Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
What to Pack 3/28/21
What to Pack 3/28/21
Happy Holy Week! What a glorious time to celebrate our Savior!
I know it's a bit premature but let's start talking about WHAT TO TAKE on our trip. I have a few favorite (and very useful things) and there are some essentials too.
The packing list and amazon wish list is on our website. Read through the packing list and consider what works for you. The goal is to PACK LIGHT in a 21-22" suitcase (carry-on size) and a backpack. You really don't need more and, since you will have to carry everything you take through airports, you will be happier with less to haul.
It will likely be 80-90 degrees and hot so pack clothes for that weather. Women can wear pants of any length, skirts, dresses and shirts with or without sleeves - whatever you are comfortable in. On days we are in churches and Holy places, you will need to cover your knees and shoulders but doing so with a wrap skirt or shawl is ok. I wear a lightweight dress most days because I am most comfortable in dresses. You do you!
Men can wear pants or shorts but jeans are hot. Zip-off pants are great! T-shirts or polos are perfect. Everyone should just be conservatively dressed, like going to a casual church instead of to the gym (except on a few days when we are hiking or doing other active activities).
You do not need to buy everything on the amazon wish list (and you do not have to buy from amazon) but these items are examples of what is very useful. You will for sure need a power converter/charger to charge your phone (for European outlets type C, two round prongs) and at least two charging cables for your phone (one for hotel, one for bus) https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/35JLSP1SZ8U7I?&sort=default
Shoes are very important! You really need only two pair (or three if you need a backup pair). They need to be very comfortable with a good tread and lightweight. You don't need any dressy shoes, heels, or boots. Consider tennis-type shoes or light hiking shoes and a sandal with a heel strap. Both need to be shoes you can walk all day in - test them out before the trip! You will need shoes to wear in the water that do not have metal on them - either the sandals or a simple pull on water shoe. I will likely take my Lands' End water shoes and my Bass Pro sandals + maybe a 2nd pair of sandals. Some examples of what I really like that are very affordable are below but there are many brands and style available if you don't already have this type.
Women's sandals: https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/natural-reflections-cape-may-sport-sandals-for-ladies?searchTerm=cape%20may%20sandals&fbclid=IwAR0Hr6h09yQRFXdVhZFrKCTnUeJrQEmyb6CtSZJb5r4F1mUz-TBQ1PPhW38
Women's water shoes - I like these because they work as tennis shoes, walking shoes, and water shoes, are lightweight, dry fast, and are washable. I finally replaced a pair I've worn each summer for 10 years. Look for the Lands' End coupon code. https://www.landsend.com/search/S-xea?initialSearch=true&q=water%20shoes%20women&fbclid=IwAR1cZNdkfqNEoHiqXs4QxKQoLitanc9ZmC0633Few6B4OzaAu4is8zPZv3s
Simple water shoes found in many stores Inline image
Be sure to pack moleskin and bandaids to cover up any spots on your feet that get sore.
There is no need to buy a lot of new clothes for this trip. You can hand wash in your room or send clothes out for the hotel to wash (in most places). No one will care if you re-wear items and you do not need to look like you stepped out of a magazine. Be comfortable, cool, and sensible. I always put everything I think I want to take on my bed then put half of it away - that seems to work well! Take a hat if you will wear it, women should take a small lightweight crossbody-type purse and downsize your wallet to essentials, and pack a light jacket for evenings out in Jerusalem and for the plane. Look through the packing list for the Optional Items you may wish to bring. Consider sharing items with your roommate. Be sure to order enough of your medications for the duration of your trip and pack those in the bag you carry with you on the plane.
We'll talk more when we meet once we can commit to the trip but feel free to contact me with any questions. Please keep praying for Israel to feel comfortable opening their country to us! I'm asking all the questions about vaccines, testing and quarantines but we don't have any answers yet. Pray they make it easy for us!
Easter blessings to all! He is Risen, indeed!
Update/No Update 3/14/21
Update/No Update 3/14/21
Happy Sunday, friends!
I hope where you are is as sunny and beautiful as Central California is right now. I LOVE all the blooming flowers and trees! This is my favorite time of year!
Many of you have reached out recently asking for a trip update. Sadly, we still don't have one. While Greece has promised they will be open for all travelers this summer (see article below), Israel and Jordan have not made such announcements - yet. My contact at the Los Angeles office of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism said recently, "I think your summer trips are still good." but, until it is official, we don't know. The Jerusalem Post published this today which, for them, is a huge metric in moving forward with opening their country.
