The program is offered as an 8-day, 10-day, or 12-day experience, but everyone travels as part of one group regardless of the duration chosen. The 8-day experience ends as we arrive to Tel Aviv on Thursday evening. The 10-day experience includes touring in the Tel Aviv region on the final Friday and Saturday, with two overnights at a beach-side hotel in Tel Aviv. The 12-day experience includes two nights and two days at the Red Sea resort city of Eilat with an optional day tour of Petra offered. No hotel overnights are included on the final day of the program unless arranged with us separately.
Although not formally offered, a 9-day program is possible including a full day of touring in Tel Aviv on Friday. Contact us for additional details.
The program is led by an experienced, licensed Israeli guide who is with the group on a 24/7 basis. Your guide will be fluent in English and deeply knowledgeable about the history, culture, environment, and landscapes of Israel. Our guides are charismatic educators with expertise in informal education — many of them also guide our BBYO teen groups. If your group has over 25 travelers, your tour will also be accompanied by an Israeli counselor who focuses on the experience of younger participants and provides additional support to the group in general. Finally, our travel takes place on a spacious, comfortable, air-conditioned bus with a dedicated driver.
NOTE: The Eilat Extension (i.e. Days 11-12) is generally not escorted apart from the optional Petra Day Tour which is guided.
Because we want you to get the most out of your time in Israel, our touring days are full, and there is quite a bit of travel by foot. While none of the walks are strenuous, you will find at the end of the day that you have taken a large number of steps! Be prepared for an average of 3-4 hours of walking a day over all manner of surfaces (cobblestone paths, nature trails, uneven walkways, etc.). Additionally, the weather in Israel is warm, particularly over the summer, and the sun is more intense than you may be used to at home. When necessary, we will adjust the itinerary for your comfort, and you’ll find that most days have opportunities to cool down with swimming or getting wet in general.
NOTE: Travelers who wish to take a break can opt-out as needed after coordinating with the guide, and in some cases, we offer less active programming alternatives for those who wish. Travelers requiring walking support or with mobility constraints will not be well accommodated on this program.
Traveling to Israel as a family is an especially meaningful way to mark a child’s coming of age. There will be a brief ceremony led by our staff in the Galilee to mark the occasion for those who wish to participate (scheduled during free time). No preparation is required before the tour, and there is no extra cost. If you are interested in organizing a personalized ceremony, there are opportunities to do so before, during or after the tour.
Contact us for planning advice, if you wish to be referred to a local rabbi who can design and lead a ceremony that fits your own family’s vision, or if you are seeking “mitzvah project” ideas. Finally, keep in mind that becoming a Bar or Bat Mitzvah is simply about reaching this traditional Jewish milestone age. No ceremony is required by Jewish law, and for many families, the mere act of traveling through the Land of Israel together is the most appropriate way to celebrate this happy occasion. Mazal tov!
Groups are comprised of families spanning three generations and couples traveling without children are welcomed as well! Because of the active nature of the program, children aged 8 or older are best suited for this experience. Group sizes typically range from 15 to a maximum of 35 travelers with an average of 25 travelers. For your comfort, we normally use a 53-seat touring bus.
Israel Family Journey is a pluralistic Jewish travel experience open to all. Group meals are kosher, and there is no bus-based touring on Shabbat. The program is unaffiliated with any specific approach to Judaism. Travelers arrive with varying degrees of Jewish affiliation, and non-Jewish family members and friends are welcomed. Our goal is to provide a complete first-time experience in Israel through the lens of Jewish history and identity.
Our goal for the program is to create a sense of community among individual travelers – with participants gaining lasting new friendships and a richer experience as a result. There are also ample opportunities for personal exploration during the tour and many of the dinners are intentionally left free. In particular, Saturdays are designed to be less structured, and no programming is mandatory on any day. Participants are encouraged to arrive in Jerusalem earlier or stay in Tel Aviv longer to explore even more on their own. Group hotel reservations can be extended accordingly.
In short, you’re responsible for arranging your own flights to and from Israel, and we take care of most everything else! The program covers two meals a day, all touring, a fantastic staff team, hotel accommodations including luggage porterage, and deluxe motorcoach transportation. An airport greeting and roundtrip airport transfers are offered on the arrival day, the day before the arrival day, and on the final evening of the program (see below for full details). You’ll be responsible for one meal a day, specialty beverages at group meals, and staff gratuities.
Be sure to note any special dietary needs as part of your registration. We will coordinate with our hotel and restaurant meal providers to arrange special accommodations as necessary. We make a good-faith effort to accommodate food allergy considerations, however, we can not make absolute guarantees on behalf of our meal-providing partners.
The Premium package is comprised of mostly 5-star equivalent, centrally located hotels with premium amenities and a pool. The Classic package comprises mostly 4-star equivalent, centrally located hotels with fewer amenities and usually without a pool.
