Leading a Pilgrimage
When you choose the Holy Land Travel Center, you can be confident you’re receiving only the best service. From planning, to working with travelers, to thanking our spiritual leaders; everyone is given specific attention. Spiritual leaders always travel free with a single room accommodation. We know you are going to be busy throughout this pilgrimage and we want to make this process easier on you. The Holy Land Travel Center handles everything including hotels, flights, transportation, entrance fees, local guides, Masses, and of course all registrations.
We believe leading a pilgrimage renews your own faith, and also greatly strengthens the faith of those traveling with you. There is growth in educational values, spiritual values, and personal values when on pilgrimage. The cultural knowledge gained by traveling to sacred destinations and places of religious significance is unmatchable without physically being there. There are many reasons to take a pilgrimage, and even more reasons to lead one with family and friends in the faith.
While we specialize in pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Jordan, we have experience in planning many more destinations as well. Depending on where you want to visit, we will do our best to come up with a personalized itinerary that you will love and will not be too stressful for travelers. We will always let you know the best route and dates for your specific pilgrimage, and work with you to find the perfect accommodations.
For all of our tours, we provide color brochures, registration forms, and some basic travel items. We create a brochure specifically geared to the places you will visit and it will have the name of the Spiritual Director on the cover, along with all information regarding the tour. The full day to day itinerary will be included as well as what is included in the tour cost. The back of the brochure has all terms and conditions so there is an established contract and there are no unanswered questions. The registration forms are one page and require basic contact information as well as passport information. The travel items included are given out just before travel where each pilgrim will receive a personalized item (cap, shirt, fanny pack, or backpack), toiletries, luggage tag, name tag, hand sanitizer, etc. We strive to make travel easy on pilgrims and do our best to provide some basics for packing as well as a packing list for guidance.
Between our Company President, who is from Bethlehem himself, and our guides, you are in good hands. We know when/where is safe and what is going on around the world. Our guides are locals to the places you will visit and are quite knowledgeable. They are some of the best in their field and all our travelers come back talking about how wonderful their guides were.
We are here for you through every step. We handle the payments, questions, meetings, and departure. A representative from HLTC will be at your airport of departure and make sure you get off to a smooth start. While you are traveling, we check in daily with the guides to make sure everything is going according to plan, and we’re here to fix everything before it is a problem. We’re here for you, so you can relax and enjoy your pilgrimage.
What HLTC Does for Spiritual Leaders
When you choose Holy Land Travel Center, you can be confident of receiving only the best service; from planning, to working with pilgrims, to thanking our Spiritual Leaders; everyone is given specific accommodation and role.
For the Spiritual Leader, we always provide a free pilgrimage and single room accommodation. We know that you are going to be busy through this pilgrimage and that, typically, people register because of their love and respect for the Spiritual Leader. It is the least we can do for you.
We Provide all the Travel Arrangements for Your Group:
Confirm all your airline flights
Book your hotels
Schedule bus transportation for all your sightseeing
Arrange local guides to make the sights come alive
Book the Mass altars at local churches for your group's private liturgies
Private Group Masses at Main Destinations (Many group leaders like to arrange for private daily Masses for their group on pilgrimage)
Where do You Want to Visit?
We have itineraries set in place that you can choose from, or you can work with us to create your own! Our most common and most personalized pilgrimage is our Holy Land pilgrimage (to Israel). Here you are treated like family and you are even invited to our Company President’s family home for tea. The pilgrimage to the Holy Land can be combined with Jordan, Rome, or many other destinations.
A few other itineraries we offer are a pilgrimage to Grand Italy, Greece & Turkey, France & Spain & Portugal, Rome & Spain & Fatima, Mexico City, and more. Each place we visit can be alone or combined with one, sometimes two, other destinations. Let’s start planning the perfect itinerary of all the places you want to see.
Choosing Your Dates
Once you have decided where you would like to go and have an itinerary planned, it is time to decide when you and your group can travel. Here are a few things to think about when considering travel dates:
Two factors go into constructing the price of your tour: the price for the airfare, and the price for
services on the ground, including the hotels.
