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The Christian Traveler's Guide to the Holy Land
By Charles H. Dyer, Gregory A. Hatteberg, Jim Vincent
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2014 Charles H. Dyer and Gregory A. Hatteberg
All rights reserved.
Preparing for the Trip
* Travel Safety Facts
* Tips for Travelers
* Packing List
* Requirements for Obtaining a U.S. Passport
* How to Overcome Jet Lag
* Suggestions for the Mobility Impaired
* Helpful Websites
* A Four-Week Schedule of Bible Reading and Prayer
—To Prepapre for israel
—To Prepare for Egypt and Jordan
—To Prepare for Greece and Turkey
* A Four-Week Bible Series to Prepare a Group Spiritually for a Trip to Israel
TRAVEL SAFETY FACTS
1. Airport security for all flights to the Middle East is very thorough.
2. Terrorist incidents in those Middle East countries visited by tourists, though well publicized in the media, are extremely rare.
3. There is more danger of death or injury driving from one's home to the airport than of being attacked by terrorists while on tour.
4. The governments of Israel, Egypt, Greece, Jordan, and Turkey take the safety of tourists very seriously and have implemented extraordinary measures to increase security.
5. Several steps can be taken to minimize even further one's chances of being involved in terrorist incidents.
* Keep a low profile. Try not to be conspicuous in your dress, speech, or behavior.
* Avoid wearing articles of clothing that advertise your nationality or that actively identify you with one side or the other in the current Middle East conflict.
* Avoid crowds, protest groups, or other potentially volatile situations that could present safety or security risks.
* Stay with your group and avoid wandering off alone (similar to the advice you would give someone coming to visit any major city in the United States).
* Dress and act in a manner that shows proper respect for the social and cultural values of the region. Avoid falling into the "Ugly American" stereotype.
* Remain aware of your circumstances and surroundings. Don't become so absorbed by the grandeur of the sites that you fail to keep track of what is happening around you. If you sense anything out of the ordinary, don't hesitate to express your concerns to the tour guide or tour leader.
6. "Four buses are in constant contact with their headquarters and with other guides and drivers. The tour operators monitor any potential trouble spots; and if they feel there might be a problem, they will contact the guide and driver and reroute the group to avoid the area.
TIPS FOR TRAVELERS
Most tours to the Middle East are very informal. (No real dress-up occasions, even for Sunday.) Plan to wear comfortable clothes while touring. Most tours encourage participants to wear jeans or slacks on the trip. Take one jacket or heavy, sweater, even during the summer months. Remember when packing: Less is better. Comfortable shoes with nonskid soles are necessary. (You will be doing a great deal of walking, often over uneven terrain and smooth stones.) Wash-and-wear items are very helpful, and shorts are acceptable. However, those who wear shorts should also carry a "modesty kit" for visiting holy sites Or traveling in more conservative areas so that knees and shoulders are covered. A modesty kit for women should include slacks or a wraparound skirt (below the knee) and a blouse that covers the shoulders. A modesty kit for men should include long pants and a shirt that covers the shoulders.
Depending on what is covered in your tour, extra expenses may include incidental food items (beverages, snacks, lunch, etc.). You will also want to bring money to purchase souvenirs. Of that amount, you should carry at least $25 in $1 bills, which can be used to purchase bottled water, soft drinks, postcards, etc. Should you need to do so, you can exchange dollars into the local currency at airports, hotels, and banks. Traveler's checks offer security against having your money lost or stolen, but they can be more difficult to cash and not all restaurants or stores will accept them.
If you exchange dollars into local currency at the airport, bank, or hotel, keep the receipt given to you. You will then be able to convert any remaining currency back into dollars when you leave the country. Most stores love U.S. dollars, but you can sometimes get better bargains if you pay in the local currency.
The basic unit of money in each country is as follows:
* Israel uses the New Israeli Shekel (NIS), which is divided into 100 agorot.
* Egypt uses the Egyptian Pound (£E), which is divided into 100 piastres.
* Greece uses the Euro ([Euro]), which is divided into 100 cents.
* Jordan uses the Jordanian Dinar (JD), which is divided into 100 piastres.
* Turkey uses the New Turkish Lira (TRY), which is divided into 100 kurus.
Just before leaving on your trip, check the Foreign Currency Exchange section in your local newspaper to determine the current exchange rate, or check the rate online at http://www.oanda.com/ converter.
