Visiting Israel is amazing, something that everyone should experience! When people begin to think about making a trip a lot of questions come to mind. So we have put together a list of frequently asked questions to help you get started.
Where do I begin?
The most important factor in the success of your tour is your own unconditional decision that you are going to Israel, and that you are going to take a group of your congregants, ministry supporters, or other friends with you. Once you have taken this step of faith yourself, the rest is easy.
Experience shows that it is best not to make your decision conditional on others agreeing to go with you. If your commitment is conditional, people will tend to wait until the conditions are met – actually sabotaging the potential of the tour. No one wants to invest precious time and resource on a trip that may be canceled at the last minute.
However, once you make a firm decision to go to Israel, you will typically find your people will respond enthusiastically and want to join you. Your commitment to go is vital to the success of leading a trip to Israel!
Who can help me plan a trip to Israel?
The Israel Ministry of Tourism is here to help you every step of the way. At your request, your nearest Israel Ministry of Tourism office will send you an extensive listing of travel and tour organizers who specialize in tours of Israel.
The Israel Ministry of Tourism is noncommercial and does not sell trips to Israel. It is a service agency here to help you facilitate a successful and rewarding trip.
Your next step is to contact a travel or tour operator to begin scheduling your tour. Many of the operators available have decades of experience in leading tours of Israel.
How far in advance should I begin planning a trip?
You should plan your specific departure date with your travel or tour organizer. If you are just getting started as a tour host, we suggest you allow yourself at least six to nine months before departure. A longer period is even better, since ample time is needed to promote the tour and sign people on. The rule is to plan far enough ahead that you and your travel organizer can set a definite departure date and carry out your planning steps with that deadline in mind.
When is the best time of year to visit?
It’s up to you. Unless you specifically want to be in Israel for Christmas or Easter, you may want to schedule your trip at a time other than these busy holiday seasons. One of the most beautiful seasons is right after Easter, for example.
Many Christian groups prefer to travel when lower, off-season rates are available – usually November through mid-March (except Christmas). Weather conditions vary.
From November to March Israel has cool temperatures and some rain. From June to August temperatures are very warm, and the country is virtually rainless from April through October.
Your travel agent or tour operator can help you decide on the best time for you and your group.
How affordable is a trip to Israel?
One of the most exciting discoveries awaiting Christians who want to visit Israel is how surprisingly affordable the trip can be.
Also, many churches will agree to pay for their pastor’s trip in light of the spiritual benefits of having a pastor or ministry leader on the journey. You can even discuss creating a pricing structure with your tour operator that allows for one free trip for every set number of paid trips. One for every ten paying participants or even one for every five is not uncommon.
This feature has enabled many tour hosts like yourself to make the journey of their dreams come true often at no cost to them or their church. Tour operators recognize the valuable service that the host provides, and your people will appreciate the work you put into the tour. Your trip is a well-earned benefit of hosting a tour.
Is it really safe to visit Israel?
Yes … clearly and emphatically. This question is only asked by people who have not been to Israel. The fact that millions of people visit Israel every year and return safe, fulfilled, inspired and happy demonstrates how exaggerated news reports are about Israel.
Israel has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. This fact and the travel record of our many visitors speak for themselves. Ask someone who has been to Israel – then, come see for yourself.
How long should our trip be?
Many options are available, but most trips to Israel are typically ten days or more. Remember that once you have paid the airfare, extra days cost very little.
What are some of the flight options available?
Travelers from North America have never had more choices for direct flights to Tel Aviv. Currently, five airlines (Air Canada, Continental, Delta, El Al, and Israir) offer nonstop travel from a variety of North American gateways, including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (both JFK and Newark-Liberty), and Toronto. In addition, nearly 20 European carriers fly from North America to Israel via Europe. Worldwide, more than 70 airlines fly into Israel’s state-of-the-art Ben Gurion International Airport. Compare carriers by price, convenience of departure gateways, and overall time spent en route. Once again, your tour operator can assist you with this.
Who will be in Israel to meet and guide my group?
Travel agents and tour operators have representatives in Israel who will meet your group upon arrival and handle all of the arrangements in the country.
In addition, an English-speaking, government-licensed guide will accompany your group throughout your entire stay in the country. Your guide will not only lead your tour of historic sites, but will also help with all arrangements. Most Israelis speak English and are glad to assist visitors. Also, English signs are everywhere, so there’s no language barrier.
Will our tour guide be well prepared?
All of the tour guides are specially licensed by the Israel government. After they show aptitude, ability, and fluency in English, the guides are required to complete a two-year training course. They must pass exams to show extensive knowledge of culture, geography, history, travel, and religion – and they participate in annual updates and refresher classes.
Their outstanding abilities add up to one very important benefit for you as tour host. You are free to relax and enjoy the tour and let the tour guide take care of the details. You’ll have time to teach, conduct worship services, and offer insight along the way without having to coordinate logistics.
If you know of a particular guide you’d like to have on your tour, be sure to let your tour operator know.
I want to go! So, what’s next?
Once you’ve committed to take the journey of a lifetime to Israel, it’s time to start planning and promoting your tour. And, of course, the Ministry of Tourism will be ready to help you every step along the way!