Israel is the country with the highest vaccination rate in the world, with some 5.1 million people inoculated with at least one dose – over 50% of the population - and 4.1 million of them with both – over 40% of the population.
They NEED tourists to return and other sources think they will open in "Spring" if their virus case counts continue to drop (which they are). Israelis who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID are able to return to most activities now.
All of our trips are connected to each other as we have travelers doing one, two, or three countries. If Greece is open but Israel/Jordan are not (I'm not expecting that - just hypothesizing!), we still may not be able to do Greece because our traveler count would be less and that might change the price or halt the tour. If Israel/Jordan open in July but are not open in June, I might have to combine the June & July tours. Please know that I have scenarios laid out for every contingency and will let you know what we can do as soon as I know anything. I know you want to know, as do I, and I check in with sources every day. We may not know until very close to departure dates but, if we can go, we will go. We will meet together before we depart. Thank you for your continued patience.
Another common question is whether or not you will have to be vaccinated to travel. I have hesitated to share my opinion on this because I truly believe that vaccination is a personal choice that each must independently make. I still believe that but I don't want to hide my thoughts as it relates to travel either.
- I am fully vaccinated and was able to get it earlier than my age or essential worker group because we have a young grandson with a lung disease. I had intended to get it anyway because I don't fear anything life. I believe God's plan will play out for me no matter what I do or don't do. I did not have any side effects other than being a bit tired after the 2nd shot but that is unique to each individual.
- The plus for me in being vaccinated is that I think it will make it easier for me to travel. Eventually, we should have some sort of system to document vaccine or COVID recovery status which most countries seem to find valuable. Until then, we all may have to test before entering new countries or returning home. Details on testing sites and costs are TBD.
- Most airlines have not announced a requirement to be vaccinated but they might.
You choose what is right for you but know that you will need documentation of your vaccine or perhaps additional testing if you do not have it.
Flights - United has cancelled some of our flights due to rescheduling on their part. Do not worry! They did not send notice to travelers. Skybooker and I are looking at options and United must book us on new flights at no additional cost. This might change our schedule slightly but we are waiting a bit to confirm so we only have to make the change once. Know that we will take care of this for you.
I want to remind you that we have a Registered Travelers Only page on our website https://travelerjourneys.life/for-registered-travelers-only The password for this page is godisgood
I copy all of these emails into the Updates & Info section - click on the here link on the site.
As we get closer, you'll want to order a t-shirt (for our group picture), add friends to our Facebook page so they can follow our journey, and learn more details there.
Please keep praying for our tours and for the countries as they recover. I truly cannot wait to take this journey with you!
Health Survey & COVID links 1/31/21
Health Survey & COVID links 1/31/21
Happy Sunday! Aren't we having crazy weather? In CA, it's been hot, very cold, rainy, and everything in between in the last week. I hope you are all well!
As I said last week, we have no idea what the requirements will be to travel this summer. I'm still expecting to GO and am emboldened by the fact that the countries we are visiting NEED to open up for their citizens and for tourism so they are trying hard to do so safely.
Many of you asked for specific information on our countries. You can bookmark these sites to keep updated but be assured that I get many updates from different sites daily on all topics related to our travel so I'm staying on top of it for you. Also, this will all change frequently between now and our trips. The more cautious they are now, the faster they will be prepared to open.
Travel Regulations Map https://www.iatatravelcentre.com/world.php
- Israel continues its lockdown. https://il.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
- Greece is back in lockdown https://gr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
- Jordan is more open but not fully ready for tourists. https://jo.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
As I process all the changes, it would be helpful to me if you would fill out this quick survey (click the blue link) so I know what your needs and preferences are as we get closer and confirm details. This is optional and you do not need to share anything you don't want to. It's just feedback for ME, not to be shared elsewhere, but it would be helpful.
Traveling & COVID
Do not worry!
Matthew 6:34 ESV
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Traveler Update via email 1/25/21
Traveler Update via email 1/25/21
Hello Travelers. I hope everyone is continuing to manage well in these challenging times. No matter what your political views or state of health, I hope we find some sense of functional normalcy soon.
