Trip Preparation

last updated February 27, 2022 for February 28-March 10, 2022 trip

Before You Depart

Pre-flight PCR Test (72 hours before departure)

Get a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure to Israel or a negative lab-based antigen within 24 hours of departure to Israel.

Although it is a bit costlier and more time-consuming, I would recommend getting the PCR within the 72-hour timeframe. The PCR is more accurate than the antigen, and I would hate for you to show up in Israel having had a false negative and then being forced to quarantine.

You must have this negative PCR test and your complete Entry Statement Form (see the next section) to board your international flight.

Online Entry Statement Form (48 hours before departure)

Complete the online Entry Statement Form form within 48 hours of your flight. Please note that you cannot complete this form until you are within the 48-hour window of departure.

Important reminders for completing this form

  • Before beginning to fill out your form, save your proof of vaccination card as a PDF. You will need to upload it.
  • all dates must be in DDMMYYYY format
  • times are in 24-hour format
  • you will need your flight information (carrier, flight number, departure/arrival times). If you don’t have this, contact your group leader or james@landofthebible.org.
  • Do not put anything in the “Member of a tourist group” box. As far as this form is concerned, you are entering as an indvidual.
  • In “Isolation address,” enter the information for the first hotel
    Locality: HAIFA
    Street: ELAZAR (UPDATE: although the actual street name is DAVID ELAZAR, it seems the form only accepts ELAZAR.
    House Number: 10
    Number of household members: 1
    Number of rooms in the accommodation: 1

Once you have completed the form, there will be an opportunity to pre-pay your arrival PCR in Tel Aviv. I would suggest you do this because it is cheaper online and will expedite the process when you arrive. If you want to wait until you get a negative PCR result here before you schedule the PCR test there, you can always go online later and schedule your PCR at https://testngo.femi.com/en/sign-in

You should receive an email within 15 minutes with your clearance to board the flight. That email will come from no-reply@moh.gov.il – If you do not receive that email within 30 minutes, please check your spam/junk mail folders. If after 1 hour that email has not yet arrived – please fill out the form again.

You must have this completed form and a negative PCR test (see the previous section) to board your international flight.

Travel Insurance

We highly recommend that every passenger obtain travel insurance. Many plans are available at various coverage levels. Because different travelers have different needs and risk tolerances, we do not offer a group plan.

Although current Israeli entrance guidelines do not require travel insurance, we HIGHLY recommend that each passenger secure coverage. Also, check that your plan covers costs incurred should you be diagnosed with COVID while on the trip. From our research, most plans now cover expenses incurred from a COVID illness but be sure to verify this on a particular plan.

We recommend using an insurance search/comparison site, such as SquareMouth or TravelInsurance.com, as they present a filterable range of options.

See landofthebible.org/insurance for options.

Clothes and Packing

Please keep in mind that most people tend to pack too much for trips like these. The general rule to keep in mind is to keep things comfortable. We will be on the move day-by-day and you’ll want to travel in clothes that are comfortable to walk around in, especially your footwear.

The weather for our trip will be beautiful. The mornings and evenings could be a little bit cool, and I would suggest bringing one light jacket along with you. Because we will be traveling on the same bus for the entire time, many people choose to leave their jacket on the bus. The bus is secure and you will not have any problem leaving your belongings on it day by day.

Another factor to consider when packing is the fact that we will be visiting several sites where modesty will be a factor. Pants are never a problem for men or women at any of the sites, but if you are wearing shorts or skirts, they need to be at or below the knee. I would also discourage you from wearing anything that would be sleeveless on these touring days. This is especially true when we tour the Temple Mount and enter some of the more sacred places. We will be sure to let you know ahead of time when we plan to visit these sites.

You are permitted to bring with you one checked bag at no charge. The bag cannot exceed 50 pounds in total weight. Be sure to pack accordingly. You are also permitted to bring with you one carry-on bag and a personal item. The TSA site also has helpful information for those of you not familiar with airplane travel. See tsa.gov/travel.

