Holy Land Travel Tips

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In Israel, plan to dress casually, packing clothes which can be layered if the weather changes. Choose comfort over fashion. In every case, our Pilgrimages are very casual. You do not need a dress, dress shirt, skirt or sports jacket. Leave them at home. Casual pants and tops are best. Jeans are fine if that is your style.

 

 

For travel in January – bring along a light-weight (rain-proof) winter jacket, gloves, scarf and hat. We use all of these items in winter. By the afternoon, you might be able to take your coat off entirely and leave it on the bus.
Winter is the rainy season. Buy an inexpensive plastic poncho with a hood at the Dollar Store. You won’t want to carry an umbrella – it’s difficult to manage in a crowd and you will want your hands free.

For summer travel in June, it is highly recommended to bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen as protection against the harmful rays of the sun. Israel’s temperatures in summer are usually in the high 80’s (27C), 90’s (32C). Tel Aviv, and Galilee will be hot and humid (like New York or Miami). Jerusalem is dryer and cooler, particularly at night. Jericho is extremely hot (possibly above 110F (43C), but dry.

In all weather, comfortable walking shoes are a must. The roads are over 2000 years old in Jerusalem. They are uneven. Sturdy walking shoes are much appreciated at the end of each day! Do not over-pack – leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs.

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, toiletries, notebook and pen. If your camera uses film or batteries, please purchase them here in the USA.

 

 

As of April 1, 2015 American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta allow:

  • One bag carry-on: No charge

  • One bag checked: No charge 50 pound limit each

  • One personal item: No charge

  • Charges will apply for additional bags. (current fee for add’l bags $100 per bag)

  • Travel is easier when you know what to expect and plan ahead. Pack like a pro with information regarding the size, weight and  number of bags you can check or carry on. (Picture shown displays an average carry- on bag.)

  • The largest bag you may check-in should not weigh more than 50 pounds. When you measure it, (length, width, height, as shown here) the total dimensions should not exceed 70 inches.

 

 

For a minimal amount of money, travel insurance is a must. Most of your travel expenses today are non-refundable. If you need to cancel your trip due to an unforeseen emergency or serious illness, trip insurance will reimburse you if you cancel for those covered reasons. If you become ill during
your travels, your travel insurance acts as your primary policy during this Pilgrimage. The insurance company will reimburse you when you file a claim upon our return.

You should use a major credit card (Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted at hospitals and or clinics.) You may need cash for doctor’s fees. You should have a secret stash of $100.00 for this reason.

Save all receipts for medical and/or dental care and any transportation costs. File a claim as soon as you arrive home.
Travel Insurance also covers lost baggage, and worldwide emergency assistance coverage.

All Pilgrims will have full insurance coverage while traveling on a Trinity
Pilgrimage unless you have signed a waiver.

 

 

Carry your medications with you onto the aircraft. Do not pack them in your large suitcase that you will check-in. Make sure that you bring sufficient medication for the length of our trip plus one or two days. (in case inclement weather delays our trip). Only narcotic drugs must be carried in their original packaging. Other medications may be loose or carried in plastic bags.

 

 

  • Leave your Israel travel information with a family member or friend – include a copy of your passport, your flight itinerary, travel itinerary, hotel names and  phone numbers.

  • All USA airlines restrict passengers to one piece of carry-on luggage (in addition to your purse, laptop, camera case) and one free check-in bag

  • Keep important items and documents with you at all times.

  • Do not keep travelers checks, money, valuables or travel documents in your luggage. US dollars are accepted in Israel. Bring small denominations as they will not be able to give you US dollars/coins as change.

 

 

There is no need to change currency at all. Bring small bills ($1, $5 and $10 denominations are best – you don’t want change in Israeli money.) You will need a dollar or two for donations at every Church we visit.

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

  • We encourage you to use the complimentary blue luggage tags that you will find enclosed with your travel documents. It makes it so easily to identify group luggage and therefore our guide can easily assist us at the airport.

