Below are a few tips for those travelling to Israel (The Holy Land)
Holy Land Tour Travel Tips
Booking your tour
There are many, many ways people chose to organise tours of the Holy Land. Some people book onto organised tours with set itineraries; other people simply book a flight to Israel and source local tour guides, while some hire a car and try to drive themselves around all of the places they want to visit. So which way is best?
For first time visitors to the Holy Land quite often the best way to see all of the sights is to book onto a organised tour before you leave your home country. There are many companies who run tours of the Holy Land all year round, most of which will have the ideal tour to suit your needs. There are also a few tour companies which build personalised tours of the Holy Land, working to the customers budget and exact requirements. Surprisingly, many people would expect this option to be a very expensive way to visit Israel but quite often building your own bespoke tour can prove a lot cheaper.
So how about simply booking a flight and sourcing tour guides locally. This method, even though very flexible, can have many different drawbacks. One of the first problems you may encounter is that in Israel foreign visitors stand out like a sore thumb, and the locals know this. As such, visitors to the Holy Land are quite often easy targets for those purporting to be tour guides to earn easy money. These ‘so called’ guides offer very substandard tours at over-inflated prices. The only real way to source a certified tour guide is to either book your guide before you travel or visit the ministry of tourism and get details of certified guides from them. Even though this sounds a simple task, remember that in Israel almost every sign, shop and business name is written in Hebrew so finding your way to the ministry of tourism is not a simple task. Often hotels can offer tour guides but again, this can be open to abuse so caution is advised.
How about hiring a car and touring yourself?
For the first time visitor to the Holy Land I would personally say definitely NO to this suggestion. Driving in Israel can be a white knuckle experience and is not for the faint hearted. In some of the quieter areas the driving is fine but if you venture into any of the cities or onto the highways, then be prepared for a driving experience like no other. Locals are used to the driving but if you come from a country where the driving works on consideration for other road users, then in Israel you will find all of the rules you are used to are thrown out of the window. The method for driving in most Israeli cities is simply to aim for a point on the road and don’t stop for anything or anyone.
In addition to the, at times, crazy driving, you will also have to contend with road block check points and parking is a nightmare, often with the parking instructions only written in Hebrew.
So what would you advise?
For first time visitors to the Holy Land I would highly recommend booking either onto an organised tour or booking a personalised tour of the Holy Land via a company like Elbow Holy Land Tours in Jerusalem. Another tip I would give is to go to Israel with a group of people. The reason I say this is not for safety or anything like that, as Israel is a really friendly safe place to visit (please don’t believe everything you hear on TV), but going in a group is more fun.
I hope this short guide will give someone hoping to visit Israel a few small pointers to help guide them while arranging their tour.