Introduction: Road-Trip Through Jordan

Filed Under: Travel

Yay! It’s Jordan-trip-report time! I’m so far behind on trip reports (they take me forever), but I’m really excited to finally share this one with y’all. Jordan was a fantastic destination for us, and I know a lot of people have expressed interest in visiting as well, so this should be a fun series.

At the Temple of Hercules in Amman

In addition to being full of great activities, this was also the first actual “vacation” trip where neither my husband or I had to work in over four years.

I still made lots of notes and took pictures so I could write this report, of course, but not having to carve out time to be online or in meetings was wonderful, and made the trip extra special.

So off we go!

Outbound flights

Somewhat ironically, this trip was inspired by the AAdvantage devaluation. I wanted to book one final Etihad A380 first class award trip at the 90,000 mile price, which meant looking at destinations in the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent. We’d only be able to travel over New Years, which ruled out Nepal and the “–stan countries” due to temperature, and we didn’t think 6 nights would do India justice. So Jordan it was!

Of course, many people had the same idea, so award availability wasn’t amazing. I tried to work with it though, and ended up with an itinerary that would take us from San Diego to Los Angeles, then on the A321 transcon to New York, followed by the Etihad A380 to Abu Dhabi, then short flights to Doha and then Amman.

Many, many, flights, but with overnights in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Doha we would have broken up the trip, been able to see friends and check out some new hotels, and so forth.

I’m telling you all this so that you won’t judge me so harshly when I tell you that we ultimately flew to Amman on Alaska-issued Emirates first class awards.

Yes they were outrageously expensive (150,000 Alaska miles each, plus ~$55 in taxes and fees), and yes I know JAL is cheaper, and yes – I get that no one here wants to read another Emirates A380 trip report.

Look! It’s a 777-300ER instead (or really as well — you’ll see)

But my husband had back-to-back colds in December, and the night before we were due to leave for our seven-flights-over-five-days adventure, he was simply feeling too poorly to travel.

So I had to make a game-time decision. Changing to Emirates meant we could spend an extra two days visiting with family and letting him recuperate, and the easier itinerary meant we’d leave the U.S. later but arrive in Amman a night earlier.

It was pricey, yes, but we had the miles, and hopefully I’ll be able to use the Etihad award to position to Cairo in the coming weeks. I should probably get on that, actually.

Return flights

For a brief moment in June, Swiss first class was available to Star Alliance partners.

Easy connecting flights were available on Turkish and United, none of which levy fuel surcharges on award tickets, so I booked an Amman > Istanbul > Zurich > Los Angeles > San Diego itinerary through Air Canada Aeroplan.

Swiss 777-300ER First Class

Those flights were 115,000 Aeroplan miles each, along with ~$100 in taxes and fees.

In the end, our itinerary looked like this (plus flights from Eastern Washington where we were visiting with family, but we would have needed those anyway):



There was so much we wanted to see in Jordan, so our lodging was really dictated by our itinerary, which was all over the place. There are some luxury resorts on the Dead Sea and in Aqaba (on the Red Sea), but those seemed like wasted destinations during a cold winter week.


Instead, we stayed at an assortment of properties up and down the country, though didn’t end up using conventional points for anything:

In general, I felt the accommodations were fine — Jordan is not a high-end destination, so you’re not going for the hotels.

King room at the Feynan Ecolodge

While nothing was fancy, everywhere we stayed was immaculately clean, and for the most part we slept well. We’ll get into the specifics later on.


This was such a fun (albeit exhausting) trip. We spent a lot of time driving on narrow roads in this gem:


We packed a lot of activity into seven nights, and the time away from civilization forced me to disconnect, which was such a nice change of pace.

Hiking in Wadi Rum

I also think this is a pretty approachable trip, all things considered, so hopefully the extra details as we go along are helpful to some of you.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the trip or details as we go, and you can see more pictures from the trip on Instagram in the meantime. Thanks for reading!

  1. I visited Jordan three years ago and found it to be a really interesting place. (I think too many people dismiss Jordan as a destination because they deem it dangerous.) Looking forward to reading your trip report, and I really like your writing style.

    Out of curiosity, when you were driving in Jordan did you come across frequent roadside police cars who seemed to use radar and your heart skipped a beat every time you saw them? Also, did you negotiate the speed bumps on the highway well? There were times when my car came to a halt after I saw the speed bumps last minute 🙂

  2. @ Tiffany, if you could comment on security at some point during this series, it’d be helpful. Did you feel safe? Did you encounter anything out of the ordinary (either good or bad) related to security?

  3. OMG @Tiffany!! I love the hotel room!! It looks like sleeping in a cave.. it’s really cool!! I would imagine that it’s so quiet at night and a bit comfortably cold..

    Now you make me want to go visit Amman. I have a return leg to Cairo that I need to use at some point.. Hmm.. maybe i should just do Amman this time!!

