Frequently Asked Questions
The countries of Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East operate on a 220 volt electrical system. This means that electrical devices designed for use in the United States will not work without the appropriate conversion devices. Trying to use electrical devises without a transformer and/or converter will result in damage to your device. Even with a transformer, some appliances, such as electric blow dryers, will not work well. Converters and transformers are available in the United States at hardware stores and electrical supply stores. Adapters for plugs are also available and these will be necessary. Always make sure you purchase a plug suitable for the country to which you are traveling and be sure that the transformer is heavy enough to handle the wattage of the device you will be using. Laptop computers often come equipped with a built-in transformer and can be operated on any system between 110v and 240v as long as the proper plug adapter is used. Check with your computer dealer to determine if you can use your laptop without a transformer.
In most countries, tap water is fine to drink. However, as added "insurance" practice, many people like to purchase bottle water. You will want to bring bottled water with you during each touring day. Dehydration can be a problem for Middle East travelers, making them ill. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Also, a product called "Immodium A-D" is available over the counter at any drug store. It is a good idea to carry this with you, even though it will probably not be necessary.
Will I be able to collect my email?
Internet access is available in most places we travel. You will find Wifi in most hotels and in many other locations. Most hotels supply Wifi for free, but some charge a fee. Some hotels provide computer points and offer a business center, other do not. Increasingly, travelers are bringing their own laptops, tablets and smart devices. In many cities there are internet cafes near the hotels where you can rent time online to collect email. Many ISP's have web based email service, so check with your provider. Or, before you leave home, sign up for a web based email service such as "Hotmail," "Yahoo," and "Gmail," etc.
Depending on your itinerary, however, especially in remote locations, there may be times when you will not have internet access. S.B.S. cannot guarantee working internet in all locations.
S.B.S. does not supply laptops, tablets, cell phones or any other internet ready devices.
Will I be able to make phone calls?
You will be able to call from your hotels and be called at hotels. We will supply you with phone numbers for your hotels prior to your departure. You should bring your long distance calling card and appropriate access numbers for the countries you will be visiting. Some countries do not have calling card access. In these cases, you will find it expensive to call the United States from the hotel. The best thing to do is to call home and have someone return your call.
What about money?
US currency will be accepted in many places you will be traveling. Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. An ATM/debit card is by far the best way to insure you have the local cash you need. Visit an ATM at the airport upon arrival at your final destination. Traveler's checks have become less reliable recently and we recommend that you do not depend on them. Some countries, such as Greece, require you to use local currency. In other countries, using local currency is advised, even if it is not required. You will want to cash some money into local currency. Our staff will give you guidelines. Our recommendation is that you bring some US cash, but use your ATM/debit card to obtain money in the countries you are visiting. It is also recommended that you bring your checkbook as well. Of course, credit cards are a good idea, too. ATM's are available in many locations.
Work projects and mission programs
Quite a few of our programs include service opportunities or offer them as options. If so, there may be additional charges for transportation, staff and materials, when the project calls for these. We recommend that each participant in a mission experience plan on donating $50 for the mission site where you will be working or to the missionaries and NGOs with whome you will be cooperating to cover these expenses. The work project, if any, will be arranged in consultation with your group leader. There are usually a variety of tasks to be done at the work sites, so we will do our best to match your skills with the site's needs. Chores range from light maintenance building homes to plastering and painting to teaching English to working alongside human rights activists.
What kind of hotels will we be using?
Hotels vary from place to place and program to program. The price is based on double occupancy. Single occupancy is usually available at a supplemental cost that varies depending on the country, the hotel and the time of the year. Each room will have a private bath. We prefer to lodge our participants in smaller hotels, kibbutzim and guest houses, but sometimes the program calls for 5 star hotels. Check with your group leader or call us. You can specify your choice of a roommate when you register or we will assign one to you. If an odd number of participants in a program requires us to assign a single room to someone, we will assign that room to the last person to enroll and the single supplement will apply.
Reservations are non-refundable once ticketed. Travel is in jet economy class aboard IATAN and ARC carriers only. Flight times and routing are subject to change by the airlines. The Society for Biblical Studies is not responsible for such changes or delays and cannot reimburse expenses resulting from them. The Society for Biblical Studies does not recommend the purchase of budget tickets for domestic airline connections.
Many factors are weighed when selecting airlines and flights, including flight time, total travel time and cost. The Society for Biblical Studies does not and cannot guarantee specific airlines, routes or times. Group ticketing restrictions sometimes restrict options and choices, as does availability. Usually, seat selection occurs at the time of check in. Travelers with medical requirements can submit requests in advance with proper medical documentation.
Fluctuations in the value of the U.S. dollar over the past few years and in commodities prices sometimes leads to airline surcharges imposed after the time that we price our programs. These surcharges are assessed without notice to us. They are unpredictable. They vary from airline to airline and according to your flight itierary. We understand that it is annoying to receive an additional, unexpected charge, but we have no choice but to pass these on to you. We will do so as soon as we are made aware of the surcharge ourselves. Such unexpected charges do not constitute a ground for cancellation.
Some international airlines offer feeder service from U.S. cities which connect with the international flights. The additional charges vary depending on the domestic city you will be travelling from. Group leaders are given the cost of add-ons, if available. Anyone who would like to purchase the domestic add-on must indicate so on the registration form. The advantages of choosing the domestic add-on are many, including convenience for the traveller and the assurance that any mis-connect will be recitfied by the ticketing airline. Usually, the prices of the add-ons are competitive with market prices, but with domestic fare wars, you can sometimes find cheaper fares. However, S.B.S. cautions you about choosing the cheapest fares, because they are usually heavily restricted.
The prices quoted by S.B.S. to an organizer or a prospective traveller are subject to change by the airlines and usually do not include taxes. Also, when flying to New York City or other cities with more than one airport, the airlines do not guarantee which airport you will fly into. In New York, for instance, you may fly into Laguardia or Newark, even if your international departure is from John F. Kennedy Airport. The price of the add-on does not include travel between airports
If a program in which you have registered is cancelled by S.B.S. due to low enrollment or for any other reason, you will receive a full refund of any payments you have made. If you cancel your own registration on your own initiative, S.B.S. will make every effort to recuperate your payments, but our ability to do so may be limited. If so, our obligation may be limited to the following schedule:
From the day of registration to 90 days prior to departure, a full refund of the deposit will be made less an $85 administration fee and any unrecov erable airline or hotel charges and penalties. Cancellations made 89-69 days prior to departure incur a $85 charge plus any unrecoverable hotel or airline payments, penalites or charges; 69-44 days prior to departure incur a charge of 20% of the total program cost plus any unrecoverable expenses or charges, including airline and/or hotel charges; 44-30 days prior to departure incur a charge of 55% of total program cost plus any unrecoverable expenses or charges, including airline and/or hotel charges; 30-3 days prior to departure incur a charge of 70% of total program cost plus any unrecoverable expenses or charges, including airline and/or hotel charges; 2 days or fewer prior to departure date to day of departure incur a charge of 100% of total program cost plus any unrecoverable expenses or charges, including airline and/or hotel charges. 100% of cancellation fees are covered by the optional travel insurance, if the premium has been paid and the reason for cancellation is insurable. The cost of the travel insurance premium is not refundable.