In general, airfares fall into 3 seasons:
November 1 to February 28 is low season (except holidays)
March 1 to May 30 and September 1 to October 30 is middle season.
June 1 to August 30 is high season.
Hotels tend to fall into similar categories, but with some exceptions which we will be glad to
discuss with you when we plan your tour. Just remember: the price of a 10-day tour to Italy in
high season can be 50% higher than the price for the exact same trip in low season. Few groups tend to travel in July and August, mostly because airfares overseas are at their peak during this period and because it is pretty warm out for comfortable travel.
Weather varies by destination.
Many groups like to travel in early November to Europe and the Holy Land because, in general, the prices are lower and the odds are that the weather will still be pleasant during the early part of the month. In general, you can think that Paris is like Boston and Rome is like Miami, in terms of weather and temperature. Using that general index, it is possible to figure out the rest of the geography and associated temperatures.
Your Group’s Availability
Depending on who you are hoping to get to register on your pilgrimage, you may need to consider their schedules. If you are planning on advertising to your parish, you can mention it at Mass and see the level of interest and the overall availability by setting up a pre-pilgrimage meeting. Another thing to consider is religious holidays, which some people will not want to travel during. When thinking of traveling to a certain place, for example the Vatican City in Rome, you also want to make sure the Pope is not planning on traveling during that time. Every piece of a pilgrimage is planned, and to make it work out best, everyone must also be considered
14 to 11 Months Before Departure: Initial Planning Period:
Plan your daily itinerary according to your preference, but also in a manner that is going to get others to want to register.
Begin telling those at your parish about the pilgrimage and get everyone excited and ready to know more information.
10 to 3 Months Before Departure: Orientation Period:
Distribute Color brochures and registration forms
Encourage early registration for your trip. By 6-months prior to departure, your trip
should be 75% full; by 3 months prior, your trip should be completely full.
In this time we will hold a meeting to go over any questions/concerns before travel.
3 Months up to Your Day of Departure: Final Preparations:
Finalize rooming list (rooms will be double occupancy, unless requested single)
Finalize Mass schedule
2-4 Weeks Prior to Departure we will hold a final informational meeting. Here we go over all details of pilgrimage and hand out Travel Packages, including; Eticket with flight itinerary, final statement, luggage tag, name tag, toiletries, etc.
Day of Departure:
Go to the airport with plenty of time for check-in. A representative from HLTC will be here to meet you and see you off.
We pray for a safe, enriching pilgrimage with memories that will last a lifetime!
1. When you want to travel
The season that you choose to travel will directly affect tour price. We will help you choose the best season for your group's travel.
2. Size of Your Group:
Costs for the buses are pro-rated among the group. Prices for 20 persons can be up to $200
higher than the exact same itinerary priced for 40 persons. The minimum number of pilgrims for a pilgrimage with HLTC is 30 paying passengers. This keeps your cost down, since any less than that begins increasing the land costs and bus costs.
3. Number of FREE Trips You Need:
We normally calculate 2 ‘free’ trips per 30 fully-paying travelers. If you want to add more free travelers, the cost does increase to cover the “free” traveler.
4. Hotels: Class & Location:
We always stay in hotels, at least 3 stars, but it is up to you if you want to upgrade to 4 or 5 star hotels. They are more expensive and will increase pilgrimage cost.
5. Meal Plan:
Many groups will choose breakfast and dinner daily. Breakfast is usually buffet. Dinner is typically a local restaurant or at the hotel after a day of exploring. Some places we insist on providing all meals, due to health purposes, but we can work with you and find the best plan for your destination and preferences.
6. Number of Days in Your Itinerary:
This is a logical factor that affects your price. You can have a 10 or 15-day tour of
Italy, and still see the same sights! Usually, 11-14 days is average for a European trip; 10-
12 days is average for the Holy Land. A more leisurely, preferable pace is also more expensive
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does the registration Process Work?
Holy land Travel Center is printing a brochure and creating a registration form for your group. Each registrant must submit a registration form (or photocopy), signed, with the deposit payment enclosed.
