excited about coming to the Holy Land for the first
time and you don't want to forget anything
important. You know you should be traveling
"light," so what are the necessities? From
years of dealing with pilgrims who have forgotten
essential items, here's my list:
TICKET OR RECEIPT AND PHOTO I.D. Of course
these days most people have e-tickets. But
it’s good to bring some proof that you purchased a
ticket instead of just blindly trusting that the
computer has remembered your reservation.
Personally I don’t trust computer memory!
Be sure that you pack an extra set of batteries for
every electrical appliance and digital gadget that
you bring. And don’t forget the battery
charger AND the converter with a double or
three-pronged plug. On average, one person on every tour
forgets his battery charger!
HAT which you intend to wear. This
will help prevent dizziness and dehydration in the
wilderness. You never know if you will get
stuck there fighting your temptations for forty days
and forty nights.
However, you won't need a hat if you join Gila's
special summer offer:
WALK JERUSALEM BY
NIGHT accompanied by stories of
Solomon's quarries, Solomon's stables, Solomon's
porticoes, Solomon's pantry and Suleiman's dream.
And for good measure: the escapades of Charles
"Chinese" Gordon, Dr. James Barclay, the Baroness
Angela Burdett-Couts and Captain Charles Warren.
The tour starts at Damascus Gate and ends at
Dung Gate (or vice versa). You choose the starting
hour and the starting point. For more
email Gila. This exclusive evening tour
outside the Old City walls is designed for anyone
wanting to stretch his or her legs around
Jerusalem and enjoys good old-fashioned
story-telling. (May 1 to September 25)
CAMERA. But don’t forget the
“memory” that goes with it! Under the sunny
skies of the Holy Land, you will find an infinite
variety of photogenic subjects.
You'll want to have enough "memory" to
photograph these goats on your last day!
DUFFLE BAG to pack all your olive wood
camels, 14-piece nativity sets, Ahava moisturizers,
Dead Sea mud, Jordan River water, Holy Land olive
oil (it’s non-cholesterol and guaranteed to open
your arteries!) and other souvenir items.
You'll need an empty duffle bag to
fit all your olive wood souvenirs!
AID KIT. A personal first aid kit may come in handy
with bandages, antibacterial ointment, and some
aspirin. I found that many Americans pack a pharmacy
in their suitcase. If you plan on bringing a new
pair of sneakers that you haven’t yet broken in, (don’t
laugh – it happens nearly every tour!) then I would suggest
a week's supply of "Blister Block."
GLASSES. If you are blind as a bat without them,
then bring an extra pair. Don’t forget sunglasses. The glare off the limestone, particularly in
Jerusalem is blinding for people with blue eyes. Reading glasses are a must as well, if you need
them. You want to be able to read your Bible on
Before you come:
Listen to Gila's one-hour
Temple Mount audio tour -- by MP3 or
CD. This will bring you up to speed on the
main characters you will meet during your own tour
of the Temple Mount such as Abraham and Isaac,
David and Solomon, Jesus and his disciples, and
Gabriel and Mohammed. Now also available in
PDF format including a
Temple Mount plan, and guidelines for
passing the Temple Mount security check.
DRESS also goes by the name of
“modest attire” and it’s arbitrary and in the eyes
of the beholder. One can’t visit most holy sites
dressed in shorts or a low-cut shirt. Wrap-around
skirts (which are unfortunately out of style) are
recommended for women who want to wear shorts. Pants
that zipper above the knees which can be worn either
as shorts or long pants are a popular item with Holy
The young couple to the right are
visiting the Temple Mount when it's ninety degrees
in the sun. Note their shirts come below their
elbows and their knees are covered. Lori is
wearing a purple shawl to cover her bare midriff.
As weird as this may seem, these outfits are
considered "holy dress!"
INSURANCE. Your travel agent will most likely offer
an option of travel and accident insurance. It’s
JOURNAL. Bring a journal to keep track of your
insights, impressions, and Bible passages that have
jumped out of the pages at you. Later on you will
realize how life-changing this Holy Land experience
KLEENEX. Little packs of tissues will come in handy
when using a public W.C. (water closet). If it’s
free, then there is no toilet paper! (It also may
not have been cleaned since the Crusader period!)
SOAP so you can hand-launder personal items. In the summer months underwear dries almost
MEDICATIONS. Bring a good supply of whatever
medications (over-the-counter and prescription) you
take on a daily basis. It’s recommended to bring
their generic names as well.
NUTS and high energy snacks. You will probably be
walking more than you do at home.
Bring high energy snacks for the
hike to the waterfall at Caesarea Philippi
DOLLAR BILLS. Lots of them. There’s lots you can
buy for just one American dollar: an attractive 3-foot
panoramic poster of Jerusalem, a pamphlet detailing
all the Stations of the Cross and their biblical
references, twenty bookmarks in a packet, thirty
postcards (now some of them are left-overs from the
pre-1967 Jordanian period). But I wouldn’t bring $2
bills. To a local, they look counterfeit and are not
BIBLE. This is your most important guide to
the Holy Land. Bring a Bible with print large enough
to read. And don’t forget your reading glasses!
Thinking of proposing
during your holy land pilgrimage?
See Ask Gila
where is the best place to propose
on my holy land pilgrimage....
MIND. This is a good opportunity to gain
first-hand understanding of what’s going on in this
crazy part of the world. Your questions will keep
the guide on her toes and help customize the
commentary to your interests.
GEAR. A poncho and umbrella are highly
recommended from November through April. It won’t
rain every day (hopefully), but we need abundant
rain, at least at night, for our holy soil to
produce the seven biblical species of wheat and
barley, olives, figs, dates, grapes and
pomegranates, as well as our new crops of mangos,
peppers, oranges, grapefruits, kiwi, strawberries,
bananas and melons. From May through October,
however, it almost never rains.
OF HUMOR. You will be in unfamiliar territory
where people’s behavior and volume and tone of
speech may be construed as aggressive or insulting. A healthy dose of self-deprecating humor goes a long
way towards winning over reluctant gatekeepers and
indifferent hotel clerks.
TUXEDO. Only kidding on this one. Informal dress is
what goes in Israel. But not too informal – a bare
midriff will keep you out of the
PASSPORT. The airlines require that
your passport be valid for at
least six months past your scheduled return date.
Photocopy your passport’s identification page and
keep it separate from the original. If you
lose your passport, you will find yourself waiting
in a long line at the American Consulate during the
few hours it is open!
That is, M & Ms: plain, peanuts, almonds, peanut butter,
minis, maxis, you name it. Spoil your guide! Once I
had a participant who used a package of M & Ms
intended for me as an “honorarium” to the airline
steward who gave him a bulkhead seat!
If you want to be fully present
to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Holy
Land, listen to
audio highlights of Jerusalem and Jericho
before your tour. This one-hour
listener-friendly audio CD will
give you enough background so that you can soak in
the spiritual ambiance of each site on tour.
SHOES. Bring rafting sandals or plastic crocs
for renewing Baptism vows in the River
Jordan, floating in the Dead Sea (the beach has lots
of sharp pebbles) and for
BATTERIES. Yes, it’s mentioned under “B,” but
you have probably forgotten batteries for the
appliance which is hardest to find batteries for in
FAMILY. A holy land pilgrimage strengthens ties
across generations and creates a common narrative of
ZEST for adventure and spiritual growth!
Gila Yudkin. Permission needed to reprint in
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