Pilgrim Preparation Guide

Holy Land
The city of Jerusalem

Info Regarding Documents, Flights, Arrival, & Travel

Final Documents:

Your final documents will be available four weeks before departure. Most of them (hotel confirmations, emergency contacts, general trip information, etc.) will be included. Airline E-Tickets will be sent to you electronically, and a copy will be available.

  • You will receive a final passenger list before ordering an e-ticket. Please review the list to ensure your name is correct, and notify us if there are any discrepancies.
  • There is a service fee for changing incorrectly ordered E-tickets that you are responsible for.
  • Review your tickets to ensure your name matches that of your passport.
  • Make a note if the name field on your tickets is correct. It will be 19 characters long. Names exceeding this length will be cut off (this is not a problem, as your actual reservation contains your full name).
  • Review the itinerary to ensure all dates, departure, and destination cities are correct.
  • If you find any discrepancies, notify us immediately.
  • Late paymenst/bookings can cause delays in coordinating everyone’s final documents.

International Flights:

  • Check in for your international flight 3-4 hours before your scheduled departure time.
  • Passengers must personally check their luggage at the airline counter.
  • Upon check-in, advise the airline representative of your final destination so that you will not need to claim your baggage and re-check it during flight connections.
  • Our pilgrims travel from all across the United States. You will be traveling independently for all flights until your arrival at your final destination.
  • A tour guide will not join you during your flights. They will meet you at your final destination.
  • Nativity Pilgrimage attempts to centralize as many pilgrims as possible on the same flights.

Airline Connections:

  • Nativity Pilgrimage must book your airline reservations based on routes provided to us by the airlines, including connection times, connection cities, and partner carriers.
  • Airlines determine the standard for the required minimum connecting time to transfer from one gate to another for each specific airport.
  • At times, the connection times provided by the airlines may be tight (i.e., 45-60 minutes) and require passengers to make haste during their connections.
  • There are times when connections are long due to the flight availability at the time of booking.
  • We are subject to the rules, regulations, and availability of the carriers we work with.
  • We also must ensure that all reservations correspond so that each pilgrim can meet the group transfer to/from the airport and hotels.

Airline Tickets:

Your ticket is purchased at a group rate, which is lower than regular economy. It is issued to you about 15-25 days before you leave. Unfortunately, all airlines process group tickets this way. There are no exceptions.

Some airlines now require that we provide e-tickets in place of paper tickets.

  • At check-in, you should be ready to provide the agent with your flight itinerary and passport.
  • Paper tickets and boarding passes must be present to check in and board the plane.
  • Your tickets will be e-mailed to you.
  • If you don’t have an e-mail, it will be mailed to you.
  • Your seat assignments will be random.
  • Review the airline website for information on seat changes and upgrades.
  • For international flights, arriving 3 hours before check-in is recommended.
  • Your Passport must not expire within six months of your return date.
  • Passports expiring six months or less need to be reissued.
  • You are responsible for any necessary Visas.
  • Review the airline’s policy on luggage and carry-ons.

Airline Mileage Accounts:

  • Contact the airline you are traveling directly to open a mileage account and to obtain credit for the miles flown on your pilgrimage.
  • Remember each airline will have different rules and regulations for their mileage accounts.
  • You must contact the airline directly for these mileage accounts and any upgrades you may request.
  • Airlines offer upgrades to Economy Plus, Premium Plus, Business Class, and First-Class seating for additional fees or Mileage Plus points.
  • Nativity Pilgrimage is not responsible for any upgrade and cannot guarantee upgrades or changes in seating arrangements.


