In just over 2 weeks, we’ll be on our way to Israel for a 9 day trip to see the Holy Land. While we paid for the trip months ago, there was still one lingering charge outstanding: fuel surcharge and security fees.
In the initial estimate, the travel agency figured we would have to pay about $250 each, or $500 total for both of us. But since you don’t pay the charge until the tickets were purchased, we had to wait for months to find out the actual fee. Well, the tickets were purchased last week, and the fee is a bit higher than $250.
In total, we’ll be paying $620 for fuel and security fees. Tack that onto the money we already paid for the trip and it begins to get very pricey. However, we’re still comforted by the fact that everything except lunch and trinkets is covered, and we don’t plan on bringing back many trinkets (if any).
Now I will admit a few things about this trip:
1) We had never planned on any trip this year. Yeah, I tell people they need to budget and plan, but then I go and spend thousands on a trip without research.
2) We never budgeted for the trip. Luckily we had a few months to pull the money together, so I used our debt overpayments and side income to pay for the trip.
3) We didn’t research other trip options. We found out our church was going on this trip, and they’ve done it before, so we trusted them to be wise with their selections. While I generally like to plan a trip myself (I always make fun of bus tourists), since this is a unique opportunity AND in a rather ‘tense’ location, I let it up to seasoned professionals to plan it for me.
Actually, I very much trust our pastor with financial and safety decisions. He’s a stickler for value, but doesn’t skimp on quality. He’s done this specific trip 4-5 times already, and can vouch for its value. The tour company has been doing this trip for over a decade, and has been doing pilgrimage tours for over 30 years.
The last big trip we planned was 5 years ago: our honeymoon to Ireland. We planned and budgeted for the trip for over a year, and in the end, the whole thing cost us about $3,500-$4,000, even with souveniers. We stayed in a castle on the first night ($200), but then stayed in a B&B in whatever town or village we reached by evening. I drove the whole time (over 1,000 miles), and we had a blast.
With that said, this trip will cost us $5,500, plus lunch and souveniers. I expect it to top out at under $6,000. Wow, that’s a lot of money. But to put it in perspective, our single friend spent over $6,000 on a trip to Alaska just for herself. It wasn’t even a cruise! It was some outdoorsy stuff. For a “once-every-5-years” thing, I’m not upset about our decision, but I think in the future we’ll plan a little better.
So what’s next on our travel agenda? Well, we’re thinking of the following locales (in no particular order):
- India (it was actually on our more immediate to-do list until this trip)
- Ireland (again. We loved it so much)
- Italy (also on the short-list before the Israel trip)
- Ethiopia (don’t ask)
- Chicago (to see my grandmother. She’s in her 80s and actually knows how to read my site! But I have seen her in almost 20 years)
- Driving trip across the U.S. (or smaller portions of it. I love to drive and Stacie loves to watch the landscape flash by at extreme speeds)
- Pacific Northwest (ok, I added this one. It would include Oregon, Washington and probably Vancouver)
As you can see, we’re very fond of countries beginning with the letter “I”. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind checking out Iceland, if they weren’t in a total financial tizzy right now. Actually, our church just had a trip there last month and we could have signed up, but only one big trip per year for us, thanks!
Where would you like to go? Any recommendations for our “free day” in Jerusalem? Any travel tips for Israel (specifically from anyone who traveled there recently)?