What to Expect, When You Visit the Holy Land
Israel is the heart and soul of the world's three largest religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Many people from these three religions find themselves wanting to make a pilgrimage to the "Holy Land" at least once in their lifetime.
Although the past several years have brought an uprising of terrorist, and militant acts of violence; travel to Jerusalem and the outlying areas is surrisingly safe. Over the last twenty to thirty years, Israel has encountered a major boom in the tourism industry, and as a result Israel's government has made an effort to establish safe zones for international travelers.
The tourism boom has brought many of the worlds most recognizable hotel chains to Jerusalem and the other Holy Land areas. Some of the more familiar names are Holiday Inn, Marriot, Hilton and many, many others. These highly recognizable hotel chains, along with several American operated tour companies has lead to a peaceful, and overall easy journey through many of the Holy Land's greatest attractions.
Within driving and walking distance of the more well known hotels are such attractions as: The Church of the Nativity, The Wailing Wall, The Church of the Holy Sepulcre, The Temple Mount, The Jordan River Valley (where reports are that Christ was baptized), The Garden Tomb (one of three locations where archeologists believe Christ may have been buried). If you are a little more adventurous, you can drive out to Bethlehem, Nazareth, and other amazing attractions.
Tour companies in the Holy Land, generally have buses that will take you to many of the more notable locations. Some of the tour companies that operate in Jerusalem and the outlying Holy Lands are:
*Shalom Journeys: www.shalomjourneys.com (866) 592-1818
Pilgrim Tours: www.pilgrimtours.com (800) 322- 0788
Israel Travels: www.israel-travels.net (no phone listed)
* denotes a religious affiliation.
Another option, is to plan your trip on your own. A good place to start is by arranging an appointment with a local travel agent, who can advise you about airfaire, hotels, and a car rentals, as well as often being able to provide maps, and driving directions once you're on the ground. If you're more of a "do it yourself" traveler you may want to check out these websites:
These websites are great places to save a little money. You can combine rates for airfaire, car rentals, and hotels. Most travel authorities reccomend though that you take caution when planning vacations online. Do a little reading about any potential hotels. You don't want to end up too far away from your desired attractions, and you certainly want to stay within a safe area.
Some other information about travel would be that you will need your international passport. You can apply for this at your local US Post Office, or print the application online at www.passport.com.
Once your paperwork is in order, and the travel arrangements made, the only thing to do is carry plenty of batteries for your camera, and have plenty of sunblock. If you are traveling in the summer, it is recommened that you bring a hat, and a thermous if you plan on doing a lot of outdoor activites.