Nativity Church
Nativity Church, Bethlehem

Call Us For More Info at 832-406-7050 or Toll-Free 1-844-400-9559


Or email us at info@nativitypilgrimage.com



  • Major Credit Cards (Visa, Master Card) can fulfill most banking needs. AMEX fees are higher for merchants, and they may decline to accept them. The same goes for traveler’s checks.
  • Most international banks are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and a few are open Saturday. Ask your hotel for the location of the one nearest you.
  • Your tour guide should provide you with locations that offer the best rates of exchange.
  • Use your credit card only at secure places of business (restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops)
  • Credit cards offer a reasonable exchange rate and can be canceled should they be lost.
  • Visa and MasterCard are the best options and are accepted in most places.
  • Debit Cards are accepted. Credit card companies do not offer protection if they are lost or stolen.
  • Prepaid cards offer some of the same theft and loss protections as a credit card. If you report the loss or theft of a registered card, most will restore your original balance and issue a new card.
  • ATMs are available in most of the destinations we service and are very similar to those in the U.S.
  • Refrain from exchanging money at your hotel or local change booths, as the fees are high.
  • It is recommended that you contact your local bank and credit card companies before departing on your trip to advise them of your itinerary.


How much money should I bring with me?

This is an impossible question to answer as each person is different. The type of lunches you prefer can make a big difference (restaurant vs. cafe). Are you planning on purchasing mementos for yourself or loved ones? We recommend that the minimum spending money you should bring with you, in addition to the suggested tips, is the equivalent of $ 50.00 per day.

Holy Sepulchre Church


Hotels / Accommodations:

  • Your hotels are equipped with all the modern conveniences (showers, toilets, bathtubs, hair dryers, etc.) that you would find in a U.S. hotel. Remember you are traveling abroad, and rooms may be smaller  based on European standards.
  • You are responsible for mini-bar items and any paid TV channels, etc.
  • Please note that while we do request non-smoking rooms for our clients, Holy Land hotels are less stringent about enforcing these rules.


  • Hotels provide soap, shampoo, conditioner, and other toiletries that you would find at home. Housekeeping is provided daily, along with fresh towels. Some hotels do not provide washcloths, so bring your own.
  • It is recommended that you bring your own shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, etc.
  • The chemicals used in certain materials and fragrances may not agree with your skin type.


Before leaving home, you will need to purchase an international adapter so your two-prong plug will connect to the various local electrical supply outlets (check that it is sufficiently powerful for your appliance) and a converter to convert the 220 volts to 110 volts. Adapter/converter kits that include the entire range of plugs can be purchased at certain electronic stores or online. Stores such as Fry’s, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Radio Shack, and Target sell adaptor/converter kits readily. Buying electrical devices in foreign places is not recommended unless you are sure that the current they use is compatible with the current at home.


The telephone country code for Israel is +972 (from US 011 + 972 followed by the city code and telephone number)

Phone displaying Nativity Pilgrimage Logo


  • Choose only those vehicles with a meter and taxi sign.
  • We recommend you pre-negotiate the fare, as taxi drivers in some countries may attempt to overcharge you.

U.S. Customs

  • U.S. citizens who have been in The Holy Land for more than two days may return to the United States with up to $800 worth of merchandise duty-free.
  • For those who wish to bring more home with them, a flat rate of 3% duty is levied on the next $1,000 worth of purchases. It’s a good idea to retain the receipts from your purchases should they be requested by a Customs Inspector.
  • For details visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website HERE.

Meals / Food

  • In the Holy Land they tend to dine later than we are accustomed to. Your dinners will be scheduled around your tour group excursions and may be as late as 6:30 pm. So always have snacks available to sustain you. Water on the bus is available for $1.00.
  • In Israel, breakfast is buffet style.
  • Your breakfast will include juice, tea, coffee, iced tap water and other beverages.
  • Unlike the U.S., it is frowned upon to take food out of the breakfast room.
  • Dinners in Israel will be served buffet style.
  • Your meals include iced tap water and coffee or tea. All other beverages, including bottled water, will be at additional cost.
  • Check with your tour guide or concierge for a list of good restaurants.


  • The official language of Israel is Hebrew and Arabic. English is taught at an early age to school children and is widely spoken, so there should be no problem in communication.


