Frequently Asked Questions

What are Your Payment and Cancellation Policies?


There's a non-refundable 25% deposit payable online at the time of booking the tour.

Full payment is due 1 week before the tour and is non-refundable.

In the event of a cancellation 2 weeks before the trip date where a driver has been reserved, there is a 50% cancellation fee for the driver and 100% of payment is due if cancellation is one week from the tour date. Sites have varying policies regarding cancellations. We will let you know their policies at the time of booking.

In order to provide the best service in terms of quality and safety, we do not offer tours in which clients drive rental cars. Drivers are specially licensed to drive tourists in Israel and drive approved air-conditioned cars, vans or buses depending on the size required. Drivers in Jerusalem generally charge 150-200 shekels per hour. For longer trips, we provide the exact cost for transportation before you pay the deposit.

Guiding fees quoted on the website do not include entrance fees, transportation or meals. Fees are for one family or a group of up to 10 adults. For additional families, there's a fee of 150 shekels per family per tour. Keep in mind that on a tour with many children under age 9, it can be harder to keep everyone focused. Larger groups tend to move slower and stop more often for breaks, so it's good to plan a longer tour for larger groups. There's an additional fee of 100 shekels per tour during high season (such as Jewish Holiday Weeks and August).

If there are changes once the itinerary is set (for example changing the date or destination) that require significant changes such as rescheduling reservations, there's an additional fee of 75 shekels.

Although we do not book reservations for drivers or sites on days that we are not guiding, we can refer you to some excellent trip and events planners who can do so at reasonable rates, as well as making arrangements for hotels or vacation rentals and planning bar/bat mitzvah parties.

In the event of unexpected rain or extreme weather, there may be additional entrance fees in order to spend more time at indoor sites. We will discuss this with you in advance of the tour. If there is snow in the Jerusalem area (rare) or State visits (which are often announced only at the last minute)in which streets and sites may be closed, the tour would be cancelled and any payment would be refunded.

A guide can refuse to do a tour if participants do not wear hats in hot sunny weather.

If your group arrives late or takes breaks that are longer than expected, it might not be possible to complete the planned itinerary.

Like in many places, tipping 10-15% for services such as guides and hired drivers is customary. It's important to tip well in restaurants (in cash, not by credit card) if you are pleased with the service because many waitstaff rely on tips.




How Should I Prepare for My Trip?


ESSENTIAL TO ARRANGE:

1)Passport: make sure each member of your family has a valid passport (it must be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return date).

2)Travel insurance is highly recommended to cover cancellation fees if needed for any reason.

3)Health insurance

4)Phone: Having cellphone service and data will help make your trip run seamlessly! Ask your local provider about options for data and voice calls. Make sure to clarify the arrangement for text messages. Another option is to rent a local sim card from www.talknsave.net Whatever you choose, you will be happy to be able to easily contact your driver, guide or others as needed.

5) Credit cards/bank cards: let your providers know you will be in Israel so they will honor charges. Find out what fees the various cards charge for use overseas so you can choose the best option and make sure you know your PIN number for those cards.

PACKING:

Warmer Months (June - September):

Having a safe and enjoyable trip depends on the right warm weather gear.

1) Hats are absolutely essential for tours. You don't usually wear hats? Try some different styles and choose 1 or 2 you will have fun wearing as your "Israel trip hat."

2) Everyone will need to drink a lot of water to stay hydrated and healthy. In order to do so, you'll need a comfortable way for each one of you to carry water such as a backpack with an outer pocket.

Do you want to keep super cool in the hot summer weather? Freeze half a bottle with water in your rental apartment, carry in an insulated water bag, refill throughout the day and enjoy ice cold water wherever you go.

3) Sunscreen is vital. Best to bring some you like from home to get started from Day 1, and buy extra in Israel as needed.

4) Sunglasses and light, comfortable clothing for being active outside will be helpful.

5) Many areas have uneven or slippery pavement, so you may prefer that all the shoes you bring will have good treads and support. Of course, you'll want a really good pair of walking shoes for touring days.

6) If your itinerary includes water hikes or swimming in the Dead Sea, you will need some water shoes that hold the foot and have good treads (preferably not flip flops).

