Pre-Trip Events

In a Nutshell

Creating a context for learning and a strong group dynamic before departure with pre-trip events and a pre-departure logistics meeting

A trip to Israel is much more than a self-contained narrative that lasts a week. It should be a journey of understanding and kinship that begins well before departure.

To lay the groundwork, plan pre-trip events for participants who have committed to the trip and made their deposits:

  • At least two context-setting meetings that include both a social and educational component
  • Just prior to the trip, a required, pre-departure logistics meeting

Context-setting meeting

Pre-trip, context-setting events serve both an educational and social purpose. They create both an opportunity for participants to meet and start getting to know each other as well as a foundation of knowledge preparing participants to get the most out of the trip itself.

Keep in mind these goals as you plan context-setting meetings:

  • Build a strong group dynamic
  • Prepare participants for the complexities they will encounter
  • Build enthusiasm and excitement
  • Set expectations, answer questions, discuss any concerns

Some elements of a successful pre-trip social/educational meeting:

  • Speaker on a topic related to group interest (politics, history, Israel/Palestine relations, intra-Jewish dynamics, culture, entrepreneurship, religion, etc.)
  • PowerPoint presentation or a short video with information about Israel—geography, areas, weather, and compelling facts about Israel
  • Screen a movie and discuss it
  • Break participants into pods (small groups) for leader-led discussion; maintain these groupings throughout the pre-trip and travel, building a strong relationship in which people will feel comfortable and safe sharing their thoughts. For more information, see Facilitating Conversations in Final Preparation
  • Meet and mingle with people who’ve been on previous trips
  • Meet and mingle with local Israelis
  • Enjoy Israeli cuisine, music, dance, beer and wine, etc.
  • Conduct a fun ice-breaker activity

How to find speakers for pre-trip events:

  • Reach out to university professors
  • Reach out through Hillel or Jewish professionals on campus
  • Reach out to the local Jewish federation
  • Contact the embassy or consulate
  • Reach out to Israeli professors, friends or colleagues on campus who are affiliated with the region and may have connections

Pre-departure logistics meeting

 A pre-trip logistics meeting should be required for all participants. The purpose of this meeting is three-fold:

  1. Provide updates on essential travel information
  2. Answer last-minute questions
  3. Have participants sign risk waivers

At the pre-departure logistics meeting:

  • Check in with every participant: How are you feeling about the trip? Do you have any concerns? What are you excited about?
  • Make sure every participant has a pre-trip information packet
    For details, see Pre-trip Materials
  • Remind everyone that a detailed packing list is included in their pre-trip packet and that luggage space is limited
  • Go through the itinerary, day to day, including a map; remind participants that it is subject to change
  • Provide detailed information on how to get to the airport and how early they need to be there (recommended 3 hours before departure for group flights)
  • Distribute a list of all the travel documentation that every traveler needs to get in and out of Israel
  • Have each participant sign and return an insurance liability waiver form
  • Have each participant sign a waiver giving permission to be photographed on the trip
  • Provide each participant with a letter explaining the purpose of the trip which can be used when clearing security
  • Prepare participants for possible issues clearing security, especially those who are not US or Israeli citizens; advise them to be prepared, be respectful and patient, and to keep in mind that Israel takes security very seriously and it’s not personal