Jordan is a generally easy place to travel with children. People in general love babies and small children; even lots of older men cooed at our babe when we walked around with her in Amman’s downtown market, and locals with markets in Petra were all eager to offer Veda their blessings against the “Evil Eye.” For those staying in Amman for a longer length of stay, there are music and playgroup classes, but it is pretty limited in things to do with little ones for a short trip, definitely lacks public green spaces and sidewalks, and is particularly challenging because of the popularity of smoking, so it’s difficult to avoid second-hand smoke, especially at restaurants. I give Jordan an overall rating of 3/5 for travel with babies. Don’t forget a sun hat and sunscreen anywhere you go in Jordan with baby!
Public transportation is nearly non-existent in Jordan. There are some buses, but they are difficult to figure out. I know that lots of back-packers opt for buses when getting out of Amman, as well, and I would have definitely done the same in my college traveling days, but not with a baby. It’s inconvenient, unpredictable, and unsafe.
We always rent a car in Jordan, as driving is basically a must wherever you are traveling. Taxis in Amman are plentiful and really cheap, but not extraordinarily safe for babies and kids (many don’t have seat belts and are erratic drivers). Driving in Jordan is erratic in general, with no respect for common driving courtesy, signaling, or lanes, and lots of high speed drivers. A well-secured car seat is a must.
People generally don’t walk in Jordan. Sidewalks, if they exist, are generally cracked, are not curbed, and most have trees planted in the middle of them, so strollers in Amman are extremely impractical. There are some areas that are walk-able once arriving there (such as Rainbow Street and Downtown Amman), but it is advisable to drive and park or take a taxi to arrive there.
There are many tourist destinations in Jordan (see below in Things to Do) and are easily reached in 30 minutes to three hours maximum by road, if you are driving in Jordan.
Health & Safety
Jordan has great medical care, pediatrics, prenatal, and emergency care, and also has lots of pharmacies, seemingly on every street block in Amman.
Restaurant hygiene and sanitation is generally good, and there are many upscale restaurants. Precautions should be taken with water, such as boiling water or using bottled water, and I always make sure to sterilize any bottles/ pumping/ baby eating ware by boiling it all in hot water.
As mentioned above, traffic safety is non-existent in Jordan, especially in Amman, mostly without usable sidewalks, so using a stroller is out of the question (opt for a baby wrap or carrier if baby is still small enough), unless you are somewhere like Rainbow Street, which at least has wide sidewalk areas (but curbs are non-existent).
Check out the CDC website for up-to-date information on health recommendations for travel in Jordan.
Jordan is a Muslim country where most traditional women are fully covered, and both traditional and more modern women wear scarves on their heads in Amman. Exposing breasts in public is a no-no, and you’ll attract a lot of unwanted attention if you attempt this.
I did a lot of breastfeeding and pumping in public restrooms on toilet seats while I was there, which was unpleasant. In more westernized places, like restaurants in Abdoun or Rainbow Street, I was more comfortable discreetly breastfeeding in public places, and did so, but made sure to fully cover myself and baby’s head (which she hates) with a wrap or scarf.
If it is an option and you’ll be out and about, I would recommend bringing along a bottle of expressed breast milk for baby, especially if you will be in more conservative areas of town, such as downtown, to avoid having to breastfeed on a toilet seat.
Finding Baby Stuff
It’s easy to find disposable diapers and wipes, bottles, and standard baby foods and cereals and most grocery stores or pharmacies, although diapers and jarred baby food can be quite pricey, so if you can bring your own, that would be best. However, if you are looking for specialized products such as dairy-free cereals or dairy-free formulas, this is very difficult to find, even at high-end grocery stores in Amman.
It is also easy to find general baby toiletries like baby shampoo, talc powder, etc. I would definitely bring enough standard medicines such as fever reducer, gas relief, etc. as I am a bit skeptical of what is sold over-the-counter there for baby use and safety. It’s also more difficult to find organic products or things like baby-safe sunscreen and bug repellent, so come prepared with your own.
If you are looking for baby clothes or toys, these are also plentiful and many shops or malls, but things can be pricey.
Things to Do
Jordan is a great country to explore with many archaeological treasures and natural beauty. It can be an exciting place for small children and even babies to soak in the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes. However, it’s not necessarily geared toward small children or babies, offering limited amounts of baby- or child-oriented activities and places, and many of the site-seeing would only be appropriate for adventurous parents willing to leave the stroller behind and tackle lots of steps with a baby in tow. Below is a list of some of the sight-seeing we’ve done with baby in-town:
Downtown: Downtown Amman is a hustling old part of the city with local markets alive, especially on Saturday mornings, selling anything from used shoes to pirated DVDs. There’s little shops and vendors selling falafel, hummus, and halal meat. It’s bustling, and there’s several historical sites to see, so it’s worth checking out. It’ definitely not stroller friendly, so baby will have to be worn, and smaller children will have to be tightly gripping your hand.
Rainbow Street: This is just up the hill from downtown Amman (there’s a long steep flight of steps leading up to it). It’s a small area that is very westernized and with an eclectic hipster feel to it. There’s lots of coffee shops, art shops, and all sorts of ethnic restaurants. They often have little street fairs/ art souks on the weekends. It’s a relaxed place to take a stroll, and one of the only places in Amman where it might be appropriate to use a stroller (it has wide sidewalks and traffic moves slowly).