All registrations must be sent by mail or given directly to a HLTC representative. Phone or e-mail reservations are not allowed unless it is a registration form scanned and signed. We cannot hold a space open for pilgrims who are anticipating registration. The name on the registration form must match your passport, exactly. To be safe, we also require a copy of the passport, this can be a simple scan and print or email. This way we can be sure to give the airlines your name as it appears on your passport, ensuring you can travel.
Do the ‘Free Trips’ Need to Fill Out a Registration Form?
We require a completed registration form from everyone. Since we are booking your airlines and hotels, we need your information as well.
Does HLTC Offer Travel Insurance?
The Passenger Travel Protection Program is an optional item, but about 90% of our registrants accept the coverage. (Please note, the coverage will be invoiced to each person, but it is optional).
How do Cancellations Work?
Cancellation terms apply according to the terms on the brochure.
All cancellations must be sent to our office in writing, via certified mail or fax. Since cancellation penalties levied by the airlines and other suppliers are quite strict, we strongly encourage that all your participants purchase the Passenger Travel Protection Program. If a partial refund is due to a registrant after they cancel, we will process the refund, usually within three weeks of receipt of their cancellation letter.
How Does the Pilgrimage Actually Operate on the Ground Overseas?
Your group will have its own local tour escort/guide. You will also have a private motor coach available according to the sightseeing in your itinerary. The guide will be responsible for all entrance fees for all the sites on your itinerary, so you need not be concerned with carrying any additional money for this purpose, unless specified otherwise. Tipping is not included in the tour cost, so you will need to tip hotels, your tour guide, and your driver. Tips are about $100 total per person, but vary upon number of days traveling.
Where do We Get Passports?
Applications and instructions are available from most major post offices or on the web. Non-USA citizens are responsible for securing any visas they require at the consulate of their nationality.
Make 3 photocopies of your passport (signature pages). One copy in your suitcase, one copy with your group leader, one copy with family back home.
Make certain your passport is valid at least six months beyond your intended date of return.
Carry your passport securely with you or a copy with you at all times.
If members of your group are not US citizens, they are responsible for securing their own visas to gain access into a country they are visiting.
If you have the ability to scan your passport, save the image in a file that can be placed in your personal email account (i.e. Gmail or AOL). In the event that you are without documents in a foreign country, and the local authorities have internet access, you can pull up your passport information.
Before Heading to the Airport
Packing: Pack carry-on luggage with bags containing toiletries, etc., on top of other items.
Security may spot something during the X-ray check, and digging to the bottom for little bags is time consuming. Pack "prohibited" items in checked baggage, or leave them at home. Because it's hard to break the habit of carrying grooming scissors and manicure kits in carry-ons, leave a note for yourself in your carry-on, "No sharp stuff." Small nail clippers are allowed; tweezers may be confiscated. Prohibited items include sharp scissors with metal tips, corkscrews, knives of any size, Mace, pepper spray, razor blades not in a cartridge, straight razors and toy weapons.
Security Measures as stipulated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are available at: www.tsa.gov. Please consult this site for the most up to date guidelines and regulation.
The TSA recommends removing undeveloped film from checked bags, as it may be damaged during screening.
Leave all gifts unwrapped; security personnel will open wrapped gifts.
The TSA has strict guidelines regarding liquids in carryon luggage, so please consult their website for more information.
You are allowed only one carry-on plus one personal item. In many airports, that rule is so strictly enforced that you need to stuff your sandwich or paper-back inside your briefcase before you are allowed through the security checkpoint.
Wear shoes that slip off easily. Consider clothing that does not require a belt. Shoes with metal tips or shanks or metal eyelets will likely set off metal detectors.
Before you go: Call your air carrier to confirm your flight's departure time and that you are confirmed as a passenger. Ask for the recommended preflight arrival time.
Travelers debate whether it's better to carry on bags, assuming that they're small enough, or check them. The less you carry with you, the less you’ll need to be checked by security. The process, however, has smoothed, and even those who prefer to carry on, vs. waiting for bags at their destination, usually find security quick and efficient. ID, ticket: Have your government-issued photo ID (driver's license, etc.) and ticket handy as you approach check in, security and the boarding gate. A neck wallet with a see-through window for your ID helps to avoid fumbling and reduces chances of losing items as you pull them in and out of pockets and purses.