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Help with trip itinerary

Louisiana, US
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6 posts
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Help with trip itinerary

I am currently trying to help plan a church trip to Israel for November, 2010. My problem is that all of the itineraries that I have reviewed are VERY similar. Is there any way that someone could take a look at the .pdf file I created to try and compare the trips? When you look at them, the prices are nearly identical.

…googlepages.com/IsraelTripComparison.pdf

Any comments regarding what might be too much, or what we might be missing would be welcome. I have already read many of the "mixed" reviews on the hotels, but we are willing to take that plunge to try and make the trip as economical as possible.

I have removed the tour company names as not to start a long discussion of the merits, or lack of, of each firm. I am simply trying to evaluate the itineraries to see if one is "the best". Thanks for your help!

Marshall

Louisiana, US
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1. Re: Help with trip itinerary

Here is another link to that .pdf if the first doesn't work...

filefactory.com/file/ah131d2/n/Israel_Trip_C…

Marshall

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
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35,390 posts
35 reviews
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2. Re: Help with trip itinerary

Okay--you don't want the merits or lack there of of each firm ( which I can understand and appreciate--but when this thread has run its' course you MUST tell us who we've evaluated!! -:)

It is hard to select one, each has pluses and minuses. I'll call it as I see it and hope it doesn't make things worse.

Company C spends a night in Netanya--if all it is a a sleep stop and then head up to Tiberias the following day I think it pays to drive straight through. You'll sleep on the bus and not waste time checking into and out of a hotel.

Company B has a very long list of things it does. BUT do you visit or 'see" See means a drive by and that is meaningless IMHO!

B, the most expensive also gives you 2 free days!! I dont' get it. I also do not like the hotel they stay out. It is located on the main street of Arab East Jerusalem and while the Olive Tree is also in East Jerusalem I think some of your tourists will be more comfortable at the Olive Tree. I am also trying to remember if the Ambassador is the hotel that my neighbor in NY came back sputtering about. ( I am in Israel right now, he is in Hawaii, so I can't verify)

I can't comment on Egypt!

All told, for the reasons above and others which I can't type out because it is more my gut--I'd go with A.

Jerusalem, Israel
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem
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27 reviews
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3. Re: Help with trip itinerary

I'll agree with rdglady about company B - absolutely not, and for the same reasons as rdglady.

With regards to A or C, actually I prefer C, if your focus is Israel - they give you an extra day here, and I like the organization better (although there's not a huge lot of difference). I do also agree with rdglady about the Blue Bay (in Netanya) - not much point in making that stop.

If you also want to get more out of the Egypt part, then it looks like A gives you that more than C.

Louisiana, US
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4. Re: Help with trip itinerary

I understand your comments about the difference between "see" and "visit". When I created this spreadsheet I tried to only list places that were listed as "stop" or "visit". As far as the free day go, I am not sure why the one company quoted 2. I did request one open day in our trip from all companies though. Our plan is to try and do some volunteer work on that day.

Washington State
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5. Re: Help with trip itinerary

A few random thoughts:

1. Any combined trip to Israel and Egypt involves a great deal of compromise. You will rush through sites in Israel and blast through places in Egypt. Options B & C will have you at a dead run in Cairo. How "B" plans to visit all those sites on the last day baffles me. "A" does a better job of Egypt.

2. "A" must be EO. I have mixed emotions about the Royal Plaza in Tiberias. Needs updating and the staff can be indifferent to any problems you have. I do like Olive Tree a lot and don't find the location a problem.

3. Ambassador Hotel is owned by NET Tours and has a much more of a Middle Eastern feel to it. Rooms are nice. Staff is good. Buffets are not as extensive as Olive Tree, but the food is good. Smaller than OT and not as busy (that's a good thing IMHO). I don't mind staying in Eastern Jerusalem, but the Ambassador boarders on being on the fringe of things. Probably all that means is an extra $1-2 what you take a taxi somewhere. I would have no problem taking a group there and like the people who run it.

4. "C" gets you to Dan and Caesarea Philippi, sites (IMHO) not to be missed. The other trips skip these.