  • We require your complete passport information (as it appears on your passport) on your reservation form. This allows us to expedite your airline reservations.
  • For an up-to-date country-by-country listing of passport requirements around the world, go to the “Foreign Entry Requirements” page of the U.S. State Department website HERE.
  • Your Passport must not expire within 6 months of your return date.
  • Passports that expire 6 months or less, need to be reissued.
  • These regulations are enforced and you may be denied access to your flight.
  • For your protection, we advise you to have at least 2 copies of your passport.
  • Keep your copies in separate and secure areas.
  • The current policy (since early 2013) in Israel is not to stamp passports but to issue travelers with a personalized printed card. This card has a scanned copy of your passport photo on it, along with your name and entry date. This card must be kept with your passport throughout the duration of your stay in Israel. Be sure to keep this with you, as it is your proof of entry to the country, and you may need it to show at Israeli checkpoints if asked. You also need to show it when leaving Israel/ Palestine. If you actually would like a stamp in your passport, the authorities will still provide this for you if requested.


A visa is not needed for US citizens to enter Israel and Palestine.

Old City Jerusalem

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Your upcoming pilgrimage to the Holy Land will be filled with spiritual activities and adventures that will provide you with a lifetime of memories. You will also have scheduled free time for recreation, such as shopping, cultural activities, dinners, and other surprises. All tour activities are optional and will depend on your individual stamina as you manage the terrain. Some of you may want free time to pursue your own interests. The activities you participate in will be complettely up to you. However, keep in mind that no refund can be issued for any aspects of the tour which you choose not to participate in. You may also incurr additional costs for activities and services which are not covered by the tour. You will be responsible for these costs.

There is a fair amount of walking during your pilgrimage and the terrain will vary from dat to day as you encounter hills and unpaved and cobblestone streets. Wear comfortable walking shoes with rubber soles that will grip the surfaces.

Prior to your pilgrimage, you should begin preparing physically and spiritually.

    • Start a regular walking group
    • If you are not accustomed to physical activity, begin walking 1-2 times a day and build up to 1-2 miles.
    • Attend daily Mass. Spend time in church to reflect on your upcoming journey.
    • Open your hearts and minds to be responsive to new perspectives, ideas, spiritual togetherness, and reconciliation you will be sharing.
    • Begin praying the rosary daily. If possible, do it as a group.


Terms and Conditions

Registration and Final Payment:

    • Upon registration, you will pay a non-refundable deposit. This is applied to your balance.
    • Trip cancellation insurance may be purchased separately and is strongly recommended.
    • Payments may be made to your balance at any time.
    • Utilize our Credit Authorization Form for regular payments. A 3% fee applies for each transaction.
    • Consider installments of $900.00 increments every few weeks or months prior to the final payment date.
    • Full payment is due 100 days prior to your departure date.


Preparing For Your Pilgrimage

New Security Procedures:

  • All liquids, gels, and aerosols carried on the plane in your personal carry-on bag must be in three-ounce containers or smaller.
  • Each traveler must remove these items and place them in a bin or on the conveyor belt for X-ray screening. This takes time and slows the screening process.
  • Larger containers should be stored in your regular luggage that will be placed in the boot of the plane.
  • Pack all of these items in the appropriate Ziploc clear plastic bag.
  • Any other security measures per airline policies.

Click here to go to the TSA’s website and get more information.

St. Peter in Gallicantu
St. Peter in Gallicantu

Preparing For Your Pilgrimage

What should I do if I want to change my ticket?

If you would like to change your ticket for any reason after it has been issued, you MUST work DIRECTLY with the airlines. You will incur additional costs for such changes. Many airlines will upgrade you to Economy Plus and Business Class at the gate or when you check-in. This is based on seat availability and is generally a less expensive way to do it.

What about dietary meals? 

Nativity Pilgrimage is not responsible for special inflight meals. Those with dietary restrictions must contact the airline prior to departure to make their reqeusts.

Health Precautions

Vaccinations are necessary for tourists visiting certain countries. However, trips to most European countries do not require vaccinations. Your flights are long, and you may be exposed to things like the flu virus. Individuals traveling in the late fall or early spring may consider getting a flu shot.