NOTE: The typical hotels we use are noted in the program itinerary. In special circumstances where our typical hotels are not available, we will offer a hotel substitution of equivalent quality.
You’ll soon discover that our staff pours their hearts into the success of your experience, and at the end of the tour, providing a cash tip (dollars or shekels) is a customary and thoughtful gesture. Although the amounts and allocation are ultimately at your discretion, we recommend budgeting for a tip pool of $100-$150 per traveler to be divided as follows:
- 1/2 for the guide
- 1/4 for the driver
- 1/4 for the counselor (if applicable)
Take a moment to review the Pre-Trip Prep Guide. A detailed itinerary with staff details is typically distributed two months before arrival, and you’ll be invited to a program Facebook group to connect with fellow travelers before the program and stay in touch afterward.
Basic guidelines for planning your travel to/from Israel are summarized below. More detailed advice is contained in the Pre-Trip Prep Guide. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or for advice on booking flights.
TRAVEL TO ISRAEL
- All participants are expected to make their own air travel arrangements to and from Israel. The only international airport in Israel is “Ben Gurion” (airport code: TLV), located just 40 kilometers from Jerusalem (~25 miles) and 15 kilometers (~9 miles) from Tel Aviv. Non-stop flights are available from several major North American cities, including NYC, DC, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, Miami, Dallas, and Toronto. Many connecting flight options are available via Europe.
- An airport greeting and a private transfer to our Jerusalem hotel are complimentary for anyone arriving at Ben Gurion Airport by flight as follows:
- The first day of the program (Thursday) between 6:00am and 4:20pm
- The day before the program begins (Wednesday) between 6:00am and 5:35pm
NOTE: The transfers are private for Israel Family Journey travelers with a maximum wait time of 30 minutes if travelers on multiple flights are to be accommodated together. Due to logistical considerations, this transfer service is only available to travelers arriving at the airport by flight.
- Those travelers arriving outside of these covered times can receive the same airport greeting and transfer service to our hotel in Jerusalem for an additional fee depending on the size of the party (note: the cost of a standard taxi to Jerusalem is $80-$100)
- Travelers arriving at Ben Gurion Airport after 4:20pm on the first day of the program will likely miss the welcome dinner and programming this evening and will be responsible for their own transportation to the restaurant. We do not recommend it!
- Those travelers arriving in Israel early (which we recommend for acclimating in advance of the tour) can be accommodated by prior arrangement at our Jerusalem hotel based on our group rates, which includes breakfast and our standard cancellation terms.
TRAVEL FROM ISRAEL
- At the end of the core program (Thursday or Saturday night), participants will be escorted back to Ben Gurion Airport in time for overnight flights departing between 10:30pm and 1:00am the next day. No hotel is included this evening unless arranged separately.
- Participants booked on return flights outside of this window can be accommodated via taxis from Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion Airport, which are inexpensive, ubiquitous, and reliable.
- Those travelers extending their stay in Tel Aviv can be accommodated at our beachfront hotel based on our group rates, which include breakfast and our standard cancellation terms.
TRAVEL WITH THE EILAT EXTENSION
For those taking part in the Eilat Extension, we will arrange your connecting domestic flight from Eilat back to Ben Gurion Airport according to your connecting flight departure time. We encourage you to book an international flight that departs between 11:00pm and 1:00am the next day. If you are booked on a flight that departs Ben Gurion Airport after 1:00am you will likely need to spend the night at an airport hotel (additional cost applies) or make separate arrangements.
Program tour dates are confirmed, however, Authentic Israel reserves the right to cancel trip dates in extraordinary circumstances (e.g. security or public health-related considerations).
Check to make sure that you know where your passport is and that it is not expired or about to expire. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you arrive in Israel. If your passport expires within this period, please start the renewal process today. Many airlines will deny you boarding if your passport is not valid according to this policy. If you are traveling to Israel on a USA, Canadian, or European Union member country passport, a visa is not needed to enter Israel. If you are traveling on a passport from another country, you may need a visa to enter Israel. If needed, our office is able to provide you with a program participation letter.
Providing safe travel experiences is our guiding consideration. We appreciate our responsibility and the trust that travelers place in us. We care about their well-being like family. Key security-related protocols that we follow include:
- Traveling on private transportation only
- Traveling with a licensed Israeli guide at all times who has been trained in security response
- Avoiding travel to areas of heightened concern
- Use of hotels with a guard and a secure area
- 24/7 support from our headquarters office in Israel
- Close coordination with the Israeli security services via the “Situation Room”
- Willingness and ability to modify our programming, staffing structure, and/or overall protocols as needed based on actual conditions where we travel.
Finally, in the rare event of an acute security event, we have issued full refunds in the past, and we will continue to follow this principle should we deem the situation appropriate.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about our approach to providing travel experiences that are safe, meaningful, and joyous.