So You’re Heading to The Holy Land!

Wondering what to bring along? How to prepare? Dozens of other questions? Do not fret. Let the “Holy Land Guru” help you with some very practical advice and information that will make your journey even better.

 

WEATHER

 

How to dress? What should you expect in the way of weather? Well of course it depends on what time of year you are going and where you are going.  Our 2014 journeys are set for February and April, both terrific times to go. Less crowding and better prices and pleasant weather. Living in Northern Florida as we do, we found the weather in the Middle East in February 2013, much like at home. In Israel and Jordan the winter is usually mild and the summer hot.

 

A great weather resource is weather.com. This site provides an excellent source of up to date Regional weather, 10 day forecasts, historical patterns and overall information and advisory services. You can click here to visit this useful weather source. For other Holy Land Tour Weather resources, you can search on www.google.com using terms such as: “Jerusalem weather” or “Sea of Galilee weather” or “Dead Sea weather”.

 

Israel is not that large of a country, but there are drastic changes of elevation and so the weather also changes. You may go from sea level at Caesarea on the Mediterranean, to 2500’ above sea level in Jerusalem and then to 700’ below sea level at the Sea of Galilee and  finally to 1300’ below sea level at the Dead Sea and Jericho. Imagine that: from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, although they are only about maybe 25 miles apart as the crow flies, there is almost a mile difference in the elevations. Now you understand why the Bible speaks of “Going up to Jerusalem”.

 

The Holy Land Guru’s  most recent trip was in February 2013 to Turkey, Jordan and Israel and the weather was very pleasant. For examples of weather, in February 2013 the average projected temperatures we were told to expect were:

  • Istanbul 48° F
  • Amman Jordan 50° F
  • Petra 46° F
  • Sea of Galilee 55-64° F
  • Caesarea 44-64° F
  • Bethlehem and Jerusalem 41-48° F
  • Jericho and Dead Sea 50 -60° F
  • Masada 57 ° F

 

We found the weather was perfect throughout the journey with the exception of a fogged in and cold view from Mount Nebo in Jordan. A good rule of thumb is to layer your clothing so that you can add or subtract as needed and you will then be comfortable.

 

CLOTHING                                                                                                                                   

The rule of thumb is always, casual and comfortable. You are not going on a fashion tour. Jeans and comfortable broken in rubber soled walking shoes (not new shoes please), a warm jacket in the winter months.

A good idea is to layer in the winter, spring and fall months so that you can add or subtract as local conditions warrant. Loose fitting clothing on the long flights is a must. Get up periodically and walk while on the plane and avoid blood clots. Shorts in Israel are fine but not a good idea in some Muslim countries especially if you are visiting mosques where they expect that you will cover up. We will advise you when you travel with us as to what is appropriate on any given day.

 

MONEY AND CURRENCY                                                                                                           

Good news! You do not have to change into local currency as your American dollars are accepted everywhere. You can also usually use your credit cards for major purchases and many established shops will even accept your personal check. The rate of currency exchange is of course constantly in flux. Since prices for some items may be posted in local currency, it is helpful but not necessary to know the exchange rate to dollars.

In February 2013 the rates were: Turkey: 1 lira=$.56 US,    Jordan: 1 dinar = $1.41    Israel 1 shekel = $.25 US dollar.   You should Google for an update before you go if this is of concern to you. It is a good idea to carry a quantity of US dollar bills for the purchase of small items like soft drinks, post cards etc. I usually bring along about 75 to 100, US $1.00 bills for this purpose.

 

WATER AND FOOD

Bottled water is usually available daily on the bus from the bus driver for a $1.

 

 

 

Food in the hotels and places we will go to eat while traveling is safe, including the salads. Outside the hotel be more cautious as to what you eat. We used to caution our people to avoid salads but no more. Enjoy. The food at our hotels was well prepared and nicely served. Breakfast Middle Eastern style is different than back home. Usually consists of a variety of breads and rolls, salads, eggs, cold cuts, pastries, coffee and tea. Delicious. Want bacon and eggs? Usually this can be ordered at additional charge. Like oatmeal in the AM as I do? Bring along some of  the individual packages and ask your waiter for some hot water and you will do just fine.

 

SHOPPING

 

  • Some people could spend the entire trip in the shops and be very happy that they did. Others do not want to spend any precious time doing this. When you travel with the Holy Land Guru we always try to establish a balance to please both needs.

