On one of our trips to Israel, we were at a popular site and six or seven tour buses pulled into the parking lot, one after another. They were all part of the same tour, sponsored by a prominent American televangelist. I observed the extensive amount of time it took to unload all the buses and move those 300+ people to the site they were going to tour. I remember thinking how difficult it would be to experience all the sites that our trip participants are able to experience with that size of a group, as well as to create the more intimate group experience, we strive toward.
To this day, with each trip Deb and I have enjoyed in Israel over past decades, we can remember the make-up of the group we experienced the country with that year, and the closeness that developed because of that shared experience. Every part of the trip is planned with the desire for that same sense of bonding to develop for you. Even the size of the group is important in that while a tour bus will officially hold 52 people, I always limit our groups well below that, as I do not want the bus overly crowded (or to have a luggage capacity issue). The bottom line is that for most people, they will only visit Israel once, and we want that experience to be the very best one possible.
We stay each of our nights in 4 or 5 Star Jewish Hotels. Many groups will cut costs by using Kibbutz Motels or Arab hotels. The Kibbutz Hotels are okay, but they are most often located in remote locations, and they are not first class at all. Arab hotels can be quite unenjoyable. The hotels we have secured for this trip have been booked as much as two years in advance as they are very much in demand. I have personally stayed at each hotel we will stay at on multiple occasions, and these are the hotels I request far ahead as I know they will provide great environments, tasty food, and convenient locations. Also, when we say a “ten-night trip”, we mean ten hotel nights, not two nights on a plane/flight and then eight in hotels!
We allow our group participants to book their own flights (though we are more than happy to assist you with this task). There are several advantages for our participants with this practice:
- “Group” flights no longer carry the discounts they once did years ago, which could save travelers dollars as a group. In our day, booking your own flight often is less money.
- Some participants may want to travel to Israel a day or more early for a “pre-trip”, or to rest a day or two, or for a variety of other reasons.
- Some participants may wish to visit another country, perhaps in Europe, on the way back to the USA.
- Some participants may wish to book a higher “class” of service such as business class.
- Other participants may possess credit card rewards or airline miles they wish to use for this trip (and with a 20-month lead time there is plenty of time to investigate this perk for those desiring to learn how to do this).
Each day a full breakfast buffet and full dinner buffet are provided by the hotel we are staying at that morning/evening. Lunches are not included. We will stop on most days at establishments for lunch that we have eaten at on previous trips.
Our guide will be Rueben Nevo who we have toured Israel with on multiple occasions. Rueben is a joy to work with and our groups become very close to him. His knowledge, communication style, natural warmth, and sense of humor are always appreciated and valued. Also, our bus driver will be “Adi” who has been our driver on every trip over the past 20 years.
Over the years I have heard many stories from those who visited Israel on a “low-cost” trip, only to find the amount of expenses NOT included in the fee they paid was significant. I try hard to INCLUDE every reasonable and normal expense into the fee we charge for a trip. These include…
- Ten nights lodging in 4 or 5-star Jewish hotels;
- All breakfasts;
- All dinners;
- All entrance fees;
- All guide fees;
- All transportation costs within Israel;
- All tips;
- A secondary medical insurance policy with evacuation benefit if needed;
- A resource notebook;
What I do not include is lunch each day, drinks beyond what comes with your meals, souvenirs, and the cost of your activities on your free day. Trip cancellation insurance, which is different than the secondary medical insurance we provide, is also the choice of each participant as to whether to purchase or not.
On my first trip to Israel, I was fortunate to journey with a long-time pastor friend who has traveled to Israel himself 40+ times since spending a semester of his college experience in Israel back in the 1970’s. I “shadowed” him the entire trip with full intent of learning how to lead a trip myself and capitalizing on his expertise, experience and contacts. And as I have led Israel trips over the years, I have continued to consult with him regularly regarding the latest opportunities in Israel. My hope is that you in turn will benefit from what we have learned and experienced over the years.
We will provide you a resource notebook developed over many years and it will be available either as a hard copy or an electronic copy. Each evening you will have the chance to prepare ahead for the next day’s itinerary. In addition, we will provide a recommended reading list for the months leading up to the trip, as well as hold preparatory meetings during that same time.
Most tours to Israel follow a standard itinerary that is dictated by a tour agency, and to some degree designed with profitability in mind. We customize our trips extensively and work through every aspect of each one. With a smaller group, we can utilize a high degree of flexibility, obtain access to some sites off the beaten path, and maximize the experience for each of our participants.
Over the years we have provided some “pre-trips” at times such as to Petra in Jordan, or for other locations. At this point, we have not determined if we will offer a pre-trip with this Israel trip, but it is possible we will do so. This is simply information at this point since we are often asked about this possibility.