1. How safe is it in Israel these days?

We will not be taken to any place where there is danger. Tourists are very carefully looked after. You have travel insurance included in your tour cost. If you want more or are concerned about your health, please chat to Sure Makro. I am not taking extra insurance – I do believe God will protect us. Tap water is safe to drink by the way (though we will be selling bottled water on the bus).

2. What is the currency?

The Israeli currency is Shekels but Israelis prefer to use Dollars (and most things are priced in both NIS and USD). We suggest you take US Dollars. 1$ = about R14. One Shekel (1NIS) = about R3.52. If you don’t want to take too much cash, you can use your credit card at some of the more commercial tourist shops (especially when buying more expensive items like jewelry). I am taking cash and a credit card. I would suggest that in your cash you include a couple of $1, $10 and $20 bills for use in markets and bazaars. We do not get much time to go past an ATM ever, so drawing cash will be problematic.

In Istanbul, the preferred currency is mainly Euros, though they do accept dollars as well. I strongly suggest you bring enough cash in bank notes and a credit card for back up. Also, no travelers cheques please. If you can, buy your currency ahead of time. The airport is very expensive and you need to show proof of residence.

3. How much pocket money will we need to take?

As much or as little as you want to. All airfares, hotels (4 & 5 stars), dinners and breakfasts (wow! breakfasts in Israel are fantastic), transport in our own luxury bus, portage, etc are included in the fare. Tipping money is included, though you may wish to save some cash back at the end for an additional tip for our tour guide and driver (they become like family!). We will need to buy our own lunch on certain days… and that could be an inexpensive falafel, lamb stew or an apple, or more costly, depending on how hungry you are! And if you want souvenirs, you will need extra for that. We suggest you take $80-$100 for the trip lunch and drinks (that’s about $10 a day) and anything from $200 - $400 for spending money. (You will know if you spend more or less. Souvenirs range from $5 - $105. A tub of AHAVA Hand cream from the Dead Sea costs $24, a silver chain with star of David will cost about $35; a pashmina will cost $6).

4. What to put in your medicine bag and hand luggage?

In your medicine bag, include your normal prescription drugs, tweezers, and sun cream. Please also include an anti-histamine (for allergies), headache tablets, plasters and immodium. If you think you may get sick, ask your doctor for an anti-biotic prescription.
• You will only be allowed 1 piece of hand luggage on the aircraft (eg handbags should be carried in your backpack).
• No containers of liquids more than 100ml will be allowed in hand luggage. Make sure it is all less than this and is in a see-through clear bag (ziplock bag). You can buy travel sized bottles from Clicks.
• Hand luggage may not weigh more than 7kg.
• No pocket knives, scissors or sharp objects – put them in main luggage.
• Only take two days of medicine/tablets in your hand bag, the rest must be in your luggage.

5. Main luggage

• Take one suitcase no more than 20kg
• Travel light – arrive with the minimum – so you have capacity to add weight (souvenirs etc) and still be below the limit for the return flight
• We strongly suggest a suitcase with wheels that is easy to pull. Remember to have a lock on your case and your luggage tag.

6. What’s the weather like in Israel?

The days in Israel at this time, are sunny and warm, and the evenings are cool. The temperature ranges in the mid-high twenties (say 26C-30C) in the day. Please take lots of sunscreen, a hat and even a small umbrella if you want shade when we are standing outdoors. Never fear, we have a fully air-conned bus and hotel rooms, and a swimming pool at each of our hotels.

7. What sort of clothing is best?

The dress code on tour is casual, though Israel is a conservative country. Women cannot have bare shoulders in public (hence if you have string tops you must cover up in the Holy Sites with a pashmina or jersey). JOY! Magazine will be giving each lady a complimentary cover up shawl. Men need to wear long pants in the holy places/temples (2 of the days), but can wear shorts the rest of the time. I suggest the men take a pair of longs on the bus for when we go into the holy sites, or, you can purchase shorts that zip up to pants from Cape Union Mart or camping stores. Take a jersey and a pair of jeans just in case it’s cold at night. Flip flops and takkies are perfect for walking. At the Dead Sea – remember to take an OLD costume (as the salt zaps all the colour). Longs are to be worn at dinner (as our hotels are smart) and ladies may wish to take a change of clothing each night for dinner, as it is always nice to “dress up” and feel special. I usually take some summer dresses, tshirts, jewellery and accessories, sparkly sandals for dinner, and comfortable walking shoes for the daytime. Definitely bring a pair of jeans or long pants for the evenings (x 2) that we will be outdoors in the Old City.

8. What about phonecards/ internet and staying in touch?

All of our hotels will have free internet. You will have received a hotel list in your travel wallet with contact numbers (should people need to get hold of you). You can also buy a local sim card, which we will assist you with purchasing. If you like, you can place your phone on SMS roaming (which I do and it works nicely and cheaply) and then use whats app to text and phone for free. If you must call, then international call roaming (which is costly) allows you to stay in touch. If you are not sure how to do this, contact your service provider for more info ahead of time. You will only do this just before we board.

9. On the plane

• Make sure that you get some sleep on the plane. I take a herbal sleeping tablet and EAR PLUGS to help me.
• You can take snacks onto the aircraft – but must be in original sealed packaging.

I suggest that for the first night we fly to Israel – you fly in comfortable warm clothes and pack summer clothes in your hand luggage to change into on the plane when we arrive in Israel, as we have a full day of touring as soon as we get off in Tel Aviv.

10. What do you advise I pack?

Travel as light as you can, as I am sure you will buy a few souvenirs along the way.

 A hat. (We will be providing the men each with a JOY! cap) and sunglasses
 A small light Bible and/or notebook
 A camera, extra memory card, batteries, cellphone chargers etc
 A photocopy of your passport and credit card just in case anything gets lost or stolen (you can give these papers to me on the aeroplane and I will keep it safe for you)
 Comfortable walking shoes, socks and flip flops
 Wet wipes and tissues (public toilets…need I say more!)
 A swimming costume/s…for the Dead Sea and hotel at the end of the day.
 Soap for hand washing of clothes (if you want to hand wash) and Toiletries
 The hotels will have hairdryers. Israel uses 2 prong plugs, so that is very handy for South Africans. If you have a three point, you can buy an adapter at the airport/luggage shops.

11. How fit do you need to be?

Every bit helps. The only “heavy duty” stuff will be what you choose to do – but having said that, there is a fair bit of walking each day. Strolling down the Mount of Olives takes time…but it’s not strenuous as we keep stopping to read/remember the events of Good Friday. Masada isn’t much walking, but it is all in the sun which makes it tiring. Why not start doing a bit more walking now – as a preparation?

12. Discipline

Please be disciplined !!! Be ready at agreed times, eg in the morning for breakfast and departure. DO NOT BE LATE – or you will be left behind. Rather plan to be early for each part of the program.

13. Anything else to bring with or remember?

When we go to the Wailing Wall, (where the Jewish people pray and insert prayer notes in the cracks of the wall), we will have some free time for reflection and prayer. To make it special, I suggest you write down any prayer requests/burdens you have of the Lord, or those from friends or family, on small pieces of paper that you can fold up or roll up….to place in the crevice. This is a symbolic and very memorable occasion. Things you can write on the paper include:

• The name of a loved one you are praying for to be healed/saved/helped
• Any burdens you are carrying in your life that you “can’t seem to let go of”
• A prayer for the Jewish people and that nation.