FAQs & Tour Prep

Preparing to travel internationally is a huge task – and the tour itself is demanding as well! Answer all of your burning questions and get some packing tips from the experts who’ve been travelling for a lifetime.

Tour FAQS Israel FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Touring Etiquette

Tour with others can be an invigorating experience!

Consider these tips to make your touring, and that of your fellow passengers, positive.

  • Be on time.
  • Get to know others by name.
  • Be curious about others.
  • Avoid public complaining.
  • Be patient with yourself and with others.
  • Look out for others on tour.

Based on my past experience with others travelers, the best ones exude these qualities:

Courage, patience, good humor, endurance, curiosity, seeking, love, friendship.

Electrical Adapters

You will need a plug adapter and voltage converter if you plan on using electrical items, such as a blow dryer (btw, all hotels have blow dryers).  Most laptops and phones will convert voltage, but you will still need a plug adapter. You can buy them on Amazon.

Consider getting a universal electrical adapter: https://www.amazon.com/Universal-Travel-Power-Adapter-International/dp/B07DQTL87X

Passports

Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of return to home country. E.g., if your tour ends on May 1, 2025, your passport should be valid past November 1, 2025.

  • LDS tour host or special educator
  • 4 or 5 star hotels
  • Meals (as indicated on the itinerary)
  • Luxury tour coach bus
  • Local guides
  • Local drivers
  • Entrance fees to all locations on the itinerary
  • Whisper headsets
  • Transfers to and from airport if arrival and departure times align with the tour group
  • Tour sizes are capped at one bus.

Excludes

  • International Airfare
  • Personal items
  • Incidentals
  • Travel Insurance

For a more immersive and personalized experience, I cap tour sizes to one bus.

  • $500 per person due at registration
  • Final payment 90 days before trip departure date (Peru final payment due 120 days in advance.)

This is a generalized list below. Adapt for your destination and circumstances.

Clothing

  • Pack versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched. This will help you reduce the amount of clothing you need to pack.
  • Consider the climate of your destination. If you are traveling to a warm climate, pack light, breathable clothing. If you are traveling to a cold climate, pack layers that you can add or remove as needed.
  • Pack comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking when you are traveling, so make sure to pack shoes that are comfortable and supportive.
  • Tops: 5-7 short-sleeve shirts, 2-3 long-sleeved shirts, 1 sweater/hoodie, 1 jacket/blazer (depending on destination).
  • Bottoms: 3-5 pairs of pants, 1-2 skirts, 1-2 shorts.
  • Dresses: 1-2 dresses (depending on destination).
  • Undergarments: 7-10 pairs of underwear, 5-7 pairs of socks.
  • Swimsuit: If you plan on swimming.
  • Pajamas: 1-2 sets.
  • Scarves/Hats: If necessary for your destination.

Electronics

Toiletries

  • Travel-sized toiletries: To avoid carrying full-sized bottles.
  • Soap: For washing your hands.
  • Shampoo/Conditioner: If you need it.
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste: For brushing your teeth.
  • Razor: If you need it.
  • Deodorant: For staying fresh.
  • Sunscreen: If you are traveling to a sunny destination.
  • Insect Repellent: If you are traveling to an area with mosquitoes.
  • First Aid Kit: For minor injuries.

Documents

  • Passport: Valid for at least 6 months beyond your travel dates.
  • Copy of your passport: In case you lose your passport.
  • Visas: If required for your destination.
  • Flight Confirmations: For your outbound and return flights.
  • Travel Insurance Policy: In case of any unforeseen events.

Other

  • Travel Wallet: For carrying your passport, cash, and other important documents.
  • Lock: For your luggage.
  • Water Bottle: For staying hydrated.
  • Travel Snacks: For when you are on the go.
  • Travel Journal: To record your travels. (Tip, go electronic and save packing space!)
  • Pen/Pencil: For taking notes. (Tip, go electronic and save packing space!)
  • Small Umbrella: If you are traveling to a rainy destination.
  • Travel or Neck Pillow: For sleeping on the plane or train.
  • Sleep Mask: For blocking out light.

Additional Tips

  • Pack light: You will be carrying your luggage around, so try to pack as light as possible.
  • Roll your clothes: This will help you save space in your luggage.
  • Use packing cubes: This will help you organize your belongings and make it easier to find what you need.
  • Only pack what you need: Don’t overpack, you can always buy things you need once you arrive at your destination.
  • Dress in layers: This will allow you to adjust to different temperatures.
 