  • So what might you find there that you just might want to buy and take or sent home? Turkey; carpets, gold:   Jordan; mosaics:   Israel; gold, precious stones ie diamonds, olive wood carving, mother of pearl inlay.

 

VISAS & PASSPORTS

 

 

Got Passport?  – Yep, some people actually leave home and get to the airport and find that they have forgotten their passport.  Without that document you are not going anywhere outside of the US.

WHAT ABOUT VISAS? If you are a US or Canadian citizen you will not require a visa for entering Israel or Jordan. In Turkey, if you leave the airport, you must purchase a visa at the airport at a cost of $20 US.

 
SOME IMPORTANT TAKE ALONG SUGGESTIONS                                                                                         

 

Make a List!  It is always a good idea to make yourself a check off list as you prepare for your journey. Here are some things we include on ours:                                           

 

  •  – Bible – You are going on a Bible Land journey if you travel with the “Holy Land Guru”.  That is our focus. We therefore recommend that you bring along your text book.  Optional and nobody is going to hold a gun to your head. Now please understand that I am not a preachy kind of a guy but I will assume that you have come along with an urge to learn and so I will be frequently reminding you of Bible events as we travel and helping you to connect the dots so to speak.
  • – Also a good idea to bring a notebook and pen for your personal observations.
  • – Bring a list of telephone numbers and addresses for friends back home.
  • – Spare prescription glasses just in case yours get lost or broken.
  • – Extra written medicine prescriptions. Do not run out of essential medicines overseas.
  • – A written description of any special health issues you are dealing with and contact information for your physician back home.
  • – When you travel with the “Holy Land Guru” we will ask you for a copy of this health information just in case you should become ill during our journey together. On a recent journey a couple of our men required distilled water for the breathing machines they carried with them and we had this awaiting them when they arrived abroad in Jordan. We are there to try to facilitate your trip for you.
  • – A small container of liquid soap to rinse out underwear, socks etc.
  • – If you use a wash cloth take along several and just abandon the wet ones as you move from one hotel to another if you don’t want to have soggy clothes.
  • – Some over the counter meds are good to bring along such as antacid if you tend to need this and cold remedies in case you get sick like I did on the most recent trip.
  • – Prunes as your constitution may get out of wack due to the change of time and difference in water.
  • – A small container of Listerine and band aids, just in case.
  • – Fold down umbrella and plastic rain cover just in case.
  • – A few snacks in your suitcase in case you get hungry at night.
  • – A money belt to carry your valuables in is a good idea. Extra batteries for any battery operated device you carry along.
  • – An Electrical convertor that plugs in so you can use the electrical sources in the Holy Land. They use a different system than we do here in the United States. No problem. Just purchase an Electrical Converter and you will fine. You will find that recharging your devices is essential. The plug sizes and the current are different in the Holy Land than here in the US.                           

 

 DYNEX        

We purchased an excellent device called a DINEX convertor at the big box store, Best Buy, before we departed last time for $29.95 and it did a wonderful job for us.

Heating pad: Got a sore back like Judy does?

Bring along your US heating pad and your converter and rest comfortably just like at home. By the way all of the hotels we used this last time had hair blowers in the room.

Keeping in touch back home. Most of the hotels have wireless connection free or for sale. When you know your hotels’ names you can Google them for clarification re this. A terrific new cell phone service is now available for use while in Israel. It is quite reasonable and I personally used it during my recent visit there.

 

It is called TalknSave . You can Google them for details                                                                                      

 

Because of Judy’s 94 year old father, it is essential that we stay in close touch while away. The genius of this Israeli born technology is that they give you a local US number to use for calls from home to you when overseas from us, and return calls home while we are traveling. We took delivery of the actual phone before we left, carried it with us and it was activated when we actually arrived in Israel. The cost was about $6 a day.

 

Consider making a permanent camcorder record of your journey .

For those with SmartPhone, i Phones or recording devices, we highly encourage you to bring them along and use them as frequently as possible. A wonderful video camcorder that I use is the Sony HDR PJ200.                   

camcorder

 

Prior to the last trip I determined to capture as much of the journey and the people as I could and so I purchased this new, easy to use, camcorder also at Best Buy for about $350.

 

The views, both stills and video, and the audio I brought back were so good that I am now in the process of producing a DVD based on the trip.

 

The camera was very easy for this non-techy guy to use. And, get this, it is also possible with this camera to actually project the pictures on the wall via a built in projector or put them up on your flat screen TV.

 

Cost me about $350 and well worth it and produced good quality both stills and video.

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