FAQs/Tour Tips for Israel

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I’ve booked my Biblical tour with Living Passages! What do I do next?

Welcome! We are so happy to have you join us!

Once we’ve received your registration form, you will be sent a link to a form along with your invoice—we ask each traveler in your party, including you, to please fill out this form in its entirety within 3 days of receipt. This allows us to make sure passport and medical information is up-to-date and enables us to take your travel preferences into account as we prepare for your tour. (Note that we also ask for your shirt size so we can send you a gift—please check out the sizing chart included in the form before selecting your size, to ensure you receive a good fit!)

If you require any special assistance or accommodation for a disability or have questions regarding the accessibility of the sites we will visit, please contact us at +1 (888) 771-8717. We look forward to answering any questions you may have!

I booked airfare through Living Passages - when will I get my plane tickets?

Airfare booked through Living Passages is done via group booking. Ticketing for groups is not done until several weeks before departure, so you can expect to receive your flight information and ticket numbers approximately 3 weeks before your travel date. All tickets are issued electronically, so you’ll receive your itinerary and ticket number via email, along with instructions on how to change/add seat assignments or purchase more legroom. Group bookings typically require travelers to check in at the airport, so make sure you arrive at least 2 hours before flight takeoff to check in and go through security.

What do I need to do to be able to travel to Israel?

Travelers to Greece will need to have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond their scheduled return date. If you don’t have a passport yet, or if yours is expiring soon, you should apply for a new one as soon as possible. US Citizens can go to https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html for information on how to apply for/renew passports. Please be aware that passport processing times are long, and it may take up to 13 weeks to get your passport. Wait times to get an appointment for a first-time application before the process of issuance can begin can be long depending on your location, so please do not wait to make one. Please schedule an appointment right away if you need to apply for a new passport before your trip.

To find a passport acceptance facility near you, search here: Where to Apply for a Passport Nationwide (state.gov)

Do I need to get a visa before I travel to Israel?

If you are a citizen of the United States, you do not need to get a visa in advance before traveling to Israel - when you arrive at the airport in Tel Aviv or cross into Israel from Jordan, you will be issued a tourist visa. If you are coming from another country, you can check this list to see if you have a visa exemption for Israel.

What kind of money can I use in Israel?

The currency used in Israel is the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). We recommend not attempting to purchase the local currency before your trip. We do suggest bringing approximately $250 USD per person in small bills for spending on things like drinks, water on the bus, small souvenirs, tips over and above the standard, prepaid tips for waitstaff, housekeeping, and your bus driver. You can use dollars in many places in Israel, and it keeps things easy for quick purchases of small items in the Old City. Note that if you give a shopkeeper payment in dollars, they will give you change in shekels. It’s a good idea to carry at least a few shekels in change with you while on tour - most public bathrooms in Israel will charge a couple of shekels for entrance, so be prepared!

If you would like to get shekels for your trip, we recommend withdrawing approximately $50 USD worth in shekels via ATM upon your arrival. There are plenty of ATMs at the airport and in the lobbies of larger hotels. Tipping housekeeping staff and others in the local currency is an extra blessing you can give them, as they will not lose the value of the tip money when exchanging it!

Can I use my credit card in Israel?

You will be able to use a credit card in Israel in many places - Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted. If you plan to use your credit card to pay for laundry service at a hotel, or any other extra services, it’s wise to check with your card issuer or bank about foreign transaction fees before you travel so there are no surprises.

What kind of clothes should I wear in Israel?

When you travel with Living Passages to Israel, you will want to wear loose-fitting clothing that is breathable, layers well, and protects you from the sun. Natural fibers with an open weave such as linen or lightweight wool are fantastic at keeping you cool. Clothing that is designed to be rinsed and hung to dry quickly for repeat wear the next day is also very useful, such as hiking clothing you can find at an outdoor outfitter store. We will rarely have the opportunity to change for dinner after a busy day of sightseeing, so casual and functional clothing will be all you need to feel comfortable and prepared.

