Bible Lands Tour Preparation & Resources

This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16
NIV

2020 Tour Price and Payment Schedule

$ 4,400 base price per traveler (assuming double occupancy)
  • Pre-Registration Deposit - $100 - due by September 30, 2019
  • Registration Deposit - $400 - due by December 12, 2019
  • Final Payment - $4,000 - due by January 12, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

preparation

Passports are not valid if they expire 6 months before we return to the US. Also, Passports must be signed in the space provided.

This is left to each traveler’s discretion. As with any insurance there are different plans based on individual needs (preexisting medical conditions, health concerns of extended family which may require someone to leave the trip early, etc.). If interested, please contact AIG (Travel Guard) at 1-800-826-1300, or at their website: https://www.travelguard.com/.

We will average 5-7 miles of walking each day (not all at once – off and on the bus) so it is important to begin to walk/exercise regularly.

Please consult with your doctor if you have any medical issues that might be a concern on the trip. No specific immunizations are required but check with your physician.

BICS will provide an in-house resource called the Travel Guide. This year-specific resources includes a Quick Reference Guide for Biblical Sites & Places which will give a brief synopsis of each site with the accompanying Scripture, as well as song lyrics and a Daily Devotional that we will use on the trip. Available on the Travel page will also be a booklet entitled the Bible Lands Resource Guide of scholarly articles/maps for you to read in advance if you are interested.

Videos:

Packing & Travel

Please note that the temperature can vary in Israel anywhere from 40 – 90 degrees while we are there depending on both the weather and the location. March is their springtime so there could be rain or sun (or even snow in the higher elevations!) so it is important to pack for the potential for all of those (layers seem to be the best approach). BICS has historically adopted a policy of modesty in an attempt to be respectful of the various religious traditions in the Holy Land. We ask that women and men do not wear sleeveless shirts while touring, and that women maintain a modest neckline. We are allowing modest shorts this year on certain days. Water shoes ($10.00 at Walmart) will be helpful for both swimming in the Dead Sea as well as the trip through Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel. Both of these are optional but highly recommended. Generally BICS likes to dress a little nicer for the evening meal in the hotel, and you will notice those recommendations for both men and women in the Packing List.

If you need to do laundry you can either wash clothes in the tub of your room (bring powdered soap) or pay to have them laundered which can be pricey. Laundry will be picked up in the morning and generally returned to your room that same night.

In Israel, electricity will need to be converted from 220 v to 110 v. It is recommended that each person purchase a converter with an adapter suited for Asia/Middle East. These can be purchased on-line or locally at Walmart or Target for approximately $20.00. It is also recommended to purchase a portable battery (approx. $15.00) for your phones/iPads in case you need to charge them during the day.   

Please refer to the baggage limitations found at https://www.lufthansa.com/us/en/free-baggage-rules. Due to limited space on the bus and the fact that portaging tips are calculated on one bag per person, BICS Bible Lands Travelers are restricted to one checked bag.

SUITCASE: Suitcases should be no more than 23 kg (50 lbs.) and no more than 158 linear cm (approx. 62 linear inches – width X + height Y + depth Z). Note: Overweight or oversized luggage will incur an additional $80.00+ so be sure to weigh and measure your luggage at home before you travel. As an extra precaution, it is recommended to place a piece of paper with your name and contact information inside your suitcase in the event that your luggage gets lost.

CARRY-ON: As per Lufthansa Air regulations, you are allowed one carry-on weighing no more than 8 kg (roughly 17.5 lbs.) and totaling 118 cm (approx. 46 linear inches). BICS recommends that travelers plan to carry on a backpack which can be used each day of touring instead of a small suitcase to hold things such as your Bible, water bottles, snacks, medicine, hand sanitizer, wipes, rain gear, sunscreen, etc. Please be aware of the TSA restrictions listed on the website before you board the plane (liquid, sharp items, etc.) as they will be checked. If you choose to bring a carry-on, you will be responsible for its portage to and from the hotel as this will not be covered in the tips for our checked baggage.

It is very important to keep this on you while touring during the day and probably anytime you leave your hotel room. It is recommended that each traveler purchase a Passport holder that can be worn around the neck – these are available at Walmart, L.L. Bean, Amazon, etc. for around $15.00. This is also a good place to keep your credit cards (should you choose to bring any) as well as larger bills.

