amount of dry days, with the occasional shower. The average temperature in Rome in October is 18C/64F with a range from 23C/73F to 12C/54F degrees

Ephesus - The temperatures in Ephesus in October are comfortable with low of 60°F and and high up to 75°F. You can expect about 3 to 8 days of rain in Ephesus during the month of October.

CLOTHING AND “MODESTY KITS” 

Please dress comfortably but modestly. Casual dress is recommended (but always modest), such as lightweight pants and t-shirts (shoulders must be covered at all times-men and women). A lightweight hat is recommended, preferably one with a brim that covers the neck and ears. We also ask that you wear long pants or Capri style (local officials at some sites will not allow you to enter with shoulders or knees uncovered.) Of course there will at times be some modifications to these guidelines, when for example we enter Hezekiah’s tunnel and visit the Dead Sea. 

Traveling Overall: For security precautions we ask that you NOT wear any visible images associated with your nationality on your clothes, handbags, or caps. 

If you hear our guide calling your attention to “modesty kits” he will be referring to pieces of clothing (for both men and women), which allow participants to make sure that their shoulders and knees are covered. For women: long pants, skirts, or capris and shirts that cover shoulders. For men: long pants and shirts that cover shoulders. “Slip-over” or “wrap-around” clothing is best for such occasions. You will not be allowed to enter selected “holy” sites if shorts are worn above the knee, or if your shoulders are uncovered or clothes are too revealing or tight. 

TYPICAL DAY 

Most days begin with a wake-up call at 6:15 a.m. Breakfast buffets will be available each morning and times an optional orientation session will be conducted before we depart. Most days we will ask that all  passengers be on the bus and seated and ready to leave by 7:45 (some days will be earlier). The group will travel to the sites by bus, where participants will begin their hikes/walks and visits of the sites. Most days will involve 4 to 5 miles of intermittent walking. Lunch usually falls between 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. We will return to the hotel at around 5:30 PM. Optional orientation and preparation sessions for the next day’s activities will be available each evening (meeting times will generally commence immediately after dinner). 

It is highly recommended that you carry snacks with you during the day. Eating small snacks throughout the day is best for keeping energy stored up in the body. We recommend snacks like trail mix, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, or protein/energy bars be taken along with you. At the end of the day, we will arrive at our hotel for a satisfying dinner and needed sleep. The hotels serve excellent breakfast and dinner buffets and the rooms are quite comfortable and clean. 

Being prompt is a must. For this type of program to be successful and to maximize the limited time in the land, participants must all move as a group. A ten-minute delay here and there of one kind or another can actually require the group to eliminate a site planned for visitation. The schedule is full and requires everyone to be punctual at departure times and to follow their leader and/or guide with diligence and closeness. Participants should not wander off. The clock is always ticking and the last thing anyone wants is to spend valuable instruction time looking for individuals that stray too far from the group when everyone else is ready to go. 

WHAT TO TAKE ON DAILY OUTINGS 

It is highly recommended that participants bring along a small backpack or knapsack for the purpose of carrying the following items: (1) Bible; (2) Geobasics in the Land of the Bible Mapbook (approximately $15 per copy); (3) Small notebook or notepad and pen; (4) water bottle; (5) hand cleanser and/or wet wipes; (6) small flashlight; (7) needed medications; (8) camera (9) Passport if desired; (10) an electronic version of the Passages Guidepost. Couples or families may find it helpful to share supplies and a backpack. 

ACCOMMODATIONS 

HOTELS: A separate hour by hour itinerary, with the names of the hotels where will be lodging, will be distributed to you under separate cover. Our travel agent is constantly seeking the opportunity for an upgrade in hotel accommodations and locations. Occasionally, a better situation will arise, and this information is subject to change. On most BLP programs, participants enjoy 3 or 4 star accommodations. These hotels are not only comfortable, but also provide a relaxing environment after a full day of site-seeing. Breakfast and dinner at the hotels are included in the overall program price. The programs are priced at double occupancy; however, single rooms are available upon request for an additional charge. 