I would strongly recommend bringing a hat and sunglasses. The sun can be a factor in Israel, and you’ll want to be prepared. You may want to consider bringing sunscreen as well if you have skin issues.

Don’t be concerned about ironing your clothes. The hotel rooms in Israel will not have irons or ironing boards, although there will be an iron and ironing board available on each floor of the hotel. I would recommend traveling casual and trying to pack wrinkle-free clothes.

There will never be a need for you to “dress up” on the trip so leave your Sunday morning attire at home! One final thought on packing clothes…we will be traveling to the Dead Sea and some of you will want to take part in the unique experience of floating on the Dead Sea. I would strongly recommend that you bring “throw away” clothes for this. There will be a changing area, but you will not want to keep the wet, very salty clothes with you and then have to pack them with your other clothes.

By the way, the hotels are modern and comfortable. You will not need to take towels or anything of that sort. Keep in mind that you will want to pack toiletries and personal items as you would for any hotel in United States. Also keep in mind that you’ll want to leave a little bit of room in your luggage in order to take back some souvenirs with you.

Electronics

Like most countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, the electricity in Israel is rated at 220V.

Israel uses what is called a type H plug. This plug, which is unique to Israel, has two flat prongs that form a V- shape and a flat vertical grounding prong at the bottom. They are rated at 16A. Type H outlets (sockets) are so shaped as to accommodate type C plugs as well.

Most larger hotels have 110V outlets for shavers, but these outlets cannot be used for hair dryers or other larger appliances. Additionally, most of your cell phone chargers are fine because they are made for 100-240V. All you would need is an adapter which can be purchased at Walmart or Best Buy or Amazon, etc. For hairdryers you would need a converter, not simply an adapter.

Cell phone providers provide various plans for international calling so it is impossible to offer one general rule of thumb for taking your phone to Israel. Most people simply turn off all cellular data in Israel altogether so as not to incur exorbitant roaming charges. Even with voice and cellular data turned off, you can still use your smartphones in wifi zones. Although the wifi is slow, there will be wifi on the bus and in the hotels at which we stay. At these places, as long as the connection speeds hold up, you can make internet calls using Facebook audio, Skype, FaceTime, etc. Others choose to add a global plan to their existing phone plan.

Contact your service provider and inquire about the various options. Be sure to have them email you the rates and terms of any offer. Also, when making or receiving phone calls, remember that Israel is 7 hours ahead of EST.

Credit Cards

It is helpful to have a credit card that offers the perk of no foreign transaction fees. Be sure to call your credit card company to alert them that you will be out of the country and for what time frame. Other than taking these simple precautions, there is no problem using a credit card at reputable merchants in Israel.

Medications

If you take prescribed medication, bring enough to last your entire trip, including some extra in case there are delays on return. Carry your medications in the original labeled containers, and pack them in your carry-on bags. Ask your pharmacy or doctor for the generic equivalent name of your prescriptions in case you need to purchase additional medication during your trip. Get a letter from your doctor in case you are questioned about your carry-on medication.

Copies of Important Documents

It’s always a good idea to have physical copies and/or pictures of your important documents–passport, vaccination card, proof of travel insurance, PCR test result, and completed entry statement form/flight clearance.

If you pre-book the arrival PCR test, also have that confirmation printed or saved on your phone.

During the Trip

Arrival in Israel
When you arrive in Israel, there is a mandatory PCR administered at the airport. It’s an efficient process, and you will get through the line in just a few minutes. If you pre-booked this test, you’ll need to show your booking confirmation.

After you take the test, you will go through customs, get your bags, and meet our representative as you exit the terminal. We will be there to meet you with a Land of the Bible sign (see below). We will immediately travel to the hotel where you can get checked in, have dinner, and relax. The PCR result usually comes back in 8 hours or less, so we will be more than ready to go the next morning for our first official day of touring.