The flights to and from Israel are in two legs – approximately 7.5 hours and 3.5 hours in duration. While traveling through airports, please stay within sight distance of your leaders when passing through check points and boarding.  Do not go on ahead or take excursions behind so that we will know where you are.  We must know when our group is intact or if some member may need assistance.  If you must leave the group, please let us know.

Jet lag will make you feel tired at the wrong times of the day. The best way to beat it is to adopt the new sleep schedule immediately.  If you nap during the day and/or go to bed early at night you are very likely to wake up about 3:00 a.m. with insomnia. 

Safety, Health, & Food

BICS has been traveling to Israel for over 30 years and we have always felt safe. As always, our guide will be well-trained and highly competent and will be in regular communication with his office regarding our group’s safety.

Plan to wash your hands frequently and also to use liquid hand sanitizer – especially before handling anything that you will eat. If minor stomach issues arise, Imodium or Pepto Bismol generally remedy the issue. Further, it is important to remain hydrated while in Israel. Bottles of water will be available each morning. The water at the hotels is safe to drink.

The food at the hotels is generally geared toward Westerners. A typical breakfast buffet will generally include eggs (omelets to order, scrambled, hard boiled), salads, yogurt, bread/rolls, cereal, fruit, coffee, juice, etc. At dinner (also a buffet) you might encounter chicken, potatoes, French Fries, hot dogs, soup, beef, fish, fruits, salads, and of course, desserts. Please be mindful that we are not allowed to take food from the dining hall, but you may help yourself to as many helpings as you like. Breakfast and dinner (and tips) are included in the tour price but each traveler will be responsible for his/her lunch. Typical lunch choices include falafel, schnitzel, or shawarma. The prices respectively are approximately $11.00, $12.00, and $13.00 each with a drink (soda).

We do not recommend bringing water bottles due to the difficulty of properly cleaning/sanitizing them with daily use. Our recommendation is to purchase bottles of water which are available daily for $1.00.

Following the European custom, beverages in hotel dining rooms other than fruit juices and coffee or tea at breakfast are served by special order. Payment is made directly to the waiter.

Daily Schedule

Generally, the morning goes like this: Wake-up call at 6:00 am, breakfast in the dining hall at 7:00 am, Group Devotions at 7:30 am, be on the bus by 7:55 am for an 8:00 am departure. While we will generally follow the printed itinerary, there might be times that we will be unable to visit a particular site for some reason. We will stop around lunchtime for a bite to eat and then resume touring until approximately 5:00-6:00 pm. It can make for a long day, but we want you to see everything you can in the short time we have in Israel. Upon arrival back to the hotel there will be time to get cleaned and make it down for dinner in the dining hall. For both breakfasts and dinners, our group will generally be seated together in a specified area.

Guides are generally expert and efficient, but they may function well only when given respect and courtesy. This means staying near the guide and giving your attention whenever he is addressing the group. The guide may not speak if he feels he does not have your attention. He may wait or stop his lecture prematurely. When on a walking tour or moving from bus to viewpoint, please try to stay with the guide. He will give opportunity for pictures and for looking around. If you are having difficulty keeping pace, let us know. We will adjust.

Rest stops will be provided at intervals as well as opportunity for shopping. Please be prompt in assembling or returning to the bus at stated times.

We have group meetings scheduled for both of the Sundays of the trip as well as one on the night before we head home to share together in song and testimony. These meetings will be held after dinner and will happen in a designated room at the hotel.

Many of the hotels have pools/spas and exercise rooms (and in some cases entertainment) which you are free to access during the evenings. There will also be at least one time when we go out of the hotel in the evening as a group to purchase souvenirs (i.e., Tiberias) and get ice cream. This excursion is of course optional but recommended. 

Spending Money & Souvenirs

Breakfast and dinner (and tips) are included in the tour price but each traveler will be responsible for his/her lunch. Typical lunch choices include falafel, schnitzel, or shawarma. The prices respectively are approximately $11.00, $12.00, and $13.00 each with a drink (soda).

In addition to lunches and water each day, there will be opportunities to purchase snacks while touring. Ice cream bars generally cost between $3.00 – 5.00 each. Generally speaking, you will mostly need denominations of $10.00 bills for lunch as well as some one-dollar bills for water and snacks.

Almost every venue will accept USD. There is no need to exchange dollars for shekels unless you really want to. It is helpful to know that the national currency of Israel is the Israeli Shekel (ILS). The exchange rate varies, but generally 1 shekel is worth about $0.30 USD. If you pay in USD you may receive your change in shekels.