Always check the weather forecast right before you pack - temperatures can fluctuate significantly over the country in any given month, and it’s best to be prepared based on current weather conditions. While much of Israel is Westernized, churches and holy sites typically have a dress code requiring both men and women to wear clothing that is not revealing and also covers the knees, shoulders, and torsos. It’s wise to wear pants that cover the knee (capris or over-the-knee skirts work well for ladies) on days that we are touring religious sites in and around Jerusalem, such as the Western Wall or Temple Mount. Some like to carry a shawl or a button-down shirt that can provide quick coverage for the day.

Don’t forget sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat! If your skin is sensitive to the sun, you can even bring a collapsible umbrella to carry shade with you wherever you go!

What kind of shoes should I wear when traveling to Israel?

Bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes that you will be able to walk around in on uneven ground, dirt and rock, or smooth paving stones. The stones in Jerusalem especially have been worn smooth by millions of feet and it can get slippery, so make sure you have good traction! Any shoes you bring should already be broken in so you don’t get blisters. It’s also nice to have a pair to change into at the end of a long day, so do bring a pair of comfortable shoes as well, such as sandals. No need to bring anything fancy - Israel is a casual country, so you can leave your dress shoes and high heels at home!

How do I do laundry when I’m traveling in Israel?

If you need to do laundry on the trip, there are two options:

  1. Use the laundry service at your hotel. The best time to do this is when you are staying at the same hotel for two nights in a row or more. It doesn’t typically cost too much to make use of the laundry service, so check with the hotel front desk when you check-in.
  2. Do your laundry by hand. If you have delicate items or have packed clothing that dries quickly, it’s easy to do it in the sink at the hotel and save some money! To make it even easier, bring a good cold-water soap (like this travel-size laundry detergent) as well as a couple of large Ziploc bags… just in case your laundry isn’t fully dry by check-out time and you need to pack it into your suitcase.
What can I expect each day that we tour in Israel?

Every morning, we will get on the bus for a day of touring and will not return to the hotel until the evening. You’ll want to bring anything you may need for the day in a small daypack that you can either carry with you or leave on the bus, depending on your needs. There will often be water for sale for a dollar at the front of the bus, and you’ll want to make sure that you stay hydrated on our long days. The bus will be air-conditioned, but don’t let that stop you from drinking as much water as possible! We will make plenty of comfort stops, as all that water has to go somewhere! Let your Living Passages guide know if you need to use the restroom on a long drive.

While you drive to various Biblical sites, your guide will use the time to point out sights of importance along the way and share facts about Israel’s history and the sites you are visiting that day.

What are the seating arrangements like on the tour bus?

There are no assigned seats on the tour bus - the only reserved seats are the row at the very front, right behind the driver, as well as the front seat behind the local tour guide. This is so the guide, Living Passage's liaison, and your teacher can reach the microphone and direct the driver as needed, as well as confer with one another when last-minute opportunities come up on the tour - we want you to have the smoothest, most informative trip possible, and this helps our leaders provide it!

Feel free to move around and find new seats on the bus each day so you can meet everyone on your tour. We hope you’ll be just as blessed by the fellowship on the bus as you will be by the sites we visit and the teaching you receive!

What kind of physical activity does a tour of Israel require?

Much of the tour in Israel requires a reasonable level of activity and mobility - there are some slightly more demanding walks at certain sites, such as when we spend a good portion of the day walking through the Old City of Jerusalem, and many places where stairs are the only way to access the site we are visiting.

It’s a good idea to begin working on your endurance now, especially if you do not typically do much walking. If you are not used to heat, please keep in mind that the sun can sap your energy and you will need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

If long periods on your feet tire you easily, we recommend this walking cane - it converts from a cane into a three-legged stool, so when we pause for periods at various sites for teaching you can simply unfold it and have a seat until it’s time to move again.

If you are concerned about your mobility and need more information about this tour, please give us a call at (888) 771-8717 and we can discuss the activity level and accessibility of specific sites as it pertains to your personal needs.

I’ve heard I’ll be getting a package from Living Passages before we leave on the trip. What will I get in my box?

About two weeks before departure on your tour, Living Passages will mail you a few small gifts: a button-down shirt that is perfect for keeping the sun off, luggage tags to help you and the porters keep track of your bags, and a name badge to make it easy to identify who is part of the tour group.

