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Important Questions to Ask Your Travel Agency when Booking a Group Tour

One of the most enjoyable and rewarding ways to explore the world is with professionally organized Jewish travel groups. Tailored cultural heritage tours are a safe and convenient way to visit historical Jewish sites, as well as famous World Heritage Sites and natural wonders. Gil Travel is a specialist kosher travel agency and an expert in arranging the perfect group tour!

The Benefits of Booking a Group Tour

There are several pros and cons to joining a group tour. If you’re clear from the beginning about your needs and expectations – and work with a professional kosher travel agency – you’ll enjoy all the benefits of a group tour and sidestep any potential problems. Properly organized cultural heritage tours can take you (almost) anywhere in the world. You can travel in comfort, or even luxury, and enjoy appetizing kosher food and full Shabbat observance.

The Pros of a Tailored Group Tour

  • Relax and enjoy your journey. There are no worries about arranging flights, choosing hotels and restaurants, or getting from A to B as you tour different locations.
  • Enjoy the company of like-minded people, meet new friends who share your interests, and explore some of the world’s most famous Jewish heritage sites together.
  • Benefit from the expert knowledge and enthusiasm of professional tour guides. They’ll make sure you get the most out of cultural and historical sites – and the local kosher cuisine!
  • Get exclusive group access to special locations, and attend privately arranged lectures, VIP meetings and behind-the-scenes tours.
  • Experience the peace of mind that comes when you travel with a tailored security package and comprehensive logistical backup.

There’s definitely an art to organizing a memorable group tour (at least one that’s memorable for the right reasons). You need to find the optimal group size and aim for good personal chemistry and group dynamics with your fellow travelers. There are also all the complexities of arranging logistics in a foreign country, ensuring safety and security, and creating an itinerary that matches everybody’s physical capacity and interests – while ensuring that you still get excellent value for money. The process begins by knowing what questions to ask your travel agency.

10 Frequently Asked Questions for Travel Agencies

These are the Questions to Ask Your Travel Agency

  1. We’re Jewish: Does my destination welcome Jewish travel groups; are there kosher hotels and restaurants, and proper facilities to observe Shabbat and holidays? 
  2. Travel Bureaucracy: Do I need a visa, are there any restrictions on travel, is my passport valid for every country on the tour?
  3. Keeping Healthy: Will I need any vaccinations, anti-malarial drugs, or other health precautions? Can I travel with any prescription medicines that I need, or obtain them locally? Do we need health insurance in order to travel?
  4. Staying Safe: Is every destination on the itinerary safe? Will my tour company use local knowledge and connections to conduct a risk assessment and devise a comprehensive security plan? Is there a specific threat to Jews or Americans – and will we overfly any hostile countries? 
  5. Getting Insurance: What are our insurance requirements? There are so many issues that it’s confusing – do I need travel insurance, cancellation insurance, a medical policy with hospitalization and evacuation coverage?
  6. Physical Aptitude: I’m not as young and as fit as I used to be. Are the excursions and activities physically demanding? Will we encounter any extreme weather, and is there a lot of tiring travel, is our hotel close to the center? 
  7. Getting Along: How do we ensure that we’re traveling with people who we’ll fit in with and feel comfortable with? Are most of the group of a similar age? Can we make sure that we’re with a comfortably sized group that will broadly share our religious and dietary needs? 
  8. Financial Surprises: Will there be any extra fees or expenses once we’ve booked the tour? We don’t want to be hit by surprise charges for air travel, hotels, meals and entry to attractions. Is our tour deal genuinely all-inclusive?
  9. Personal Budget: How much money will we need for our personal needs like souvenir shopping, drinks at the bar, duty frees, and any extras that aren’t part of the agreed itinerary?
  10.  Unforeseen Events: What happens if there is a war or other unforeseen events and the trip is canceled – can we reclaim our money, or reschedule the tour?

These are the most frequently asked questions for travel agencies, and they are especially relevant for Jewish travel groups and people planning cultural heritage tours to Israel, the Middle East, and North Africa. For the sake of convenience, we can break the questions down into a few broad categories and give some clear – and hopefully helpful – answers. 

