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Take your pick, and take off

by
25 January 2013

Christine Miles profiles some of the companies offering Christian travel experiences

RICHMOND/EILEEN FLETCHER

Culture: the island of Trogir, in Croatia, a destination visited by Richmond World Holidays. Trogir's centre is packed with churches and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Culture: the island of Trogir, in Croatia, a destination visited by Richmond World Holidays. Trogir's centre is packed with churches and is a UNESCO...

Worldwide Christian Travel

WORLDWIDE Christian Travel started in 1967 with tours to the Holy Land. Today, the family-run company offers tailor-made tours and pilgrimages to countries of biblical interest, for groups and individuals. If you organise a tailor-made holiday elsewhere, WCT will arrange introductions to the Christian community there. "Retreat Holidays" also operates under the umbrella of WCT, and offers a combination of holiday-and-retreat to various destinations. ATOL and ABTA protected.

Contact: Phone 0845 458 8308, or visit www.christian-travel.com/ or www.retreat-holidays.co.uk.

Special Pilgrimages

SPECIAL Pilgrimages is a family-owned company, with 30-years' experience in organising pilgrimages and trips for parishes or dioceses. Destinations include Finland, Poland, and Bosnia Herzogovina, as well as various shrines. Individuals can book one of six Holy Land trips a year, priced at £795 hb, including flights. The company supports Christian communities, particularly in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. It was awarded an outstanding service award from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism in 1997. ATOL protected.

Contact: Phone 0800 371972, or visit www.special-pilgrimages.co.uk.

McCabe Pilgrimages

ALISTAIR McCabe set up his company 30 years ago this year. He is still at the helm, and now specialises in arranging pilgrimages for parish and diocesan groups, particularly following St Paul's journeys, and to the Holy Land. All trips include a £15 donation to the McCabe Educational Trust, which has raised £1 million over the past five years for Christian-run social-justice projects, mainly among the Palestinians. All itineraries include opportunities to meet with local Christians. ATOL and AITO protected.

Contact: Phone 0800 107 3107, or visit www.mccabe-travel.co.uk.

World Walks

WORLD Walks has specialised in offering individual and group self-guided walking holidays since 2000. In 2004, this family-run company started offering pilgrim walks. Most individual or parish itineraries are tailor-made and self-guided (the company arranges maps and route notes, accommodation, and luggage transportation), but some group guided trips are also available. Pilgrim walks include routes in Austria, Italy, Portugal, Greece, France, England, and the Camino de Santiago. All payments are paid into a trust account until the holiday has been taken.

Contact: Phone 01242 254353, or visit www.worldwalks.com.

Christian House and Church Swap

CHRISTIAN House and Church Swap has been overseeing holiday house swaps between Christians since 2003. About 150 active members are registered with the site, about 30 of which are outside the UK. All registrations are verified with the applicant's church leader. Enquiries about potential house-swaps are made through CHCS. Fees are charged per swap (£40 initially, £20 after that; £15 for 2/3 nights), ten per cent of which is credited to the charity Supporting Tanzanian Orphans and Widows.

Contact: Phone 01728 663298, or visit www.christianhouseandchurchswap.co.uk.

Christian Home Exchange Fellowship

THE Christian Home Exchange Fellowship, a non-profit company, was founded by a clergyman in 1976, to provide affordable holidays. The site currently has about 250 active members, about half of whom are outside the UK. Applications are taken on trust, and enquiries about potential swaps are made direct. Annual membership is £25 for UK house swaps; £30 for UK and international. A printed list is available for members without internet access.

Contact: Phone 01243 586751, or visit www.christianhomeexchange.net.

Oak Hall Expeditions

OAK HALL offers a diverse range of summer and winter holidays, from beach, cycling, and walking breaks, to ski trips. The company, which began in 1961, also offers regular trips to Israel and Pales- tine, taking in sites in Jerusalem, Galilee, and Bethlehem. Week- end breaks, camping holidays, and "Unlocking the Bible" breaks are also available. Otford Manor, formerly Hildenborough Hall, in Kent, is now the home of Oak Hall Expeditions. ATOL protected.

