We are all leaving within the month, to converge for one week of shared activities from May 8-16. If you haven’t already, checkout YouLi and make sure you are prepared for all the activities. General tips are below, including a handy packing list at the end.
We cannot stress enough how important Travel Insurance is. We have confidence nothing will go wrong, but we don’t want you to take chances. There are many affordable options, this one is recommended by a global American travel blogger.
I use QBE in Australia and was successful with a recent claim due to a flight change.
Registering with Your Embassy
Every country has their own system, here are two I know about:
Australians: Register your trip with the Smart Traveller
Americans: Be Smart (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)
Health-care provision is of a high standard in Jordan and any emergency treatment not requiring hospitalisation is free. The availability of health care can be summarised as follows:
- Modern, well-equipped public and private hospitals in Amman, Irbid, Aqaba and Karak.
- Good regional hospitals in Madaba, Ramtha and Zarqa.
- Basic health centres (all towns).
- Fairly modern and well-equipped dental surgeries in cities.
- Well-stocked pharmacies (most towns) dispensing advice as well as medicines.
- All doctors (and most pharmacists) speak English; many have studied abroad.
- Telephone numbers for pharmacies and hospitals in all cities are listed in the English-language newspapers.
- Ambulance number in Jordan: 911.
Jordan used to be cheap, but since it has become the safest place in a troubled region, prices have increased dramatically. Don’t be surprised if things cost the same or more than they do at home.
The Jordanian currency is the Jordanian Dinar – JOD. It is pegged to the USD around .7, so 1 USD buys .7 JOD. Right now it is 1 EUR = .81 JOD and 1 AUD = .54 JOD. There is no blue/black market exchange and cash is still more commonly accepted than credit cards.
For quick calculations when looking at prices in JOD:
- add about 50% to calculate the equivalent in USD [10 JOD ~ 15 USD]
- add about 40% to calculate the equivalent in EUR [10 JOD ~ 14 EUR]
- double the price to calculate the equivalent in AUD [10 JOD ~ 20 AUD]
We recommend that you either purchase JOD in your home country (you will have to order it at your bank) or bring cash with you and exchange in Jordan as needed.
We do not recommend taking money from the ATMs or relying on your credit-card.
Do not get a travel cash card, no guarantees they will work.
Based on your tour selections YouLi will tell you approximately how much cash you should expect to bring. Be sure to add on for souvenirs or other purchases you typically make when travelling.
If you haven’t gotten an invite to YouLi yet, watch your email, your invite is coming soon!
Generally speaking Visa/Mastercard and sometimes Amex will be accepted in hotels and higher end establishments and tour operators.
We recommend that you get a credit-card that does not charge an additional foreign transaction fee on top of the currency conversion rate. These are quite common these days, but not necessarily true of your daily use card. Here are some choices for Americans and for Aussies I recommend 28-degrees .
You should expect that most of your costs will be cash or pre-paid. But having one card for surprises is always a good idea.
Be sure to contact your card company before travelling to ensure it is activated for use in Jordan.
While the water supply in Jordan is better than in some developing countries, it is not recommended to drink straight from the tap. Hotel rooms will come with an electric kettle for boiling water, making it potable. The water is safe to brush with and shower in. Bottled water will be provided on the buses and is available to purchase in many convenience shops.
And if you have some extra to spare, the camels in Petra will happily drink from your bottle.
We recommend you take shorter showers and respect that it is a dry country with limited water resources. We will not be directly aware of this fact, but most residents have water trucked to their homes and stored in tanks, and have to be quite careful about their rate of usage.
Schedule your appointment at least 10 days before you travel. The following vaccinations are recommended for most travellers to Jordan, check with your doctor to be sure:
- diphtheria & tetanus – single booster recommended if you’ve not had one in the previous 10 years
- hepatitis A – a single dose at least two to four weeks before departure gives protection for up to a year; a booster 12 months later gives another 10 years or more of protection
- hepatitis B – now considered routine for most travellers
The electricity supply in Jordan is 230V/50Hz. So don’t bring your American hair dryers or curling irons unless they are designed to handle the higher voltage.
The main type of sockets in use are European sockets with two round pins but several other types including British standard three pin, rectangular, Indian and combination sockets that can take multiple types can occasionally be found.
If you have a universal adapter, that is recommended. Otherwise I have found the European adapter to be the most common.
We also recommend bringing a battery pack (powertube) for your devices in case you can’t plug into the wall all the time (like when we are camping in Wadi Rum).
Mobile Data/Phone Connectivity
If your phone is unlocked, you can buy pre-paid SIM cards. I recommend doing so at the airport if you have time. You can also do so at the shopping malls in Amman. Make sure you have your phone setup by the seller because the process of enabling the 3G is not automatic; It requires a walk through an arabic message registration which takes a few minutes before 3G can be used. Be patient, this is not an efficient process.
You could also pre-buy an international SIM card if your phone is unlocked. I don’t have direct experience with these, but there are many at the touch of a Google search.
If you have an international roaming option with your home provider, it should work as long as you have a “quad band” or 850/900/1800/1900 MHz compatible phone. Check with your carrier, be sure to activate before you travel and know what your limits are to avoid massive charges. Read more about international roaming with your smartphone.