Unless otherwise stated, all hotels are air-conditioned and provide clean sheets, towels, shampoo, and body soap. Hair dryers and coffee makers are in each room as well. Occasionally, rooms will contain a small refrigerator. 

GUEST SERVICES 

Most, if not all, hotels where we will stay will provide concierge services, exercise rooms, laundry services, internet Wi-Fi, restaurant facilities, and a private security safe. Please remember that laundry and guest room services are very expensive. Each traveler is responsible for any and all expenses incurred with the use of these services. 

Most hotels DO NOT have washer and dryers for hotel guest use. Rooms are generally NOT provided with an iron nor ironing board (though there will be exceptions to this). 

FOOD BUFFETS 

Unless otherwise stated, all hotel accommodations include an all you can eat breakfast and dinner buffet with plenty of local and international choices. Water, juice and coffee accompany each meal. Soft drinks and specialty coffees are usually extra. 

PHYSICAL DEMANDS AND PREPARATION 

BLP programs are not your typical “tourist” tour of the Bible Lands. Participants will have the opportunity to visit both traditional sites as well as sites not on typical tours. BLP endeavors to maximize the participants’ time in the land providing them with a most unique and rewarding journey. At times, the pace is demanding and daily activities often go for a full 8 - 10 hours. There is limited free time. Many BLP travel locations are not flat, nor are they smooth under foot; therefore, BLP strongly recommends that participants begin preparing for the physical demands of the program long before the departure date. If participants are physically prepared, the program will be far more enjoyable, educational, and meaningful. 

This trip includes a lot of walking. It is important that you begin a daily routine of walking and exercise. Begin this regimen at least 6 weeks prior to the trip. Being in-shape will also make your travel experience on the airplane much more tolerable. 

HEAT AND HYDRATION 

Temperatures for March will for the most part be very mild and comfortable (see “Weather” above). However, in some places the heat is a very real concern. Even during the rainy season (mid-October to mid- April), it can still become hot. The daily temperatures from May to October in Israel and Jordan typically range from the 80’s up to 115 degrees. The evenings can cool off into the 60’s. Staying hydrated is extremely important. Busses will always have a sufficient supply of water on the bus for a minimal cost (usually $1 US dollar per bottle); however, it is not always available to participants during onsite hiking and touring. 

Dehydration occurs from excessive loss of water from the body brought on by heat, humidity, a lack of wind, etc. It is critical to stay hydrated before, during, and after the daily tours. A steady intake of fluid is most beneficial; consuming a large amount of fluid in a short period of time does not prevent dehydration and is stressful on the body. Some participants bring powdered electrolyte replenishment mix, such as Gatorade, Powerade, Propel, etc. Also, BLP recommends that participants limit their caffeine intake during the program, which may be wise to begin a week or two before the program. 8 

 

It is advisable to bring with you from home a reusable water bottle with an insulated jacket/sleeve. Or, you may prefer a reusable water container insert (hydration pack) for a small back pack. 

DOCTOR VISIT 

While it is not required, it is recommended that you visit your family physician before embarking upon this trip. Tell your Doctor where you will be traveling and ask for a prescription of travel medications (e.g. a regimen of antibiotics, something for stomach and intestinal issues, and perhaps a sleeping med if you prefer for air travel). 

JET LAG 

Upon arrival to our destination, the initial excitement may cause you not to notice the strain on your body from the long flight and the crossing of time zones. It is highly recommended that you immediately begin to follow the sleeping patterns of the country. If you arrive during the day, try your best not to fall asleep until bed time. If you arrive late at night try to rise in the morning with everyone else. In this way the effects of jet lag will be overcome quickly. 

USE OF ELECTRONIC DEVICES 

Your electronic devices will need an adapter (unless a USB port is provided such as on the tour bus). Depending on your device you might need a convertor/adaptor. In Italy, as in the rest of Europe, electricity comes out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at 50 cycles per second. In Greece the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. In the US, electricity comes out of the wall socket at 110 volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second. Not only the voltages and frequencies but the sockets themselves are different. The electric current in Israel is 220 volts, C, single phase, 50 Hertz. In Greece the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. is higher than in the United States of America (120 V). 

