We are going to Jordan in a week. Our well-traveled friends have claimed Jordan to be one of their favorite destinations ever – amazing food, delightful people, and so much to see (Petra, Dead Sea, desert excursions).
With two years of house renovations, this trip needs to be affordable. Traveling to Jordan off-season and using airline rewards help keep us within budget. Jordan came off our bucket list and onto the calendar.
We’ve traveled to the Middle East before (Oman and Dubai). Yet Jordan is riskier with neighbors Syria and Iraq sharing the border. But we’ve done our homework. We consulted the US, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand government travel advisories – which is interesting as to how far they swing from nonchalant to alarming.
We scoured forums and researched online. The resounding answer from recent visitors was yes, it feels safe. There are checkpoints along routes and metal detectors in hotels, and it seems to make tourists feel safer. I haven’t been to a country with so much security, so I am curious to experience it. We are over-the-moon excited about our adventurous itinerary ahead.
For New Year’s Eve, a Jordanian family will prepare dinner for us in their home. We were lucky to secure a last-minute booking. They will teach us how to cook; their warm hospitality likely will be unforgettable. We will take a jeep tour through the desert and perhaps view the ancient city of Petra by candlelight. It will be the trip of a lifetime.
On Sunday, a fatal terrorist attack occurred in one of the castle villages we are to visit in two weeks. With kids in tow, we decided to cancel our trip just yesterday.
My heart breaks for those affected and traumatized by the attack. I regret we won’t meet the sweet family who would have welcomed us into their home – with whom we would have celebrated the new year. I’m sad for the good people of Jordan who live in uncertain, tumultuous times.
To us, it is more than just a headline. We were a bit shaken up that we could have witnessed the attack, or worse. It brings life into focus a bit. We count our countless blessings.
So, here are a few general tips for those traveling to countries with travel alerts:
- Share your itinerary with someone at home.
- Americans can register their itinerary in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This enables the U.S. Embassy to contact you in case of an emergency – natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Don’t wear clothing with words or big logos. Solid colored shirts make it less obvious where you are from.
- In Muslim countries, wear sleeves and cover bare legs. Bring a scarf to cover your hair in case you want to enter a mosque.
- Drunk driving, wildlife, obstructions, and crime can make driving at night more dangerous. Travel by road only in the daytime, if possible.
- Carry identification on you at all times – it may be the law.
- Pack basic medicine: antihistamine, fever reducer, band-aids, antibiotics. Local medicine packaging may not be in English; a pharmacy might not be available.
So, what is our Plan B for the holidays? Ahh, stay tuned… In the meantime, wishing you a safe holiday and a peaceful new year!
Photo 1 (mine), 2 (unsplash)
More travel tips: Planning A European Vacation