Christmas abroad has been on our wish list for a while, and we thought a Christmas in Bethlehem would be hard to beat! We planned a three week holiday around this, with a little time in one of our favorite cities, Istanbul, before heading on to Jerusalem and then traveling the entire length of Jordan. Since trips to the Holy Land are typically done with a group, creating our own itinerary was a little bit of a challenge, so we’ll be detailing our itinerary in future posts for other independent travelers.
Because we had already taken trips to Peru and Cuba this year, the budget was tight. We always use points or miles to cover some aspect of our trips, but we decided to be a little ambitious to see if we could cover virtually the entire cost this way, allowing us to take a trip we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. We write these itinerary posts to give you a general idea of the cost of the trip, but because we were staying at luxury hotels we normally wouldn’t, the costs listed here will be inflated compared to how we would usually book it. Check out this post where we detail how we used points and miles to cover the cost of the trip and how you can do the same.
ItineraryDay 1 – Arrive in Istanbul
Day 2 – Istanbul – Kadikoy
Day 3 – Istanbul Museums
Day 4 – Fly to Tel Aviv and drive to Jerusalem
Day 5 – Jerusalem – Church of St. Anne, Pool of Bethesda, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mount of Olives, Tomb of the Virgin Mary, Church of all Nations and Garden of Gethsemane
Day 6 – Jerusalem – Temple Mount, Western Wall and Western Wall tunnels, City of David, Tower of David Museum, Garden Tomb
Day 7 – Jerusalem – Yad Vashem Memorial, Israel Museum, Mahane Yehuda Market
Day 8 – Bethlehem – Church of the Nativity, Manger Square for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass
Day 9 – Shepherd’s Fields, drive back to Jerusalem, Western Wall
Day 10 – Jerusalem – Rockefeller Museum, Monastery of the Cross
Day 11 – Bus to Eilat, cross the border into Aqaba, Jordan, Aqaba Fort
Day 12 – Petra and Petra by Night
Day 13 – Petra
Day 14 – Wadi Rum
Day 15 – Wadi Rum
Day 16 – Dead Sea Resort, Shobak Castle
Day 17 – Dead Sea Resort, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, Mount Nebo, Madaba
Day 18 – Jerash, drive to Amman
Day 19 – Qasr Kharana, Qasr Amra, Qasr al-Azraq, Qasr al-Hallabat
Day 20 – Amman Citadel and Roman Theater, fly to Vienna
Day 21 – Fly home
CostsHad we paid cash for this trip, here’s what the costs would have looked like. Keep reading to see how much we actually paid.
Lubbock > Istanbul and returning from Amman to Lubbock, $1293pp.
Istanbul > Tel Aviv $67pp one way on Pegasus.
$543 for three nights at the Conrad – included breakfast and received a room upgrade
$90 for one night at Ararat – included breakfast
$114 for one night at Doubletree – included breakfast and received an upgrade to a suite with a view of the Red Sea
$113 for two nights at Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp – included breakfast
Wadi Rum Hotel:
$352 for two nights at Wadi Rum Luxury Camp – included breakfast and a 4×4 excursion and sunrise camel ride
Dead Sea Hotel:
$362 for two nights at Crowne Plaza – received room upgrade complimentary drinks from the bar and spa access for duration of the stay
$370 for two nights at Intercontinental – received room upgrade
$110 for one night at NH Vienna, with convenient access to the airport
21 days in Turkey, Israel and Jordan: $5,744 ($2872 per person)
If we had paid that much, it would have been by far our most expensive trip! But by utilizing credit card points we were able to drop the cost to less than $300 per person. Note that these costs don’t include meals, attraction entry fees and local transportation, but it’s a lot easier to afford those things when your budget isn’t being swallowed up by how you’re going to get there and where you’re going to lay your head down for a few hours every night.
Planning a trip like this may seem daunting, which is exactly why we blog about our experiences—to help you! Click here to find out how we managed to get a $2872 trip down to $300.