“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1]
Spiritual tourism has become one of the fastest growing leisure travel segments, with more than 300 million tourists visiting the world’s major religious sites each year. Faith travel both enriches one’s faith and strengthens spiritual beliefs on a personal level.
Mission trips, religious pilgrimages, Holy Land tours and Bible Study travel represent the majority of group travel programs provided by an estimated 50,000 churches, parishes, synagogues and other religious organizations in the United States alone. Such travel is typically led by the group’s religious leader or a lay person. Exploring ancient and modern cultures, as well as the study of history, are added benefits of such faith travel experiences.
Old Town Jerusalem viewed from the Mount of Olives
People of all faiths, including some 700,000 Americans, annually visit the Holy Land. Experiencing Nazareth, Bethlehem, Shepherd’s Fields, the River Jordan, the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem adds clarity and context for Christians studying the life of Jesus.
Greece, Turkey, Italy and several other European countries attract countless spiritual travelers to religious sites. Germany, for example, will be the focal point for millions of Protestants celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. At the same time, Faith travel can be as simple as a group of people, who share the same interests and values, traveling together regardless of the destination.
Couples, families and groups have countless tour and travel options today, including many opportunities for independent faith travel. First-time visitors to the Holy Land should consider group travel and itineraries that include local guides. Just be sure that the itinerary includes plenty of leisure time to make it a vacation, as well as a journey of faith.