Be sure to check the required specifications on your devices. Some devices might be destroyed if you do not use the right adaptor or convertor. We’ve received reports that this happens frequently with personal hairdryers and curling irons. 

Most Israeli sockets are three-pronged but most accept European two-pronged plugs. If your appliance does not work on 220 volts, you will need an adaptor. 

International travel kits with adaptors can be purchased in numerous places. Here are some suggested sites. 

For Israel (Type H) 

For Europe (Type C) 

European Travel Plug Adapter (Type C) by Ceptics, Universal to European EU, Power Charge your Electronics in Italy, Greece, Germany, Outlet Adaptor 3 Pack 

Airport Waiting Instructions for Early Arrivals into Israel 

You shouldn't have any trouble at all finding us. There is only one exit area for international passengers exiting baggage claim. When you arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, after customs and immigration all passengers will emerge from the baggage claim into the center of the airport lobby on the lower level. There is a large indoor seating area at your immediate right when you emerge from this baggage claim exit. This will probably be the best place to wait for the main group. 

Once everyone is accounted for, the group will walk to an area where prearranged chartered buses await. This area is located to the far right at the end of lobby (you will probably see several group buses parked under an awning awaiting the various touring groups). Between that bus loading area and the seating area mentioned above, there are a few food shops with additional seating. We suggest that you watch the monitors for our arrival and then wait to sit or stand near the baggage claim exit mentioned above. It generally will take an hour from the time of arrival to exiting the baggage claim area. Look for yellow fluorescent baggage tags with our BLP logo. Most everyone will have at least one on their luggage. 

LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS, PACKING, and LUGGAGE FEES

 

PLEASE PACK LIGHT (you will be so glad you did). See Rick Steves’ Packing Tips on the web for packing tips and for some ideas about packing light. As of January 2018 most United Airline flights will only allow one personal item and one checked item free of charge with the Basic economy. We will advise you as to final restrictions and rules if anything changes. Please also check with each separate airlines utilized during the trip regarding weight and size restrictions of both carry-on and checked items. Please be aware that guidelines are different from airline to airline, especially on international carriers. 

The following rules and restrictions have applied in the past: 

For ease of travel, and to expedite moving from place to place with land transportation, we need to limit our packing to one suitcase per person, and one small personal item. Due to limited motor coach capacity, passengers will only be allowed one large bag with dimensions not exceeding 62 linear inches (length + width + height; including wheels and handles) and weight not exceeding 50 lbs. 

Carry-on bags are the responsibility of the passengers. In the past one carry-on and one personal item were allowed on most International flights for economy class. However, guidelines are changing and heavy restrictions are beginning to apply. Once we receive the final ticketing information from the air carrier we will pass the final information along to you. Here is what we know so far: 

  • • Maximum dimensions for your personal item, such as a shoulder bag, backpack, laptop bag or other small item, are 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches (22 cm x 25 cm x 43 cm) 

  • • For Basic Economy, you MIGHT only be allowed one small personal item, such as a shoulder bag, purse or laptop bag, unless you are a Premier® member or a primary card member of a qualifying MileagePlus credit card* or Star Alliance Gold member. Everyone else who is traveling on a Basic Economy ticket and brings a full-sized carry-on bag to the gate MAY be required to check their bag and pay the applicable checked bag fee plus a $25 gate handling charge. Payment is by credit card only. 

  • • For select card members - Maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag are 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm), including handles and wheels 

  • • Both carry-on bags and checked items are subject to weight restrictions. 

 

AND......... 

A single checked bag fee (meeting airline specifications) FOR ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ONLY is included in the price of the trip. All other costs incurred for baggage on domestic flights are the responsibility of the passengers and to be paid by passenger directly to the airline at the time of check-in. Baggage Insurance is recommended. BLP is not responsible for loss or damage to passenger’s baggage or other belongings. 

PACKING 

Customarily, most people over pack for international travel. A good rule of thumb is for participants to pack their bags and then eliminate at least 25% – 33% of their items. This will reduce the amount of the packed contents and provide needed space for purchases made during their travel. There is limited space available on the bus for luggage. Participants should keep their luggage size and contents to a minimum. 