Key Questions for Your Kosher Travel Agency

How Do You Create a Satisfying Jewish Travel Experience?

The key to creating a genuinely satisfying Jewish travel experience is to be thorough and cover the basics. If tour companies get it right, travelers don’t need to worry about keeping kosher, observing Shabbat correctly, or breaking any other religious ordinances. Gil Travel takes the time to check that kosher hotels are supervised by an acceptable mashgiach and have up-to-date certification. This includes extra details like Shabbat elevators and Shabbat-compliant electrics, and whether there is a synagogue within comfortable walking distance. 

If you’re part of a group, it usually works better if everybody is from the same Jewish congregation or tradition. It’s easier if the whole group has similar cultural expectations and levels of observance. This is especially relevant if modesty (tzniut) is an issue. Even if you haven’t signed up for an actual Jewish cultural heritage tour, your tour itinerary should be flexible enough to include the option of meeting members of the local Jewish community, or visiting local Jewish museums or historical sites.

How Do You Arrange Logistics, Security and Take Care of Administration?

Gil Travel has decades of experience and a deep knowledge of security issues and threats. We use our own professional contacts, as well as taking US government and other travel advice to assess – and avoid – the risks. Where necessary, we’ll arrange professional security for tour groups, and our professional guides will give you detailed information about local crime rates and other issues that can affect how you enjoy your trip abroad.

We can also give up-to-date advice about different options for travel insurance, and will make sure that you have a full briefing and complete checklist for everything relating to passports, visas, airline travel, estimated budgets, currency exchange and vaccination requirements, etc. Gil Travel is committed to transparency, so we’ll make sure that you know exactly what we mean when we quote a tour package as “all-inclusive”. 

How Do You Ensure a Friendly and Compatible Group?

The last thing you want is to be stuck on a group tour in a foreign country with people you dislike, or simply don’t have anything in common with (or who are too old or too young). If you’re arranging a tour for a family group, or for friends, or a club, or a synagogue congregation, you can use your discretion and invite people who you know you’ll get along with. The same applies if you’re thinking about joining a group of people you already know – it’s mostly just common sense!

When you’re joining a group of strangers or casual acquaintances, it can be more problematic. The onus is on the tour organizers to try and structure the group (and the tour itinerary) intelligently. There are no magic formulas for getting it right, but years of experience in arranging successful trips is a big plus. Most people who travel in a group tour are mature enough to deal with minor personality clashes and generally have an amazing time.

Ensuring a pleasurable tour can be as simple as allowing participants to separate into smaller groups during excursions or for meals. It can also help to arrange a tour group meeting in the US to let travelers (or potential travelers) meet each other in advance. It’s also a good opportunity to address questions to the travel agency, and to offer suggestions and other personal input.

Create a Memorable Group Tour with Gil Travel

Create a Memorable Group Tour with Gil Travel

Gil Travel has a passion for travel and exploration – particularly when there’s a chance to explore Jewish heritage. If you’re looking for a kosher travel agency that can arrange everything from a Bar or Bat Mitzvah in Jerusalem, to a winter ski vacation in the mountains around Lake Tahoe, oe even a kosher cruise Gil Travel has a range of solutions to match your budget. 

Group Tours are a Gil Travel speciality. Our most popular destinations for American groups are Jewish Heritage tours in Europe (especially in Poland) and Jewish trips to Israel. Gil Travel has decades of experience and some amazing local contacts. We can even arrange for professional historians to research your family tree and create a family history package of places to add to your itinerary, often including houses that your ancestors lived in, their workplaces, synagogues and neighborhoods.

Gil Travel can also take you to some far more exotic and unusual locations. If you’re looking for an adventure, why not check out a Jewish heritage tour in South America, Japan or even somewhere like Morocco or Dubai? You’ll be amazed at the wealth of Jewish history, the cultural treasures that you’ll see – and the warmth and friendliness of the local Jewish communities. Talk to us now to find out about planning a kosher tour with full security, expert English-speaking guides and a choice of handpicked luxury hotels!

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