Israel trip budget ...what things will cost?

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Jun 23rd, 2010, 05:58 AM
  #1
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Israel trip budget ...what things will cost?

I am at the early stages in planning a family trip to Israel for early June 2011. We are a family of 4, kids are older, 20 and 22. We were thinking of going the private guide route, but I'm concerned that the price will be prohibitive. We are hoping to go with another (which also is dependent on cost). We are thinking of 9 nights.

I have been emailing some recommended guides (from here and personal recs). Based on the info I've recieved here are the estimated costs:
Guide - $600-950 per day. includes transportation, guide and driver services.
Guide overnights - $400 total (this figure came from one of the guides i emailed)
Sight seeing and activities - $200-$250/day/person ** this seems high to me but came from one of the guides I emailed???
Hotel - would go mid-range, more or less equivalent to Europe 3*. I'm hoping we can keep it under $250/night/room
Food - $150/day for a family of 4 (no fancy meals)
Airfare (RT from NYC) - $1,200/person

If we were to split the guide fees with another family I see our family cost being:
guide (incl overnights)- $3,000 - 4,500
sightseeing (assuming 1st and last day we wont be doing much): $7,000-10,000 (I'm, hoping that the quoted figure above is wrong, because this seems out of line)
hotels - $4,000-5,000 (for 2 rooms for 1 family)
airfare - $4,000-5,000
food - $1,500

So total price for family of 4 can be from $20,000-25,000. This is far higher than I imagined. Are these estimate in line with actual costs? We would consider a guided group tour company, if it comes recommend. I normally plan my on traveling but were told time and time again, that Israel needs to be done with a guide. My biggest problem with the big tour groups is having meals included with (I like to explore neighborhoods and find my own restaurants), and also staying in hotels, off the beaten path. I also like to have some down town from guided sight-seeing to do my own exploring.

Any help, alternative ideas or direction would be appreciated here.

Thanks
MFNYC is offline  
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Jun 23rd, 2010, 09:30 AM
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Unfortunately I have no specific ideas other than to do extensive searches on Google and start emailing different companies. There are plenty who do custom designed private tours, so you can get them to give you sample itineraries, and tell them you want time to explore and find your own restaurants. Here's one for example:
http://www.israeliguide.com/private_tours.html
Googling different word combinations will get you plenty of sites to begin with. Once you have an idea of what you want, or what the companies are offering you, I think you'll get plenty of response here on this forum to your questions.

The price you mentioned sounds very steep to me, but I'm not sure others would agree. I'd say the more people in your group and the more days with the one company, the better your chances of asking for a discount.

Good luck! You'll love Israel.
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Jun 23rd, 2010, 09:38 AM
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I've only used a private guide once--and only for a couple of whole day trips, not overnight so I can't really comment on that part, but the activities cost per day seems out of line to me too.
Typical entrance fee to National Parks or historic sites would be about 10-15 dollars per person. Museums are about the same. I can't imagine what would add up to $200-$250/day/person unless you are talking about skydiving, horseback riding etc.
Hotels are very variable. Hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are pretty expensive for the quality compared to US hotels, but then again there aren't roads filled with cheaper suburban corporate hotels, so you have fewer choices.
Airfare might be higher--closer to $1400-1500 nonstop from NYC.
Food budget is doable for simple meals. Keep in mind that a hamburger in a casual sit down place in Israel is at least $10-15. If you stay in a hotel that has a huge breakfast buffet, you'll be fine for half the day anyway
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Jun 23rd, 2010, 09:54 AM
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Alexa, I'm glad you think that sight-seeing cost is high. It seems that is should be $200-250/day for the entire family, not each person. I emailed back the guide who gave me that quote to clarify. I also emailed another guide for a similar estimate.

This group tour was recommended to me: http://www.americaisrael.us/israel-t...to-israel.html

The cost is much less than the private guide estimate. I checked the hotel choices and they all look good based on tripadvisor reviews, and seem to be in good locations. Are any of you familiar with this tour group? What do you think of the tour itself?

Thanks again.
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Jun 23rd, 2010, 09:58 AM
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Just heard back from the guide who gave me that quote...it was a type. It's $200-250 per person for the entire trip, not each date. So that reduces the bottom line quite a bit!

So sight-seeing fees are $800-1,000 for the family which brings the total down to a more reasonable $14,000-16,000. I'm feeling much better now!
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Jun 23rd, 2010, 01:54 PM
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I'm not much of an organized tour person myself, but I know that once you're dealing with 4 or more people, it seems like a private tour may work out favorably. If you add a few more people, you do add to the cost a little because you have to rent a bigger vehicle.

Also, is traveling somewhat independently, perhaps with a guided tour at specific sight or hiring guides for a day or two something you'd consider? I guess it depends on how much ground you want to cover literally, how comfortable you are driving around on your own, the kinds of sites you want to see, and how much explanation you like at each kind of site. If you are going to museums for example, you really don't need a guide. If you like off the beaten track type places, it's essential to have the guide to explain what you see, but also sometimes just to find it.

After looking at some itineraries, have you come up with an idea of what you really want to cover?
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Jun 24th, 2010, 12:50 AM
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Pricing seems a little better with that correction.

Some tips:
For hotels, may I recommend the Atlas chain where possible. They offer a reasonable standard at a reasonable price.