ADJUSTING TO A DIFFERENT CULTURE 

Life and people outside your country can be quite different from your expectations. Traveling to both Europe and Israel, you will definitely experience cultures very different from your own. You will experience a wealth of history and a complexity of cultures and communities. It can be an exciting, deepening, and broadening experience. With this experience comes the need for adaptation; for you are a guest in the country. Although Israel is one of the more developed countries in the Middle East, the Orthodox Jewish people and the Arabs (both Christian and Muslim) have very different lifestyles from that with which you are familiar. Therefore, as a guest in Israel, you are asked to be sensitive to this society’s standards of dress and behavior. Modesty in dress and Christian decorum overall is crucial to our being the light of the world, and for your own safety. It also demonstrates your efforts not to offend our Arab and Jewish neighbors. 

MONEY AND FINANCES

DAILY EXPENSES 

In addition to your regular tourist-type purchases and your daily lunch expenses ($10-$15 per day), it is recommended you bring a total of about $15-$25 per day for incidental spending (snacks, water, soda, maps, taxis, tourist guidebooks, etc.). Credit cards will be accepted in most businesses. On rare occasions, though there are some, we have refrained from using our credit cards and preferred to pay cash instead. 

FINANCIAL NOTE 

Bible Land Passages and its programs of study are designed to eliminate the numerous incidental financial responsibilities one often encounters on packaged tours. Tour agencies and their clients often publish a low base price giving the appearance that you have discovered a bargain. On such programs you are held financially responsible for any number of fees not accounted for in the published program cost. These “hidden” or “unannounced” fees can add up to a large amount by the end of your trip. In an effort to minimize your individual responsibilities for undeclared fees BLP has calculated such fees and included them into your overall program cost. Except for the daily lunch meal and items related to optional personal choices, your program cost covers all such incidental fees and tips. We do this in order for you to have a realistic cost of the program and to eliminate the hassle so often associated with “hidden” fees. However, please note that there are rare occasions that some cost cannot be anticipated, and issues may arise. 

CURRENCY 

Israel’s official currency is the shekel or NIS (New Israeli Shekel). It’s formally called the New Shekel, having replaced the ‘old’ shekel in 1985. There are 100 agora in a shekel. There are 10 and 50 agora coins (the latter is known as a ½ shekel), as well as coins of 1, 2, 5 and 10 shekels. Coins worth 1 and 5 agora used to exist, but are no longer in circulation. NIS 20, 50, 100 and 200 notes are available. 50 and 100 are the most common. NIS 200 is a lot of cash - upwards of US$ 50 - so it can be hard to get change on small purchases. Italy and Greece are members of the European Union and euros have been the official currency since 2001. The euro banknotes come in: 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5. There are coins of 2 and 1 Euros and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents of euro. 

PURCHASES 

You might be able to pay in foreign currencies such as US dollars or euros, particularly in popular tourist spots. US dollars are the most welcome foreign currency. However, the exchange rate won’t work in your favor. And in a restaurant or shop, you’ll probably get your change in shekels regardless of what currency you’ve paid in. Best to stick to shekels if you can. Therefore, all purchases in Israel should be paid in NIS or with a credit card, however the bus driver will take US dollars for water purchases. 

You will always want to have available at least a small amount of NIS available for small purchases. Credit cards are accepted in most places and in most instances are completely safe to use. You may find that regular use of your credit card is a convenient way to track your expenses and provides some level of security so as not to have to carry so much cash. 

CURRENCY EXCHANGE 

You may convert your funds into local currency at the airport (time permitting), at our hotels or at nearby banks, or at ATM machines. ATM’s aren’t easily accessible, and at times they are difficult to locate, during the program, and distribute only Israeli currency. Do not depend on ATM machines for your financial needs. Hotels provide opportunities to exchange money but the rate will typically be much better at official sites and banks. We will try to keep you apprised as to convenient money exchanging opportunities. 

