Jordan Tourism...Smartest?

May 28, 2011

  family vacation  Petra, Jordan

Have you noticed all the buzz about Jordan of late? If you follow travel online, you know that Jordan has been a very hot topic. Jordan and Petra have long been on our bucket list and we always thought we'd do Egypt, Israel ( I 've been to both, but the rest of the family has not) and Jordan together.

Sadly, both my broken arm/surgery/paralysis from biking the Danube and another medical emergency on the road put a halt to our planned trips to the Middle East twice. Like many people, especially families with a young child, we had some concerns about going to this often conflicted area and the recent disturbances in Egypt, Tunsia, Syria, Libya, Bahrain etc. didn't help.

Jordan is an oasis of peace in the middle east

But we did go to Jordan for 10 days this May and found it to be a peaceful oasis in the Middle East, one of the most peaceful, beautiful and special  places that we have been to ( out of 42 countries on 5 continents in these last 5 years).

Jordan tourism is smart!

Sometimes you have to just go yourself to understand what the true experience is.We had always heard that the people of Jordan are some of the friendliest on the planet and we happily found out that is very accurate. They seem to really want you to know and enjoy Jordan.

I've long been a fan of Queen Rania of Jordan and think she has some very good points about how important it is today to break down the many false stereotypes about the Arab world.

Many Americans and even Europeans are afraid to travel to the Middle East and we got many warnings before going.( You are taking your child??)  Some have fear of Muslims, yet we have found Islamic countries to be some of the most welcoming cultures ( Morroco, Malaysia, Turkey and Jordan). The Jordanians seem to really love their King and Queen and studies show that people more content with their leaders are happier. It's truly amazing to me that they have become "the neutral Switzerland" of the Middle East.

  infinity pool at the Movenpick Dead Sea, Jordan

Our itinerary included the enchanting Dead Sea, Wadi Rum, Amman, Red Sea, Aquaba, Petra, Karak, Mt Nemo ( where Moses was buried)  and much more. We were honored to be the only travel blogging family to be invited by the Jordan Tourism Board.

Our Bedouin at Wadi Rum in tradional clothes and sunglasses

But we are not the only travel bloggers who were invited to Jordan these last few months and I think this makes Jordan Tourism one of the smartest on the planet. They were innovative and took a bad situation of political instability in the Middle East that creates fear and thus lowers tourism, and by working together ( hotels, restaurants, guides, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Tourism Board etc) created a big win/win for all.

Their idea was to let people see for themselves through inviting travel bloggers. We choose not to do normal press trips that most travel writers/bloggers do where a bunch of writers all go to the same place at the same time and do the same things. Sounds so unappealing. But this was done differently and  geared to each traveler and at different times. Our trip  was geared toward family travel in Jordan. Amongst other things, we're the only one's who went to the wonderful Children's Museum there (the only one of it's kind in the Middle East) which kidlet loved and joyfully connected with Jordanian school kids.

Children's Museum in Jordan

I loved Leslie's post about the value of these kind of travel blogger trips with a great interview with the Managing Director of Jordan Tourism Board. She traveled to Jordan recently with a delegration of tourism leaders. It is not an accident that Jordan's Twitter account @visitjordan is popular and they are one of the most influencial tourism boards online. They're smart!

"Bloggers differ from traditonal media outlets because they give a more realistic, firsthand account of the country they are visiting, especially in times of special circumstance. What is more, their coverage is more immediate and can sometimes be more influential" Nayef Al-Fayez ( Jordan Tourism Board)

As I talked about in our  BBC interview about how social media is changing travel, the smart tourism folks are paying attention, while some of the dinosaurs snooze. The statistics on social media and travel speaks for itself. You don't have to be the biggest or richest tourism board or top travel blogger to be influencial, there are many niches within travel. We are all affected by digital and social media today and it can be a winning tool that can help many people. All the people who work in tourism in Jordan ( their top industry)  as well as the people who want to travel there but need to know what it's like NOW on the ground. Often times when tourism is down, it's the best time to visit.

Jodi from Legal Nomads and Shannon from A little A Drift with Mozart in Jordan

Jordan Tourism recently invited Uncornered Market, Ken Kaminesky, The Planet D, Solo Traveler, LandLopers, Wild Junket, Bald Hiker, and TravelDudes, if you should want to learn more about Jordan from many different perspectives. They also invited Legal Nomads and A Little A Drift. We know all of these folks because the world of travel bloggers who have been around for a while is small.

We had a quick breakfast meeting with Jodi and Shannon as their last day in Jordan happened to coincide with our first day at the Dead Sea (which we discovered by accident on Twitter), so hooked up, despite being at different hotels. Fun! Mozart is planning on taking her own solo around-the-world trip ( or with her best friend, well traveled Maria in Barcelona), so was happy to get some scoops about such from these two. She was also VERY impressed that Shannon lives near Wizarding World of Harry Potter as she is dreaming of that destination for her next birthday and is HP's biggest fan.

Jerash family travel fighting a gladiator in Jordan

99.9% of our travel remains self funded ( on 23 dollars a day per person) and self initiated because unlike many travel writers and bloggers, that is what we a lifestyle, as a family...non-stop for these last 5 years with no end in sight. The world is our home and school. We don't blog to support our travels or as our way to support ourselves, but as a passion to help others and document our travels for our child. We didn't set out to become digital nomad travel trend setters, but feel a certain responsibility to let others know that they CAN live thier dreams. Or as a friend recently said to us:

"Keep doing what you're doing, you are changing the world, and how people think - and what could be better than that!?!?!Brooke Ferguson

We tend to like to do our own thing at our own pace, so  despite having very high Klout and Peerindex scores, we rarely take the many offers of sponsorship that we get, nor do we do text ads, or sponsored posts that others write as many travel bloggers do, or even guest bloggers. Freedom and loving are most important to us and we want to only support brands/places that we really believe in and that align with our values.