  • Check-in time for international flights is normally two hours prior to departure. When checking in at the airport, a US passport (valid for six months after your return date) is needed as proof of identification to enter Israel. No visa is necessary for US Citizens. A visitor’s visa will be stamped in your passport upon our arrival.

  • Non-U.S. citizens are responsible to fulfill appropriate entry requirements of the destination country. Contact your local consulate for information.

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.

 

It’s a long, long flight….

 

  •  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. Your feet may swell. Shoes that tie are less restrictive than slip on shoes.

  • In order to avoid jet-lag, do not drink alcohol, caffeine or carbonated beverages. Choose natural fruit juices and water.

  • Before you leave, choose a good book that will keep you occupied for most of the flight. If possible, store several on an I-Pad or Kindle. Load favorite movies and music too.

  • Store your coat and anything you are not going to use during the flight 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.
    Hint: wear shoes that lace to insure you are able to fit swollen feet back into your shoes.

  •  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. Do leg exercises while in your seat to stretch muscles and keep your blood flowing.

 

 

Most tipping is included in your Pilgrimage package.

  • In addition, there is a “free will” offering at each Church that we visit for Mass. We ask that you consider a gift at each Church – it really helps them to sustain these century-old Churches. Catholics in the Holy Land are not great in number and are certainly the underprivileged in  status. All of the help and support we give is greatly appreciated by them.

 

 

All of the old towns in Israel have bazaars but the ultimate is to be found in the Old City of Jerusalem. Favorite items to purchase include leather goods, pottery, crafts, olive-wood carvings and hand blown glass. Vendors are anxious to bargain.

It is highly recommended that you purchase items in Jerusalem using cash. Do not use credit cards in the bazaar for your credit safety.

We will stop at a special location in Bethlehem to purchase religious souvenirs. You may use a credit card safely here.

Our purchases in Bethlehem help to support Holy Land  Christian families. Please consider making the bulk of your purchases here.

Special Opportunity

Jacob’s Well – Icons must be paid by cash only when purchased in Nablus from the priest artist Father Ioystinos. (example: a 9×13 Icon will cost approximately $400.00.) They are incredibly beautiful and unique.

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Purchases can be made in Israeli Shekels, U.S. dollars or Euros. Tourists who have purchased items with a value exceeding $100 (including VAT) in stores that are registered with the Ministry of Tourism or in stores participating in the VAT-refund plan are entitled to a refund of VAT when they leave the country.

Stores that offer VAT refund service have a special sign.

To receive VAT refund, ensure that you get a receipt with a list of all the items you have purchased and details of the purchaser. The receipt and purchases must be put into a sealed bag.

Tourists must then go to the “Change Place” at Ben Gurion airport (Tel Aviv) or other exit port. If you wish to send the items that you purchased with your luggage, you must declare the purchase at the security check, and present your passport, flight ticket, purchases and receipts at the counter. The attendant will open the bag, examine the contents, sign the receipt, and refund the VAT in any currency minus a commission. The VAT refund can also be sent to your address abroad for an additional charge.

There is no VAT refund for the following items: food, drinks, tobacco products, electrical appliances, cameras, film or other photography equipment.

Additional information about VAT refunds is available at
www.cpl.co.il
Or by calling 03-975-4020.

 

 

When traveling on a Trinity Travel Pilgrimage,all meals (except one lunch) are included. On the day lunch is excluded, a late breakfast is served. Coffee is included at breakfast.

Sodas ($2 – $3), Beer ($5 – $7) and coffee ($2) are additional charges at all other meals.

 

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. New electronics usually do not need converters but you will need to pack plug adapters. Israel uses plugs that have 3 prongs or 2 round prongs (see pictures below)

Plug Adapters
They do not convert electricity. They simply allow a dual-voltage appliance, a transformer or a converter from one country to be plugged into the wall outlet of another country. The plug of a Continental European appliance will not fit into an outlet in a foreign country without an adapter.