Currency exchange shops: If you’re in a major city like Jerusalem, you’ll find a lot of private exchange offices - small specialist shops that will exchange your money for you. Though they are advertised to be commission-free, the exchange rates offered can sometimes be surprisingly poor. Take a look at a few different places to compare rates before you pick one. If you already have cash in hand and need to exchange it, this is generally the best option. Do NOT use your ATM cards at these Kiosks. A large service fee will show up on your card. 

Post offices advertise commission-free exchange too, though you still need to watch out for the poor exchange rates as it’ll still cost you. Not to mention, you might be faced with long queues if you’re in a busy area. 

As of March, 2022 the exchange rates were as follows: 

1 US dollar = .91 Euros 

1 US dollar = 3.27 NIS (New Israeli Shekel) 

Withdrawing from ATMs 

Use of ATM’s is perfectly acceptable and secure and you’re likely to get a better exchange rate and better overall value if you withdraw money straight from an ATM. That also means you don’t have to travel with large amounts of cash. 

Whatever you end up doing, don’t get too taken in by talk of commission-free exchange or zero fees. There’s only one real exchange rate, so if you’re not being offered the same rate you see on Google or on an online currency converter, the service is making money off you - whether they are upfront about it or not. 

What should I know about using my debit and credit cards in Israel? 

You’re unlikely to have trouble using your card in major places in Israel, although you’re better off with cash at a street market. It’s up to your bank whether you pay a foreign transaction fee on credit or debit card purchases and how much it is. Usually you do, so check this with your bank before you head out there. 

Also, before you make it to Israel, make sure your PIN has only 4 digits - you could run into problems if it’s any longer. Many card terminals only accept 4 numbers. 

TOURISTS CAN CLAIM A TAX REFUND 

If you’re a tourist, you can claim VAT (Value Added Tax) refund on things you buy when you leave Israel. There are various caveats - you’ll need to have spent over NIS 400, it doesn’t include food or drink except alcohol bought in certain places, and you can’t open packaging before getting the refund. However, if you fit the profile, make sure to find one of the registered VAT refund offices at major airports, ports or border crossings when you’re on your way out. VAT is 17%, so it’s worth the effort if you’re looking to save on costs. 

The amount of the tax you pay on goods in Italy is 22%. However, you will not get that much back. You may get back anywhere from 10-16%. That's because there are "administrative fees", presumably some that the tax-refund company keeps, and then there is some that the store owner can opt to keep. 

Greece's refund rate ranges from 8.7% to 16.7% of purchase amount, with a minimum purchase amount of 50 EUR per receipt. You need to be older than 18 and have permanent residence in a non-EU country to be eligible. Greece has one of the highest refund rates for large purchases, at up to 16.7%. 

RESOURCES

Israel Maps: 

  • Geobasics In the Land of the Bible: Maps for Marking by James M. Monson and Steven Lancaster. (Highly Recommended for use while in Israel) 

  • Regional Study Maps #’s 1-7 

  • Regions on the Run by James Monson and Steven Lancaster 

Useful Books on Israel Geography:  

  • Regional Study Guide: Introductory Map Studies In The Land of The Bible: by Steve P. Lancaster and James M. Monson.

  • Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley, Carta’s New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible (Jerusalem: Carta, 2007) 

  • Carl G. Rasmussen, Zondervan Atlas of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999) 

  • Jerome Murphy O’Connor, The Holy Land (5th edition; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) 

Useful Israel Websites: 

ITEMS TO BRING

  • Passport! 

  • Bible, pens, notebook 

  • Geobasics in the Land of the Bible Map Book 

  • Comfortable walking shoes with tread – Chaco sandals, Merrell, Dansko, Keen shoe wear is recommended. Sturdy sandals may be worn as long as they allow for rough terrain. 

  • Flip-flops are NOT recommended. Water shoes will be needed if you enter the wet side of Hezekiah's tunnel. 

  • Women: Some personal products are available at the hotels and nearby stores. HOWEVER, PLEASE CONTACT CARLA MOORE FOR INFORMATION REGARDING THIS. SOME PRODUCTS MAY BE DIFFICULT TO FIND. 