Our 10 year old walking the land in Wadi Rum desert with our Bedouin guide Saleh

Sometimes it just makes sense, like this trip to Jordan ( and Bhutan the week before) as both were on our way back to Europe for the summer after wintering in Asia.  I had always heard wonderful things about the exeptional hospitality and beauty of both. We have a spiritual focus and believe just walking the land in peaceful ways can possibly add positive energy to the region. We love history, educational opportunities and countries with strong spiritual focus. We knew we'd love Jordan and that we could help our readers know more about it through our writing and photos and also help the people who live there that are dependent on tourism and travelers.


I actually almost missed both trips at the last minute, because I was dealing with a very odd but severe digestive problem. Thankfully TSA let me get through all check points with all my herbs from my TCM doctor ( without going though machines) and both the cultures of Jordan and Bhutan understand the value of herbs. Jordan is also known for it's food, so I am glad we didn't miss that!

How long do you think it will take other countries to get as smart as Jordan Tourism has been?





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Shannon O'Donnell

Too cute! Love the photo of the three of us and so glad we got to meet up while there. The JTB really is spot on with these new blogger trips - the word is getting out within all of the circles, family travel, solo travel, etc about the safety of traveling throughout the country! Love that they tailored the trip to special things Mozart would enjoy as well! :)


Hey Shannon! For some reason this is the only photo that showed up of our meet up, but it is cute, isn't it?

Next time we will have to have a longer one. ;) It's fun to read the many different perspectives of Jordan.

Mozart is playing Jordan Monopoly now in Spain ( a parting gift from JTB) along with a book, so will have these too add to our happy memories there.

We'll go back some day...we were tempted to do a long stay so that kidlet could learn the language. ;)


Thank you. That was a wonderful post. I hope you didn't feel like you had to justify your trip or what you do to anyone. I think you are all amazing and I look forward to each of your posts. Enjoy your sunshine in Spain - it is still freezing cold here in California!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks so much Becca, so happy to hear you enjoyed this post!

No, I didn't feel like I had to justify anything, I just thought I'd take the opportunity to make my personal objectives clear because some people don't understand about blogging, sponsored posts and even what is normal with travel writing.

I didn't realize it either when we began as I didn't set out to be a travel writer and this is more a labor of love.

We have been to so many places and have so many stories, photos, videos etc that we could make a lot more money from that, but that takes a lot more work than what we are willing to do.

If I am working all the time, then I lose my main goal of freedom and having time with my family,no?

Because we didn't set out to do this, we are always walking that fine line of sharing in a win/win way...for us, for our readers, for everyone while maintaining our freedom which is the primary goal. ;)

Brooke Ferguson | Business Backpacker

Hi Jeanne!

Wow, great photos. I must admit, I've been hesitant to journey to some countries in the Middle East, but your trip looks amazing. It's a real eye opener when you see others going, and really smart what the tourism board is doing to attract attention. Great stuff! Thanks for using my quote, and enjoy your travels!!


Jeanne @soultravelers3

Hi Brooke!

Yes, it really does help to know what things are like on the ground, isn't it? Lots more photos of Jordan coming!

I loved your quote and think that it is amazing today that we can all inspire each other just by telling our stories.

I never thought about us changing the world until you wrote that, but we have indeed inspired many others.

We didn't know this could be done so easily and cheaply before we began, so DO have a passion to let others know.

We're really grateful to be able to help others through our experiences!

Leslie (Downtown Traveler)

Great post-- and thanks for the shout :) It seems like more tourism boards are reaching out to bloggers, which is a smart move. I've learned a lot about countries I've never visited from reading your posts and those of fellow bloggers. Hope your health issues clear up soon-- sounds like they haven't hampered your adventurous spirit!

Doreen Pendgracs

Love your travel blog and your sentiments!

It is indeed wonderful when a travel destination respects and values the type of contributions each one of us can make, traditional media or not.

Good luck with the rest of your travels.

Nick Berggreen

This was perhaps the best post I've read in the deluge of Jordan posts of late.

I'm glad to see there are people who have a larger world-view and shun the baseless fear of the Middle East.

jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Leslie, I appreciate that. Loved your piece and agree with you!

jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Doreen, clearly we are on the same page! ;)

jeanne @soultravelers3

Wow, thanks so much Nick, what a wonderful compliment!

I so agree with you!


Thanks for sharing your take on sponsored trips/travels/activities.

As usual... very wise ;-)

Hope you are now feeling better and that your digestives problems are on the way out.

Take care,


Jeanne @soultravelers3

I appreciate that Gabrielle! Many people think that a sponsored trip is a "freebie", but it's not.

It's a LOT of work to do a sponsored trip or sponsored anything and it is an exchange, not a freebie.

We think that should be a win/win for everyone, especially our readers, and done and chosen with great integrity.

Thankfully, my digestive issues are so much better now, so that makes me very happy. Europe seems better on my tummy than Asia for some reason.

It was a risk and more stressful taking the trips to Jordan and Bhutan with such a health issue, but thankfully it worked out well.


Great post! Great pictures and content but even greater for helping to break the grounds! We need more people like you and I to really affect change in this world and not corner people into stereotypes. Thanks!

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