Many are asking about our travel plans for this summer. I will answer specific questions below but the overriding statement for this email is IF WE ARE ALLOWED TO GO, WE WILL GO. All 3 countries project to be open by May but the world conditions and rules change daily. I expect to see improvement in COVID case due to the vaccine and I know the countries want and need to get back to pre-COVID tourism but this will keep evolving.
1. Will we we be able to go as scheduled?
We don't know if the countries will be open so we don't have an answer yet.
2. When will we know if we are going?
Our first group departs June 22nd (I go June 18) and others depart in the few weeks after. We will likely need to pay for our tours in full by late April/early May to ensure that our tour partners are ready for us so we'll need to make some decisions by then. If the countries are OPEN to us, we will pay for our tours and go. If the countries are not open, we cannot go. If they open at any time before our tour dates but after May 1, we will do everything we can to get our groups there. There is a chance that the countries would not be open for some of the travelers' tour dates but would be for later groups.
3. How will we address travel if countries are not open in June but are in July?
If this occurs, we want all travelers to be able to go regardless if they were scheduled for June or July. As we get closer and know more what the scenario may be, I will develop options but I do have some in mind including re-booking dates. We don't know enough to do that yet and I don't want to disrupt booked flights.
4. Will we need the vaccine to go?
At this time, none of the countries are requiring a vaccine to enter. I don't think they will do so because they are not requiring their own citizens to. Israel has vaccinated about half of its citizens and has opened vaccines to 16 years + already.
5. Will we need to provide a negative COVID test before entering each country?
I think this is more likely. Our tour company will provide options for us to do so when in the Holy Land but we would need to provide our own before departure. I would guide the group how to do so well in advance. Tests internationally may have a cost TBD. The US now requires a negative COVID test to be taken 3 days before departing for the US. We fly from Israel to Greece and Greece to Jordan but drive from Jordan into Israel so the process may be different depending on your route(s).
6. Will we have to wear masks? Will US medical mask exceptions/exemptions be allowed?
There is no information on this yet and I expect policy to evolve. Other countries are not bound to exemptions/exceptions provided in the US.
7. What about lockdowns/closed airports? A lot can change in 5 months. Israel has closed their airport to almost all travel through the end of January and possibly for longer until they reach a stable point of health. Citizens are still on lockdown. Jordan & Greece have eased lockdowns but are not fully open.
My request to each of you is that you PRAY.
~ PRAY for our world health to improve
~ PRAY that those who have suffered economic hardship due to COVID in the last year begin to recover, including the countries we will travel to and our travelers needing financial support to still be able to go on these tours
~ PRAY for peace in our politics and nations as agendas and policies change
~ PRAY that all of us in this travel group stay well and committed to transforming our lives through this journey. We will be blessed for our faith.
~PRAY that we can all remain flexible and patient as this evolves. I believe I can manage whatever comes our way as I was put through the fire at work with COVID challenges in the last year and God helped us be successful. I will not give up!
I know this does not provide much certainty but I hope it helps you to know what I know. If you have any concerns you want to share with me, feel free to do so. I pray for each of you often and I can't wait to take this journey with you!
Hello - Some of our travelers have expressed a desire and/or a need to fundraise prior to our trip. This is not something I can help too much with but I will offer this.
I run a not-for-profit program to get books to kids and organizations that serve kids. The publisher I work with has a fundraising product that is really nice and is easy to sell if you work for it. Cards for a Cause are greeting card boxes with 30-50 cards in each box. The boxes sell for $31.50 but each card is equivalent to $5-6 cards in stores. The boxes are a GREAT value and make wonderful gifts or just to have very nice cards on hand. You might do well to sell these for Christmas gifts!
Let me know if you are serious doing this fundraiser and I'll send more information to you. $16/box would be credited to your travel account which includes 100% of what my non-profit earns on this. I will not personally keep any $$$. We can run this indefinitely and order whenever you have payment for 15 boxes.
If you're not interested in doing the fundraiser but want to buy a box, let me know. I'll split the "profit" with those who do fundraise to help out.
10/3/2020 - Flights & more!
10/3/2020 - Flights & more!
I trust everyone is managing well through this crazy year! I am thankful that my family is COVID-healthy and hope you are too.