Cooler Months (December - February)

On tours in Israel, you might spend more time outside in cool weather than you normally do at home in winter. In the mountainous areas such as Jerusalem, winter days can be very cool (just above freezing) and sometimes rainy. Having the right gear will make all the difference. Waterproof shoes/boots, rain jackets, and umbrellas can be very helpful. For women and girls who wear skirts, warm leggings are essential. Thin materials for keeping warm while active outside are great: fleece, flannel, and thermal. Of course, you'll need some really good walking shoes. If you want to get the ultimate shoes for touring on ancient stone walkways on a rainy day, check out Merrell's Artic Grip shoes and boots which are waterproof, warm and reduce slipping. Layers are important to adjust to temperature changes throughout the day.

Transitional Months (March - May, October/November):

Be prepared to pack a little extra to cover different weather possibilities, and you will be all set for a trip in these transitional months. There will be a large difference in climate between different areas of the country and different times of day. Layers and variety are the key. Check weather websites before your trip for the most up to date information to help you determine if you need to pack more for warm weather or for cold.

Other items to pack:

Bathing suit/ flip flops/ beach wear
Modest dress for holy sites (women clothes should cover knees and shoulders and not have low cut shirts, kippah/ head covering for men).
Dressier outfit(s) for Shabbat/ Holidays
(Spare) Glasses and/or contacts & solution
Prescription and over the counter medications you use regularly

Chargers and external battery pack to charge devices
Electrical adapters for electronic devices: these are simple and inexpensive, just a plastic piece that enables rectangular plugs to fit into round outlets.

Do not bring any electrical appliances to Israel that heat up such as a hair dryer. Hotels will provide. If you bring an electric shaver or similar electric appliance that works in North America, you will need a transformer to modify the 220v electricity here to a 110v machine.

Backpack for day trips
Overnight bag for overnight trips
Folding bag/duffel to bring home extra purchases

It can be helpful for children and adults to watch a movie or read up on some of the places we'll be visiting. Bonus to be ready with questions already in mind!

Document checklist:

Passport/ Entrance Visa - suggested to keep copies of documents and other important information in a separate location in case of loss or theft.
Credit Card/ Debit Card
Cash (for tips, small purchases, and taxis if needed - some do not accept credit card)
Driver's License
For Israelis:contact your local Israeli consulate to clarify which documents you will need such as passport, teudat zehut (ID), and any relevant army deferral documents




What Do We Need to Bring Each Tour Day? Any Special Gear?


Every tour day, you'll want to be ready to go with the following:

comfortable walking shoes with good treads, a backpack, water, snacks just-in-case, sunhat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Tissues and hand sanitizer can always be useful for under-stocked bathrooms.There's so much to learn in Israel! Some like to carry a journal or notepad. You'll want to make sure your phone is fully charged to take pictures of all the amazing sites. An extra battery pack to charge devices can help ensure you won't miss out on any moments you would like to capture. If you will be visiting holy sites, you will want modest clothes that cover shoulders and knees or a scarf put on over whatever you are wearing.

Some sites do require additional special gear. Here is a partial list. Your itinerary will include any additional items you might need for specific sites.

City of David: simple flashlights and water shoes that grip the foot if you are walking through the water tunnel. If you want to use your phone in any water sites to take pictures, you might want a waterproof protective sleeve (available on Amazon).

Some museums and sites do not allow backpacks inside and will generally have a place to store your bag. At those sites, you can bring a small purse or side bag along with you.

There are a limited number of places in Israel that require passport ID such as the Knesset (parliament) and Supreme Court.

(Since tourists are VAT exempt for hotels, you may be asked to show the paper given to you at the airport that shows what date you arrived, on first arrival to hotels.)




What Information Do You Need to Plan Our Itinerary?


Has your family been to Israel before?

Any allergies or special diets?

Do you have young children who will be joining the trip? What ages? Do you prefer strollers, or baby carriers? Will you be travelling with car seats/boosters?

Do you prefer to minimize or maximize time spent walking, climbing stairs, tunnels, or adventurous activities? Any health limitations to be aware of?

Are you "get up early and go" type of travelers or do you prefer a leisurely breakfast and a later start time?

Will your group want to emphasize learning about historical sites, visiting spiritual sites, or participating in experiential activities?

How much time browsing markets will your group enjoy?