  • Sturdy backpack for daily use; "Fanny packs" are also useful 

  • Camera (You can’t beat the camera on the new I-Phone unless you are a real camera expert) 

  • Washcloths - Most hotels do not provide these, so you may want to bring your own 

  • Plug adaptors (you will want several; see information above) 

  • Check your cell-phone provider if you plan to use your telephone while in Israel. 

  • Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere. You might want to look into a new card with the new chip technology which is reported to be more secure. 

  • Travel packs of laundry detergent for occasional hand-washing of clothes in the bathtub. Tide makes individual packs. Also, a travel clothesline comes in handy for drying lightweight items overnight. 

  • It will benefit you to pack as lightly as possible for ease of transport, especially since we will be changing locations so frequently. Three pairs of jeans/pants, five-six shirts, lightweight jacket, undergarments and socks (invest in several pairs that will easily wash and dry overnight), pajamas. Plan on layers that can be added or removed as temperatures change. 

  • Medications from your doctor - ask his or her opinion. Suggested: traveler's diarrhea (prescription Lomotil or over-the-counter Imodium), anti-nausea (presciption Promethazine or over-the-counter Pepto Bismol), sleep aids (there are several different prescription sleep aids...Tylenol PM or Melatonin also work well), and general pain relievers such as Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve. 

  • While credit cards are accepted widely, you will also want some cash (which can be exchanged at the airport or hotel and in numerous places in Jerusalem) for purchase of daily water bottles, your daily lunches (as breakfast and dinner are the only meals provided, but we will be stopping for lunch,) snacks and other small needs. 

  • Melatonin or Tylenol PM to help regulate sleeping patterns (drinking a lot of water on the flights will significantly decrease the symptoms of jet lag) Powerade, Gatorade, Propel powder, or something for electrolyte replenishment (if desired) 

  • Hand sanitizer (small bottles are recommended) 

  • Sunscreen 

  • Inflatable pillow for airplane and bus (if desired) 

  • Tissue packs (potentially 1-2 per day) as some of the bathrooms do not supply toilet paper. 

  • Small backpack 

INSURANCE 

Please Note that Covid Insurance is required (see above) and overseas medical coverage is required by BLP; however, travel insurance is only recommended. BLP does not issue such insurance policies and any need to secure such a policy is the participant’s personal responsibility. Program participants may have to pay for medical services upfront but will be reimbursed by their insurance company. 

TRAVEL INSURANCE 

If participants wish to protect their travel investment against an unforeseen cancellation or a needed emergency return flight home, it is recommended that they purchase a travel insurance policy. If a participant desires to purchase such a policy, he/she should be aware that most insurance companies will restrict certain coverage unless he/she submits for coverage within 14 days of registering for the program. Consequently, the participant should not delay in purchasing this insurance. 

INSURANCE ASSISTANCE 

If participants need to purchase either medical or travel insurance, they should refer to the list of providers below. Please note that CHLS is not involved in securing travel insurance or the medical insurance offered by these companies and is not under any contract with the companies listed below. 

 

RECOMMENDATION FROM BROTHER ROY GREENWAY 

Regarding trip insurance, I continue to have experiences others may benefit from. -- I used the web site https://www.insuremytrip.com/ to compare various coverages and costs from a variety of companies. I picked a specific company’s policy, but I really wanted higher medical coverages than it offered. I then went to that company’s web site and found that I could get more coverage for less money (significantly in some cases) if I bought directly from the insurance company and not use the https://www.insuremytrip.com/ site. This may be because buying this way avoids much of the mark-up costs, etc. Thus, I used the insuremytrip.com site to identify the companies offering coverages and the basic policies offered and then bought from the company directly. 

DISCLAIMER

The program itinerary is subject to change. In the event of an unforeseen change in the schedule, we promise you every effort will be taken to provide you with the same goals and objectives as outlined in the published itinerary. The published program price is subject to change should circumstances warrant. This would include (but not be limited to) changes in airfares, airport taxes, visa fees, airline fuel surcharges, rate changes by agents and their suppliers and changes in international exchange rates. This is highly unlikely and to date we have had only one small change in pricing. 

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