  • No inoculations are necessary when traveling to Israel from the United States.
  • Consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
  • Tap water is safe to drink in Israel, except at The Dead Sea.
  • Although Israeli water is safe, the presence of various minerals in the water may make you a bit queasy. In small amounts (like for teeth brushing), local water is fine.
  • For drinking, you may want to purchase bottled water.
  • In Jordan and Egypt (Sinai), tap water is not drinkable. Bottled water is essential.

Jet lag is among the most common health ailments that visitors to the Holy Land, will experience. Upon arrival, spend the first 24 hours adjusting your internal clock to the new time zone. By eating and sleeping according to the local time, your body will quickly adapt to the change.

Travel Warnings

For up-to-date travel advisories, you may visit the US State Department’s website HERE.

Arrival Procedure

After de-boarding the plane, you will clear immigration and claim your luggage. You will exit the baggage claim area into the arrival hall, where you will be greeted by your tour guide and driver displaying a sign with your Group (Trip) name and/or “Nativity Pilgrimage.” You will then transfer to your hotel. If your plane arrives late or you are re-routed, you may miss the group transfer, which is included in your package. In these circumstances, you will need to pay for your separate private transfer. You may then submit a claim to the airlines for reimbursement upon your return to the United States.


We suggest you travel with one piece of checked luggage and one carry-on. International air carriers are becoming stricter about the size and weight of baggage and carry-on luggage. Most airlines allow one carry-on and one piece of luggage not to exceed 50 lbs.

  • Size and weight limitations vary from airline to airline.
  • For your own comfort and that of fellow passengers, please limit the size of your carry-on luggage to 17x14x8 in. Check this information with the individual airline you are traveling with.
  • Due to limited coach capacity, we prefer you have a single bag with dimensions not exceeding 62 inches in overall dimensions (length+width+height) and weight not exceeding 50 lbs. (23 kg).
  • For health reasons, porters may refuse to carry very heavy suitcases.
  • Carry all documents and money on you, but not all in the same place. This limits the inconvenience in case of loss.
  • Do not keep money, important documents, medicines, or jewelry in your suitcase. Please leave valuable jewelry at home.
  • We recommend wearing a money belt inside your clothes while touring.
  • When leaving your hotel, remember to double-check that you have your money belt with you and that you have collected any items left in your hotel safe.
  • Never leave your hand luggage unattended or out of sight in public areas, including airports, hotel lobbies, or dining rooms.
  • Keep ALL medications in your carry-on bag during your trip in case your suitcase is lost.
  • Keep a separate list of important numbers (i.e., passport, traveler’s checks, and credit cards) in your handbag or personal carry-on bag, together with photocopies of airline tickets and the relevant pages of your passport/visas.

Lost or Stolen Items

Nativity Pilgrimage is not responsible for your lost or stolen items.

  • Contact the airline carrier immediately if you have lost luggage or personal items. They will supply you with the necessary paperwork to register your claim.
  • Make sure they know your traveling itinerary so they can contact you if your luggage is located.
  • We are not able to follow up on your claim. Until you return home, contact a family member or friend to handle any airline inquiries.

Common Sense Rules of Safety and Security

  • Avoid excessive displays of jewelry or cash (carry sufficient amounts for daily needs)
  • Use room safes or leave items with the hotel manager.
  • Make certain that any valuables are insured against theft.
  • Avoid exploration on your own in unfamiliar areas.
  • Be especially cautious if you are approached by unfamiliar individuals.

Travel Protection Plans

  • Please note that Trip Cancellation Insurance is STRONGLY recommended for all pilgrims. This plan is purchased as a group rate to keep costs low.
  • Traveler’s Insurance cannot be purchased after you have paid your full balance.
  • For those who have purchased our recommended travel Insurance, a pamphlet will be included in your final documents. Please refer to this brochure for specific stipulations or questions.
  • Nativity Pilgrimage will provide you with free basic Medical Protection coverage.



Currency Exchange

The basic unit of currency is the Israeli New Shekel (ILS). For up-to-date currency exchange rates, you can visit THIS website.

