Taking a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is an exciting opportunity for any Catholic disciple! It’s an opportunity to walk where Christ lived, died, and rose again for us out of love.
Such a pilgrimage will be all the more prayerful when we are comfortable in our new surroundings. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of Holy Land travel tips to make your pilgrimage to the Holy Land the best it can be.
- Tips to Know Before You Go
- Tips For a More Enjoyable Visit
Tips to Know Before You Go
The best tip for travel is to be prepared and to plan ahead. But how can you prepare for a place you may not have visited before?
Well, here are the tips you need to know before you go on your pilgrimage to the Holy Land!
The required documents for travel to Israel are few and simple to attain. Here’s what you should expect to have:
- A Passport: You must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of departure from Israel. So be sure to check well beforehand (standard processing for a new passport is 8 to 11 weeks)!
- An Electronic Gate Pass: Upon arrival in Israel, your passport won’t be stamped. Instead, you will be given a small blue card called the “Electronic Gate Pass”. It’s your official form of identification while in the Holy Land.
- Covid-19 and Health Related Documents: As of May 21, 2022, Israel is not requiring travelers to present certification of vaccination for Covid-19 or a negative Covid-19 test. Updated information can be found on the Ministry of Health website.
- An Israel Entry Form. In place of Covid-19 testing, is the Israel Entry Form. It must be completed 10 days prior to your flight and verifies personal identification, health, and travel information.
When traveling with Glimmer Tours, lodging, meals, and travel are all accounted for in your prepaid plan. (What a relief!) However, it’s good to have cash for souvenirs and the delicious Jerusalem foods.
Money can be exchanged in the airport, in most hotels, and at licensed exchange agencies. ATMs are widely available throughout the major cities in Israel, like Tel Aviv and Old Jerusalem.
Israel is seven hours ahead of the United States, Eastern Standard Time, and ten hours ahead of the United States, Pacific Daylight Time. Israel also has Daylight Savings Time (from March until September).
Be sure to notify any family or friends back home of the change before you travel!
Electricity and Adapters
Travelers may already be aware that there is a difference in electrical sockets and voltage demand in Israel. Luckily, there are many easy-to-use power adapters that can convert outlets for U.S. devices. Here are some items you may want to have on-hand:
- Power plug adapters. These fit onto your electrical plugs and convert them to fit type C and H power sockets.
- A voltage converter. By plugging into the converter, your electronic devices will operate with 230 V rather than the standard US voltage of 100-127V.
Tips for a More Enjoyable Visit
Having a strong grasp on the following travel tips for local customs and expectations will ensure you fit in like a local!
Alternative Business Hours
Israel is a rich tapestry of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic religious practices. This will have an effect on business hours throughout your visit to the Holy Land.
- Muslim businesses are closed on Fridays. Friday begins what is loosely called the “Islamic Weekend.” Muslims gather for congregational prayer at midday on Friday.
- Jewish businesses are closed Friday afternoon through Saturday. Friday afternoon (sunset) begins the Sabbath (or Shabbat), which extends through the entirety of Saturday. The Sabbath is the day of rest and for worship.
- Christian businesses are closed on Sunday. This is the Christian Sabbath. It marks the day of the week when Christ rose from the dead.
Etiquette and Dress
There are few things you should know to demonstrate your respect for the places and people of Israel:
- Dress modestly for Holy Sites. Be comfortable but choose clothes that cover the shoulders and aren’t too high above the knee.
- Don’t display the sole of your foot to anyone. For example, don’t cross your foot over your knee in public places. This is a social faux pas since displaying the dirtiest part of your body can be considered disrespectful.
- Graciously accept any signs of hospitality. While it may seem polite to decline anything gratuitous, it’s actually the opposite.
By traveling with Glimmer Tours, you won’t have to worry about tipping. All tips for your meals and travel are included in the trip! If you’re ever dining or traveling outside the Glimmer Tours experience, however, it’s wise to know the customary tipping practices.
- Restaurants don’t include the tip as part of your bill. When dining on your own or outside the Glimmer Tours experience, a tip of 10% is customary, while 15% shows you’re impressed! Street food vendors are not usually tipped.
- Tipping drivers is not customary in Israel. However, when traveling outside the Glimmer Tours experience, it is kind to tip a couple of shekels.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is the trip of a lifetime. So, of course, you will want to take pictures of the countless holy sites!
While you enjoy it all, it’s wise to be aware of where you’re aiming your camera lens.
- You must ask for permission to take up close photos of Muslim women with covered faces as well as Orthodox Jews.
- Respect the rules of holy sites that request camera flashes to be turned off. This to preserve a piece of art or for copyright purposes.
As with any travel destination, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your belongings. Here are three simple rules to help you outsmart pick-pocketers:
- Be aware of your belongings at all times. Keep your bags on you or in your lap in public places.
- Wear your bag in front. This is especially true in crowds. If possible, leave any bags in your hotel room.
- Keep your wallet in the front and inside pockets. Avoid having it in your back pocket or outside jacket pocket where it’s easy to grab.
Shopping and Bargaining
There are numerous shops to explore in Israel, each with their own unique fair. Before you dive in, there are some key tips to scoring a deal in Israel:
- Bargaining is expected and welcomed by vendors. You are not insulting them by offering lower prices. (In fact, most items can be bought for 50% less than the initial price!)
- Don’t appear too eager to buy a certain item. Look almost uninterested in what you want. This will keep prices lower.
- Have the shop owner start the bargaining. Then, make a lower counteroffer, and so on.
- Remember to be respectful. Keep in mind that this is the vendor’s livelihood!
With these few travel tips and the expertise of a Glimmer Tours’ tour guide, you are sure to have a memorable visit to the Holy Land.
See what your Holy Land Itinerary has in store for you!