If you make sure you include breakfast in your hotels - Israeli breakfast is fantastic - healthy, nutritious and delicious - you can easily get by on $150 per day for food. Lets say thats 600NIS, if you take a baguette or a felafel or something light for lunch, you can still eat in a reasonable restaurant with Mediterranean style food - salads and grilled meats. Its more or less the Israeli standard fair. Also eating dairy can cut down your daily food bill.

For the guide, $950 sounds very high. I would be looking at the $650-$750 as sufficient. Don't pay more than that!!

Other activities really depends on what you are doing. If you're doing jeep tours, diving, helicopters, hot air balloon rides etc. it can be a bit more expensive.
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Jun 24th, 2010, 06:57 AM
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The guide charging $950 is the same guide who had the type, so maybe he had a typo with that too! Other guides have quoted $600-650/day.

One guide, that has been very responsive and quoted $600 is Dina Horn. Do any of you know of her?
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Jun 25th, 2010, 11:30 AM
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Hello there - I am an Israeli and don't think you need a guide for the entire stay. You could book for specific sights. The roads are fine and marked well enough- why not simply buy a good guide book- Lonely planet, Fodor's?
You can rent a car, hotels can be found at any budget. To fully see everything I recommend: 1 day Tel-Aviv, 4 days northern Israel(Akko-west, Galilee(+Sea of), Golan Heights), 3 days Jerusalem, 1-2 days Dead Sea+ Massada, 2 days South(Maktesh Ramon). All trips above include the driving time. Eilat is not included since it's further away. For cheap accommodation check out www.zimmer.co.il, Staying at convents can also be a cheap option in Galilee and Jerusalem- they are clean and quiet.One example for cheap accomodation in Tiberias the ymca-galilee. Have a good trip and I reall believe in the DIY option!
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Jun 25th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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http://www.restaurants.co.il/ is where Israeli's look for restaurants but for a non-biased opinion, ask the locals. An Israeli breakfast(eggs, salad etc') costs 12-15$ at a Cafe, a burger meal at a diner costs around 15-20$ and you can have a good dinner(fish/steak) at around 150 NIS(=40$) a person, not including wine
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Jun 25th, 2010, 12:10 PM
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Thanks for the info. That restaurant website is great. I always research restaurants where ever I go, and like the non-biased opinions.

I am awaiting quotes from various sources. From there I'll focus in on an itinerary, and start researching hotels.
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Jun 26th, 2010, 07:36 AM
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We were just in Israel for 14 nights in March/April. We were 6 people - Our family of four (two teenagers) and my Mom and Dad. We used a private guide who was with us most of the time, except two days in Eilat and 2 days in Tel Aviv. The cost was about $3600/person which incl. EVERYTHING (hotels, entrance fees, guide costs) except lunches & dinners, Jordan visas & border taxes - $50/person - though I think Jordan has raised that price, and gratuities). We stayed in nice mid-range hotels - Atlas Hotels in Tel Aviv/Jerusalem. Oh, the
$3600 did not incl. airfare - we used FF miles, but I believe my parents paid about $1300 from Oregon.

We live in Oregon but I used a travel agent in Virginia to plan everything - she was excellent!! Her contact info. is Carol Flax ([email protected]). Our fabulous guide was Menachem Holzman ([email protected]) - he and his wife both do guiding - he says his wife is even better than him!! They can also do all the planning/hotel res., etc. which might save you even more.

Here is a link to my trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...d-menachem.cfm
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Jul 22nd, 2010, 05:32 PM
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Hi, Lots of great info and links to try here! My husband and I are going to Egypt, Israel and Jordan (just Petra) in October. Our interests: Sites of all religions, cultures and historic timeframes. We have some popular spots and some not so common so pre-set tours don't work very well for us. But as you said private tours can be VERY expensive. I'd heard on the forums that you could get a consultant to help you plan or just guides and such. The problem is finding the right folk. Took me awhile but I came across dailytoursisrael.com and I guess it's their companion site privatetoursinisrael.com. You can get a guide without a car much cheaper. We'd planned to rent a car and do a lot of stuff on our own - but if this group is reliable or there are others like it we're in much better shape. We won't tour every day - we're over 60 so we've scheduled in rest days but we can rent a car for the 6 days we're there at a multi-day rate and mix and match do-it-yourself and hiring a guide to come along. So if anybody out there knows if this company is ok or of others, PLEASE let us all know!

I also heard there are Segway tour in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem - that'd be great if it's not too intrusive to park them near holy places. And that there are free tours of Jerusalem at the Jaffa Gate, I think it was, but then you've got to follow their route and it said they move awfully fast.

We'd also like to know about tour availability in other places - like if they have guides attached to the site or taped tours or booklets or whatever: Caesarea, Zippori, Megiddo, Nazareth, Bethehem, Masada, Qumran - other suggestions?

Thanks folks, travel safe!
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Jul 22nd, 2010, 06:22 PM
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gaianh, there are self guided tours, brochures and sometimes audio guides at just about every major national park site like Caesarea,Masada, Megiddo etc. Many now have audio tours that you can access on a mobile phone. Some of them offer guided tours regularly, but not always in English. You should check the website for the Parks department but know that the English version of the site isn't always current (learned that the hard way!) so you may want to e-mail some places and ask directly. www.parks.org.il/ParksENG
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Jul 26th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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AlexA - your advice is right on the money (literally) for us. We did a taped tour at Stonehenge a few years ago and it made or a leisurely way to go. Parks department is a GREAT idea. Thanks!
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Apr 4th, 2014, 03:00 PM
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