Desert essentials: Our definitive Jordan packing guide

written by James Shackell April 5, 2018
The Treasury, Petra

UPDATED: This blog was originally published on May 27, 2015. 

Jordan is hot by nature and conservative by inclination. Its capital Amman is a world away from the new-money glitz of Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but has a great cosmopolitan vibe, with cool cafes and art galleries popping up on the palm-studded boulevard of the aptly named Rainbow Street.

If you’re headed to the Middle East on a Jordan adventure, you need to pack for all conditions – burning sands, bustling souks and salty seas. So we thought we’d take the guesswork out of things with our definitive Jordan packing guide:

Climbing the stairs at Petra, Jordan

Photo by Jessica Carpenter



  • Wide-brimmed hat: Your entire head will thank you for it.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen: For obvious reasons.
  • Lightweight linen pants: For the sake of religious modesty, short shorts are a no no. Pack a pair of light, breathable pants instead (go for lighter colours to reflect the heat).
  • A lightweight jumper/sweater: Nights in Wadi Rum can get pretty cold, so pack a couple of lightweight tops you can layer if you get chilly.
  • Comfortable walking shoes: Petra is big. Very big. And if you want to get the most out of your adventure, you’ll want to explore as much of it as you can. If you’re the more active type, there are some challenging hikes you can do as well – ask your leader about the best ones.
  • T-shirts:T-shirts are acceptable, tank or halter tops not so much. The longer the sleeves, the better.
  • Your swimwear: No trip to Jordan is complete without a dip – well, float – in the Dead Sea, so don’t forget your swimwear. Towels are available to hire on the beach.


Wadi Rum desert camp

Photo by Jessica Carpenter

Highly recommended

  • A good moisturiser (and some lip balm too): The Dead Sea’s minerals are great for the skin, but they can dry it out in seconds. Some sort of moisturiser is highly recommended to avoid turning into a walking, talking sultana.
  • A travel towel: Our desert camps are probably not as basic as you may anticipate (they’ve got Western toilets AND showers). Pack a small travel towel if you feel like freshening up.
  • A sleeping bag (November to April): Blankets are provided, but it can get cold at night during winter, so it’s a good idea to bring a sleeping bag.
  • Portable charger: The camps we stay at in Wadi Rum are powered by generator and solar power, which means power may be intermittent during periods of low light. We recommend investing in a portable charger so you can charge your phone, kindle, camera batteries, etc before you head into the desert, rather than potentially relying on a non-existent power supply.
  • Water purification tablets: Water in the major cities is usually fine, but these will come in handy as you move through rural communities.
  • Wrap or headscarf: More for sun/sand protection than modesty reasons.
  • Mosquito repellent:There are a few mosquitos and other bitey things in Jordan. Ward them off with a good bug repellent.
  • Gloves and warm socks: For the chilly desert nights.


Overlooking The Treasury in Petra

Photo by Pocholo Calapre

Nice to have

  • A good book: Immerse yourself in a great novel. There’s no Wifi in our desert camps, so it’s also a good time for a digital detox (at least for a night or two).
  • Head torch: Good for finding the bathroom in Wadi Rum at night.
  • A sleep sheet: A nice to have. Non-essential. Up to you.
  • Tripod: If you’re a photographer keen to capture some killer shots of desert stars at night, pack a small tripod.
  • Insulated water bottle:You know buying bottled water is bad for the environment, so invest in a reusable bottle instead. A well-made insulated model will keep your water nice and cool too.
  • Earplugs: If you’re a light sleeper, earplugs are a good way to block out the early morning calls to prayer, or any snorers you might be sharing with.
  • Pocket air blower: Great for keeping sand particles out of your digital camera.

For a day at Petra

  • Money: Don’t leave home without it and there are plenty of vendors who will want to sell you something.  Just when you think you have found the perfect secluded spot, a local Bedouin will pop out of a cave with a refreshing cup of tea and a bit of a chat in exchange for a dinar or two.
  • Camera: And extra batteries to capture the moments.
  • Passport: Or a copy of your passport – there are local authorities doing their jobs to protect the site and its visitors, so you may get asked to produce identification.
  • Water: We recommend a 1.5 ltr insulated water bottle and then refill it as required from one of the vendors on site.  You need to keep hydrated at all times but where possible, we ask our travellers to say no to small single-use plastic bottles to protect the environment.
  • Snacks: There are food vendors on site, but if you are off on an extended hike or on a bit of budget then get your snacks before you enter the site.  You may not find the array of protein bars that you are used to at home, but there is an abundance of nuts and dried fruits from any of the markets in the centre of town.  Grab some pita bread and some fresh fruit and cake.  Remember it is likely to be hot, so pick snacks that can withstand the temperature.
  • Sunscreen: High protection sunscreen and your hat.  Wear a shirt preferably with a collar and consider a lightweight long sleeve one to keep the sun off.
  • Lightweight Jacket: It can get cold when the sun goes down or slips behind those glorious rose-colored mountains.
  • Scarf / Bandana: The best way to keep cool is to rinse your bandana and put around the back of your neck, catch a breeze and you have natural air-conditioning.
  • First Aid Kit: A basic travellers first aid kit; make sure it contains electrolytes and some good quality band-aids or blister gel packs.  You don’t want to ruin your day with a nasty blister.
  • Personal Hygiene: Better to carry some extra toilet tissue and a plastic bag to dispose of any tissue.  There are public toilets on site, but you can never find one when you really have to go.

All packed and ready to go? Check out our Jordan adventures here

Jordan packing guide Intrepid Travel

Feature photo by Richard Yoshida, Shutterstock. 


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