Dear Nellie Bly
My daughter and her female friend want to travel to Jordan and Morocco. Last year, my daughter traveled solo in Asia for seven months. Is Jordan safe to travel to?
Dear Worried Mum,
There are many wonderful things to see in Jordan—Petra, Wadi Rum, and the Dead Sea! It is definitely a bucket list destination. A lot of tourists, alas, are beset by fears of the terrorism alerts regarding Jordan, so tourism numbers sadly are down significantly. As such, your daughter and her friend may find historically popular attractions to have few other visitors. The country is fairly safe, more so than the rest of the Middle East. Tourist areas are reported to be relatively safe, though savvy travelers should be alert for petty crimes, like purse snatching, pick pocketing, etc.
Dead Sea Photo Credit: Bernard Gagnon via Wikimedia Commons
She and friend should be respectful of the culture, which means it is important for women to dress modestly–no shorts, no short skirts, no tight pants, and no skimpy or tight tops. Loose, long-sleeved shirts and pants are good. Your daughter may not need it, but it is a good idea to carry a scarf and use it if she is getting unwanted attention. The goal is to be respectful and not stand out. Your daughter probably knows how to do this from her previous travel experience.
There are numerous travel alerts about attacks and terrorism along the Jordan border areas, particularly Syria and Iraq. They should stay several km/mi away from those borders. There are also demonstrations and strikes within the country. Tourists should avoid demonstrations as even peaceful ones can turn violent. And coming from another culture means foreigners may not pick up on subtle cues that circumstances changed from peaceful to not.
The US State Department’s website says, Women from Western countries visiting and residing in Jordan have reported incidents of sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, and assault. The Embassy continues to receive sporadic reports regarding incidents of sexual assaults involving taxis and taxi drivers. Many of the incidents have involved verbal sexual harassment, staring, or following the victim. Some have included physical assaults. To reduce the likelihood of being victimized, foreign women should take precautions such as avoiding travel to unfamiliar areas at night, not traveling alone, not riding in the front seat of a taxi, and consider dressing modestly when in public. We also recommend carrying a cell phone at all times. Immediately report any incidents to the Family Protection Department, which is part of the national police. For your convenience, here are the UK government alert and the one from the US State Department.
You didn’t ask about Morocco, but women tourists are often leered at and harassed unmercifully by local men. Additionally, it is common for western women tourists, particularly young women, to be followed by Moroccan men. She and her friend should definitely dress modestly and act modestly there, though this still may not prevent harassment. If the two of them get fed up with it, have them join a tour group for a day or so for some relief.
For safety, have your daughter and her friend carry cell phones and add your country’s embassy numbers for Jordan and Morocco in their Contacts. The embassies can solve a lot of problems (medical, legal, etc.) if they encounter any. Also, have her keep in regular contact with a family member. If the family member does not hear from her within the time she and the family agree to, alert your country’s embassy in Jordan or Morocco, as appropriate. It is best for your daughter to have a planned itinerary and share it with the family member. In the unlikely event that the family needs to locate them, the itinerary will help. Their cell phone plans will need to cover Jordan and Morocco. Otherwise have them buy a phone in Morocco and Jordan so they can contact the family. They should sign up for medical and travel insurance. They will need a visa to visit Jordan, but not Morocco.
I love that your daughter is traveling, and her solo travel will help her on this trip. It is important to see the world and experience different cultures. I hope she has wonderful adventures now and into the future!
Cover photo: Ad-deir-monastery
Photo: via Wikimedia Commons