Private Guide in Israel - Cost question

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Oct 14th, 2014, 06:44 PM
  #1
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Private Guide in Israel - Cost question

My husband and I are planning a trip to Israel next spring. We don't want to do a traditional tour, no matter how upscale, because we want a slower pace without daily touring. We have enough time to space things out at a pace that works for us. I am getting information from our travel agent about a private tour guide for three nights/four days in the north. I have no idea what the customary cost should be. Any idea for the cost (tour guide and his expenses, private car, admissions) not including our hotels and meals?
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Oct 14th, 2014, 07:18 PM
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Private guides in Israel don't come cheap. They are well regarded and licensed. About 3 yrs. ago we paid around $550.00 per day plus tip but no regrets as the experience they provide is such an intangible. Its like having private history teachers with you. For that price you are in a private car and we were escorted in A Range Rover, A Toyota Land Cruiser and a Mercedes so the rides are comfortable. If you like I can recommend who we used to you.

One advantage of a private guide is wait times. When we went to Bethlehem the wait to see the birth place of Jesus below the altar of the church of the nativity was two hrs. for those doing bus tours but for the private guides it was 5 mins.
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Oct 15th, 2014, 02:33 AM
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The average daily cost for a private guide who will also provide transportation runs around $650 depending on the mileage involved. In addition to this you will need to cover the guide's meals and lodging if the guide does not live in the area you are touring.

Admission fees (for you) don't usually add that much to the cost.

Keep in mind that if you are arranging this through an agent, you will probably be charged more than the average, the guide will get much less and expect to be tipped. Additionally, you will have little to no input in selecting the guide. On the other hand, if you hire a licensed guide privately you can interview a few guides and pick one that suits you and that you get along with.

There is a good summary of tips on how to select a guide in the top questions on the main Israel page on Trip Advisor.
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Oct 15th, 2014, 01:44 PM
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I definitely want to use a private guide and understand the value in that. My agent is suggesting about $1000 per day including the guide's expenses (hotel, meals). Our hotel, meals, etc. would be extra. This sounds very high to me.

What should a private licensed guide run for a full day tour in Jerusalem (originating and ending in Jerusalem).
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Oct 15th, 2014, 07:56 PM
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Oreets information is accurate. If your budget is limited I suggest that you give priority to a guide in Jerusalem. You can tour most of the sites in the Galilee on your own and rely on the brochures, signs, Audioguides, etc - and your own research.
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Oct 16th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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The price your agent is quoting is very high - but then again, he has to make money on the deal and will take a significant cut of the $1000 he is charging you.

For a one day tour in Jerusalem you can expect to pay the guide approximately $350-400 for guiding - if you add a few potential taxi rides and admissions you will be looking at tops $450 for the day (probably significantly less - around $375-400), not including meals - meals of course will vary greatly depending on what type of meal and restaurants you prefer. Meals can range from $8 per person and up.
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Oct 16th, 2014, 06:07 PM
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Very good advice here. Thanks everyone.

Oreet, I read the information about guides on Trip Advisor - very informative. I feel motivated to research the guides and book one on my own.

When a private licensed guide is booked, how are they paid? Is it typically in full before the tour? What happens if a trip is canceled because of health issues or unrest in Israel?

Just an aside, I was disappointed that the travel agent's quotes for hotels were rack rates. I thought the advantage of booking through an agent was better rates or upgrades. I am going to book my own hotels as I have in the past for all other trips I've taken.
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Oct 17th, 2014, 12:49 AM
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There is no "one size fits all" answer about private guides as each guide is independent and has their own procedures.

As a general rule a guide will expect a deposit up front to reserve a date and to finalize planning - each guide has their own methods of accepting payment, a limited number accept credit cards directly - almost all will take Paypal (and you can use your credit card to pay through Paypal). I'm sure there are other options as well.

Again - each guide will also have their own guidelines regarding cancellations, however, if the issue is a health or security issue they will probably be more flexible - it's something you need to clarify. That is one of the reasons people take out trip insurance and most guides can also direct you to companies that are used to dealing with trips to Israel, so will be more attuned to the possible difficulties.

When an agent books a hotel for you, it is the same story as their booking a guide or anything else - they want to make money on the deal and so may not offer you the best price.

If you choose to work with a private guide, often times guides can get you better prices on hotels too.
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Oct 18th, 2014, 10:04 AM
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Can't comment re guides, but as to hotel rooms, if any agent charges 'rack' rates, you should get rid of them. You can book 'rack' yourself, but have the option for other rates as 'corporate' 'senior' and others.

A respectable TA should be able to obtain reduced rates to which they add a small percentage for themselves and that's what they offer you.

Otherwise, many places online where you can check for hotel room rates to your advantage.
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Oct 18th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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I agree with you sandi 100%. I always book my own travel. Since I want to splurge on a Jerusalem hotel with Old City view, I was hoping the TA would provide an upgrade or a better rate. Since that is not the case, and I won't have input in selecting guides, I am going to do this myself - a lot of work for sure, but I'm enjoying it already!

Upscale hotels, like those with Old City views, don't seem to have discounts unless you prepay the entire stay which I'm not going to do.
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Oct 18th, 2014, 06:22 PM
  #11
 
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Looking at posts on Trip Advisor, I think Oreet who is giving you all the information is "Oreets" who posts on Trip Advisor. If so, she is a licensed guide. --which would make sense since she seems to really know prices and policy.
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