My 1986 Trip to Israel Introduction

In 1986 I had the privilege, honor, and blessing of visiting Israel. I have traveled quite a bit in my life but never did I have a spiritual experience like the one I had in Israel. After having read the Bible my heart's desire was to see the Holy Land and I was not disappointed.

We found an Israel tour package through a company called Wholesale Tours International, Inc. They stated in a letter to me that they were the "oldest and finest" company specializing in Christian tours to the Bible lands. Their price for the entire trip was unbeatable at $699.00. Below is the original itinerary they sent to me.

Complete itinerary for my 1986 trip to Israel

We did indeed see all the places they mentioned in the letter. This was the year before the First Intifada (Arab uprising) which started in December of 1987. Thus, there were no restrictions on any of the sites we went to see. We visited Bethlehem, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, Jordan River, Caesarea, Mediterranean Sea, Jericho, Jerusalem, Masada, Qumran, and the Dead Sea.

Wholesale Tours sent me some other information such as the Tour Member Guidelines. These included suggestions for respecting fellow travelers, photographing, hotel room arrangements, don't drink the tap water, speaking customs, security, etc. They also sent me a letter reassuring me how safe it was to travel in spite of recent (1985) global events. I was single at the time and wasn't worried at all. Also, the tourist areas of Israel are safe because a lot of the indigenous Arabs earn their living off of tourist souvenir purchases.

There were a few reasons this tour was so cheap (even by 1986 standards). The first was we were flying Jordanian Alia airlines. Second, even though we got to see all the main holy sites, we still made some side trips to souvenir stores who I assume had a reciprocation agreement with the tour company. I didn't mind these stops at all as I usually purchased something. Third is our local group of eight travelers met up with around forty other Christians we didn't know on the plane at JFK airport. The larger the group the cheaper the tour rates. Fourth, our hotels were nice enough but not five star material (which I couldn't afford anyway). This didn't matter because we probably averaged five hours of sleep every night we were in Israel and spent the rest of the time sightseeing. We also saved some money by driving as a group to New York City from Ohio. I would never do that again because the trip home was very hard as we were tired from so little sleep during our stay in Israel. I do remember stopping at a McDonalds and ordering several breakfast sandwiches because we didn't get breakfast like that in Israel.

My passport cost fifty dollars in 1985. One funny thing happened to me at the Jordan-Israel border crossing. I was the last of our tour group of forty to go through the security checkpoint. I was the only one who got stopped and had their passport checked. I didn't mind and figured that it was because of the way I looked. I assure you though at no time in my life did I have a messianic complex (looks notwithstanding). My hair is gray and is somewhat shorter now. After a few minutes they let me pass. The Israeli soldiers, citizens, and the Arabs that I interacted with on this entire trip could not have been nicer or more helpful. Our tour guide was an Arab named Zach. He was great with us the entire time he led our group.


My 1985 passport

My 1985 Passport



Map of Israel showing the cities I visited

All the cities I visited in Israel
in 1986


As for the trip itself we left JFK airport in our 747 Alia airliner and landed in Amman Jordan on the evening of March 5, 1986. We stayed in Amman at the Tyche Hotel and left for Israel the next morning. Once inside Israel we toured at a very good speed over the next five days. We started in Jericho and then went to Megiddo, Haifa, Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Mt. of Beatitudes, Tabgha, Nazareth, Jordan River, Mount Tabor, Caesarea, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Qumran, Masada, Dead Sea, and lastly Bethany. The Sea of Galilee, my baptism in the Jordan River, and Jerusalem were my favorite parts of the trip. I took fourteen rolls of film (thirteen of which turned out) during the entire trip. I didn't know how to use my brother's Yashica camera that well so the photos are not prizewinners. I only wish they had digital cameras for consumers back then.


I hope my trip to Israel was not a once-in-a-lifetime event as I would love to go back there and take my wife. I posted this photo album under the heading of my Christian Zionism page. The Bible makes it absolutely clear that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews. Therefore I support the Jews' right to the land. That doen't mean that the Arab population should be mistreated. I would hope that their rich Arab brothers would invest more in their situation. But of course there will never be true peace in the land until Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom on earth and reign from Jerusalem. I hope you enjoy the photo album of My 1986 Trip to Israel.

Go to Photo Album

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