Food

Each day we will be served a large buffet breakfast and dinner at the hotel. There are plenty of options, and there is sure to be something there that will suit your taste. Should you have any specific food allergies, please let me know about these in advance. For what it’s worth, I really like the juice in Israel, but the coffee isn’t the greatest. Although the real coffee drinker does need to try some authentic Turkish coffee in the old city of Jerusalem!

Remember that our lunches are the only item not covered by the price of the trip. We will stop daily at various lunch places where you can get a taste of shawarma or falafel or (if they don’t sound familiar) a good old-fashioned hamburger. Lunch costs are in the $10-15 range. Perhaps you might consider bringing some granola bars or snacks for along the way. One couple even brought along their own small coffee maker complete with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (They were very popular!). Bottled water is available on the bus refrigerator, typically for $1 a bottle. The driver will stock the refrigerator daily so there will be plenty of water.

Weather

The months of fall and spring season are beautiful times to travel to Israel! The daily high temperature in Jerusalem will be low to mid-70s, with cooler nights in the high 50s to low 60s. Galilee will be slightly warmer, but still quite comfortable. Occasionally there might be a passing rain shower. On the day you travel to the desert, temperatures could approach 90ºF and the sun will be hot.

Daily Schedule

Each day of touring typically begins at 8 am at which time we load the bus and depart for the day’s destinations. We do not return to the hotel until late afternoon, so it is important to bring with you whatever you will need for the entire day including medication, spending money, a light jacket, etc. As I mentioned before, you are free to leave items on the bus. It will be secure as we tour, as well as overnight.

Because we have a large group it is important that we strive to be on time or early to all of our meetings, especially when departing in the morning or meeting back at the bus at our respective sites. We have much to accomplish and do not want to miss out because a few in the group have trouble being prompt. With this in mind, it might be wise to bring your own alarm clock if you do not already have such capability on your phone.

Along these lines, when we travel as a group we must strive to stay close to the tour guide and not be straggling along. It is important that we keep the pace as we walk from site to site. To help with this, I will assign one of our group to be the rear guard and lovingly remind the stragglers to keep up!

Spending Money

The amount of spending money you bring is entirely up to you. There will be plenty of places to shop, and we will give you some tips when we are there about how to bargain and where to buy and not to buy. My advice would be to keep it relatively simple. A seashell from the Sea of Galilee or a rock from the Valley of Elah are free souvenirs and sometimes much more memorable. As a reference point, I have found that most people bring $200-300 dollars. Credit cards and US dollars are accepted readily, and for those places that require shekels, there will be numerous places where we will be able to exchange money. Try to avoid doing so at the airport because exchanges are typically overpriced there.

Safety

You will find Israel to be a very safe place. First time visitors tend to be a bit nervous, especially when they see Israeli soldiers carrying assault weapons on their shoulders. Please understand that this is normal and that we have never had an incident in our travels. That said, take the normal precautions you would take when visiting any city in the USA or elsewhere. Keep valuables in the safes provided in the hotel rooms. Keep your passport on you at all times and be sure to have made a printed copy that you keep elsewhere. If you have not done so already, please provide me with a scanned copy of your passport. And please be sure that your passport is not within six months of expiring, or you could have an issue.

When traveling in crowded city spots, like Old Jerusalem, be aware of the potential of pickpockets and be sure that your wallets and purses are securely on your person. Again, we have never had an issue. Sometimes members of the group, especially in Jerusalem, will choose to take the very efficient public transportation system into the shopping district to make some souvenir purchases. I would simply recommend that shopping always be done in pairs and never alone. It’s a lot of fun to barter a bit too!

Leaving Israel

Pre-flight COVID Test

To board your flight back to the US, you must have a negative COVID test. We will arrange for these rapid tests to be administered at the hotel on the day before departure.

Packing/Luggage

When preparing to leave at the end of the trip, be sure to pack your own luggage and load it (or watch it being loaded) on the bus. While going through security, you will be asked if anyone else packed or handled your luggage.

If you have any questions, please contact your group leader or james@landofthebible.org.