5. I think "C" uses day 7 poorly. Yes, I know you could usefully spend a whole day at Yad Vashem. But given the speed at which you're seeing other sites, you could do more on the day. Upper Room/Mt. Zion is a short visit (and not that interesting…Don't buy the "this is where the Lord's Supper was" routine). The Israeli Museum will still probably be mostly closed and an hour visit is sufficient for what is open.

Two suggestions:

1. Think about two trips: One to Israel, one to Egypt. Spend 12-14 in each. They are both well worth it and you won't spend your time thinking about all the stuff you missed.

2. Talk with the tour providers and find out how many people will be on the tour. I don't like full busses with 40. Too much crowd control; too hard to hear the guide. Opt for a small tour if you can.

That said, I think you'd have a great time on any of these three. Bring your running shoes.

PS---Are you joining an existing tour or running your own group tour?

Louisiana, US
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6. Re: Help with trip itinerary

Not exactly sure yet, but trying to organize through my church, a small group of around 10-15.

This is the first trip for all of us and we just want to have the best possible experience AND have a day for some missions work.

It may be that we do end up meeting with another group. Do you have any additional advice on this subject?

We appreciate your feedback and thank you so much for your time.

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
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35,390 posts
35 reviews
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7. Re: Help with trip itinerary

Stop can be a very close synonym of see. You can stop in front of a place, get off the bus, have a few minutes for pictures and then get back on the bus. See is a drive by! Visit is what you have to compare!

You need to verify if the company is giving you a small bus for just your group ( nice way to travel) or if they are opening the tour to outsiders and/or combing with another small group. This will have tremendous impact on the price if one company is doing one thing and one the other. A small group tour would be marvelous and heavily weigh your decision. It would also make it easier for you to make changes. ( can you do that--are these itineraries set in stone!)

israel
Destination Expert
for Tel Aviv, Galilee, Israel
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8. Re: Help with trip itinerary

I suggest you contact Kathy4him from this forum. She brings small groups to Israel almost every year.

Washington State
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9. Re: Help with trip itinerary

10-15 is kind of an awkward number. Too many to feel like you need to fit into a consolidated tour; probably not enough to make the economics of you own driver and guide feasible.

I'm assuming the costs you have received are based on you joining an existing tour. If not, let me say these are really good prices for a small group tour that includes Egypt.

More random thoughts:

1. If you have enough people to make the cost work, it's always better to host your own tour. That way, you can set your own schedule and see the sites you choose. However, 20 is about the point where that becomes cost effective.

2. I know people will suggest you do this without a tour agency running your trip, but with Egypt in the schedule I would not recommend it.

3. If you have not been to Israel yourself, most tour agencies offer a "FAM" tour, where a potential tour leader can travel to Israel at a greatly reduced cost. That fee is often refunded if you lead a tour within the following 12-18 months. Getting on the ground there yourself will give you the best feel for what is important (and not so important) on your tour.

4. You may still have time to find another group to join you and bring your numbers up to what you need for a private group tour. You might even contact a tour agency and see if they know of any other small groups who might be interested in a similar itinerary at about the same time. Just be careful you match your theological outlooks somewhat closely. This "decent and in order" Presbyterian did his first trip to Israel with a group of Mexican Pentecostals.

Paragon
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10. Re: Help with trip itinerary

Marshall sent me a pm. I wrote him back. Haven't heard from him so far. Perhaps he will check the forum before he checks pm or emails.

I know at least 1 company for sure that will work with a group of 15 or so and tailor-make the itinerary. Nobody HAS to accept a "canned itinerary". (My choice of words!) Obviously the price could be a little higher for that tailor made itinerary, but, well worth it in my opinion.

Gordon Tours http://www.journeys-unlimited.com is the website. Ray Masillo is my contact guy there and talking to him personally is the best way to find out what they can/will do for you. I have his 800 number if you would like it.

You will see group tour itineraries on their website, but, you do not have to choose one that follows that totally. You will need to know what you want (or at least have a pretty good idea) before you talk with Ray (if you choose to call him).

And absolutely I know from experience that "see xyz" doesn't mean that you do anything but drive past it and for lots of places that just doesn't satisfy!

Hope this helps just a bit.

Kathy Walters

Paragon, Indiana, USA

cakywalters@iquest.net