The following interview about traveling alone in Jordan was submitted by Jennifer. Read more about solo female travel here.
Hello! My name is Jennifer and I am twenty five years old. A Texas native, who quit her job in Washington, DC six months ago to backpack around the world. On this trip, I have been to 19 (or 20, depending on who you ask) countries – Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Jordan, Israel, Spain, Portugal (twice!), England, Wales, the Netherlands, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Morocco, Senegal, Italy, San Marino, Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia.
My goal is to visit all seven continents by 30, and 100 countries by 35! The future is uncertain as I head back home, but I’m already planning trips for the rest of the year…
Why did you decide to travel to Jordan by yourself?
To be honest, it’s tough for me to pinpoint the reason exactly. I guess when I was planning this RTW trip, it made sense geographically, as I was determined to go trekking in Nepal and was meeting my best friend in Spain in July. I have never travelled in this region of the world before and I don’t tend to think of countries or locations as dangerous just because I am a woman, or solo. Either I would go to this place, or not.
Did you have any trouble traveling solo there?
Yes, I ran into trouble my first time out in Amman! To preface, I was aware of the conservative religious atmosphere of the country, but not the extent. I was previously in Malaysia, which is also a Muslim country, but these two places are not comparable at all. I am also conflicted about how I feel about the standards of dress for women. It is freeing, or is it restrictive? I want to respect the culture, but I also do not like perpetuating a practice that is possibly repressive.
>> Read HPL’s advice about packing for conservative countries.
Did you ever feel unsafe?
Yes. Jordan is probably the top country where I have ever felt unsafe and/or uncomfortable. It was a vast departure from the caution and wariness you feel in regards to petty theft, when the threat is to your physical body and not just your belongings. I would feel uncomfortable walking alone in broad daylight, down the busiest streets in the city.
Tell us about one of your favorite experiences from traveling solo in Jordan
Now that I have talked so much about my negative experiences, let’s move on to the positive! I ended up having a fantastic time in Jordan. I hiked over 25 kilometers all over Petra, including seeing the Library from a fairly known vantage point way above the canyon. I surfed and sunned for over a week at the Red Sea, learned to kite surf, and met an insurance heir who brought the first Malibu (a luxury wakeboarding boat) to Jordan! I tried and failed to wakesurf that day… I met so many great people, locals and travelers alike, that made it clear I will return to Jordan in the future.
>>Check out these packing tips for Jordan.
Were there any special precautions you took to feel safer while traveling solo?
After the first incident, I made sure to try and cover down to my knees and to the elbows when in public. It just makes everyday interactions much easier, although staring is very common, no matter what you wear. If I stopped for more than a moment anywhere, even cars would slow down or stop to look or make comments at me. As for my belongings, I am a terrible person to ask – knock on wood – but I have never had anything stolen when out in the street or from my hostel/hotels even though I never lock anything up. Hope I didn’t just jinx myself!
Did you meet any other solo female travelers while you were there?
Absolutely. I met several other solo female travellers. Unfortunately, a few had similar experiences to mine. It seems to be exacerbated when your looks stand out (one girl was also Asian, another almost six feet tall), while an Australian girl I met hardly experienced anything since she could pass for a fair Jordanian.
My favorite bonding moment was when a girl I met in a hostel (from Hong Kong) told me I had changed the trip for her. She had been having a terrible time in Jordan for a variety of reasons and had just a few days left in the country. We decided to meet up in the seaside town of Aqaba, where I knew a few locals already. It ended up being an amazing time. She even scuba dove for the first time despite fear of the water! I was immensely happy to be part of positive memory for her. We still keep in touch!
What luggage did you bring with you to Jordan?
As for the rest of my six month trip, I have my Osprey Porter 46, a foldable nylon daypack, and a small leather purse.
>>Check out more of the best travel backpacks for women.
Were there any items you were glad you brought with you or that you wished you had brought?
Sunscreen (the sun is really brutal), toilet paper or tissues (just in case), and a scarf (for a variety of reasons, but covering your head can really help with the sun too!). There is nothing I wish I had brought that I did not have.
What’s your number 1 tip for females traveling solo to Jordan?
Cliche, but travel with an open mind! There will always be ups and down, but it’s all part of the learning experience. I always tell people, some of my highest highs and my lowest lows occurred in Jordan. I look upon my time there fondly, and plan to return in the next few years.
About the author: Jennifer is a Texas native, who quit her job in Washington, DC six months ago to backpack around the world. You can follow her adventures on Instagram.
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Kate - Travel for Difference says
So horrible to hear of such negative experiences whilst travelling. It’s even more upsetting that women are still so disrespected in many countries around the world; with most perpetrators not having to face consequences for their sexist acts..
Regardless, it is so important to travel with an open mind! A great post X
I am sorry to say, but regarding the outfit, you seemingly just didn’t do your homework, Jennifer (similar to lots of travelers coming from,,ahem,the 1st world…) If you are visiting a Muslim country you HAVE to wear long trousers and long sleeves-YES! And this is not about how YOU feel or what YOU think or YOU disagreeing – this is how it is is in that country! It is a matter of simply getting to know a culture better. When I went to Iran I was perfectly OK that I needed to cover up and wear a scarf on my head; if I was not,well, then I have better stayed at home.
Clearly your appearance was what made you “uncomfortable walking alone in broad daylight” but it was also what helped you meet the “insurance heir”. You had to take the bad with the good.
Everything in the Middle East is based on your appearance and your actions in public. The girl above me is right about it not being about what you feel, you are the foreigner, but standing out clearly offered you some other opportunities you wouldn’t have had if you weren’t a foreigner.
I have to agree with the above posts, I was in Jordan for 2 weeks on my own and I did not feel unsafe apart from when I stupidly decided to walk through a large crowd of men.
I dressed conservatively because I knew where I was going and wearing shorts and revealing clothes would not have been appropriate, Just because a person may not agree with how people dress does not mean you shroud not respect a country’s culture.
If anything I was treated so well and with so much respect, that I felt happier and safer than I do in my own country,
I also have to add to say a women clothing choice to be “possibly repressive” is a bit naive. You do not know if they have chosen to wear it or not.
Typical American. Ignoring the country customs and wearing tiny shorts, even if no one else from locals wears it there. Its not even typical for men to wear shorts in Middle east countries, not even Eastern Africa, you will be easily tagged as tourist.
I just came from Solo Jordan trip and the only thing I disliked were taxi drivers, as usually in countries like this they harass you with rides all the time. But switched to Uber and had no problem, the Uber drivers were really nice. Also people in general were really nice to me.
I had no problem walking alone in tourist places at evening, from Amman, to Aquaba, Wadi Musa. Probably but there was still many tourists, so no one singled you out. However, I generally dont walk outside alone at night, not even in Europe or US. Well usually in Europe there is not problem, as I usually can understand some sort of language used.
Hi Jennifer!! I’m thinking of going to Jordan for 2.5 weeks in July 2019, and was wondering if you could share with me some of the hostels you visited that was conducive for solo female backpackers 🙂