Plunging head first into Petra and Jordan

Jerash, Jordan, the Cardo Maximus (courtesy Paul Mannix at Flickr CC)

“Wait, Jordan the country? What on Earth for?”

“Did they issue you a bullet-proof vest with that invite?”

“Is your life insurance paid up?”

These are some of the unnecessarily nervous reactions that I’ve been getting this week, when I tell people that I’m going to travel to Jordan in April as a guest of the Jordanian Tourism Board.


“Because it will be amazing.”



Honestly, I’m not oblivious to the current situation in Egypt and the fallout across the Middle East from the revolt in Tunisia, but the chance to visit an incredible place like Petra and a city like Amman, plus Crusader castles and the Dead Sea, is WAY too interesting to pass up.

What about the naysayers and worriers?

I offer these suggestions….

How To Travel To Interesting Places During Rather Tumultuous Times

Here are a few precautionary moves that make sense for any traveler:

1)  Keep up with the current political situation, including following country pages from various news organizations, key people on Twitter and connecting with several others who know the country well and/or live there.  My thanks to UK travel writer and MidEast expert Matthew Teller (a Twitter connection) for his suggestions and insights.

2)  Travel light. This is no time to be weighed down by too much stuff in a big suitcase. I’m taking one carry-on suitcase and one bag for a netbook computer and peripherals.  I can handle it all myself for a lot of miles, if needed.

3)  You know how you check the exits for hotels and airplanes? I will have three possible border exit points in mind for my location, at all times….by foot, by air and by land transportation.  Excessive? Oh, yes. Prudent? Hmm, most likely.

4)  Check in with the Embassy. In the very unlikely event of problems, the US Embassy will want to know that I’m in country, and will work to get me out. This is purely precautionary, but as a former military person who planned noncombatant evacuations, I know how important it can be.

Now, really, can we all just RELAX?!

Jordan is fine. I am fine. My fussbudget friends should also calm down, and know that I would not go if I didn’t feel quite safe.

Now, time to think about slapping on some Dead Sea mud to  see if its supposedly therapeutic properties improve my complexion. I’ll take all the help I can get.

Disclosure: The Jordanian Tourism Board is providing my airfare, accommodation and entry fees. They have not told me what to write about, and the itinerary is still in flux. I am not traveling as part of a group.

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