ATM Machines

  • ATM machines are available at most bank branches, post offices, train stations, airports, shopping centers, etc., and are accessible 24/7. Remember there is a fee for each withdrawal.
  • You should ask your bank for information about where you can use your card and what commissions are charged for withdrawing money.
  • You need a four-digit personal identification number, or PIN, to use ATMs in Israel. 6-digit codes won’t work. If you have a six-digit code, get a new one for your trip.
  • Be sure to find out your daily withdrawal limit.
  • Also, keep in mind that many banks impose a fee every time a card is used at a different bank’s ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more). On top of this, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, consult with your bank.
  • Credit card companies try to protect themselves from theft by limiting the funds someone can withdraw outside their home country. Consult your credit card company.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

  • In Israel, most goods and services are subject to an 18% value-added tax, which is always included in retail store prices.
  • Upon making a purchase of $50.00 or more at a gift store that has an agreement with the VAT authorities, you should fill out a form at the store and have it stamped there.
  • Upon presenting the form and the item, you will be eligible for an 18% refund at the airport prior to departure.
  • Do not pack these gift items in your luggage. They should be kept in your carry-ons.
  • Tourist services, such as hotel accommodations and hotel meals that are paid for with foreign currency, are exempt from VAT tax.

How to Get Your VAT (Value Added Tax) Refund

Israel’s sales tax, or VAT (value-added tax), is 18%, but you can get most of that back if you spend the required amount or more at any participating retailer.

  • You must be over 15 years old, and have a passport.
  • After you spend the required minimum amount, ask for your détaxe papers. Fill out the forms before you arrive at the airport for departure.
  • Be sure to have the forms stamped at airport customs. The customs official may ask to see your purchases, so it’s best to have them in your carry-on bag.
  • Mail the stamped forms at the airport (the store provides an envelope), and the refund process has begun (note: this only applies if Israel is your final departure point back to the U.S.)
  • For additional information on the VAT refund, visit the Israeli Government’s website HERE.
  • All refunds are processed at the final departure point.
  • Incicate on the forms that your refund be applied to your credit card so you won’t be stuck with a check in Israeli New Shekel (ILS).
  • Even if you made the purchase in cash, you can still get the refund on a credit card. This ensures the best rate of exchange.
  • If you’re considering a major purchase, ask the store policy before you get too involved or be willing to waive your right to the refund.


Tips are an important part of earnings for your tour guides and bus drivers. We recommended the following for group travelers:

  • Guide: $7.00 – $9.00 per person per day
  • Driver: $5.00 – $7.00 per person per day
  • Hotel:  $1.00 – $2.00 per person per day
  • Restaurants: $1.00 – $2.00 per person per restaurant
  • A credit card receipt does not include tipping. In Israel, the line below the amount is for your phone number.
  • Do not write on any receipt and always review your receipts carefully.



Free Communication

If you have a smartphone (iPhone, Samsung, etc.), there are different apps you can download in order to get free calls to the United States any time while you are in the Holy Land or anywhere else in the world. We recommend apps like Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber.

Hotel Telephones

  • While telephones offer convenience, they do tend to cost substantially more than public phones. You may choose to utilize a calling card to be more cost-efficient. However, be advised that most hotels charge a connection fee, which ranges from 1.00 – 5.00(estimated) Israeli shekel (ILS) for such calls, almost (estimated) $1-1.50 USD. This would be calculated in minutes.
  • Review the hotel itinerary on our website for hotels that offer free International Calling.

Cell phones

  • Make sure to inform your wireless provider that you will be traveling out of the country (giving them destinations). Most have an “international plan”. If not, get one for the trip. You may also purchase a pre-paid phone.

Public Toilets

  • Known as WC, and available in most tourist locations. You will be amazed at how clean and well-kept they are.
  • Many public toilets are manned by attendants who ask for a small “user’s fee”(one shekel).


  • If you are bringing a digital camera, make sure to bring extra batteries.
  • Be aware of posted signs. Photography is not allowed in some museums and churches.


