Physical Demands of the Pilgrimage
The pilgrimage is physically demanding. Porters will move luggage onto and off of busses and the street, but no more. Pilgrims are responsible for carrying their own luggage through the airport, in and out of guest houses, and up and down stairs. Pilgrims will be walking and climbing along long and irregular and unpaved paths without banisters. The itinerary will involve some very early mornings and a 10-hour time difference. Guest houses may offer wake-up calls, but alarm clocks are strongly recommended because awaking on time is the responsibility of the pilgrims. Take these issues into consideration before registering for the pilgrimage.
Preparing for Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is not the same as a mere group tour. The destination is holy, and our visit brings us nearer into the heart of God in the same way that Christ’s incarnation brought God closer into our hearts and our world. We’ll prepare for our pilgrimage before leaving town by prayer and study.
A current passport is required for entry into Israel, and pilgrims are responsible for obtaining their passport and paying associated fees. Information about obtaining a passport is available here. IMPORTANT: Your passport MUST be valid six months AFTER our planned return on Oct. 20, 2017, i.e., must expire no earlier than Apr. 20, 2018, or you will be denied entry into Israel.
- Treat fellow pilgrims, guides, and service providers with respect and courtesy.
- Observe cultural and religious customs as directed by the tour operator, e.g., not crossing legs in churches or other formal settings, women covering heads in some places, not wearing crosses or other religious symbols at the Temple Mount or other places where they may be considered provocative to others
- At all times, obey the instructions of the tour operator.
Safety and Security
No one can ensure safety and security in the United States or in the Holy Land. However, Israeli security in airports and public spaces is among the best in the world, and we will take reasonable precautions to prevent harm to our pilgrims.
In the weeks leading up to our departure, St. Margaret’s and Iyad Qumri Pilgrimages will review US State Department advisories and other sources to ensure that known danger is avoided. Our pilgrimage the individuals involved will be registered with the US State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so our government can assist, in a worst-case scenario, with locating and evacuating us safely.
Travelers should limit their use of credit cards to avoid the interception of private credit card data.
What and How to Pack
We strongly recommend that you pack as lightly as possible. Two or three outfits that can be washed out in a sink and dry quickly overnight are sufficient. Average Jerusalem High/Low temperatures for mid-October are 81/59. Clothing should be conservative but casual. Shorts are never appropriate in public in the Holy Land, and should be worn in your guest room only. Comfortable closed-toed shoes and socks suitable for walking and hiking are recommended, and are acceptable at all venues. Allow some empty space in your suitcase to accommodate gifts you purchase during the pilgrimage. Other recommended items to pack include:
- Light jacket
- One small rock (golf ball size or smaller)
- Sandals or water shoes and swim suit for swimming in Dead Sea
- Bible and/or Prayer Book
- Phone/tablet/computer chargers and adapters
- Travel alarm clock (or use your phone)
- A hat and sunglasses
- Dual-voltage hair dryer, curling iron, etc. See notes on electricity in Israel.
- WOMEN (IMPORTANT): In a relatively small number of places, a head scarf is mandatory. Bring something lightweight, no-iron, and large that goes with any outfit you’re wearing.
Using Your Cell Phone in the Holy Land
Most modern cell phones will work in the Holy Land. If you want to make calls from your cell phone or use data services, check with your carrier about a month before the pilgrimage to arrange for a reasonably-priced temporary roaming plan. (See Verizon Wireless or AT&T, for example.) If you don’t want to use cellular voice or data services, you still can use your phone’s WiFi connection for online services. And through your WiFi connection, you can use services like FaceTime, Google Voice, and Skype to place telephone calls.
When traveling abroad, or when calling an international destination from the United States, it’s important to add a plus sign (+) and the correct country code before dialing the telephone number. In the United States and Canada, the country code is 1. So, for example, to place a call to St. Margaret’s from abroad (including from a US cell phone outside the country), the correct number would be +1 760-346-2697. The country code for Israel is 972. Country codes for all other countries can be found here.
Electricity in Israel
The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets in Israel have three pin holes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs. Visitors who want to use shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may need both transformers and adaptor plugs.
This is an excellent option for charging your phone/tablet/computer.
For items that draw more current, have motors, or generate heat (hair dryers, curling irons, hair curlers, etc.), consider purchasing a dual voltage device before you leave the United States. At amazon.com, search for “dual voltage hair dryer,” for example.
For much more detailed information, check here.
Side trips are strongly discouraged. They are disruptive to the itinerary, and divide the community of the pilgrim group. The pilgrimage guide and leadership are not responsible for your safe and prompt return from side trips you arrange outside the pilgrimage at your own risk.
Questions should be referred directly to Lane Hensley at St. Margaret’s. Please note that our travel agency deals only with issues surrounding the flights, and not with anything that happens on the ground in the Holy Land.Last updated: April 25, 2017 at 21:57 pm