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A Roadtrip Through Israel and Jordan
In October 2019, my friend, Ingrid, and I planned an unforgettable trip to Israel and Jordan. Traveling to this part of the world was on my bucket-list for quite some time. I longed to visit Petra, a famous ancient wonder of the world, and swim (or should I say, float!) in the Dead Sea.  If you’ve been dreaming of visiting the Middle East too, look no further. I compiled the logistics from our trip in one post for your convenience. Ingrid and I traveled to both Israel and Jordan, crossing their border by land and renting a car to explore the area on our own home-made itinerary.

A Roadtrip Through Israel and Jordan

Written by Megan Marie

In
In October 2019, my friend, Ingrid, and I planned an unforgettable trip to Israel and Jordan. Traveling to this part of the world was on my bucket-list for quite some time. I longed to visit Petra, a famous ancient wonder of the world, and swim (or should I say, float!) in the Dead Sea.  If you’ve been dreaming of visiting the Middle East too, look no further. I compiled the logistics from our trip in one post for your convenience. Ingrid and I traveled to both Israel and Jordan, crossing their border by land and renting a car to explore the area on our own home-made itinerary.

Our Itinerary

Ingrid and I built a whirlwind itinerary and incorporated visiting these two neighboring countries in one, quick week. We arrived Friday and departed the following Monday, which gave us a total of 11 days to explore.

Ideally, we could’ve spent at least two full days in each place we visited, but with limited vacation days and time, we opted to make the most of our trip and squeeze in as much as possible!

  • Day 1: Departure and next day arrival in Tel Aviv, Israel (overnight in Tel Aviv)
  • Day 2: Full day in Tel Aviv (overnight in Tel Aviv)
  • Day 3: Early morning departure from Tel Aviv and arrival in Jerusalem for a day of exploration (overnight in Jerusalem)
  • Day 4: Depart Jerusalem to the Jordanian border, pick up rental car after crossing the border and drive to the Dead Sea (overnight in Dead Sea hotel)
  • Day 5: Depart from the Dead Sea and drive to Petra (overnight in Petra)
  • Day 6: Full day in Petra! (overnight in Petra)
  • Day 7: Half day in Petra then drive to Aqaba (overnight in Aqaba)
  • Day 8: Depart Aqaba and drive to Wadi Rum (overnight in Wadi Rum)
  • Day 9: Full day in Wadi Rum
  • Day 10: Depart Wadi Rum and drive to Amman (overnight in Amman)
  • Day 11: Departure from Amman airport in the early morning

Visas

If you are a US citizen and plan to travel to Israel as a tourist for less than 90 days, you do not need a visa. However, you must obtain a tourist visa to travel to Jordan. To obtain a tourist visa for Jordan, you have two options:

  1. Visa on Arrival
  2. Applying for a visa ahead of time

Because Ingrid and I were pressed for time, we did not want to send our passports to the US embassy for a visa, so we opted to obtain a visa on arrival at the Israel/Jordan border. We also knew a visa on arrival was the best and easiest option to have our Jordan tourist visa fee waived by our purchase of the Jordan Pass, an all-inclusive ticket that grants you entry into 36 tourist sites in Jordan and covers your visa fee (more on this below).

Jordan Tourist Visa On Arrival Options

If you chose to obtain a visa on arrival, you can acquire one at the following ports of entry:

  • By Air:
    • Queen Alia International Airport in Amman (in the North of Jordan)
    • King Hussein International Airport in Aqaba (in the South of Jordan)
  • By land:
    • Beit She’an/Sheikh Hussein Border (in the North of Jordan)
    • Wadi Araba/Yitzhak Rabin Border (in the South of Jordan)

Please note: you CANNOT obtain a visa on arrival at Allenby/King Hussein Bridge border crossing. However, if you obtained a tourist visa for Jordan from your embassy ahead of time, you can travel through any of the border crossings.