Where possible, Exodus Tours seeks out 4 star (Deluxe) or 5 star (Luxury) hotels or accommodations.

Most mornings, everyone should be ready to load the bus by 7:30 am . And we are generally back at the hotel around 5:00 pm.

Cruises will be dependent upon port arrival and departure times.

Airfare to and from the tour destination is not included. Make sure that you book flights to arrive and depart at the appropriate times to make the tour.

Useful websites to search for flights:

https://www.google.com/travel/flights

https://www.kayak.com/

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

https://step.state.gov/

Allianz, a trusted global travel insurance provider, can offer you a quote by clicking here.

Note that if you choose the “Classic Plan with Cancel Anytime” if you choose to cancel your trip for any reason you can receive up to 80% of tour cost for non-qualifying reasons and up to 100% of tour costs for qualifying reasons.”

[As of October 2023, Allianz does NOT provide travel insurance to Israel.]

 

Make sure your passport is valid for six months past the date of leaving the tour.

Most bathrooms and toilets are western style. However some countries in remote locations may have squatty potties. It’s probably not a bad idea to carry around a few extra tissues. 

Our tour bus will have seating for all tour members. Depending on tour location, the bus will be different size (e.g., Peru = 35; Europe = 40-50; Israel = 50-60; Jordan + Egypt = 40-50; USA = 50; other worldwide destinations = 40-50). Verify with the drive and guide about leaving items items on the bus. Typically buses have plenty of luggage storage underneath the bus and will be ours for the tour. Typically we have a dedicated driver who will be with us the entire time who will keep the bus locked when we are not on the bus. Most tour buses do not have bathrooms on board (exception is the USA). On days that there are long drives we make regular bathroom and rest stops.

Israel Tours Frequently Asked Questions

General Packing Guidelines

Pack based on the weather and time of year (see climate links below)

Spring Months: March-May

  • Consider a jacket for cool mornings or evenings.
  • Casual, modest clothing appropriate for very moderate temperatures.
  • Dressing in layers helps you deal with changing temperatures during the day.
  • Bring a hat. Lots of sunshine!

Summer Months: June-August

  • Short sleeve shirts and shorts can work (But, at religious sites, bare shoulders and knees are not allowed).
  • Bring a hat (Days can be hot).

Fall Months: September-November

  • Consider a jacket for cool mornings or evenings.
  • Casual, modest clothing appropriate for very moderate temperatures.
  • Dressing in layers helps you deal with changing temperatures during the day.
  • Bring a hat. Lots of sunshine!

Winter Months: December-February

  • Consider bringing a poncho or small umbrella.
  • Coats and gloves may be useful.
  • Dressing in layers helps you deal with changing temperatures during the day.

Scriptures: Bring an electronic version of scriptures (To save on packing weight and space).

Luggage: If you can pack everything in carry-on luggage it will reduce your checked luggage fees and the possibility of lost luggage

Purchasing Airfare

To arrive in Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion Airport) the afternoon of Day 2 of the tour (that means leaving the USA on Day 1 of the tour for overnight flight to Israel).

To leave from Tel Aviv (Ben Gurion Airport) after 7:00 pm on Day 9 of the tour, arriving home on Day 10 of the tour (unless you are doing a post-tour excursion, if so, contact me for details on return flights).

Search for flights on https://www.kayak.com/

Prices for airfare

  • Typical airfare to Israel is about $1500, round trip per person (from Salt Lake City).
  • Good deals to Israel are about $1100, round trip per person (from Salt Lake City). 
  • A screaming good deal is around $900 or less, round trip (from Salt Lake City).

Israel Airport Security

Security at Ben Gurion airport

Key Things to Know

  • Security in Israel is tighter than at most other airports in the world.
  • Still, the process is rather straightforward.
  • You’ll pass through several stages of security.