Dormition Church
Dormition Church, Jerusalem

What to Pack

  • Consider the climate. The average temperature in Israel depends on the season.
  • We would suggest checking out CNN weather on the web and get a current 5-day weather report for Jerusalem, Tiberias and the Dead Sea.
  • Wear some layered clothing. Light coat in early morning which you’ll probably remove later in the day.
  • No formal clothing please.
  • Slacks, pants, capris, are worn.
  • No shorts or sleeveless blouses are permitted in the churches.
  • For both sexes, avoid tank tops or any type of sleeveless shirt. Jeans are a disaster in the hot weather. For both sexes we encourage you to wear light weight hiking pants made of synthetic fabric by companies such as Columbia and The North Face. Some of these also have zip off bottoms that convert the pant into shorts. Long light skirts for women are comfortable and work with the dress code as does lightweight, light-colored linen or cotton slacks. For men light khakis work as well.
  • Make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes. If new, make sure you walk in them for a couple of weeks to break them in. On the plane, you will want to wear loose-fitting clothes and pack a pair of slippers to wear for the flight, as well as a lightweight jacket.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I lose my ticket?
If you should lose your ticket prior to your departure date, contact Nativity Pilgrimage immediately. We will fax a copy of your original ticket to the airlines. You will need to arrive at the airport extra early and sign a Lost Ticket Indemnity Form and pay the airlines a $100 reissuing fee. If you should lose your ticket during your trip, please immediately inform your tour guide who will advise us, so that we may follow the same procedure.

What should I do if my flight is cancelled or delayed?
If your flight is cancelled or delayed it is imperative that you work DIRECTLY with the airlines at the airport to arrange for alternate flights or protection.

  • Once your tickets have been issued or you have check-in for your flights, Nativity Pilgrimage can no longer make any changes to your flight itinerary. This can only be done by the airlines. In such case, remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so be persistent.
  • It is important to remember that it is not the airline agent’s fault, so try your best to remain courteous to them, as you may find that you receive more assistance this way.
  • The airlines are not required to offer reimbursement for personal expense or overnights when delays/cancellations occur due to weather. We strongly recommend the purchase of Traveler’s Insurance for this reason. However, if you find that you have no luck with the airline personnel, please contact Nativity Pilgrimage and we shall do all in our power to assist you.

What should I do if I miss my flight due to my late arrival at my departure airport?
If you should miss your flight, due to your own late arrival at your departure airport, it is imperative that you work DIRECTLY with the airlines at the airport to arrange for alternate flights. You will incur additional costs (minimum of $200 per person) for such changes. Please note that you should contact Nativity Pilgrimage once your alternate arrangements have been made so that we may arrange for a private transfer (at your expense) if necessary.

What happens if I have a problem or complaint during my trip?
If you have any problems, concerns, or complaints during your trip, please communicate them IMMEDIATELY to your tour guide. Your tour guide is at your disposal to assist you with all your needs including issues with your hotel room, meals, etc.

Remember, there is very little that can be done to undo a problem once you have returned home, but most of the time your tour guide can address any concerns you may have swiftly. However, if the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction by your tour guide, then please contact our office.

E-Mail Communications

We realize that there are individuals that may not have an e-mail address. Communications regarding registration, insurance, airline reservation E- Ticketing and other important information will be sent to the Rita at the church office. Please stop by the office to inquire about anything that you may need. She will communicate your needs and requests to us.


  • Though every effort will be made to follow the itinerary, it should be considered as an indication of the tour, rather than a contract of places to be visited.
  • Occasionally local religious holidays, national days, traffic conditions and other events may necessitate changes in the sequence of visits or the missing of certain visits.
  • We will have daily Mass and strive to be in the places as indicated. However, sometimes this is not possible as the site may not be available for Mass or itinerary changes are forced upon us. In this case an alternative site for Mass will be arranged.
  • Our intention is to operate all pilgrimages to Holy Land, as listed in the itinerary, however, from time to time, due to the state of affairs in the area, departure may be cancelled, and in which case, all money would be refunded.

Contact Us

Please reach out with any questions or to obtain more information.

Monday-Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm CST

832-406-7050 | 1-844-400-9559