We will also mail you hard copies of tour documents for you to bring with you on the trip. These will include any insurance documents that we’ve arranged on your behalf as well as a day-to-day itinerary, an emergency contact list complete with hotel and guide information, a list of the names of your fellow travelers, and a final letter with any updates to help you navigate your travel.

We hope these things will be a blessing to you and help you on your journey! If you want to guarantee to be recognized by fellow travelers and your greeter, we ask that you wear your complimentary Living Passages shirt and name badge upon your arrival.

My package has arrived, but my shirt doesn’t fit right - can I exchange it?

Each shirt is custom-ordered based on the size you requested in your traveler information form when you completed your registration, according to the size chart provided. Because shirts are customized for each tour and traveler, we unfortunately can’t exchange these gifts at this time. However, if your shirt does not fit you as desired, please still bring it on the tour and have it with you at dinner on the first night: you may find that other travelers are looking to swap for a different size as well and that you can exchange them amongst yourselves!

How do I meet up with my tour group?

If you are taking the group air, you will be on the same flight as most of your group - you’ll be traveling overseas together and will likely meet as you wait at your gate or board the plane, especially if you are wearing your complimentary Living Passages shirt!

If you have booked your own flights that arrive at the same time or a bit earlier than the group air schedule, you will meet your tour group at the airport, and then leave the airport together.

More specific information will be provided to you as the departure date draws closer, but in either scenario, expect to collect any luggage you may have checked and make your way out through customs to the Arrivals Hall of the airport - look for the representative holding a “Living Passages” sign who will be waiting to greet you! To make it easier to identify one another (and help the representative spot you in the busy airport!), please wear your Living Passages button-up shirt for your arrival, along with your name badge. It also helps to attach your Living Passages luggage tags to each bag you’re traveling with. (These items, along with your tour documents, will be mailed to all US residents approx. 2 weeks before departure. For participants residing in other countries, our representative will hand-deliver your items to you on the first day of the tour.)

Your tour group will use WhatsApp to stay in contact before and during your Christian tour. Download the apps before you leave if you are able. After you have downloaded the app, please be sure to send Living Passages the cell phone number that you will be using during your travels so we can add the correct number to the group chat. If you have flight delays or encounter any problems while traveling, this app is a great place to mention them to keep the coordinator informed of any issues - or to help you find the group once you arrive!

If you have trouble with the app, don’t worry - you can connect with your tour representative by email, and they will be happy to help you get the app working on the first day of the tour so you don’t miss out on any communications or photos that other travelers share on the trip!

What kind of luggage do I bring with me to Israel? Are there any size restrictions?

Airlines change their luggage restrictions frequently, and no airline is the same. It’s always best to check directly with the airline you are booked on to see the latest luggage requirements, and what kind of items you are allowed to bring on the plane.

Living Passages strongly recommends traveling light and packing everything you will need for your trip into a carry-on bag and “personal item,” such as a small backpack. Checked luggage can sometimes be lost by airlines, resulting in travelers not receiving their baggage for days after their arrival. This can cause unnecessary issues, and your tour schedule may not allow much time or opportunity for purchasing replacement items if your luggage is lost.

Because of this, as well as ever-increasing fees for checked luggage, we suggest not checking a bag unless absolutely necessary, or limiting yourself to a single checked bag in these cases. Our buses have limited room for luggage transportation, and there will not be enough space to keep more than a small backpack with you on the bus.

If you need to check a bag, be sure to pack a couple of changes of clothing, necessary toiletries, and all medications, cameras, etc. in your carry-on luggage just in case your checked luggage is delayed. This way, if your checked bag is delayed or lost, you’ll have what you need to enjoy the first days of your tour while the airline forwards it to you, without missing valuable days of your trip to shopping.

Special luggage tags will be sent to you approximately two weeks before departure - please attach these to each piece of luggage. They are very helpful to baggage handlers at hotels!

What do I need to pack for a Biblical tour to Israel?

Always bring all necessary medications with you in their original containers, along with copies of the prescriptions. It’s wise to bring enough for the entire trip, along with a little extra, as there will not always be a place to get refills. If you wear eyeglasses, bring an extra pair and the prescription just in case.

In Israel, toilet paper is not always guaranteed in public restrooms – it’s wise to carry some tissues or a travel toilet kit just in case! Hand sanitizer spray is great for a quick cleanse while traveling, too!