Credit Cards can easily be used for getting cash at ATM’s and for larger purchases at most establishments. If you do decide to bring a card, it is important to notify their customer service that you will be traveling to Israel. It is recommended to have your credit card information (the number of the card, the 3-digit number, the date that it is valid through, and the international customer telephone number to call) in a separate place from the actual card, so that if it should get stolen you will be able to report it immediately.

There will be limited opportunities to purchase souvenirs throughout the trip which can range in price from inexpensive to costly. For large purchases, you may want to use a credit card.

In the Near East it is customary to bargain with vendors in the bazaars and some shops. In the bazaars, merchandise is commonly sold for one-half to three-quarters of the announced price. Our guide can inform us of exceptions. Discourage vendors when moving with the group by being firmly negative (if you don’t say no, or if you allow a vendor to place something in your hands, their expectation is that you will buy it.) When bargaining, start about one-third to one-half the announced price. Make several offers, if necessary, until you reach a sale or your maximum price. Never tell the vendor in advance what you can afford or are willing to pay (he often will ask). You can often clinch the sale by appearing disinterested or starting to walk away. Vendors have been known to chase the purchaser down the street to accept the prior offer!

On one or two occasions a group photo may be taken with official permission by a free-lance photographer and prints offered at a modest price. Such pictures are recommended. It may be difficult to assemble the group otherwise to accommodate individuals for pictures. If you have a special time or place in mind for a group picture, let one of us know.

Communication

Each hotel is equipped with free Wi-Fi which will allow you to Facetime or communicate by e-mail with family and friends back in the U.S. If you want to use your cell phone, please contact your carrier for International plans/rates.

Israel is officially 7 hours ahead of the EST time zone. However, our Daylight Savings Time adjustments are on different dates. The US turns its clocks ahead one hour on the second Sunday in March, making for a 6-hour time difference for a brief period of time. Israel’s time adjustment (Israel Daylight Time) takes place on the Friday before the last Sunday of March (i.e. March 27, 2020; March 26, 2021; March 25, 2022; etc.), at which point the time difference will once again be 7 hours.

Itinerary & Resources

Click here to review the full itinerary. Please feel free to share this with loved ones and friends.

2020 Flight Information:

Mar 18:  LH 425  Boston to Munich  9:20 pm to 9:45 am

Mar 19:  LH 688  Munich to Tel Aviv  11:20 am to 4:00 pm

Apr 1:  LH 695  Tel Aviv to Frankfurt  8:00 am to 11:30 am

Apr 1:  LH  422 Frankfurt to Boston  1:05 pm to 3:05 pm

*Please note flight times are subject to change.

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The BICS Bible Lands Resource Guide is an academic resource prepared by President Emeritus Steve Brown containing numerous articles to help prepare you for our trip to Israel. You can view the resource guide or download it.

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Every traveler will receive the 2020 Travel Guide created especially for the BICS Bible Lands Tour. This is a keepsake book containing maps, a reference guide to biblical sites and places, song lyrics, daily devotions, and more. The Travel Guide will be distributed on the day of departure, but if you may also choose to peruse this resource digitally now. The 2020 guide is not yet available, but you can view or download the 2019 edition by clicking here.  

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A sample packing list is available for download here. Additional questions may be answered in the FAQs to the left.

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Rev. Michael Tuttle

Mike Tuttle is the Vice President of Student Development at BICS and Minister of Family Life at Hope Church in Lenox, MA. He is an experienced Bible Lands traveler, having hosted/co-hosted the Seminar nineteen times. He participated in the archaeological dig at Khirbet al-Maqatir (biblical Ai on the West Bank). At BICS, Mike is the instructor of the Bible Lands Seminar. He holds the MAR in Biblical Counseling from Liberty University.
Tour Host

Mr. Steve Ross

Steve Ross works as an administrator at Albany Medical Center; in addition, he is a faculty member at BICS and serves as an elder at Hope Church in Lenox, MA. Active in music ministry, he is also an experienced traveler in Israel. He will lead the devotional/worship component of the tour. Steve holds the B.A. in Theology from Berkshire Christian College and the MSW degree from SUNY-Albany.
Co-Host

Rev. Andy Rice

Andy Rice is the President of the Berkshire Institute for Christian Studies. After attending BICS as a student, he earned a B.S. in Bible from Lancaster Bible College before going on to earn two M.A. degrees in New Testament and Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He also served as a pastor for nine years in Melrose, Massachusetts.
Co-Host