If you plan on flying in/out of Jordan and visiting Israel via a day trip or longer, I suggest obtaining a multiple-entry or double-entry tourist visa upon arrival in Jordan. A single entry visa in Jordan cost approximately 40 JOD (~$56.50), a double-entry visa costs 60 JOD ($85) and a multiple entry cost 120 JOD ($170).

*However, if you buy the Jordan Pass (see section below for more details), your visa entry is waived!

Because we didn’t have enough time to obtain a visa ahead of time and only needed to cross into Jordan once, we opted to obtain a single entry visa on arrival at the Beit She’an/Sheikh Hussein Border.

We found out after we planned our trip route that the border closest to Jerusalem, Allenby/King Hussein Bridge, does not issue visa on arrivals. So we were forced to take a bus three hours north of Jerusalem, to the Beit She’an Border, to obtain a visa on arrival. This was unfortunate because the Allenby Border crossing is so close to Jerusalem!

If you need a more holistic view on the various border crossings and the experience coming from Israel into Jordan (or vice versa), check out Against the Compass’s blog post. Ingrid and I used her blog post to learn all about the border crossing experience when planning our trip.

Floating In The Dead Sea

Vaccines

Aside from your routine vaccines, the CDC recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine for most travelers in Israel. Check out CDC recommendations for Israel here.

For Jordan, it is recommended you have your routine vaccines and Hep A as well as typhoid. Check out the CDC recommendation for Jordan here

Flights

Ingrid and I each booked multi-city itineraries after deciding we wanted to visit both Israel and Jordan. Although the two neighboring countries are very close, flights between them are expensive. This is why we decided we will cross into Jordan from Israel by land instead of air.

Ingrid snagged a multi-city itinerary for around $800 from NYC. 

Her route was as follows: NYC – Istanbul – Tel Aviv and departed Amman – Istanbul – NYC.

I was already traveling Europe at the time and stationed in London, which made for a five hour flight to the Middle East as opposed to an overnight flight from the U.S. I flew direct into Tel Aviv from London and my return ticket was from Amman to Krakow, Poland. Since I was traveling, I wasn’t tied to returning to a particular city and found the cheapest fare instead.

While monitoring flights from the United States, Ingrid and I noticed flights with one stop from NYC hovered around $800+. From Texas, they ranged anywhere from $800 – $1,000+ depending on departure city. 

Floating in the Dead Sea in Jordan

It’s important to know and accept upfront that the Middle East is expensive, especially Tel Aviv, Israel.

Accommodation

It’s important to know and accept upfront that the Middle East is expensive, especially Tel Aviv, Israel. I compare Tel Aviv prices to those similar to New York City or Los Angeles. It was very hard to find an affordable hotel in a good location for under $250.

Since we were on a budget, Ingrid and I opted to stay at the Abraham Hostel chain in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Abraham Hostels are very nice and provide all of the great, standard hostel amenities (like free walking tours, free breakfast, etc.). We snagged a private room which felt more like a safe, low-budget hotel than a hostel which made for a great bargain!

In Israel, we stayed at:

In Jordan, we stayed at hotels and found the following accommodation to be great value:

  • Dead Sea: Crown Plaza Dead Sea
    • I recommend staying at a hotel along the Dead Sea for a more private swimming experience.
  • Petra: Petra Bedouin Bed and Breakfast
    • Ingrid and I learned very quickly (and regrettably) that October is a popular month to visit Petra because of the weather. That said, all of the Petra hotels booked up quickly and we were left with very little options.
    • We stumbled upon a quaint Bed and Breakfast, run by a couple named Joy and Hammound. This B&B was like finding a treasure in the middle of the desert (quite literally!) I highly recommend it!
  • Aqaba: Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla
  • Wadi Rum Desert: Hasan Zawaideh Camp
    • This luxury desert camp in the middle of the Wadi Rum and offers incredible “martian bubble tents”
  • Amman: Amman Rotana
Sunset in Wadi Rum Desert
The gorgeous alleyways of Old Java in Tel Aviv
Camel's inside Petra's Lost City
Ingrid & I admiring Petra's Treasury from above
Exploring the Lost City of Petra
Enjoying our accommodation along the Dead Sea

Costs

In total, our 11 day trip to these two incredible countries totaled to about $1,577:

  • Flights: varies but mine was about $400
  • Accommodation: $600 total
  • Rental Car: $116 each for the week
  • Visa at Jordan Border: $56.50
  • Jordan Pass: $105
  • Excursions/food/other: $300 or less

Other Helpful Tips

Overtime, I will share more details on each of our unique accommodation experiences and our itinerary details. For now, I thought I’d list a few tips to help you form your own itinerary and learn from our mistakes.

