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Planing trip to Israel

seattle
Level Contributor
16 posts
47 reviews
Planing trip to Israel

Planning a extended family budget oriented trip to Israel next spring. Sometimes between end of March and May. Would like to be there for Easter, but seems like many places are booked off and prices are up. After a lot of reading seems to be leaning toward a package deal because it’s looks more cost effective than getting airb&b’s, transportation, guide and entrance fees separately. Abraham tours looks reasonable. Confused between self guided vs guided tours. Seem like transportation is provided, but not fully guided. Is that a concern? Can I get info on sites without a guide? Would prefer tour north and Jerusalem and spend a few days at the Dead Sea + Petra combo. Most of the tours only get a day at he Dead Sea. Is there a reason for not spending more time for most packages? Heath issues? Also, going to Petra is more effective for 2+ days with the visa and entrance fees. Considering doing Dead Sea stay on Jordan side and add Petra trip. How can I get to Jordan side hotel zone and Petra from Israel? Would it be reasonable to fly out of Jordan instead of returning to Israel? Any issues for US passport holder?

9 replies to this topic
Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
17,494 posts
1. Re: Planing trip to Israel

Prices are high and places are booked up at Easter because it coincides with Passover, which is peak time.

The Abraham tours are transport only, meaning they don't provide a human guide. These tours are useful for people who don't drive, or don't want to drive, and are happy to "self guide", using a guidebook or leaflets provided at the sites, because they go to areas where public transport is sparse and it's difficult or impossible to put together an itinerary using buses because the times just don't work.

One day at the Dead Sea is enough. It's not a nice sandy beach; you can't actually swim because of the buoyancy of the water. It's a quick dip for the experience. There is nothing whatsoever to do at the Dead Sea in the evening. Unless you are going there for a course of treatment for psoriasis, you don't want to spend more than a day there.

Ask about getting to the Jordanian hotels on the Jordan forum.

As US passport holders you get free visas (on a separate piece of paper) on arrival in Israel, and visas on arrival in Jordan but not free (to the best of my knowledge the visas are not free, but I'd be happy to be proved wrong!).

Modi'in-Maccabim-Re...
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
17,979 posts
322 reviews
2. Re: Planing trip to Israel

There is no problem staying at the Dead Sea for more than a day, but it gets boring after a couple of hours of scorching heat. If you do not have health issues requiring the sun, mud or salt water then one day is sufficient. In any case it's not healthy to stay in the water for more than 20 minutes at a time with a 20 minute break in between floats.

Regarding Jordan it is less expensive (no visa fees if you stay over 2 nights (3 days). If you purchase a Jordan Pass there is some sort of discount, if you get the visa at the border you pay full price and get a refund upon exiting that country.

For budget travel I would suggest renting a car and touring on your own. You don't need on in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem but it would be convenient everywhere else. Although Abraham Tours provides transportation, the cost is high for a family trip when compared to a guided tour to the same places.

Chana

Israel

Guildford, United...
Level Contributor
5,293 posts
28 reviews
3. Re: Planing trip to Israel

Agree with Chana, though with the standard warning that you cant take a hire car across the border into Jordan, or into Bethlehem if that will be in your itinerary.

I’ve generally toured independently, with occasional day and half day tours. Some sites offer very good on site tours - it’s the only way to do the Western Wall Tunnels, and highly recommended for the City of David (both in Jerusalem). A good guide book (I now have a selection...) is essential, and then some advance research on the internet can be very useful. I’m not saying it matches having your own private guide, but when I hear the guides on the large group tours going through, I don’t often hear things that weren’t in my guide books or other research.

seattle
Level Contributor
16 posts
47 reviews
4. Re: Planing trip to Israel

I would like to awoid renting a car. It’s not even covered by CC insurance in Israel. In general when I travel abroad I prefer not to rent, driving skills in unfamiliar area are tested and cost of parking is a challenge.

Also, some of the packages come up to $80-150 per person a day, and there is no way I can get that combo on my own. Are they not advertising fully? Will there be more when I get to a payment part?

seattle
Level Contributor
16 posts
47 reviews
5. Re: Planing trip to Israel

Easter/Passover crowd are only a few days around holiday? Or it will be crowded like a week around?

Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
17,494 posts
6. Re: Planing trip to Israel

Easter isn't a holiday in Israel and is celebrated by only the very small Christian minority. But Passover is a very important holiday. Many Jews living outside Israel spend Passover with family and friends here. In addition, schools are closed, as are many workplaces, for the entire week, so Israeli families take the opportunity to tour the country. All that makes it crowded, and of course expensive. Passover in 2019 begins on the evening of Friday April 19 and ends after dark on Friday April 26, followed immediately by Shabbat so effectively the holiday ends after dark on Saturday April 27. Back to normal on Sunday April 28 (Sunday is a normal working day in Israel).

Kearny, New Jersey
Level Contributor
127 posts
38 reviews
7. Re: Planing trip to Israel

The Jordanian side is much nicer and way cheaper with luxury hotels at about $140 a night, went with my family to Israel and Jordan. Crossed the border from Nazareth by bus to Amman, only bus that crosses the border I believe. Email me if need advice on trip...too much to do and write.

seattle
Level Contributor
16 posts
47 reviews
8. Re: Planing trip to Israel

Which guide book would u suggest?

Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
19,511 posts
114 reviews
9. Re: Planing trip to Israel

Frommer's and Fodor's are usually the top two suggestions for guide books - general consensus is to steer clear of Lonely Planet, it has way too many inaccuracies.

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