Most of country/tourist areas have 3G mobile coverage. But don’t rely on it. There are three mobile operators:
- Zain (The first & largest mobile provider)
All the hotels will offer wi-fi, it should be acceptable for most online activities. But wi-fi at restaurants/coffee shops is limited. So don’t rely on being able to pick up free wi-fi around town.
The international dialling prefix is +962. When calling from a local number, use a zero as a prefix.
Most of the time your transport will be taken care of: from arrival at the airport to departure, you’ll be driven around to the key locations on the schedule. There are a few opportunities to vary from the core schedule as you’ll see in YouLi. And in one case we are asking that guests take taxis to the hotel in Amman. These will be arranged by the venue when you need them.
Typically a taxi in Amman should be under 3 JOD to most places in the city, with a small surcharge for nighttime. You will need cash. Make sure the meter is on and remember that the number on the meter may be in fils (1,000 fils to the dinar).
The hotel in Petra is walking distance to dinner and the main Petra entrance. You can take a taxi up the hill to the modern town if interested or walk it.
Transportation in the Wadi Rum desert is on foot, on camel or 4×4. No taxis will be available, we don’t recommend wandering off.
There is a shuttle in Aqaba to get between the hotel in Tala Bay and downtown, or you can arrange a car with the front desk.
It is safe to walk around at night in all the areas we will be staying, but be aware of your surroundings and be respectful to avoid any unnecessary attention. General travel advice: We don’t recommend going anywhere alone unless you are being driven by a car provided by the hotel and someone in the group knows where you are going and when to expect you back.
Some Common Scams
Taken for a Ride The taxi fare quoted on the meter is in fils, not in dinars, and visitors often misunderstand this when paying. Perhaps understandably, it is rare for a taxi driver to point out this mistake. Drivers may also claim a recently added fare increase not shown on the meter. Agree in advance to pay only what the meter says or a fixed rate you negotiate.
Crafty Business Shop owners often claim something is locally crafted as part of a profit-share scheme, when in fact it is imported from abroad. If you are keen for authentic local crafts be sure to go to the Wild Jordan shop in Amman.
Money for Old Rope So-called antiques are often merely last year’s stock that’s gathered an authentic-looking layer of dust. Similarly, ‘ancient’ oil lamps and coins are seldom what they seem. Just buy the cheap stuff unless you are an antique expert. I’ve gotten some funky silver “antique” rings for 5 JOD.
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/jordan/safety
Weather and Clothing
We will be there in late Spring. Temperatures you’ll experience will be in the range from 10 C to 35 C (50 F – 95 F).
The evenings in Amman will be cool since it is mountainous but it will be warm in the afternoons. So bring a spring jacket/light sweater/fleece. Jeans and t-shirts are perfect attire for wandering the city. A travel scarf is always recommended to keep warm, protect from the sun or provide modesty. Men are welcome to wear shorts, women should consider their decision based on the attention they want to attract when out in public. This is a good writeup on the topic: http://www.adventurouskate.com/what-should-women-wear-in-jordan/
A little warmer than Amman generally, but we will be outside and it is recommended to bring a light jacket/sweater in case a small storm comes in. Even if it rains, it is typically quite light and brief. For a reminder on Wedding attire: Comfortable, Classy and Dance-able.
We will be in the desert areas where temperatures can reach 35 C (95 F) but we are hoping it is more comfortable than that. Night time in the desert can be quite cool, so bring some layering clothes. You can wear shorts, but we recommend 3 quarter or long pants for comfort and sun protection. Quick dry, lightweight hiking clothing is recommended.
The cool sea air will feel refreshing after the desert, but if you are often cold, you’ll be glad to have a sweater for the evenings. When we visited in 2015 it was about 28 C (82 F) during the day with water temperatures around 23 C (73 F).
The lowest place on earth is incredibly warm and humid year round. Bring resort clothes (swimsuit, flip flops, hat). No need to be conservatively dressed poolside. You may want a sweater in the evenings at least to keep off a few mosquitos.
Remember that we are moving around a bit, so keep the number of bags you have to keep track of to a minimum. We are all friends (or will be) so its ok to wear the same clothes more than once!
Jen’s packing advice:
5 pairs of shoes:
- fashionable walking sandals (with traction and support) for wandering Amman
- hiking shoes (with ankle support) for walking Petra and Wadi Rum
- water trekking shoes for Wadi Mujib hike
- dress shoes for the wedding (pretty sandals, flats)
- flip flops (for the beach/pool/desert nights)
Rest of packing list:
- European two small pin travel adaptor
- USB battery pack for charging many devices/doubles as flashlight
- phone charger for wall sockets
- mini-first aid kit (anti-histamine, headache medicine, bandaids, tweezers)
- water proof bag for wadi mujib hike/red sea dive/snorkel boat
- small quick dry towel
- sunscreen (lots), face lotion, hand lotion (so dry there)
- hat for hiking
- travel scarf – lightweight
- one big travel suitcase + 1 small backpack + 1 small purse
- 3mm wetsuit, dive computer, face mask, booties (for diving)
- 2 bathing suits, resort shorts, sari, long hippie pants, tank top, rash guard
- trekking pants, long sleeve quick dry top
- 1 pair jeans, a few conservative tops, hoody
- sweat pants/t-shirt pajamas
- socks for hiking/sleeping
- wedding dress!
Adam’s packing advice: