Ladies: here’s the clothes to pack for Jordan
First, a warning: I am not a good packer. I’m (in)famous for packing drunk: it’s helpful as it means I can’t overthink what to bring on your trip (you’d be amazed how much mental effort someone can expend pondering “will three t-shirts be enough, or do I really need the fourth?”) but inebriation of course also hinders packing because it means instead of bringing along my new shorts (bought expressly for the trip) I take a frisbee. (True story.)
However, for Jordan I didn’t pack drunk. Instead, in a panic about balancing cultural sensitivity with getting a tan and packing light, I Googled endlessly for “what women should wear in Jordan” in the hopes that someone would tell me exactly what to bring. Now you’ve done the same, and here we are.
For context, we were on a ten-day package tour of Jordan and Israel in June, so it was pretty hot. We read not to wear short shorts or flimsy tank tops for “cultural reasons”, and that’s good advice, but you don’t need to break out the hijab.
Most of the time we wore t-shirts and three-quarter length pants (trousers, for you giggling Brits), and carried a scarf or button-up cotton shirt in our bags. Bring a couple of versions of this, and you’ll be set — and even have room for a frisbee.
Here’s what women should pack for Jordan:
Convertible pants: ones that roll up to shorts or capris/cropped trousers, or that zip off. That way, you can get your pins out in tourist areas, but cover up if you later end up surrounded by locals. A longer skirt would also work, if you’re not the type who needs to worry about sweaty thighs.
A light scarf: the flimsy sort of thing you wear more for fashion than warmth. If you’re heading to Wadi Rum, this will be handy to wrap around your head to keep sand out (our guide did ours, which made for some lovely photos) but it’s also worth keeping in your bag when you’re in cities or tourist sites, as you can use it to cover shoulders (as you must at the wailing wall in Jerusalem, if you also head to Israel) or your neck (to keep the sun off). If you don’t have a scarf, pick up one in a market when you get there; they make good souvenirs.
Light, button-up cotton(ish) shirt: mine is desperately not cotton, because I bought it at the last minute at Primark for about £4. They’re handy not only because it can get cool in the evenings (or on the bus), but also to cover yourself up in religious spots. A light cardigan would also work.
Sunglasses and hat: something light that will cover your head, because dehydration and burnt scalps aren’t enjoyable. One girl on our trip had an umbrella for the sun; it worked, but it was an odd look.
Solid walking shoes: I have a brilliant pair of Teva sport sandals that did the trick most days, but if you’re going to take the back route into Petra – and you should – you’ll want shoes you can climb a mountain in (because that’s what you’re doing).
Swimsuit: you’ll likely be going to the Dead Sea, so bring your least revealing swimsuit. Most of the people around you will also be tourists, but we did see some girls wading in wearing jeans and t-shirts, so this isn’t the place for a string bikini. Do bring a towel, or you’ll have to “rent” one, and take it down to the beach; we were at a public one, and there were loads of skeezy men blatantly staring at us from the beach to the change rooms. If that makes you uncomfortable, you’ll want your towel to cover up.
Avoid white/light colours: the desert dust gets everywhere, and it’s hard to wash out.
Other essentials: you hopefully don’t need telling that sunscreen is a must, and my skin was desperate for moisturiser the entire time. Bug spray is handy at night in the desert.
Not sure what else you need? Ask away in the comments – or just get drunk and wing it. That’s what markets are for, after all.