We use some of the premier air carriers, like Lufthansa and British Air. It is cheaper to fly on an Arab airline like Royal Jordanian, but you have to land in an Arab country where you must spend the night. We will be flying directly into Israel, landing at Tel Aviv. An overnight stay in an Arab country like Jordan raises problems of safety and health, especially health, because a person can get sick easily from drinking the water or eating any uncooked food. Also, a lot of time is wasted crossing the border into Israel. Depending on the number of tourists present at the border, the crossing can take from 2 to 5 hours. And another border crossing must be made at the end of the trip since you must depart from the same airport where you landed. You should also avoid economy carriers like Israir. Their equipment is shoddy; their crew members are rude; their food is awful; and they cram the seats together to load the maximum number of passengers.
Some groups cut costs by using kibbutz motels or Arab hotels. The kibbutz hotels are okay, but they are in remote locations, and they are not first class. The Arab hotels are pretty awful. It would not be unusual to sit in the dining room and watch cats play on the counters in the kitchen! We stay at first class, five star Jewish hotels.
Be sure to check to see what meals are provided. Some groups provide only breakfast, and it is often continental style. We provide all three meals each day.
Some groups cut costs by using Arab guides. This will absolutely ruin your trip because the Arab guide will spend the entire time running down Israel and giving you a very distorted picture of what is going on in the Middle East.
Make certain to check to see what is covered by the cost of the trip, and what is not covered. Believe it or not, there are unethical tour operators who offer a rock bottom cost that does not even include the entrance fees to the places on the itinerary! Thus, when the group arrives at a site like Masada, they suddenly discover that they must pay the entrance fee, including the cost of the sky tram. Our tours include the entrance fees to all sites listed on the itinerary. When the cost of a trip is so low that it seems too good to be true — beware!
The first time I went to Israel the trip was a gift. I had no choice about the group I would go with. The leader was a wonderful man of God, but he didn't know anything about Israel or the Jewish people. He had to rely entirely on the guide. I have since been to Israel over 40 times. I know the country and its people very well. And I know how the land relates to the Bible. The staff members I take along are also very knowledgeable about the land and the people. Don't go with a leader who knows nothing about the land and its people.
The first time I went to Israel, I was not given any resources to help me prepare for the trip. We provide a very carefully prepared booklet that is designed to introduce you to the land and its people. And we provide you with a list of other recommended resources.
The vast majority of tours follow a standard itinerary that is dictated by the tour agency. I personally design every aspect of our tours. That's one of the reasons that we spend a day in Tel Aviv. Most tours spend no time at all in this city. That's a shame, because there is a lot to see in Tel Aviv, including things like Independence Hall which relate directly to Bible prophecy. Over the years I have diligently sought out unusual, out of the way places for our groups to visit. We see a lot of the standard places, but we go to many that are off the beaten track.
Many group trips to Israel turn out to be just tours, and nothing more. Our trips are spiritual pilgrimages. We go there for spiritual purposes: to draw nearer to the Lord and to develop a better understanding of His Word. We focus on the visitation of sites that relate either to the life of Jesus or to end time Bible prophecy. We conduct devotionals at each of these spots and we do Bible studies when time permits.
The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. I'll never forget one lady who made her second trip with one of our groups. She was amazed at how nice our hotel was in Tel Aviv the first night. When I told her it was nothing all that special, she explained that on her previous trip her husband had insisted on purchasing the cheapest tour he could find. The result was that on their first night in Tel Aviv, they stayed in a hotel that had no electricity (they were issued candles at the check-in desk!) and had gang baths at the end of each hall! Again, you get what you pay for!