Can A Holy Land Bus Tour Really Save Me Thousands?
It’s an important question to ask. After all, for many this may be the trip of a lifetime and you really don’t want to make a mistake.
It’s an important question. But the answer is not so simple.
Let me tell you why . . .
If you choose the right bus tour you will receive great value, possibly saving thousands.
In an upcoming blog post I’ll cover the question: “What should I look for in a Holy Land Bus Tour?”
For now, here are 10 reasons why a Bus Tour of Biblical Lands can be a great value compared to a private tour:
#10 – You Receive Better Hotel Value:
When major tour groups negotiate with hotels they may negotiate literally thousands of room night per year. This gives them great buying power. For example, the hotels we are booking for our next tour, Break Forth Israel & Jordan NEXT Level are quoting up to $400 per night (tax included) on Expedia. If you were doing this on your own with double occupancy, you would pay $2,000 per person just for 10 nights of hotels. If you were staying one per room this would come to $4,000, just for hotels.
#9 – You Save Money on Meals:
Most quality tours provide what is called a half-board coverage. This means that you receive a huge buffet breakfast and dinner. If you were on your own, you would be covering all your dinners and in some cases, breakfasts as well. If this comes to $60 per day, you are looking at $600.
#8 – You Receive Access To Better Guides:
Unless you are willing to dish out large sums of money, it is hard to get the best guides in the country on a private tour. A quality bus Holy Land pilgrimage will have taken the time to check out guides to ensure you receive top-flight guides. Of course, you can always book a lower budget guide but if you want decades of experience, unparalleled knowledge and an engaging presentation then you need to pay for the best. (We have known guides who invent information on the fly when they lack knowledge – and most people will never be aware that they’ve been taken for a ride.) We take the time to choose only the best of the best guides.
#7 – You Save Money On Guides:
A high quality tour guide will cost on average $300 – $400 per day plus meals and hotels. Tips will be extra. Without tips you are looking at an average of $600 per day with expenses or $6,000 for 10 days, plus tips. On a bus tour, your tour guide costs are split amongst the entire group.
#6 – You Save Money On Transportation:
You can rent a small van at around $100 – $200 per day plus fuel, insurance and GPS rental (gas prices are about $2.25/litre). But, many people would not be comfortable driving in Jerusalem. Few, if any Rental car companies will allow you to drive into any area under the control of the Palestinian Authority, which includes Bethlehem and Jericho. If you want to leave the driving to someone else you can hire a private driver and van at around $400 per day plus hotels, meals (total $600 per day plus tips). A Bus tour includes transportation and is a stress-free way to see the sites.
#5 – You Have A Dedicated Safe Driver:
It is possible to hire a private driver who is also a licensed guide at an average of $700 per day plus hotel and meals (total $900 per day plus tips). This may work for you but you risk the possibility that your combo driver/guide will either make driving mistakes because they’re focused on guiding or miss parts of their tour guiding because they are concentrating on navigating traffic. On a bus tour you have a dedicated guide who is only concentrating on guiding and a driver who is only concentrated on driving.
#4 – Your Booking Is Taken Care Of (Relax and Enjoy):
On a bus tour, the tour company you work with will have handled all the hotel bookings, entrance fees, transportation and other logistics. You just show up and get ready to see the scriptures come to life! If you are on your own you will need to make all your arrangements and figure out what your time is worth. A quality bus tour of the Holy Lands will also send you advance materials, with everything from itineraries to scriptural readings to prayer guides to reading lists to special insights. You would need to handle this on your own on a private tour as few in-country guides would be able to do this at the spiritual level you expect.
#3 – You Save Money on Entrance Fees:
Most bus tours include entrance fees to most everything on your tour. If you are on your own you will be responsible for paying this on your own. This may average $25 per day for a total of $250 for a ten-day tour.
#2 – You Have More Than a Local Guide – You Have a Leader:
Quality bus tours will include a leader as well as your guide and driver. This is probably someone from your home country and will assist you with everything from health concerns to helping to make your trip more enjoyable. Your leader probably has been to the country before and can provide additional ‘insider information’ in addition to the local guide. You could certainly ask someone to come along on a private tour who has been to the country before but unless they’re ready to pay their own way, it would be very expensive.
#1 – You May Receive Teaching From a Well-Known Spiritual Teacher:
To book a well-known Leader with spiritual insights, scholarly wisdom, vast experience in the country or countries you are visiting, engaging teaching, and prayer ministry gifts and a ministry heart is almost impossible to find on a private tour. If you could even access someone of this caliber (and you probably couldn’t) it could cost you $1,000 per day plus hotel, meals and flights. This could easily run $12,000 for a ten-day tour if you could even find someone like that. Some (but not many) bus pilgrimages have access to teachers like this. For all our Break Forth Journeys trips and our Break Forth Israel & Jordan: NEXT Level 2016, we are blessed to have Hans Weichbrodt who fills all of these rare qualities. While few tours offer someone of Hans’ gifts and experience, it is the only way we conduct a tour.
In addition, if a worship experience by a seasoned musician or group is a blessing to you, this would add an additional $10,000 to $20,000 to the bill, factoring all travel, hotels, meals and honorarium for 10 days. We include a worship team on all of our trips. As this wouldn’t be feasible on a private tour, we don’t include this in our comparisons below.
Is a bus tour right for you?
It depends. If you are looking for what a quality bus tour offers and you have budget limitations, then it’s perfect.
If you have a large budget or are mostly looking for a historical/architectural experience without high level spiritual teaching then perhaps a private tour will work for you. One isn’t superior to the other; they’re just different.
Now, let’s compare costs:
Typical High Quality Spiritually-Focused 10-Day Bus Tour Land only:
- Total Cost $3,500 (land only): Note that Break Forth Israel & Jordan: NEXT Level 2016 starts at $2,995 Canadian.
Private Tour If You Tried To Duplicate a Quality Spiritually Focused Bus Tour / Pilgrimage (based on 4 people in group and double hotel occupancy, land only):
- Hotels: $2,000
- Meals: $600
- Tour Guide: $1,500
- Private Driver: $1,500
- Entrance Fees: $250
- Proper Compensation of Well Known Spiritual Leader: $3,000
- TOTAL COST: $8,850
*NOTE: Prices based upon 2015 online quotes
In an upcoming post we will help you find the right bus tour for you if you’re looking for spiritual depth, high quality and at a reasonable cost.
If you’re interested in joining us for Break Forth Israel & Jordan: NEXT Level 2016, you can learn more here. We sold 50% of spaces within days so please move quickly if you’re interested. Our prices starts at just $2,995 and includes the dynamic teacher, Hans Weichbrodt at every site as well as a renowned worship team.