If you are hoping for a unique, enriching travel experience, you’re starting in the right place. Jordan itself is off the beaten path. Untouched desert, age-old Roman ruins, peaceful canyons, and verdant olive groves are just waiting to be explored. Especially outside Amman, it is possible to go days without even glimpsing another tourist, meaning that your experience in Jordan is sure to be authentic and immersive.
Nonetheless, there is only so much of a country that you can see if you approach your vacation as a typical tourist. In this guide, you can find tips and resources that I’ve found useful while traveling. These suggestions will help you transform your prospective vacation from a merely pleasant experience into an unforgettable one.
Local art and music provide a fascinating window on local perspective.
At Al Balad Theatre in Amman, you can view Jordanian culture through the lens of theatre, dance, music, and visual art. If you’re making a summer trip to Jordan, be sure not to miss the annual Jerash Festival of Culture and Arts, which takes place in the magnificent old Roman city of Jerash amid spectacular ruins.
“Voluntourism” is an innovative way of experiencing a new culture.
In Jordan, a country with a low median income and a significant refugee population, your volunteer efforts will certainly be appreciated. Voluntourism is also a budget-friendly way to travel, as many hosts will offer you room and board in exchange for several hours of work a day. Workaway.com is an invaluable resource to help you find various host families and projects that best suit your skills. In particular, there are many small tourism businesses in Wadi Rum that are looking for native English speakers to help with editing and marketing. Tech assistance and website development are other skills that are in high demand in areas outside of Amman. Many individuals and families in Jordan would also be happy to host you in exchange for English language lessons or speaking practice. An added bonus is that you can easily pick up some Arabic skills this way as well.
Don’t miss out on local holidays and celebrations.
Holidays in Jordan, a majority Muslim country, are spirited and welcoming. Eid Al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of the month-long Ramadan fast, is particularly joyous. If you are fortunate enough to spend a major holiday with a Jordanian family, you are sure to feel at home as they include you in their festivities.
Sustainable tourism is a rewarding way to travel.
In Jordan, there are many unexpected options for traveling that have a positive impact on both the local people and the environment. You can stay at Feynan Ecolodge at Dana Biosphere Reserve, a luxurious, solar-powered hotel with countless adventures outside its doors. Activities at and around Feynan include hiking, canyoning, archaeological sites, traditional cooking classes, and magical evening campfires under a peaceful starry sky.
Learn about the eco-friendly agriculture industry.
If you are hoping to volunteer in an environmentally sustainable way, there are countless opportunities to help out with organic farming. You can spend a productive couple of days or weeks living with a Jordanian family, joining in the rhythm of their daily lives, and helping to pick dates or olives.
Live like a Jordanian while studying or teaching.
Depending on how much time you have to travel, there are various opportunities and organizations that will allow you to make a long-term difference in Jordanian society. You can find organizations that teach English to children at Al-Zaatari refugee camp or non-profits that work in other ways to benefit the refugee population. Alternatively, if you have a month or two to travel, you can participate in a study abroad program to pick up some useful Arabic skills while meeting local university students.
Regardless of what you decide to do on your Jordan adventure, these suggestions are sure to help you experience the Jordanian way of life in a unique and authentic way.
If you are looking to turn your Jordan journey into an experience of a lifetime, we encourage you to check out the Meaningful Travel Map of Jordan, where you can learn more about local and authentic experiences that add more than just fun to your travels.