The Jordan Pass

The Jordan Pass is an inclusive ticket that covers your visa cost and entry into 36 tourist sites around Jordan, including Petra. The price varies slightly based on how many days you want to visit Petra, but is of great value regardless.

The Jordan Pass is about $100. Seeing that your Tourist Visa is approximately $56.50 and entry to Petra is $127 for a day pass, the Jordan pass pays for itself and more.

Please note: you have to purchase your Jordan Pass online before travelling to Jordan and you can buy it here.

Rental Car Details

It was extremely easy and safe to rent and drive a car through Jordan. I know you may be thinking otherwise, seeing that we are two young women driving through the Middle East on our own.

However, Ingrid and I had no trouble at all and did not experience anything uncomfortable during our drive. Prior to deciding to rent a car, we did a lot of research on the best ways to travel throughout Jordan. Renting a car repeatedly came up on solo female traveler forums as a safe and affordable way to see the country. The roads were easy to navigate and well paved as well.

International Drivers License

If you plan on renting a car and driving through Jordan, I recommend obtaining an International Drivers License. You can obtain one of these licenses as long as you have a valid US driver’s license. I paid $20 for mine at the local AAA in Austin, but I know they sell them elsewhere.

*We were not asked to present our International Drivers license specifically but did so anyways.

Finding A Car Rental Company

We rented our car from Avis, a reputable car rental agency in the US. There were many other local agencies in Jordan that offered cheaper alternatives, but Ingrid and I wanted to go with a car rental company we knew the name of and had customer service in the states if we needed it. This was our personal preference.

Using Google Maps Offline

Whenever I visit a new country, I download the area on Google Maps offline. This allows you to use Google Maps without data or service! You can even use it while in airplane mode. This is essential if you:

  • Don’t have an international data plan
  • Don’t have service due traveling through remote areas

I have T-Mobile and have 2G of free International Data. However, speeds are extremely slow and even with this data, Jordan is a desert and driving through the remote parts of the country will inhibit your phone to work even on the best of international data plans.

Border Crossings

Remember, you cannot obtain a visa on arrival at the Allenby crossing (in the middle of Israel and Jordan). Make sure you incorporate this into your itinerary! I also strongly advise arriving at the border right when it opens to avoid crowds and long lines.

Prepare to be questioned at the Tel Aviv airport, especially if your heritage is from a particular country Israel has historical ties to. Ingrid’s father, for example, is from Armenia and she was questioned at the Tel Aviv airport for 3 hours! I had no issues getting through customs, but Ingrid did. 

Admiring Petra's Treasury

Ingrid & I admiring Petra’s Treasury

The people in both Jordan and Israel were incredibly welcoming and we had an amazing time. I encourage everyone to visit this historical part of the world.

In Retrospect

Our trip to such a historical and potentially turbulent part of the world as two, twenty-something females on our own seems crazy! However, I encourage you to keep an open mind and understand that these countries are not as they are portrayed in the media and if you do your research, plan ahead of time and understand the culture and customs of the country, you will have an amazing experience. Just be smart, safe, and avoid conflicting areas and you will be fine!

The people in both Jordan and Israel were incredibly welcoming and we had an amazing time. I encourage everyone to visit this historical part of the world. 

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3 Comments

  1. Sri

    Great post Megan!

    Reply
  2. kimbra Stokley

    Great website! Thanks for all the great information and look forward to reading more about all your adventures!

    Reply
    • Megan Marie

      Thank you Kimbra! I appreciate it and glad you find my information helpful!

      Reply

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