THANK YOU for trusting God enough to reserve your place on our 2021 Holy Land tours. My travel partners advise that all of our destination countries "should" have a plan for allowing travel in by March. Celestyal Cruises has posted their 2021 cruise schedule and Israel's current lockdown is making progress in reducing cases. The tourism solution may be a COVID test upon arrival or it may be a vaccination requirement but they are as anxious for us to visit as we are to travel. I went to Mexico last week and their approach to COVID was simple, reassuring, and clean - a great example for the world. If, for some reason, we still cannot travel in 2021, I will duplicate the 2021 tours in 2022. We will go, God willing! So far, we are 62% full. We have room on each tour but can go with this group as is too. I'll be going to "test" Israel as soon as they open!
I realize that I've asked for a lot of details from you so early in our planning. I have to keep track of details to make these tours happen (and to be well organized as we get closer to the trips) so please be patient with me. There is a lot of information in this email so please read it when you have time and SAVE it for future reference.
- I will contact you when I need something or have information to share. Every email will be copied into a blog in the "Registered Travelers Only" section of our website here:https://travelerjourneys.life/blog so you can refer back to them. The password to that section is godisgood . I also suggest that you create an email folder for everything we communicate about. - All the trip details are on our website at https://travelerjourneys.life so refer there as needed. There is some other good information in that section so check it out!
- If you are on Facebook, please join this group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/273840247315482 Ask questions, post information, or just get to know each other. We'll have another group to join just before the trip that you can invite friends & family to. We'll post pictures there while on the trip so they can follow along with us. It's always great to get those travel memories of your posts in the years to come also!
- Please connect with me on WhatsApp (559 740 9436). https://www.howtogeek.com/677723/how-to-add-a-contact-in-whatsapp/
WhatsApp will be our communication method as a group while on tour. It's free on wi-fi.
2. TOUR DEPOSIT & FINAL PAYMENT
Your $750 tour deposit will be due by February 1. I will communicate how to pay it online in January. We are waiting to be sure we can travel so AIT (our tour company) doesn't have to refund anyone. If AIT retained your deposit from the canceled 2020 tours, it will be transferred to 2021.
Your final payment will be invoiced to you in April and due by May 15th. If you pay by credit card, you will pay an additional 3% fee so please plan for mailing a check or the extra cost.
3. TRAVEL INSURANCE
You have options for travel insurance and I recommend that everyone buy it in some form.
- Few policies cover pandemics (some are loosening up) but AIT will work with us if we have paid deposits and cannot travel due to COVID ($100 fee is withheld for Israel and $300 for Greece). Otherwise, travel insurance will cover the costs you have paid for travel if you get non-COVID sick or hurt before the trip and can't go or during the trip and need care or transport home.
- All coverage is subject to policy terms & conditions so please read them. I've never known anyone to use a policy but if you need it and don't have it (especially if you are hurt or ill while on the trip), you will wish you did.
- Medicare does not cover international care unless you have a specific supplement.
- Travel insurance is typically priced by value of your trip and your age. Add up everything you want to be covered (like tour costs and flights) then round to the nearest $1000.
-Insurance is effective when you pay for it - not when you ask for it.
a. AIT offers group travel insurance through Travelex. Link is on our website http://uploads.documents.cimpress.io/v1/uploads/ecc0d8f9-6272-47c4-8fe9-fa4098a0aea1~110/original?tenant=vbu-digital You can buy this policy when you pay your tour deposit and it will be effective soon after.
b. You can shop around for other travel insurance policies. Try this site to get a variety of quotes then compare to Travelex https://www.insuremytrip.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjwwab7BRBAEiwAapqpTDRSEbbJXT18BQZiihGNwbTotpFEhL2AL6l3IdUfMGMohxK4VK9MlxoCd1gQAvD_BwE You can buy from whatever company you want to as there is no benefit to this ministry for choosing any of them.
c. If you travel often or if your insurance cost for this trip will be close to $500, consider buying an annual policy. They typically have a limit of what they will pay out but give you coverage for a year even for short or local trips you might have issues with. I buy an annual policy through Travel Insurance - Affordable Plans Starting at $23 | Allianz Global Assistance for $500..
Travel Insurance - Affordable Plans Starting at $23 | Allianz Global Ass...
Get a quote, compare plans and buy Allianz travel insurance online. Trip protection for cancellations, emergency...
