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Rely on experts to connect the itinerary when taking the family to Jordan. Consult with the Jordan Tourism Board North America with offices in Virginia. Book a tour. Take a Bedouin jeep into the desert, not a rental car. Then use these 6 subtle tips Cultural Heritage Traveling Mom figured out during her first trip to this calm, peaceful, hospitable Kingdom in the Middle East.
Taking The Family To Jordan
When considering taking the family to Jordan, my first hint that kids are special in the Middle East became clear while flying to Amman, Jordan on Royal Jordanian Airline.
Babies in bassinettes hooked to the wall in those front-seat rows with extra legroom, but no fold out meal tray.
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Toddlers feeling locked in on this long-haul flight – but adored by their parents and by the flight crew.
Never did I sense exasperation from any adult.
Although my first trip to the Kingdom of Jordan did not include any of my children, I suspected I could take them as I watched the cheerful interaction of so many Muslim families traveling with children.
I remarked on the number of little kids on the flight. My seatmates chuckled, assuring me this was fewer than normal. Two adult sisters shared the row with me, experiencing their childhood from a different perspective.
These women were American citizens going home to Palestine to visit their ailing mother.
Such a personal connection propelled me further than my news feed allowed, as this was my first time ever up close to Palestinian insiders.
Why Jordan with the Family?
Simple, peaceful yet stunning encounters like that throughout my days in Jordan — experiences to share with my children and grandchildren. And yes, taking to my family to Jordan seemed like a real possibility. Here’s what I’d do in Jordan with the family, and why:
- Ride camels
- Eat sweets
- Stare respectfully
- See lots of really old stuff
- Notice how musical another language sounds
- Rub each other with mud
I could tell the kids we’d travel to the Wadi Rum and to Petra, or Amman and Jerash. But until we did, what would that mean? Don’t think they’re hearing much about those places in school.
Jordan: Lights, Camera, Action!
We’ll re-watch “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” with Sean Connery and Harrison Ford before we go. Add “Lawrence of Arabia,” plus a newer movie “The Martian,” portraying Jordan’s desert as the red planet.
Filmmakers talking about Oscar nominees in 2016 described Jordan as a Middle Eastern monarchy of stability and safety, with UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Wadi Rum, as the backdrop for multiple movies.
“Seven Pillars of Wisdom” is a long read and probably won’t entice my younger generations even if it’s the seminal literature by Lawrence of Arabia. “Married to a Bedouin” fascinates me—the story of a young Australian woman who falls in love touring Petra, marries and moves into his cave.
1. We will ride camels together in Jordan
I have no clever idea how to prepare the kids for those spindly camel legs that bend in two places, giving unaccustomed riders the sense of lurching head over heels as the trusty steed rises.
What Jordan does let me teach is how important, and how routine, camels are to modern families. They’re seen all the time.
Stopping in historic sites almost always affords opportunities to see Bedouin people about their daily business which certainly includes camels, sheep, and goats.
As a family, we’ll ride camels in the desert and in the ancient city of Petra. Practical reason for doing that—-local transportation system in places too far to walk.
2. We’ll eat sweets
Sidewalk cafes and walk-up dessert shops in the bustling capital city Amman invite travelers to try knafeh. And even if the kids weren’t sure about so much eggplant at dinner, they’ll approve of this concoction.
Standard ingredients: fine vermicelli-style pastry strands, butter and soft, white cheese in repeated layers, topped with a sticky syrup and crushed pistachios. Cooking style: enormous round baking pan.
Habibah is the popular Amman bakery is open round the clock, selling single portions to savor as you walk, or sit on the curb watching the local community in motion.
3. Staring Not Necessary
Of course, the people in Jordan seem different. Isn’t that the point of travel as a route to peaceful understanding — finding out how much we share?
My children and grandchildren don’t know the difference between a hijab or an abaya, but children in Jordan do.
When I was a little girl, females wore gloves and hats to church, so I can connect faith and fashion.
Taking the family to Jordan, and while on the long haul flight with Royal Jordanian Airlines, would allow us to talk about the many ways through history people have dressed to express their spiritual beliefs.
No paparazzi behavior for visitors. Women in Jordan do not want their pictures taken.
If you’re a fashion-conscious family truly interested in the many cultural ways people present themselves, notice the range of fabrics but don’t expect to engage in a “Why do you wear that?” conversation.
4. Ancient Sites Allow Roaming
Selecting archeological sites to visit with the children is easy because they are so welcoming and so spacious. I’ve traveled to active dig sites with narrow, roped-off walkways and signage to detailed to absorb.
Even Jordan’s capital city serves up archeology where you can walk—and run—for hours. Experience close up views of centuries-old columns, courtyards, theaters, and sculpture. Head to the city’s Citadel with intention.
Travel a bit north to wander the ancient city of Jerash. Of course, you’ll keep the kids in sight but the walkways and expansive grounds invite exploration without restraining energy.
Petra, the Jordan jewel perhaps best known by travelers, requires tons of walking, and it’s so alluring even achy feet seem to move forward.
TravelingMom Tip: Keep your clan refreshed on horseback or camel top, or even in a surrey. Donkeys are available too.
5. Language Is Music
Listening in Jordan is a smart plan. While it may be tough to develop second-language skills, allowing the cadence and energies to permeate your soul is quite do-able.
Stare at the signs and printed pages, because the alphabet is lovely.
Feel the rhythm.
Share coffee with a Bedouin family. Here the music arises from the rhythmic grinding of the coffee bean and the cardamom, mortar and pestle style.
Giggle over the market words because you’ll follow the narrow path called a siq (seek) into the souk (sook) where the vendors hawk their wares. Assign the kids to figure out which singsong sales pitch is competing with another.
Catch the breeze as the call to prayer is issued five times each day. Sometimes it wafts across an archeological site; sometimes through your hotel window.
This sound always has the potential of calling the hearer into the present moment, Zen for me in the Middle East.
6. Rub Each Other With Mud
The lowest point on earth is likely to astonish the children when you encourage rubdowns with mud. That’s the right thing to do at the Dead Sea.
Twenty-six therapeutic minerals in that mud I was told. Oxygen levels 20 percent higher than routine. Some speculate a saltier sea exists in Antarctica, but it’s under ice so float on top with a book in the Dead Sea’s 34 percent salinity.
Thinking about Taking the Family To Jordan?
Six people can win an eight-day trip to fascinatingJordan, and 20 others a $500 discount on the trip. That’s one of many ways #MyJordanJourney is celebrating soccer and the Under 17 Women’s World Cup. Games open Sept. 30 in Amman, Jordan