Contact: Phone 01732 763131, or visit www.oakhall.co.uk.

Richmond World Holidays

BEACH holidays in Samos, Greece, and Bodrum, Turkey, are just two of the summer destina-tions on offer through Richmond World Holidays. Others include Croatia, the French Alps, and the Austrian Alps. The company, which was established in 2007, also offers ski and winter-sun destinations, and also tours of Israel (bespoke tours can be arranged for groups). All resorts are run by Richmond staff, and holidays include daily prayer, worship, and (optional) Bible talks led by a visiting Richmond pastor. Travel Trust Association protected; Samos: ATOL protected.

Contact: Phone 020 3004 2661, or visit www.richmond-holidays.com.

Gold Hill Holidays

SKIING, snowboarding, and walking holidays in Switzerland are Gold Hill's most popular breaks. The family-owned company, established in 1987, also offers UK-based activity holidays, and biannual trips to Israel (the next one is in 2014). There is an accent on adventure on a Gold Hill Holiday, and a certain level of fitness is required. Holidays are fully inclusive, including ski- and lift-passes, instruction, and coach travel. Holidays feature an evening Bible study/talk, with worship and prayer.

Contact: Phone 01753 880753, or visit www.goldhillholidays.co.uk.

Lightline Pilgrimages

LIGHTLINE Pilgrimages arranges tailor-made tours for parish and diocesan groups, many of which are open to others to join. Destinations include the Holy Land, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Poland, and trips that follow St Paul's missionary journeys. Most tours are led by Anglican or Roman Catholic clergy, and many offer a daily eucharist. Lightline supports Christian communities and companies in Jerusalem, the Palestinian territories, and Israel. A percentage of profits goes to charities in Nablus, Bethlehem, and Gaza. ATOL protected.

Contact: Phone 0845 610 6447, or visit www.lightline.org.uk.

Travelink

TRAVELINK has been specialising in all aspects of travel to Israel for over 30 years. You can book a flight only, join an organised tour, or book a tailor-made holiday, pilgrim-age, or self-drive tour of the country's many kibbutz. Pilgrimages include trips tailor-made for church groups; ministry-led tours by various Christian leaders, which are open to all; and historical and archaeological tours, led by licensed Holy Land guides. ATOL and ABTA protected.

Contact: Phone 0208 931 8000 or 0161 792 9666 (Manchester branch), or visit www.travelinkuk.com.

Living the Gospel

LIVING the Gospel specialises in offering retreats and journeys connected with Celtic Christianity, mainly in northern England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The company was started in 2000 by the Revd Rob Marshall, in order to offer low-cost trips. It is now part of the Tailor-Made Groups Company, which specialises in small-group travel. Most LTG trips are arranged for church groups, and are led by Anglican clergy; many are also open to individuals. TOPP protected.

Contact: Phone 01992 579 697, or visit www.livingthegospel.co.uk.

Norman Allen Group Travel

NORMAN Allen Group Travel, which started more than 40 years ago, initially specialised in selling ready-made wholesale holiday packages to coach companies. For the past 20 years, this family-owned company has also offered tailor-made pilgrimages by coach and air for church groups. Destinations include Israel, Egypt and Jordan, Turkey, Ireland, Armenia and Georgia, Greece, Italy, Spain, and France. The company has recently started to offer individuals the opportunity to join group departures. ABTA and ATOL protected.

Contact: Phone 01432 277666, or visit www.group-travel.com/.

Journeying

JOURNEYING is an ecumenical organisation that takes small groups of between five and 12 people to sites off the beaten track in Britain and Ireland, many of which have a Celtic connection. Walk leaders are lay Roman Catholics or other Christians, and each day begins and ends with a time of reflective worship. Journeying, which started out as Pilgrim Adventure in 1988, is a not-for-profit venture, and each booking includes a donation to Christian environmenal chari-ties.

Contact: Phone 01799513750, or visit www.journeying.co.uk.

 

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