Mike Schields, managing director of groups and emerging markets for Globus Family of Brands, says that in terms of family travel to Israel, it’s coming on strong now that people are realizing that Israel is one of the safest destinations in the region, if not the world. “It’s such a quiet, peaceful place and I can’t think of another country in the world that has more history for a family to enjoy.”
He points out that while Globus doesn’t have a specific family travel program to Israel, “We have a kind of secular Israel program. Of course, it’s impossible to go to Israel without being exposed to at least one religious significance, attraction or monument. And then we also have our Journey Through the Holy Land program that goes a little deeper in terms of the religious aspect of it. So it really depends on the family. If it’s a family that wants to have a good time in an exciting place—maybe even combine it with Jordan—I would go with the Fascinating Israel program. If it’s a family that wants to explore a little bit of their faith, then I would go with the Journey Through the Holy Land program.”
The 9-day Fascinating Israel program starts at $2,069 pp and includes an excursion to the Valley of Elah, the Monastery of the Trappist Monks in Latrun, and the ancient port of Jaffa. The 10-day Journey Through the Holy Land Faith Based Travel program is priced from $2,369, and Holy Land highlights include Galilee; Nazareth, where they’ll visit St. Joseph’s Church; Cana, site of the miracle where Jesus changed water into wine; and Lake Tiberias, plus five nights in Jerusalem. There’s also a full day at leisure to relax or to join an optional excursion featuring visits to the Israel Museum with the Shrine of the Book and Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Holocaust Memorial in Yad Vashem.
Feldman, from Herricks Travel Center, is a big fan of Tel Aviv for families. “Tel Aviv is a great place to be with families because of all the museums and they’ve got a lot of nightlife and cafes. They also have beaches—it’s something they can all enjoy. You go to Jerusalem, you’re pretty much following history, but in Tel Aviv, you can certainly find things to do that would be of interest to children and the families themselves.”
At the same time she adds, “I would certainly take them down to Eilat because there are great beaches and it’s a great place for them to relax.” Indeed, in addition to the beaches and watersports, there are dolphin shows, submarine rides and desert safaris—all perfect family activities.
You can’t talk about family travel to Israel without mentioning a bar/bat mitzvah tour and IsramWorld’s 15-day Ultimate Family Bar/Bat Mitzvah tour, priced at $8,390 pp, is truly the ultimate. It includes deluxe hotels with six nights in Jerusalem, one night at the Dead Sea, three nights in Tiberias and three nights in Tel Aviv. It includes daily buffet breakfast and 10 dinners, including a BBQ dinner in Jerusalem, a Middle Eastern dinner, Shabbat dinners in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, a Bedouin hafla dinner or lunch, a seaside dinner in Tiberias and a celebration bar/bat mitzvah dinner.
Additionally, the tour includes a bar/bat mitzvah ceremony atop Masada, excavations, a visit to the Rabbinical Tunnel and Davidson Center, the City of David, an archaeological dig, a camel ride in the desert, kayaking or rafting on the Jordan River, a visit to an army base, jeep riding in the Golan Heights, tree planting, a treasure hunt, a sound & light show in Jerusalem and, Isram promises, many more special events and lots of surprises.
“We do arrange everything,” explains Lisa Buhasria, v.p., sales and business development for industry relations at Isram, pointing out that the ceremonies atop Masada are “…kind of like a group thing.” The ceremonies are mostly in English, however, Buhasria says, some of it is in Hebrew. “It’s a very popular program,” she points out, “not only from the religious side, but from the family travel aspect, as well.” Indeed, she adds, Israel really held its own in terms of sales and now there’s a new trend toward FIT family travel.
Last April, Israel eased regulations on airline traffic from the U.S., allowing more air routes for North American airlines. Now that the regulations have been eased, more U.S. carriers are increasing their flights to Israel to meet demand, with the hopes of more competition that could result in lower fares and increased tourism to Israel. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines fly direct from more U.S. cities to Israel with El Al Airlines and Israir Airlines flying nonstop from Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Miami and Toronto. Lufthansa also has a flight from Miami to Tel Aviv.
Archived related articles: Israel & Jordan: The Wellspring of Spirituality (May 2012)
Cox & Kings: (800) 999-1758; coxandkingsusa.com
Globus: (866) 755-8581; globusjourneys.com or agents.globusfamily.com
Israel Ministry of Tourism: (888) 77-ISRAEL; goisrael.com or
IsramWorld: (800) 223-7460; isram.com
Trafalgar: (800) 854-0103; trafalgar.com or trafalgaragent.com