You should consider the use of a money belt or pouch. Clever pickpockets are waiting for you. Carry and guard your passport, pocketbook, purse, and other valuables very carefully. Keep your money and passport on your person or in your hotel safe-deposit box. Never pack them in your suitcase or leave them in your hotel room. Larger purchases can be made using a major credit card, though some cards are not as widely accepted as Visa and MasterCard. Contact your credit card company before you leave to let them know the countries you will be visiting. Also, go through your wallet or purse to remove all unnecessary credit cards (in case your wallet were to be lost or stolen).
The electric current in Europe and the Middle East is 220-volt AC, single phase, 50 cycles, which requires special adapter plugs that can vary by country. If you intend to take appliances (hair dryer, electric razor, iron) that are suitable for both 110 and 220 volts, make sure to carry a set of adapter plugs. If your appliance is for 110 volts only, you will also need a converter. Never plug a 110-volt appliance into a 220-volt outlet without a converter; it will work at twice its speed for a few seconds—and never work again!
No shots or vaccinations are required to visit most tourist destinations in Israel, Egypt, Greece, Jordan, or Turkey. However, you might want to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for up-to-date information on issues specific to each country and on how best to protect yourself while there (http://www. cdc.gov/travel). Should you need any medications during the trip, be sure to carry them with you. Also, take some of the following items along for any emergencies: Pepto Bismol tablets, Imodium, sleeping pills (to help overcome jet lag the first few nights), Dramamine (if you are subject to motion sickness), cold or allergy tablets (if you are subject to allergy attacks), and any other personal hygiene products you may require.
International travel is usually trouble-free, but it is still wise for travelers to consider purchasing travel insurance to cover medical expenses, trip cancellation/interruption, lost or damaged luggage, and travel delays. Such insurance can usually be purchased at the time a tour is booked. Check with the tour operator, ask your own insurance agent, or look online for travel insurance options.
International airlines normally limit coach passengers to one suitcase and one carry-on bag (excluding purse or camera bag). In addition to satisfying airline regulations, this limitation also makes it much easier for individuals to keep track of their luggage when it is being loaded and unloaded from the buses and when it is portered at hotels. Be sure your suitcase closes and fastens securely (use an extra strap if necessary). Mark your suitcase and carry-on bag clearly so you will be able to distinguish it. Women should consider using only their initials rather than their first name. Do not pack cameras, expensive jewelry, or other valuables in your suitcase.
Current airline security regulations require that checked baggage be unlocked. However, you can use locks that are Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved. These locks can be opened by the TSA and then relocked. Consider buying a TSA-approved lock if you wish to lock your luggage.
Be sure to have anything you will need while flying in your carry-on bag. Also keep your essential toiletries and a one-day change of clothes with you in your carry-on luggage (just in case your baggage would get "lost in transit"). Don't overpack. Leave some room for items you may purchase and bring back. Remember that on the way over you will be wearing the same clothes for two days—walking, riding, and sleeping in airplanes. Dress for comfort!
Hotels usually serve nutritious breakfasts, so don't skip breakfast! Lunches may or may not be included in your tour. (Check your travel brochure.) Dinner will be ample. Some foods will be new to you. Any foods served at the hotels will usually be safe to eat. Exercise care in eating unpeeled fruit and fresh vegetables purchased in open-air markets unless you peel and/or wash them first. Consider bringing along some snack foods to eat on the bus when you are traveling.
While the tap water in most hotels is usually safe, if you have any doubts, consider purchasing and drinking bottled water. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks are also safe to drink. Depending on the specific country and locale, you might need to exercise care about using ice. Plan to pay for any extra drinks you order for meals. (These are not usually included in the price of a tour.)
Other Items to Pack
Consider bringing a pack of moist towelettes for warm touring days, and a washcloth—if needed—since some hotels do not supply them. Don't forget your sunglasses, and remember that a hat is an absolute necessity. (One with a broad brim is a wise choice.) You can request a wake-up call from most hotels, but you may also want to carry your own alarm clock. Boxed snacks (e.g., dried fruit) can help keep one's energy up between meals. Any liquids you take should be in tight (preferably plastic) bottles. Only fill them three-fourths full to allow for expansion. Put each bottle in a small ziplock plastic bag for further protection.
Make sure your passport is up-to-date (and isn't scheduled to expire until at least six months after the trip). Visas are required prior to departure for some countries in the Middle East. (Individuals with U.S. passports do not need to obtain a visa prior to their trip to Israel; a tourist visa will be issued to them at passport control on arrival.) Travel agencies will usually take care of obtaining required visas for individuals. Check with them if you have any questions. Keep your passport with you in a safe place at all times. Also, keep a photocopy of your passport in a separate location, possibly inside your suitcase. Remember, do not pack your passport inside your suitcase!