Being well-hydrated will help you feel your best on this trip. Consider bringing some electrolytes to put in your water each day, such as NUUN Tablets, or something equally easy to pack in your suitcase to keep you refreshed and energized. Always bring water with you when you leave for a day of touring!

Many of us enjoy waking up early or retiring late for private devotional time. Especially in chillier months, we’ve found that this travel-sized immersion water heater is perfect for making a mug of tea or instant coffee from the comfort of your room.

You might also want to consider bringing a fanny pack (preferably one which you can wear cross-body in front of you and is not easily unclipped, to prevent theft) or a light daypack to carry your water, small bills, camera, Bible, and any other incidentals you may need for a day of touring. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it fits the carry-on flight restrictions of the airline you’re flying with if you’ll be using it as your personal item on the plane. We always recommend that you keep your passport, wallet, and cash in a secure location that is out of sight and not easily removed from your person. While crime is low, a money belt or pouch that is worn beneath your shirt will keep your valuables more secure from pickpockets you may encounter in crowded areas. Do not keep your passport, wallet, or phone in your pockets or in your name badge lanyard, as these are easily accessed or stolen. Pickpockets do tend to target tour groups in Jerusalem, so it’s wise not to make yourself an easy target!

For more packing tips and product recommendations, check out our blog for 8 Tips to Help You Pack Like a Pro.

See this site for details on items that are prohibited for air travel: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

 

What do I need to know about photography in Israel?

There is a lot to photograph in Israel: take twice as many memory cards as you think you will need!

Some museums, churches, and monuments do not allow photography - keep an eye out for any signs when you enter so you know what is permitted and can respect the restrictions. Some sites may charge for permission to use your camera. If you take photos with anyone leading a camel or donkey, their owner will expect you to pay him for them.

Be polite with your photography, especially if you wish to take photos of local people. It’s best to establish some type of relationship with them first - even a smile - and then request permission. When in doubt, refrain from taking a shot.

What do I need to know about crime in Israel?

Always leave expensive watches and jewelry at home - if you can’t replace it, don’t take it. Be aware that wherever large crowds are gathered, there will be pickpockets. Make sure that your money, credit cards, passport, and phone are difficult for others to access, such as inside a money belt worn under your shirt. Out of sight and carried in front of you is the way to go! Fanny packs are handy but easily stolen, and you never want to carry your phone or wallet in your back pocket.

Never assume that your in-room safe is exempt from theft, either - be wise with what you choose to store in it.

Do I need to take any health precautions in Israel?
  • Tap water is safe to drink, but if in doubt, bottled water is plentiful.
  • Please be aware that smoking is very common in Israel, and you will encounter it in many places: hotel lobbies, restaurants, and on the street.
  • There are currently NO requirements for COVID-19 injections or PCR tests upon arrival or departure from Israel.
  • Israel requires that visitors bring proof of health insurance that is valid within Israel. Living Passages offers optional travel insurance that meets this requirement. Please contact us if you’d like more information!
Should we tip in Israel?

Tipping is customary in the Middle East just like it is here at home. For good service, tips are between 10%-15%.

The minimum expected tips for your tour guides and drivers are included in your tour, and we have prepaid them. Though they’ve been given the minimum standard gratuity, if you enjoyed your guide or driver, a few extra dollars or shekels would be a blessing to them! They will hear our discussions about the Lord, see our Bibles, and observe our conduct: and what a great testimony generosity can be! Any blessing you offer in the way of cash is a sure sign of kindness to these hard workers, especially in these times.

Porterage for your luggage has been prepaid, but it would be kind to tip a couple of extra dollars when the luggage is delivered to your room.

Tipping of waitstaff for all your meals provided by Living Passages is included, although this does not include sodas, specialty coffees, juices, etc. If you are seated for a meal and order a beverage, it’s customary to leave a small tip on the table and settle your bill before retiring to your room.

Can I use my cell phone in Israel?

To make sure you can use your phone while traveling, contact your cell phone service provider before you leave to ask about plans that cover you in Israel. If they have an international plan, you can add it to your phone then. If you need to add unlimited data, please do, but if using the hotel wifi at the hotel in the evenings will be enough for your use, do not feel that it’s necessary.