Upon Arrival at Ben Gurion

  • After deplaning, there is a long hallway. Bathrooms on the left.
  • At the end of the hallway, there is a security kiosk monitor
    • insert your passport
    • smile for the camera
    • a “security” ticket is issued
    • Do not lose that piece of paper. You’ll need it at various points as you continue through security. must use it to open and pass through a gate on the way to baggage pick up
  • Next, you’ll need to show that “security” ticket to a security official to continue on down to the customs desk
  • At the customs desk,
    • Show your passport and the “security” ticket.
    • Israeli security will ask you a number of questions about your purpose for traveling to Israel, if you have relatives or friends here, etc.
    • Please be forthright in your answers
    • Let them know that you are part of a group tour
      • Note: Instead of stamping your passport, the “security” ticket functions as a passport stamp
      • Why does Israeli security do this? A few Muslim majority countries may not be willing to let travelers into the country if their passport has been stamped in Israel. Hence that small piece of paper is given to you when you arrive in Israel, therefore not leaving a permanent Israeli stamp in your passport.
    • the customs officer will give you a small piece of paper that you show at the next stage
  • After the customs desk, hand the paper you received at the customs desk to the security official sitting outside the gates of the baggage claim.
  • Before entering the baggage claim, use the “security” ticket you received after deplaning, to open and pass through the small gate.
  • You can then enter the baggage claim and exit into the arrival hall. On the right, find Aroma Café where there are tables where you can sit and wait for the guides to find and gather you.

Key Things to Know Upon Departure

  • The first stage of security (before the TSA type security check) is to stand in a long queue to be questioned, after showing your passport, by Israeli security about your trip.
    • They will ask questions like:
      • Why were you in Israel? (tourist)
      • Do you have family in Israel? (no)
      • Have you been given anything to transport? (no)
      • Have you packed your own bags? (yes)
      • etc.
  • Then you will proceed past the check-in area and show your passport again.
  • You will then go through the typical TSA type security.
  • Once you’ve collected your items, you’ll proceed to the next stage, show your passport again, smile for a camera, and then a small gate will open to allow you to proceed further into the airport.

This online article provides an overview of security at the airport.

https://www.vipbengurion.com/israeli-airport-security-checks-what-to-expect/

We will be traveling in heavily touristed areas. Much of the economy of Israel (and Jordan, and Egypt) is driven by tourism and they love visitors. You’ll be impressed by their hospitality. I often feel safer and more welcomed in the Middle East than I do in some American cities. Still, we take appropriate precautions. If it is unsafe to do the trip, we’ll reschedule. If on site we need to avoid locations and change plans for safety reasons, we will do so. The best metaphor I can use is that no one would cancel a trip to Disneyland over gang violence in Los Angeles. A tour to Israel is metaphorically similar.

As of October 2022, any tourist vaccinated or unvaccinated is welcome to Israel.

  • 3 day Egypt Splendors (Great Pyramids; Grand Egyptian Museum; Christian or Islamic Cairo). $1,795 pp (+$450 single supplement)
  • 7 day Egypt Ultimate Egypt (Great Pyramids; Grand Egyptian Museum; Christian Cairo; Luxury Nile Cruise; Aswan; Karnak; Luxor; Valley of the Kings, and more). $3,265 pp (+$875 single supplement)
  • 3 day Jordan (Petra; Aqaba; Wadi Rum$1,795 pp (+$450 single supplement)

Hebrew, Arabic, and English

The hotels we stay at are comfortable, clean, and well appointed. Rooms tend to be smaller than American hotels. And most Israeli hotels provide queens instead of kings or two doubles instead of a queen. The hotels provide delicious, buffet style breakfast and dinners. There are refrigerators and safes in each room. There is a laundry line in the shower area for drying clothes. Signs will be marked in English and Hebrew. Note that on the Sabbath (Friday evening sun down to Saturday evening sun down) there are Shabbat elevators that run automatically and stop on every floor.

Make sure your passport is valid for six months past the date of leaving Israel. As an example, if your Israel tour finishes on April 28, 2024, your passport needs to be valid through October 28, 2024.

What is the food like?

Each breakfast and dinner will be a buffet at the hotel, with a wide range of options: American, middle eastern, etc.

Lunch options typically include: Falafel in pita bread with hummus, diced tomatoes and cucumbers; Shawarma; Pizza.

How To Dress

Dressing In A Culturally Sensitive Way

Jewish Sacred Sites

  • No short skirts, or shorts above the knee; no sleeveless shirts or bare shoulders.
  • Men cover your head with a kippah or a hat.
  • Nice casual or business casual is appropriate.

Christian Churches

  • No short skirts, or shorts above the knee; no sleeveless shirts or bare shoulders.
  • Nice casual or business casual is appropriate.