If you plan to obtain a passport for the first time, instructions for applying for your passport are found on pages 30–32. The key tip for first-time applicants is to apply early!
Before leaving on the trip, make sure your digital camera is working, your battery is fully charged, and your memory card has sufficient space. It's also wise to take an extra battery and memory card. If your camera uses rechargeable batteries, make sure to pack the charger and cable.
If your camera allows you to choose different quality settings for your pictures, select the highest resolution possible. While lowering picture quality allows you to store more pictures on a memory card, you might be disappointed with the results later. It's better to invest in an extra memory card before you depart than to return with pictures that are less than satisfying.
Use discretion in what you photograph—especially military personnel, secure areas (like airports and military bases), Muslim women with covered faces, or Orthodox Jewish men and women. If you are in doubt, ask first!
You will be doing a great deal of walking on your trip. It is strongly recommended that you do some walking now—in the shoes you're taking on the tour—to condition yourself. If you're buying new shoes for the trip, plan to wear them weeks before departure so they are "broken in" and you are comfortable walking in them.
The English language is spoken sufficiently everywhere, so no language problem need arise. Part of the fun of shopping is the Middle Eastern culture of "bargaining" for an item. When bargaining with merchants, don't appear too anxious to purchase an item, and never accept the first price as the actual price. In many cases the item can be purchased for less than half the "asking price." The truth of Proverbs 20:14 will come alive in the markets of the Middle East. "'Bad, bad,' says the buyer, but when he goes his way, then he boasts" (NASB).
Keep a written record of all your purchases, as this will make filling out your customs report easier when you return home. Be careful about exposing much money at any one time when you are shopping.
Calls to the United States can be placed through the switchboard at all hotels. However, most hotels add a hefty service charge for this service that can often double the cost of the call. A prepaid calling card (available at many discount stores in the U.S.) can be a more cost-effective option. But with the increase in cellphones worldwide it's becoming more difficult to find a pay phone in many countries. A third option is to rent a cellphone with prepaid minutes while traveling overseas. (In many cases incoming calls to these phones are free.) Check with your tour operator to see if this is a possibility.
If you don't plan on making very many calls, another option is to take your cellphone with you overseas. But before doing so, check with your carrier to verify its coverage map and roaming charges. If your phone allows you to access email or the Internet, consider turning off those features while overseas, except for those times when you can connect via Wi-Fi. If you are not careful, you can incur a massive phone bill by accessing email and the Internet while using international data roaming.
Traveling as Part of a Group
Sometimes photographers will take pictures of you or your group. You are not obligated to buy any of these photos. Expect some inconveniences such as schedule changes. Things do not always run as smoothly as they do in the United States. Have a good Christian attitude about it all.
Be careful about sharing your faith. This is an especially sensitive situation in the Middle East. Let your life and conduct count. Consider the believers there whose situation you might make more difficult by arousing anger or by giving a poor testimony. Pray for the tour. Live with others as Christians should; plan to cooperate and stay on schedule with the group. The guide and tour host are concerned for the welfare of the entire group, and they count on your cooperation to make it an enjoyable experience for all.
The climate of Israel, Greece, Jordan, and the southern part of Turkey is often described as Mediterranean. This type of climate is known for its hot, dry summers and cold, rainy winters. Other parts of Turkey have a climate that is more akin to Europe. Egypt is a desert climate with very little rainfall.
Winter weather in Israel is very changeable, and November through March is the rainy season. While you should have many beautiful days, expect to see some rain, especially in the hill country. The average temperature can vary greatly depending on where you are in Israel. Expect cool days and cold nights in Jerusalem.
Following are the average high/low temperatures for various places in Israel in the winter.
Spring and summer weather is stable and pleasant. April and May can still bring occasional rain, but little or no rain will fall from June through October. The average summer temperature can still vary greatly. Expect warm days and cool nights in Jerusalem.
Following are the average high/low temperatures for various places in Israel in the summer.
Winter weather in Egypt is mild and predictable, with warm days and cool nights. While October through March is the rainy season, Egypt is very dry except for along the Mediterranean coast. Cairo's annual average rainfall is about 2 inches, and that total decreases to .04 inches in Aswan. It is not unusual for some parts of Egypt to report no rainfall in a year.
Excerpted from The Christian Traveler's Guide to the Holy Land by Charles H. Dyer, Gregory A. Hatteberg, Jim Vincent. Copyright © 2014 Charles H. Dyer and Gregory A. Hatteberg. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
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