(For extended family trips) Would it be helpful to offer different options to accommodate different interests and touring styles?

Any heads up about group dynamics that can help us in leading the trip?





What's the Weather Like in Israel?


Israel has a remarkably varied climate; something for everyone!

It can be helpful to take into consideration what the weather would be at different times of year, and what will work best for you to have a fabulous trip.

Do you enjoy hot, dry, weather?

You will love the Dead Sea or Eilat regions. Prefer cool summer evenings? You'll want to spend some time in Jerusalem enjoying the cool mountain air after dark.

Do you like the warm moist air of the coastal regions? Tel Aviv, Haifa and everything in between are for you!

Do you find warm weather challenging? How about planning your trip for the transitional months in Spring and fall or cooler winter months?

Does cold, rainy winter get you down? You might want to avoid a winter trip. Although there can be many beautiful and comfortable winter days.

If you love to put on some layers and go out to enjoy the fresh air, winter can be ideal time to visit for lower prices and less crowded sites.

Most important, check a weather website such as this one before you pack:

https://weather-it-is-israel.com




Which Places in Jerusalem Do Families Enjoy on Their Own?


Teddy Park – This is a fun and beautiful splash pad near Jaffa Gate, across from the Mamilla Mall with a view of the walls of Jerusalem. It runs every few hours for ½ hour. In the evening, there are lights and music. Park is named for former Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek and there’s a free 10 minute movie/hologram about him next to the splash pad as well as many art galleries.

Summer Hours

The park is open 7 days a week, from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm
Daytime fountain shows (water only) at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm
Evening fountain shows (light, music and water) at 8:00 pm, 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm

To be sure the park is open visit their facebook page


Tower of David – (Open on the Sabbath) this is a museum about all of the history of Jerusalem set in an ancient fortress. They also offer a show at night called the

Night spectacular or King David

which is great for kids. Best to see show in warm weather and not on a day of an old city tour because kids might be too tired to go out that night.

“I am Jerusalem" or the "Time Elevator" (Closed on the Sabbath) is a multidimensional movie that is great for kids 5 and up ( good for rainy or hot days).

Outside the Old City/Modern Jerusalem:

Israel Museum – (Open on the Sabbath). This museum is rated first in the world for Biblical Archaeology. The Dead Sea Scrolls, Model of 2nd Temple Period Jerusalem and Art Wing (rated 8th in the world) are also worthwhile. In the Art Wing, walk past the Israeli art for the more famous pieces such as Monet, Van Gogh Picasso and more. Best to get the free headsets to personalize your tour, and they also have free tours throughout the day. Check hours before planning visit. They will coat check any backpacks, side bags/purses are allowed in museum.

Yad Vashem – (Closed on the Sabbath) National and International Holocaust Memorial/Museum. They will coat check any backpacks, side bags/purses are allowed in museum. Check hours before planning visit. Ages 10 and up.

Mt Herzl – (Closed on the Sabbath) National Leaders and Military Cemetery where Golda Meir and Yitzchak Rabin and many others are buried. It’s next to Yad Vashem and the two sites go well together.

Aquarium – (Open on the Sabbath) new and world class! Focuses on the Seas of Israel and environmental issues. Fun for all ages. Reservation required.


Biblical Zoo (open on the Sabbath) – great activity for kids


Knesset (parliament) offers excellent free tours on Sundays and Thursdays (bring passport, check their website for dress code and details). Arrive ½ hour early for security.

Supreme Court offers free tours Sunday – Thursday

Ben Yehuda Street – (Closed on the Sabbath) street shows, souvenir shops, nice hangout in the “center of town”.

Shuk Mahane Yehuda – (some restaurants are open on the Sabbath but the market shops are generally closed) eat your way through this fun market.

Music museum – nice hands on educational/fun/and beautiful place for kids with instruments and furnishings from around the world. Best to join one of their tours rather than doing a self guided Ipad tour.

The First Station – (Open on the Sabbath)

Restored Train Station with restaurants and outdoor activities.

Wine Tasting in the Jerusalem Windmill (near the King David hotel). 25 shekels to taste 4 wines from the Jerusalem Winery. 10am-10pm Sunday-Thursday.





© 2020 by Leah Bowman, Licensed Guide.