Our trip to Jordan with kids was one of the best family vacations of all time. People are often shocked to hear this given the turmoil of the Middle East. They have no idea…Here you can see ancient history of many different eras and religions up close: Nabataeans, Romans, Christianity, and Islam. Here you find a Sunni-Arab-Bedouin Middle East with an open-mind and welcoming hand. Jordan is groves of olive trees cascading down mountains. Jordan is empty desert landscapes at sunset. Jordan is rose-colored canyons. Jordan is fun!
Jordan with Kids
And the best part…children are welcome. Yes – you read that correctly…children are very, very welcome. It is hard to use words to explain what it was like to travel with my children through Jordan. I think Taylor Swift might receive the same sort of welcome and fanfare. Everywhere we went people stopped in their tracks to come look at our children, offer them treats, and pinch their cheeks.
But the whole culture is geared towards entire families doing everything together. Everybody from the newest born baby to the most elderly great-grandpa live, eat, and socialize together. It was a refreshing wave of acceptance after the stiflement of Europe. The attitude changed 360 from “I can’t believe you would bring your children here” to “I can’t believe you would leave your children at home.”
The highlights of our trip:
These are ancient Roman Ruins spread out over a huge site. We liked this better than the ruins in Rome! Not crowded, well preserved, beautiful setting nestled in the hills. And, if nothing else, my boys love to climb and scramble over rocks! More Jerash photos and trip info here.
An ancient red-rose city carved into a canyon and hills. See a holy place for the ancient Nabataeans, with beautifully carved tombs and evidence of past trading activity. Ride a camel or pony with the Bedouins. Feel like Indiana Jones. Peek in and out of rose-colored caves. Yes this can be physically challenging with young children, but it was so rewarding. If we can do it – you can too! Find out how it is possible here.
This was an amazing desert camping/glamping experience. See more ancient ruins and canyon drawings. Ride and feed camels. Roll down red sand dunes. Watch the sunset over the desert turn the landscape red and gold. Listen to drums around the campfire. Eat a traditional Bedouin meal. See how Bedouins – nomadic people of Arabia – live in tents and survive in a harsh landscape. More photos and trip info here.
Mt. Nebo/Dead Sea
Stand where Moses stood on Mt. Nebo with a glimpse of the “promised land.” See the mosaics that the ancient Christians made. Think about what it was actually like for Moses and the Jews to wander and travel through the desert after leaving Egypt. Consider what early Christianity looked and felt like. Then head to a Dead Sea children-friendly resort, grab a drink, and chill out. Yes, the salty water is interesting to float in for a minute and it is silly fun to rub yourself down with mud. But for a bit of relaxation and downtime, the resorts, with big family-friendly pools and sunny dry weather are a perfect spot to unwind after sight-seeing.
What we did wrong:
- Too much driving. We tried to fit too much into our 5 day stay.
- Visiting Aqaba. This is a crowded beach resort area and if you have seen beaches in Hawaii or the Caribbean – well this is different. We took a two hour glass bottom boat tour where we saw a colorful display of trash on the bottom of the ocean. The seafood is good, but overall I would skip Aqaba and focus on the other attractions.
- Bought over-priced souvenirs. I should have bargained much harder for the mosaic I purchased. Yes, it was made by hand, and benefits a charity, but still – I cringe every time I look at it and think of what I paid.
What We Did Right:
- Hired a driver with a van to be with us the whole trip. Made us feel much more relaxed
as we went through security checkpoints and drove down windy mountain roads. And if you are in Jordan with kids this is huge. It made it easy to bring our own car seats and our driver loved kids and would help out with an extra hand here and there.
- Ate traditional Jordanian and Palestinian meals. Our favorite was a chicken dish with caramelized onions and sumac called Musakhan – Here is a great tutorial and recipe from Bint Rhoda’s Kitchen. I left Jordan with a new-found appreciation for sumac.
For More Photos and Tips for Jordan with kids, plus Global-Schooling activities: