Prep and Pack for Jordan

Petra’s The Monastery awaits travelers willing to climb 1,000 steps or ride a donkey on a harrowing cliffside ride. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

More than 20 years years ago I added Jordan to my bucket list. Then an email came and suddenly I’m on my way. With just a few weeks to prepare, I had a lot to learn. Though the biggest dilemma was what to wear in Jordan. I wanted to share what I did and what worked for your first trip to Jordan.

My Jordan Journey

My trip is probably like your trip.

I explored Jordan for 8 days with a full travel day on both ends. I visited Jordan in October though you could use my packing list for spring too. Both are the high seasons for Jordan. With winter’s bitter desert temperatures and summer’s brutal heat, I would avoid those seasons.

I flew into-and-out of Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport. During my visit, I explored Jordan’s top attractions.

I enjoyed a combination of 4 and 5-star hotels and resorts in Amman, the Dead Sea and the Red Sea.

Though in the Wadi Rum I enjoyed some Arabian Glamping. And I spent a night at a world-renowned ecolodge, Feynan Ecolodge, in the Dana Reserve.

Since it was my first trip to the Middle East, I started reading.

Books About Jordan

I’m a reader so I bought some books to prepare for my trip to Jordan. Articles provided useful tidbits though I needed more detailed information.

Lonely Planet Jordan—I’ve used Lonely Planet guides since my first trip to Europe, years ago. I appreciate the honest and useful advice.

I read Lonely Planet Jordan cover-to-cover. Packed with tons of useful information, get the book and read it. All of it.

National Geographic Atlas of the Middle East–I will admit it’s been a while since I studied geography so I needed to study up on the Middle East. Sure, I knew the major countries but I didn’t know much else.

Along with the maps of individual countries, I learned about water and oil issues. Jordan is water poor, actually one of the poorest in the world. So water conservation is important and I kept my showers short.

Walking the Bible by Bruce Feiler–An authoritative book that looks at geographic and biblical clues to provide insight into today’s Holy Land. A must for people wanting to visit Jordan’s holy sites.

Since the book overs the entire Middle East, read the introduction and the chapter detailing the sites of Jordan if you’re short on time.

Leap of Faith by Queen Noor–Written by the former Queen of Jordan, an American that married King Hussein, it’s as much a book about recent Middle Eastern history as a book about women’s issues.

Movies to Watch Before Visiting Jordan

An easy and painless way to research for a trip, I watch movies. As a bonus movies add drama and excitement ahead of your trip.

Lawrence of Arabia–Top of the list is the 1963 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture. It’s a must. Tells the true story of TE Lawrence, a British soldier dispatched to Arabia to find Prince Faisal. Then leads a group of warring tribes to run the Turks out of Arabia during the Arab Revolt.

Filmed in Jordan, the shots of the Wadi Rum desert are stunning. Then I downloaded the soundtrack and listened to it during my flight to Jordan.

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade—Another movie to watch before heading to Jordan, especially Petra. Released in 1989, this movie peaked my interest in Jordan as a teen.

I got goose bumps when I walked along Petra’s Siq and a sliver of the Treasury came into view for the first time. Just like the movie and I felt a little like Indiana Jones.

What to Wear in Jordan

Expect some outdoor adventure while exploring Jordan so I packed rugged outfits that could get dirty without looking dirty. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I did a little research since it was my first trip to the Middle East. I didn’t want to offend anyone yet I wanted to stay comfortable. So this is shat to wear in Jordan.

My itinerary included lots of outdoor exploring so I packed for that. Channeling a safari look, I relied on cotton khakis and long-sleeved cotton shirts with a couple of long skirts for dinner.

3 Pairs Cotton Hiking Pants/Cargo Pants–I wore each pair twice, using the dirtiest pants at Petra and the Wadi Rum.

6 Long-Sleeved Cotton Button-up Shirts—Since I was working I needed a polished look. When I packed I rolled up my shirts and didn’t have any wrinkles. I packed several white cotton shirts that pulled double duty, wearing them once paired with maxi shirts for nice dinners. Then I wore again for a full day.

2 Maxi or Boho Skirts—I found a couple of inexpensive skirts that I worn several times for dinner paired with sandals and a woven leather belt.

1 Fleece Pullover—I usually pack one for layering and I used it several times.

1 Down Vest—I wore it in the desert in the evening. Packed it in a compression bag and it didn’t take up much room.

Scarves—I packed several to coordinate with my outfits. I used them for dust and sun protection. Also can be used on your head for walking into mosques.