If the cost of an international plan is not reasonable, let us know - we can take a moment at the airport for you to purchase a SIM card that works in-country and can give you internet access and the ability to call. Note that using a different SIM card will mean you have a temporary phone number and cannot receive calls or texts on your usual phone number while you’re using it. However, you will have access to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and any other apps you have downloaded - these are excellent for keeping in touch with both friends and family back home as well as the group when you’re connected to WiFi!

Where can we get WiFi on the tour in Israel?

The tour bus will often have WiFi. However, please don’t use Facebook or upload/download movies over it - it’s to be shared by all for basic things like texting and emails. 

Many of the restaurants we visit will also have WiFi access so you can stay caught up with friends and family back home.

There will be internet access at the hotels we stay at in Israel as well. The hotel WiFi will be the best for making any updates or downloads. Some hotels offer it for free throughout the hotel, others charge, and some will offer it for free in the lobby areas. If you need to stay connected and able to email, call, and contact others while traveling, we recommend purchasing an international plan with unlimited data or purchasing a SIM card for temporary use once you arrive at the airport. (For iPhone users, you will need to have your phone “unlocked” by your provider before you leave to use a different SIM card.) Most cell carriers have fairly reasonable international plans for travelers.

How do I charge my phone or electronics in Israel?

To charge electronics in Israel, you will need a voltage converter and a plug adaptor. Israel operates on a 220-240V supply voltage, so if you plan to bring any electrical appliances, including hair dryers or battery banks for recharging your phone on the go, you will need to convert the voltage so it does not ruin your appliances. If you are taking a camera that requires charging, check your owner’s manual for any specialized conversion you may need to make.

Additionally, if you live in the United States, power outlets in Israel require a different type of plug than you are used to: you will find they primarily use “type C” plugs, as used in Europe. We suggest a voltage converter and an adapter with multiple outlets and USB ports, like this one, to keep things simple!

Sometimes the wall sockets are recessed, which can make it difficult to plug your voltage transformer directly into the wall. To make sure you can always charge your device, bring a simple plug adapter as pictured in the diagram below.

adapter image

What kind of shopping is there to do in Israel?

On a tour with Living Passages, you’re sure to find plenty of fascinating items to take home! Many sites we visit will have gift shops for small souvenirs, and the Old City of Jerusalem has amazing markets. We’ll usually include a dedicated time for shopping as we are able. Here are a few things you need to know when making purchases:

  1. When we are on the move as a group, if you see something you’d like to stop and purchase, always check with the tour leader to see if there is time first. If you duck into a shop without speaking with the tour leader, especially amid the crowds, the group won’t know you’re gone until they’re back at the bus, and you may be separated from everyone.
  2. Remember your luggage size, and that you may be charged for extra baggage by both ground operators and airlines. However, vendors are happy to ship large items like rugs or wooden artwork to your home!
  3. Value Added Taxes (VAT) are 17% in Israel. Keep that in mind when considering purchases and remember to ask the shopkeeper if VAT is included in the posted price. Some shops participate in the VAT tax refund program, so for more expensive items, ask the shopkeeper for the refund form while you check out. They will fill it out, and when you leave Israel, you can present the refund form, your passport, and the purchased goods at the VAT Refund Counter at the airport before you depart. Please know this can take extra time, and due to the nature of travel, several circumstances (such as the counter being closed, lack of time before takeoff, or long lines) could prevent you from receiving a VAT refund for your purchases, so this is not guaranteed.
How can I prepare spiritually for my Christian Tour of Israel?

As you travel, it can be hard to absorb all the sights, sounds, and teaching all at once. To more fully prepare if you wish to dig deeper and find even more significance in the locations we will visit, we suggest reading Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence by Craig A. Evans. This will give you some excellent understanding of the physical sites themselves, and alongside the scriptures (the four gospels and book of Acts especially), you will find yourself well-equipped to get the most out of your Biblical tour!

Most of all, begin to pray now for your travel companions, your driver, guides, and hosts, your housekeepers, the shop owners, and all those God brings to your mind. Pray for God’s blessing on your trip, that He will use your investment to His glory, and for a Christ-centered response to each day and every situation. He will provide plenty of opportunities as you travel to be His hands and feet - what a blessing and a privilege!