When I tell people that I plan group trips to Israel for a living there are several questions they ask, but nearly everyone wants to know how I got started. Others ask, “how many times have you been, what’s your favorite site in Israel, how often do you get to go to Israel, or is it safe?” All are great questions, but for now, let’s talk about how I got into this business.
In 2010 I was working with the youth group at my church and the youth pastor approached me and asked if I would be interested in helping him plan a trip to Israel for the youth group. “Um, of course I would,” was my response. We booked a “fam” trip (short for familiarization) in February of 2011 so we could evaluate the sites and hotels we would be taking our group to. About 45-days before the trip the tour operator emailed to tell us that the trip was cancelled because not enough people had signed up. Because we had already booked our flights, we decided to go on the trip anyway. Normally on a fam trip the group would have a bus and a tour guide, but since it was just the two of us we wound up traveling around Israel with the operator of the tour company, who I became good friends with over the course of the week.
As was planned, the following year we took a group of students and adults on a trip to Israel, and I was hooked. I not only got to travel to Israel myself, but, I had the privilege of seeing 30 other people experience Israel. It was so gratifying to see them enjoy the trip that I had helped to organize. This was the beginning of what would eventually become my career.
A couple of years later I approached the pastor at the largest church in Nebraska and asked him if he would be interested in visiting Israel. From that conversation we began planning a trip for his church, and a year later
we took a group of 72 people. Once again I had the opportunity to make it possible for people to not only cross an item off of their personal bucket-list, but more importantly to experience God and scripture in a way that is only possible when you visit Israel. This trip led to several more, culminating in a trip where I had the joy of actually getting married…in Israel…on the roof of the Upper Room.
After getting married in Israel I realized that my passion for helping people experience Israel was something I wanted to do full-time. I approached Isram Israel to ask if they would be interested in having a US-based salesperson. The answer was yes, and soon I began working for them to plan trips to Israel. I now have the distinct privilege of working with church groups all over the country to plan Israel trips.
I’m truly working at my dream job. It’s a joy putting together custom itineraries to help churches take pilgrimages to The Holy Land.