The Asia Interviews is a new fortnightly series of posts we’ve launched where fellow family travel bloggers talk about their favourite travel destination in Asia. I love hearing about the adventures of other families and we’ve got some fantastic destinations lined up for you over the next few months. For our first post, we talk to Keri from Our Globetrotters about their self-drive trip around Jordan with their three young kids. It sounds incredible – that vast open space, dunes to to climb and mud to play in, all under their own steam in a hire car. Jordan is now on our list for sure.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how often do you travel as a family?
Hi I’m Keri from “Our Globetrotters”. We’re a family of 5 currently living in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. Hubby and I are both Australian but our kids were born in the UK and UAE – we’ve never stopped travelling since our kids were born, just slightly changed the pace!
We are mostly school holiday travellers these days but find ourselves on the road about 10 weeks of the year, visiting family back home and starting new adventures.
Why did you decide to travel to Jordan and how old were your kids?
Although we have a passion for visiting South East Asia, our mission this year was to explore more of the Middle East. With this in mind, when we saw discounted Etihad fairs to Amman – and we had a family member move there – it was a sign we needed to jump and take the opportunity to explore one of our most fascinating and historic neighbours. At the time we visited Jordan our kids were 7, 4 and 2.
Why is Jordan your favourite destination?
Some people look at us like were crazy when we say this was our best family trip ever. But we genuinely found something that we all enjoyed about this fascinating country – sandwiched between some interesting neighbours though we felt completely safe!
What were your top 3 activities for kids in Jordan?
Wadi Rum – a vast open desert scape with huge limestone mountains, here we took a one-day jeep tour into the desert. There were a lot of “Lawrence of Arabia” moments, a load of climbing, sliding down sand dunes, camel rides and insect spotting! Their favourite part though was watching the sun go down and staying in a genuine Bedouin tent.
Little Petra – while I’ll admit they found the main historic site of Petra a bit daunting, Siq al-Barid also called Little Petra was perfect for them. Far less tourists come here but the buildings are equally old and impressive they wanted to study every cave and carving.
Dead Sea Mud – swimming in the dead sea was definitely not their thing (find out why here) but what little kid doesn’t like smothering themselves in mud, right?
What did the kids eat?
I won’t deny I’ve got one particularly fussy eater and one who won’t experiment if she can help it (but one who’ll eat anything and everything – only when he feels like it!).
They weren’t fans of the local cuisine at all so we ended up:
1. Stocking up very well on the breakfast buffets and fruit whenever we could see it and
2. Ordering a lot of pizza. Order anything custom at your peril, most chefs really didn’t understand!
Local food is probably most like Lebanese. Most dishes would include something along the lines of flat bread, hummus, kibbeh, bulgur, eggplant, tomato and olives. A less fussy kid would be fine.
And obviously follow basic travel precautions for kids like drink bottled water and boil water for bottles. It’s one country in Asia where none of us came away with a tummy bug but that could be because we had so many bland meals!
How did you get around?
We hired our own car. It wasn’t the best car with no functioning air con but it got us A to B! Had it been summer we would have been far less impressed. The roads can be a little hair raising and the highways in poor condition so a lot of people prefer to hire a driver or go on an organised tour.
What I loved with the self-drive though we could completely control our timings and agenda, so important when you have young kids and you need to move with the mood!
What is your top tip for families travelling to Jordan?
Children under 12 are free to all major attractions so the younger you plan your trip to Jordan the better! I would also prepare children for the fact things can be different; pit toilets were quite the norm and they won’t necessarily have all the mod-cons they’re used to unless you’re staying in one of the 5-star hotels (which I would definitely recommend you do try at least once in Jordan at the Dead Sea or Red Sea to be truly spoiled!).
And a final warning on fair-hair touching and selfies. I know blonde children especially are very popular with the locals throughout Asia, but I’ve never seen it quite as bad as when we visited the historic site of Jerash, north of Amman. The kids were literally flocked by groups of school girls wanting to touch them and be in photos with them. Knowing a few more words in Arabic like “stop, you’re scaring them” would have been helpful. You can certainly get by with English but I wish I knew a bit more than “hello” and “thank you” in Arabic.
What item could you not have done without in Jordan?
Google maps! Self-driving has its draw back that you’re your own navigator but through the winding roads of Wadi Musa & the chaotic freeways of Amman particularly it never let us down! Download it before you go in case you don’t have good internet.
The kids also loved the torches and binoculars we packed for them, it really helped them get into explorer mode and they loved it so much more than I thought they would. Oh, and pack clothes you don’t mind will get ruined, there’s a lot of climbing and sliding to do!!
Where are you off to next?
We have just returned from an Australia-Bali-Singapore adventure and although we said we’d have a quieter year ahead, I think the big ones on our list next are taking a more in-depth tour through Sri Lanka and exploring the Philippines.
We also plan to road trip down to Muscat, Oman as soon as the summer weather cools and exploring more of the eastern regions and mountains of the UAE – the kids are desperate to try the sand camping again, I’m not as keen!
To find out more about Our Globetrotters adventures in Jordan head to their webpage: Jordan Road Trip with Kids.
Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet? Check out this Jordan edition.