4. PACKING LIST
Many are already asking "what do I pack or wear". There is a suggested packing list with likely weather on our website. https://uploads.documents.cimpress.io/v1/uploads/69238d9d-29d3-490f-a7f9-683dd7bf41b7~110/original?tenant=vbu-digital It will be HOT but is not typically as hot as CA or AZ in July. Don't buy a lot of new clothes! We are not going for fashion. Invest in some good walking shoes or sandals as your priority.
4. EXTRA COSTS
Most costs are included in your tour but there are some options you may want to budget for. The Jordan camel ride is at Wadi Rum so you must choose the Wadi Rum tour to do that camel ride in the desert (it's fun!). We don't shop a lot but there are places in every country to buy nice things as mementos of your trip.
We can now book flights! Please read through the attached document carefully. You can book now or later but we need you to be on the recommended flight or arrive before it so we can all transfer together to the hotel and/or destination. Additional costs apply for separate transfers.
- Flight costs change hourly so we cannot "quote" a price but we've included what they were yesterday. Flight times and estimate listed are the best for our schedule (even the 2am arrival in Jordan). We have listed flying out of & returning to FRESNO but we have quotes for those from outside of CA too (Emily & Cassandra - see the last page of the Flights document; Sandstrom's - I'll call you today to discuss).
-We'll figure out a carpool to FAT closer to the trips. If you want to fly out of SFO or LAX, you can but try to connect with the main group along the way or arrive before the group. We have 11 flights to coordinate people for and it not possible to arrange transport to LAX or SFO for all these groups at a reasonable cost.
- Please send me a copy of your itinerary by email when you receive it.
6. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION NEEDED
The chart attached is how I keep track of information I have from you. I know some of you are not quite ready to turn in your registration but are planning to go so you are listed. To save your spot, I need this information.
-If your name is in YELLOW, I still need something from you so please provide it as soon as possible. What I need is also in YELLOW. I will clear you when I receive your information.
- Registration forms are attached. Print, fill out, and send to me via email if possible (or text a pic of each page).
- Online JOTFORM is here 2021 Traveler Information
2021 Traveler Information
Please click the link to complete this form.
- Photo is a casual head/shoulders photo
- Passport is a pic of your passport page with all the info (for those that are pending, please send it when you get it).
- Travel insurance - I have noted what you put on your registration (or blank if nothing). Please confirm this information and let me know what you decide. In January, I will have to tell AIT who wants their insurance and for what amount so they can invoice you with the deposit.
Don't forget to check out the Resources link on our website for recommendations. I have some of them if you want to borrow them I do have some Israel information provided by the Ministry of Tourism - contact me if you haven't received yours yet. Those going to Greece should re-read Acts or do a study on it as we'll be following Paul through that book. You may want to study our itineraries too (see the documents or the maps on the website) to learn more about where we are going or what made it significant. Everyone going to Israel should read The Source by James Michener, a fictional account of a a dig at a "tell". It's a long book and the first third is rather dry but it is a really interesting book overall (and it does get better mid-way through!). I will buy lunch for the first person who recognizes the location in the book on our Israel tours! It is amazing!
If you are still with me reading this email, THANK YOU! It takes a lot to organize these tours and the planning is sometimes tedious but I assure you that it will all be worth it when we get to the Holy Land! Let me know if you have questions or prayer requests. I look forward to our time together next summer!
My favorite photo of the week is this - it is the ceiling of the outdoor chapel at the hotel we stayed at in Mexico. It was stunning (and even better enjoyed with my God-friend, Adele, who helped inspire this ministry).
Lastly, this ministry is part of a larger program called Discipleship in Unexpected Ways. I have applied for 501(c) tax-exempt status and it has been granted in California. Federal exemption is about 30 days away (and, guess what? The IRS called me back in 2 hours when I called to check on status - a miracle! Emoji). I'll share more later but, if you know of people or businesses who would donate to the ministry, I will pass that through 100% to your travel costs (and if they want to donate extra to the ministry, that would be great too since it has been self-funded for years.). God has blessed this effort to take people to His Holy Land and I'm so thankful to have been called to it. Please continue to share about the trips!
(See the original email or sections on the home page for the files that were attached).
An ongoing series of informational entries
An ongoing series of informational entries
September 21, 2020
Hello - Once we have our groups together and are closer to the trip (and hopefully know for sure that the countries will be open for us to go!), I'll start posting information and copies of emails here so everyone can find it all when they need it. :)