Prepare for your Israel journey!
Choose the button below to learn where some of the places we may visit during your program are found in the Word! The article below includes links to some of the things you may want to purchase before the journey to make the trip more enjoyable.
PREPARE FOR Your Israel Journey
Your journey to Israel is going to change your heart, enliven your Bible and fill your senses with a whole new view of the Bible and the people in the story. It is going to change how you see God at work in you! At the same time, there are four preparations that are the key to getting the most from this experience. We need to prepare ourselves for what we are about to see and do together.
You will need to prepare you mind with a small amount of learning that will make the journey easier to understand right away from the day of your arrival.
Preparing your stuff for the journey will help you have what you need during the trip.
Getting your body ready for the journey will help you enjoy greater health and focus during the journey.
Getting your heart ready will allow God to work in you in more profound ways.
Let’s be practical for a moment, and look at some of the practices that others recommend who have traveled in the past. Think about preparing these four areas and let’s get ready together…
Prepare Your Mind
If you will take a half hour before you go, it will enable you to know where you are from the moment the plane touches down in Israel. Let me suggest you look up a Google map of the country and look at a few features, or perhaps purchase a folding one like this at amazon (click here), or a map with both "Bible times" and "today" like this one (click here). If you don't have a map when you arrive, all participants receive one at the beginning of the program, but this may help you prepare.
The country is smaller than New Jersey, but has mountain areas that divide it up.
The biggest cities include Jerusalem (near the center of the country to the right side of the mountain chain that divides the country north to south and Tel Aviv (along the coast near the airport).
About a quarter of the country in the north is called the “Galilee” today (below the border with Lebanon). After your first night in or around the airport (usually in Tel Aviv, a modern city that is a short drive from the airport) you will spend a number of nights in the Galilee.
The south part of the land is mostly desert, including some cities (like Beersheva) but with vast open landscapes. Look for the position of the Dead Sea on the eastern border.
The further north you go, the more natural green landscape; the further south the more brown it becomes.
Consider the Basic Geography.
You may want to grab a good Bible Atlas (like this one by Dr. Paul Wright) or perhaps you own a Study Bible that has a good map in it. Look at the regions from the Bible times of:
Find the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea.
Identify the Golan Heights (the cliffs and plateaus east and north of the Sea of Galilee).
Look for the area designated Samaria.
Can you spot the division between the Galilee mountains and Samaria (The Jezreel Valley that cuts across the whole land)?
Look for the area marked “Judea.”
Follow the map south to the Negev and look at where the big deserts are (Zin and Paran).
Take out a map of Jerusalem. If you don't have one, there is a good one available here made by Michelin.
The city isn’t as complicated because it is built on a series of hills. Knowing them will help you feel like you know what direction you are looking during your travels. It isn’t “fool proof” but it may help a bit.
In the west of the city are all the newer buildings built between the 1880’s and now.
On the east side is the walled city that is called today “the Old City” with sixteenth century crenelated walls around it.
East of the city is the Mount of Olives, a long ride with four swells.
Prepare Your Stuff
You will need a Bible, but you may consider adding a Bible app to your phone. I (Randy) use the Olive Tree app on my iPhone, but there are some that are free for several Bible versions. Take a look here.
You will probably want a good hat, and it will be a help if you have one that can fit into a suitcase but look good when worn. One I particularly like was given to me by a group from San Diego, and it is great! Give it a look here.
Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes are a must. They can be high top or low top, but for winter groups, bring something that can handle wet surfaces. In summer groups, sandals work but must be sturdy. ( I like what Columbia makes, but there are cheaper brands that work well). Get a good pair and wear them in before the trip. Please take this seriously: Don’t bring new shoes for the trip! Some of the shoes I recommend are here.
I recommend some “tricks” for making sure you have with you the “modesty” clothing that some sites require. I bring my Jansport backpack on the bus, and keep in it "running pants" that are easy to throw over shorts (if I have shorts on). I also recommend a “wrap” for women, and perhaps a shaw that will cover shoulders. On a recent group, several ladies had these in different colors! Any good scarf can serve the same purpose. These clothing items give you options if the site has a strict policy about clothing. In "modesty sites" in Israel, gate guards look for covered knees and covered shoulders. The simplest way to avoid trouble is to dress modestly every day on tour. If you want to wear shorts, the tricks above should work well.
People always get concerned about their electronics. Most items (phones, computers, etc.) come with the internal switch to automatically work in 110 volts (US current) and 208/230 volts (Europe and Asia current). With simple adapters the items will work flawlessly (and re-charge faster overseas). You can order the adapters here (Note: These are very inexpensive, but work very well for me). What about hair dryers and curling irons? Some are "dual voltage" but require you to manually switch the power settings. If you need a "dual voltage" hair dryer, here is one (and another one that is more powerful here). If you need a dual voltage curling iron, here is one.
Prepare Your Body
Start walking every day before you take the trip. That sounds funny, but many of us barely walk beyond the distance between the house and our car! Try a few hills on foot. You will be glad you did. On tour, we describe sites and their walking conditions, and you always have the option to remain with the bus – but why miss something?
Some people ask about jet lag and how to get through it. There are many answers, and probably nothing works for everyone. What we found helpful is to take a generic sleep aid with you, and use it for the first three nights of the tour. Dottie uses melatonin like this. That helps reset the clock. (Caveat: We aren’t medical doctors, so consult your physician if you believe you need actual medical advice). We recommend when you experience jet lag, that you stay in bed in the middle of the night and keep the shades drawn. DO NOT open your phone or computer in the middle of the night or you will stay awake. Lots of fluids seem to help. Oh, and one more thing, I have several old theological text books that make me comatose when I start reading them during jet lag nights.
Prepare Your Heart
This Israel experience isn’t really like your vacation. You will be standing in places where the profound work of the Creator played out in the lives of Bible characters. You will be challenged spiritually. We will be praying for your group and each participant before you arrive, and we have watched God work in people over the many years we have been doing this!
We suggest you to three things to get your heart ready:
First, pray and ask God to open your heart to anything He wants to do in you. If you have opportunity, ask a few dear friends to pray with you as the trip draws near. Prayer works!
Second, take a look at the “extended itinerary” and consider reading the Bible passages that are listed there. They may spark something inside, and will help you tune your heart to reading details about the places and events beforehand.
Finally, if you haven’t kept one before, consider beginning a little travel journal. Write down some of the questions that come to mind as you read the passages, etc. Write down a list of specific prayer requests. As you journey, update that journal with what you hear and learn. You may even want to record the file names of various pictures you took that day and what struck you about their scenes.