Islamic Holy Sites

At the al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf [the Noble Sanctuary] (also known as the Temple Mount)
  • No short skirts, or shorts above the knee; no sleeveless shirts or bare shoulders.
  • Taylor once had to buy a skirt for himself to wear at al-Ḥaram al-Sharīf to cover his bare legs (he was wearing shorts).
  • Nice casual or business casual is appropriate.

Types of Clothes

Other Notes on Clothing

Currency

Currency In Israel

Israel’s currency is the Shekel. You can use US dollars almost everywhere in Israel. So you don’t have to change US dollars into Shekels. If you prefer to use the local currencies, you can order them through your bank before you go or at ATMs while in Israel. You will need cash for lunches and souvenirs. 

Typically, the exchange rates are better within Israel than here in the USA. However, in my experience, I would rather spend my time visiting the country instead of taking precious time looking for a place to exchange money.

Many in-country shops will have items priced in US dollars and Shekels. If you plan on spending more than a few hundred dollars on souvenirs, you will probably want to bring shekels with you. See USD to Shekel currency calculator here.

Currency In Jordan

Jordan’s currency is the Dinar. (Fun etymological fact is that the word dollar and dinar come from the same ancient root but over the years the words diverged with the middle constant). Find a currency calculator here. Like in Israel, cash is king and most US credit cards are accepted.

Credit Cards

Credit cards in Israel. Mastercard and visa are widely accepted. Check with your issuer about any foreign transaction fees they may charge. The exchange rate isn’t as great using a credit card. But I personally prefer the security and flexibility of using a credit card instead of cash.

Credit cards in Jordan. Similar to Israel, credit cards are accepted at larger stores, hotels, and restaurants. Be ready to have cash for local markets.

Touring Etiquette

Tour with others can be an invigorating experience!

Consider these tips to make your touring, and that of your fellow pilgrims, positive.

  • Be on time.
  • Get to know others by name.
  • Be curious about others.
  • Avoid public complaining.
  • Be patient with yourself and with others.
  • Look out for others on tour.

Based on my past experience with others who have been pilgrims, touring Israel, they exude these qualities:

Courage, patience, good humor, endurance, curiosity, seeking, love, friendship

Internet/Phone

There is internet availability at the hotels. It is free at most of the hotels (at least in the lobby). Check with your cell service provider to see if your phone will work in Israel. I have used Verizon in the past in Israel without adding the international plan, but it is quite expensive roaming. They have $40/month plans and $10/day plans.

Charging: Consider bringing a portable, lipstick-sized charger to keep your phone charged during the day.

International phone plans: Can give you cell phone access throughout Israel. Check with your carrier for rates and availability.

What NOT to Bring

  • Expensive items
  • Flashy jewelry
  • Big umbrella (consider a lightweight, easily foldable poncho, or small umbrella)
  • Heavy books
  • Hairy dryer (hotels provide these in each room)

For a more immersive and personalized experience, I cap tour sizes to one bus.

Electrical Adapters

You will need a plug adapter and voltage converter if you plan on using electrical items, such as a blow dryer (btw, all hotels have blow dryers).  Most laptops and phones will convert voltage, but you will still need a plug adapter. You can buy them on Amazon (just make sure it is for Israel and not Europe).

Consider getting a universal electrical adapter: https://www.amazon.com/Universal-Travel-Power-Adapter-International/dp/B07DQTL87X

  • Israel runs on 230 voltsPlug types are C, H, M.
  • Jordan is also 230 volts and 50 hz. Plug types are C, D, F, G, and J.
  • Egypt runs on 220 volts and 50 hz. Plug types are C and F.

Most mornings, everyone should be ready to load the bus by 7:30 am . And we are generally back at the hotel around 5:00 pm.

A variety of airlines service flights to Tel Aviv. The key airlines I’ve used to Israel are Delta, United, and American, written in order of my preference.

Most bathrooms and toilets in Israel, Jordan, and Egypt are western style. It’s probably not a bad idea to carry around a few extra tissues. But typically there is enough toilet paper and supplies.

Our tour bus will have seating for 50 (or 60) depending on the size of the tour. You can leave items on the bus. And there is plenty of luggage storage underneath the bus. It’s ours for the tour and we have dedicated driver who will be with us the entire time. He always keeps the bus locked when we are not on the bus. There are no bathrooms on the bus, but the few days there are long drives we make regular bathroom and rest stops.

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