  4. I went to Jordan last year and have never felt safer in a country than I did there. There wasn’t even a noticeable security presence so you didn’t feel overwhelmed with soldiers everywhere like you do in Cairo right now. And we drove around a lot of the country and only experienced one road checkpoint where we had to stop for a few questions.

  5. Bad sense of touch made it so he couldn’t travel? Crazy. “he was simply feeling too poorly to travel.” On the off chance you mean he was sick, it should says “feeling too poor.”

  6. We did a road trip through Jordan and loved it. We were in Egypt on the same trip (honeymoon), and found Jordan to be much less stressful and more beautiful.

    Did you sleep overnight in Wadi Rum?

  7. @ Boco — Well, I didn’t drive, because my husband is like the world’s best amateur driver, and I prefer to navigate, but he managed the speed bumps just fine, albeit with a lot of surprised swearing. 🙂

  8. @ Mike — I will, but I felt safe, as expected. There were a few checkpoints on some of the roads nearish to military installations, and around Karak, but nothing I’d consider terribly unusual.

    For the most part though, I feel safer as a female traveler in the Middle and Near East than I do in most cities in the U.S.

  9. @ Donna — We both know a few phrases and numbers in Arabic, which was appreciated but not necessary. Jordanians love visitors, and most everyone we interacted with spoke English and/or French and German, as well as Arabic.

  10. @ Tiffany, what was Feynan Ecolodge like? I’ve been considering staying there. (And what was the food like?) Thanks

  11. Finally, the Jordan report.!
    You will simply have to go back as I note you did not go to Jerash, Bethany on the river Jordan for the baptismal site nor the Dead or Red Sea. We went in January 2016 and loved it. Floating in the Dead Sea and applying the mud is an experience not to be missed.
    The Ma’an hot springs were heavenly in January.

  12. Tiffany,

    Your pictures on Instagram were amazing! May I ask which camera you used for the pictures?


  13. @ MD — Aww, thanks! Instagram is a good medium for me, and I definitely got some lucky shots in Jordan. I mostly use my phone (an HTC M9), but some are from my actual camera (a Sony RX100).

  14. The Dead Sea is still fine in winter. The water doesn’t really get cold, because the Sea is over 1000 feet below sea level. When I was there in December, the air temperature was cool in the morning and evening, so I didn’t really want to swim except in the middle of the day, but the experience of effortless floating, the total relaxation, the way one’s skin is so soft for days afterward … it’s too bad that you missed it. And the Marriott Dead Sea Resort is absolutely fantastic, and a definite exception to your statement that “you’re not going for the hotels.”

    Echoing what others said, I felt completely safe in Jordan, safe enough, for example, to pick up hitchhiking bedouin men. The only time I felt unsafe was driving in rush-hour traffic in Amman, which I don’t recommend. In fact, I recommend avoiding Amman altogether, as the airport is as close to Madaba or the Red Sea as it is to Amman. Other than rush hour in Amman, though, driving wasn’t too difficult (not nearly as hard as Panama or Guatemala), and all the road signs are in English, and Google Maps knew how to help me navigate.

    I had a week in Jordan, and it was almost enough. I think 10 days would’ve been perfect. I can’t wait to go back.

  15. I wanted to go to Jordan and experience the floating in the dead sea & the amazing effect it does to the skin !!

  16. @ Bernard — We definitely want to go back! The day we were planning on going to Jerash we were just really dang sick of being in the car, so we’ll go there on a less aggressive future itinerary.

  17. @ brteacher — Hah, I think it depends on when in winter. The high temperature the week we were there was 43°F — not swimming weather for this Californian!

  18. This is an amazing road trip – and so helpful for others to plan their adventures. I’ve wanted to visit Jordan for years, but always thought it would be necessary to go with an organized tour. It’s so nice to see that it is accessible and possible for independent travelers, and that there are plenty of mid-range accommodation options. Thanks for sharing this – you’ve given me the confidence to plan something similar myself and ditch the tour companies.

  19. @Tiffany,

    I was just curious who you rented a car from. My wife and I are going to Petra in a couple of months and know that car rentals in the Middle East can be sketchy at times. We fly in and out of AMM. Would love to know how your experience was with that as well.


  20. @Tiffany,

    Do you feel the 4×4 was necessary for your route?

    I’m looking to do something similar but, assuming I pay for 4×4 transfer at Dana and Wadi Rum, would the rest of the roads be suitable in a 2WD small car?

    I will skip Machaerus Fortress and add Umm Ar-Rasas based on your recommendations.

    Reading through your trip report my sense is the “road closed” section from Dana to Little Petra is the area that could be tricky but 2WD can drive dirt roads.


  21. @ TCCQuest — As long as you’re comfortable driving on a well-packed gravel road and were prepared to pay for transfers as needed you’d be fine. Other than the actual time driving in the dunes we needed “high clearance” more than “4×4” anyway. I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

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