2 Pairs of Sunglasses—I will break or lose at least one pair on every trip.

1 Foldable Sun Hat—I wore my Scala sunhat constantly.

Shoes for Jordan

What to wear in Jordan on your feet? This is what I packed.

Hiking boots—I wore my hiking boots in Petra and anytime I was riding an animal.

Hiking Sandals—I wore my hiking sandals the other days I was exploring. I even wore them into the Dead Sea at the end of our trip. Then I had to put them into a gallon-sized plastic bag for the trip home since they didn’t dry out.

Casual Sandals–I wear sandals comfortable enough to walk in that dress up an outfit too. Here’s my favorite, inexpensive and easy-to-pack.

Flip-flops—I pack them for the pool, spa or campground showers.

What to Wear in Jordan while Swimming

I’ll be honest here, I hadn’t even heard of a burkini before this trip (the swimsuit that covers everything for head to toe). What to wear in Jordan while swimming was a concern.

My itinerary included excursions to the Dead Sea and the Red Sea so I needed a swimsuit. Since my itinerary was tight, I packed two. I’m glad I did. My first suit didn’t dry out.

Since a float in the Dead Sea is tops for most travelers, I was hesitant with my tankini. I found the Dead Sea area one of the most cosmopolitan parts of Jordan. In fact all I saw were western bathing suits, including bikinis, at the pool and the beachfront.

During my visit, I stayed at the Marriot Dead Sea Resort and Spa and visited the hotel’s beach. I read that the Dead Sea mud might discolor swim suits. It didn’t when I washed my suit with detergent at home as usual. Though I would wear an older suit, just in case.

For the Red Sea I stayed at Kempinski’s Aqaba Hotel and did see several burkinis but saw cheeky bikinis too. I wore another tankini at the pool and a t-shirt dress cover-up through the lobby. I didn’t feel uncomfortable.

Note: While snorkeling in Aqaba our boat captain and crew were wearing western board shorts and tank tops.

Other Important Stuff I Packed

My luggage. I prefer to use a carry-on rolling bag but that wasn’t happening for this trip. So I packed up my Ricardo Beverly Hills Carillon 28″ hard-sided wheelie luggage. Though I struggled keeping it under the 50-pound Royal Jordanian luggage weight limit.

Tip: Weigh your toiletry bag and take only the necessities. I had to edit odd-and-ends out of mine.

I use packing cubes to keep myself and my luggage organized. A must since I move hotels everyday on a trip.

My regular backpack acts as a mobile office and holds all my gear, packed with my computer and camera equipment. I don’t want to haul it around all day so I packed a small packable backpack. It’s perfect for day hikes and exploring museums.

What to wear in Jordan for women topped my list of pre-trip jitters. Though it wasn't a big deal and I didn't have to buy a whole new wardrobe. I've got a packing list for what to pack for your first trip to Jordan.

I packed an empty Naglene bottle since I was visiting Bethany-upon-Jordan, the baptism spot of Jesus by John the Baptist. I found a font of clean water and I brought home 16-ounces of River Jordan water for family who requested holy water.

Note: For security purposes, I labeled my water container before I left and packed it into my checked bag.

Jordan Packing Notes

  • After looking over the itinerary, washing out clothes seemed impossible. And washing machines that guests could use are not the norm in the Middle East so I packed a bit heavy.
  • A note here, all adults in Jordan covered their arms and legs, not just the women. So men wear long sleeve shirts and long pants. It’s considered impolite for men to show their furry legs to women.
  • Since I was wearing long sleeves and long pants, I didn’t use much sunscreen. I just sprayed down my ears and neck. Of course, I applied lots for the boat cruise and beach days. I packed two 3-ounce spray containers.

Make an Appointment at Travel Clinic

I looked over the website for Jordan travel information, including required immunizations. My family practitioner advised me to make appointment at a travel clinic.

At the travel clinic, my nurse practitioner advised a Typhoid vaccine, along with hepatitis A and a booster vaccine for diphtheria-tetanus-pertussissince it had been five years since my last.

Along with vaccines, she discussed traveler’s diarrhea (TD). She advised I start taking probiotics before and during my trip. I also drank a dose of Emergen-C daily, especially after long international flights. I packed some over-the-counter medications for TD symptoms since it’s the most common illness during travel.

Fear of TD–Traveler’s Diarrhea

I have a fear of TD, who has time for that. I didn’t want to find a Jordanian pharmacy so I packed all the supplies I might need. Here’s what the CDC recommends.

  • Antiacid—like Tums
  • Pepto-Bismol, tablets
  • Imodium, tablets
  • Oral Rehydration Salts—available at REI
  • Prescription Antibiotics—prescribed by a doctor or nurse practitioner based on your itinerary.