Converters
Converters and transformers both step up or down the voltage, but there is a difference in use between them. Converters should be used only with “electric” products. Electric products are simple heating devices or have mechanical motors. Examples are hair dryers, steam irons, shavers, toothbrushes or small fans. Converters are not designed for “continuous duty” and should only be used for short periods of time (1 to 2 hours). Additionally, most converters can only be used for ungrounded appliances (2 pins on the plug). Converters must be unplugged from the wall when not in use.

Transformers
Transformers also step up or down the voltage, but they are more expensive than converters and are used with “electronic” products. Electronic products have a chip or circuit. Examples are radios, CD or DVD players, shavers, camcorder battery rechargers, computers, computer printers, fax machines, televisions and answering machines. Transformers can also be used with electric appliances and may be operated continually for many days. The advantage of converters, however,  is that they are lighter and less expensive.

Computers are electronic devices (and phones, I-pads, Kindles, etc.) are usually dual voltage. Fortunately, most laptop battery chargers and AC adapters are dual voltage, so they can be used with only a plug adapter for the country you will be visiting. You should not need a transformer or converter for these items: Cellular phone, I-Pad, laptop computer, or Kindle. You will need a plug adapter (see below)

 

Telephone Service

 

Telephone Service may be available for your cell phone by special arrangements with your local provider. Usually you can pay for 1 month of international service for a small fee and then a per-minute charge for the length of the telephone call. Ask about other charges for wireless coverage and text services. If you are traveling with a computer, look into Skype service.

  • Internet service is available in each hotel and is free

  • Internet service is available on our bus

 

The currency in Israel is the shekel, sometimes called the new shekel. As the economy fluctuates, it is wise to keep an eye on rates of exchange as you approach your departure date. We recommend that you do not exchange currency since US dollars are accepted almost everywhere. If you withdraw money from ATM machines in Israel you will receive shekels. Do not apply for more shekels than you need as changing them back to US dollars results in large loses.

Note: USA currency (dollars $) are not dispensed outside of the United States.Carry the amount of cash you will need with you when you travel. You will not have access to US currency when traveling to a foreign country.

  • When you use your ATM card in a foreign country, the machine will dispense foreign currency only.

 

Credit Cards

 

Some companies offer far lower international fees than others — and a handful don’t charge any fees at all. If you’re going on a long trip, do some research and consider taking out a card just for international purchases. Capital One has a particularly good reputation for no-fee international transactions. Most credit unions have low-to-no international transaction fees. Bankrate.com has a  good comparison chart of major credit cards and their currency-conversion fees.

 

 

 

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 three hours for pre-departure screening and even more time for check-in. We will be sure to get you to the airport in adequate time.

 

Odds and Ends

 

  • Wear very comfortable shoes. The streets of Israel are hilly and uneven in places. Many roads are small cobblestone streets – especially in the old city of Jerusalem.
  • We suggest you pack at least 2 pair of walking shoes.
  •  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. Keep your purchases in your day pack. You’ll be less tempted to spend and spend as the pack gets heavier and heavier.
  •  Bring a travel size umbrella (in winter for use in rain, in summer for sun protection).
  •  Be sure to wear modest clothing when visiting any religious shrine.
  • No shorts may be worn during the day for sightseeing in Jerusalem – however, capris are acceptable. Please pack accordingly.
  • We travel throughout the Holy Land by bus. Bring Dramamine or Bonine if you have a queasy stomach.
  • There is one boat ride on the Sea of Galilee – again, use Dramamine or Bonine if you need it. (The sea is usually very calm.)
  • Our Catholic Israeli tour guides are extremely knowledgeable and friendly. You are in for a treat. They will answer any and all of your questions.
  • 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
  • You may not take fruit meats or veggies in or out of Israel
  • Public toilets –charge 1 Sheckle or 2 USA quarters Always bring tissues for use in public toilets
  • Important – Please refrain from discarding used toilet paper/tissues in public toilets. Their sanitation system cannot handle paper. You must discard in the trash container provided in each stall.
  • You may find that moist towelettes are refreshing after sitting on a bus. Again, use the trash container provided.