What to Wear When Traveling to Jordan
You’ve been counting down the days until you embark on your epic Jordan tour. The time has finally arrived that many dread…it’s time to pack. You are only visiting for a week and you want to maximize your packing space. We hear you; it’s not an easy task. The question rolling around in your head is, “What is appropriate to wear in an Islamic, Middle Eastern country?”
Lightweight cottons and linens are advised during the summer between May and September while travelling to Jordan. Warm clothes are necessary for winter and cool summer evenings. Rainwear may be needed from November to April. It is important to remember that Jordan is primarily a Muslim country, albeit not a very conservative one. Revealing clothing is not appropriate outside tourist towns and conservative clothing is advisable for both men and women in downtown Amman and in rural areas. Evenings can be cool in summer, so a sweater or a shawl is advisable. Make sure you bring with you comfortable walking shoes, a hat and sun block.
Not to fear, we have some tips for you.
Guidelines to keep in mind:
While Jordan is a progressive Muslim country, it is still conservative at heart. The general rule of thumb, for women, is the less skin showing the less attention you will draw to yourself (it really is for your benefit). Tightness, on the other hand, is not as much of a faux pas as showing skin in this culture.
Also consider the nature of your travel. While its not extreme adventure tourism, you will be doing quite a lot of walking, hiking and possibly some climbing depending on your itinerary and daring spirit. Other possible scenarios include mounting and dismounting camels or donkeys, sleeping in goat hair tents, and getting your hands dirty as you harvest olives or tomatoes alongside locals.
Tips for women:
Jordanian women dress very fashionably in urban parts of the country. It is common to see covered women wearing tight skirts and dresses over leggings. By contrast, in small villages or conservative areas, many women wear a long coat called a jilbab, which covers any hint of their figure. Depending on where I am going, I aim for somewhere in between these two.
Pack a few thin cotton long-sleeve shirts. I also love cardigans. They are a great conservative option. It’s ok for tourists to wear short-sleeves, but personally, I always feel more comfortable covering most of my arms and it shows respect for the local culture.
Avoid shirts that reveal too much of your chest or back. Cleavage is a big no-no here. Tuck a scarf in your purse or backpack in case you end up in a more conservative area of town and want to throw it around your shoulders. If you plan on entering a mosque at anytime during your stay a scarf may come in handy as you might want to cover your head.
As mentioned above, it is always best to opt for long pants. In the hot summer months go for a thin cotton blend instead of jeans.
If your itinerary includes a beach you’ll want to bring a swimsuit. At a resort anything goes, but at a public beach you may want to choose a modest suit. The more skin showing the more looks you will get, in which case some women may be more comfortable wearing a t-shirt and shorts over their suit. Local ladies who swim will be fully covered.
Tips for men:
It’s a little less tricky for you. T-shirts and a couple pairs of long pants should be just fine. In the recent years young men and boys have begun to wear shorts, however most men still wear long pants. Depending on the time of year you may want to throw in a hat to keep the sun away, or just buy a traditional Bedouin head scarf when you arrive.
Both ladies & gentlemen:
It’s a great idea to pack layers. During the fall and winter seasons it can go from hot to cold in an instant if you find yourself in the shade as well as in the evenings.
Bring a good pair of walking shoes if not two. The streets of Jordan are dustier and slightly dirtier than you are probably used to. In addition, you will be off the asphalt path in most of the places you are walking. In the spring and summer months, many tourists like to walk around in open toed shoes or sandals like Chacos, however, my choice would always be something closed toed.
Lastly, don’t stress. If you follow these guidelines and tips you will not only feel comfortable, you may even fit in (I get mistaken for a Jordanian all the time, which makes me happy because one of my personal pet-peeves is looking like a tourist.)
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