First Aid Supplies

Accidents happen so pack a basic first aid kit to be prepared, even for minor scrapes and blisters.

  • Pain reliever
  • Motion Sickness pills, like non-drowsy Dramamine
  • Cough Drops
  • Cold Medication—I prefer a separate Day and Night version.
  • Anti-Histamine—like Benadryl
  • Triple antibiotic cream—like Neosporin
  • Anti-Itch Cream
  • Bandages
  • Anti-septic wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Inspect Repellent

Restroom Supplies

When traveling in developing countries, pack some restroom supplies. You will need them outside restaurants and hotels.

  • Toilet paper, off the roll in plastic bag
  • Hand sanitizer–I used two small bottles during my trip.
  • Wipes
  • Bleach wipes

Note: I left all medications in the original container to avoid issues with security or customs.

What to Eat in Jordan

I am a super fan of Greek food and I found similar dishes in Jordan. I enjoy meat though vegetarians have lots of options. Some of my favorites:

  • Hummus
  • Tabbouleh
  • Falafel
  • Moutabel—similar to Baba Ghanoush
  • Manalush—or Arabic Pizza seasoned with Zatar, a thyme and sesame spice blend
  • Shawarma
  • Shish Kebabs—especially in lamb
  • Zarb—Bedouin underground BBQ
  • Baklava—Jordanians include pistachios

Drinking in Jordan

pool in Jordan
A cocktail by the pool is a must for most vacations though liquor is hard to find in Jordan. Photo Credit: Catherine Parer

Only water that’s labeled drinking water is safe to drink in Jordan. I drank bottled water during my visit.

All of my 4 and 5-star hotel rooms included at least two bottles for drinking and making tea or coffee in the room. The other lodging offered drinking water in carafes or drinking water dispensers.

I always pack my water bottle to refill when I see a fountain. Though in Jordan, I didn’t find a lot of drinking water fountains so fill up at the hotel.

Muslims typically don’t drink so I enjoyed cocktails at hotels that cater to western guests. Even then the hotel bars had a limited selection.

Jordanian Money

The local currency is the Jordanian Dinear (JD). So I learned a lesson here, it’s considered an exotic money and I couldn’t buy any at the JFK airport in New York City. And JFK has a flight leaving for Amman, Jordan, every day.

It requires submitting an order several days in advance for pick-up at JFK’s terminal 4 or ordering a week in advance and shipping the currency to your home or office.

Tourists will need 40JD for the required 30-day tourist visa though I found ATMs inside the Amman International Airport.

During my trip, I used my credit cards and cash equally.


Jordan uses Arabic though I found most Jordanians working with travelers speak English. Most tourist destinations had signs in English.

How to Get to Jordan

I flew Royal Jordanian Airlines from New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). Though Royal Jordanian flies out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) as well as Montreal Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport (YUL).

Royal Jordanian uses Boeing 787 Dreamliners for the 11-hour flight and offers a two-class service, economy and first-class. Dreamliners are the way to go for international travel so it pays to research which routes and carriers use them.

As a former flight attendant, I might be sitting in coach though I want to feel like first class. To do that I pack an in-flight amenity kit.

A Flight Attendant’s Make-at-Home First Class Amenity Kit

  • Compression socks—put them on before your first flight of the day
  • Wipes
  • Bottle of water
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hand lotion
  • Lip balm/gloss
  • Pain Reliever
  • Sleep Aid
  • Tea Bags
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye patch
  • Deodorant
  • Travel toothbrush and paste
  • Mouthwash
  • Hair brush or comb
  • Hair tie
  • Mascara
  • Concealer
  • Blush
  • All over face powder
  • Atomizer with lavender water

I usually wear a large scarf that I use as a thin blanket. Sleeping on airplanes is hard for me so I pack several blow-up pillows with fleece covers. One for my neck and one between my hips and the seat.

Since I travel for work I usually meet a PR representative or tour guide as soon as I disembark. I wear dressy jeans and a casual but comfortable long-sleeve t-shirt, year-round. I hit the restroom as soon as I clear customs and fresh-up.

DIY a Jordan Trip?

I was part of an organized press trip with an English-speaking guide. I would recommend taking a tour and not renting a car and driving yourself around Jordan.

The traffic seemed chaotic at times and I never saw any lanes separating the cars. Rugged landscapes to traverse and road signs in a foreign language seemed like another reason to leave this trip to the professional tour operators.


My trip was sponsored by the North American Jordan Tourism Board in order to promote tourism in Jordan. My opinion are my own.

This post includes affiliate links.

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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