For some, pilgrimage is a fashionable form of tourism, for others it is a journey and worship of shrines. The trip will help you strengthen your faith, forget about the worldly vanity and be spiritually cleansed. You can go on a pilgrimage tour with the help of a religious organization, a regular travel agency, or think about the route yourself.
Choose a pilgrimage route. Orthodox pilgrims often travel to Jordan, Israel, Palestine to visit biblical sites. Followers of Eastern philosophy and Hinduism visit India, and Buddhists visit Tibet. Recently, tours to the holy places of Russia have been very popular: Valaam, Optina Pustyn, Solovetsky Monastery, Trinity-Sergius Lavra, cathedrals of ancient Russian cities.
Find out the conditions and prices of different tour operators, as well as pilgrimage services in dioceses, monasteries and parishes. By choosing a pilgrimage church service, you will save 25-30% as they do not work for profit. On the other hand, a secular travel agency will provide a better service without overlaps, organize a cultural program (for example, visiting attractions).
If you prefer independent travel, go on a self-guided pilgrimage tour. It is better to book a hotel room in advance, as well as notify the administration of the Pilgrimage Center (if you are eating in a group). In some monasteries in Russia free meals are provided for pilgrims upon presentation of a passport.
Get ready for a spartan setting right away. Early wake-ups, overnight stays in two- or three-star hotels or monasteries, many hours of church services, tiring pedestrian crossings, trips in reserved seat cars or buses without any special amenities. You should not take a child or a sick person on such a trip, it can be quite difficult for him.
There are some rules to follow when traveling. Wear modest but comfortable clothes and don't wear bright makeup. Women should enter the temple in a long skirt, with their heads covered. Men, on the other hand, need to take off their headwear. It is not allowed to visit holy places in sportswear, but bring comfortable shoes for long hikes.