Is it Safe to Travel to Cuba?

The Republic of Cuba, comprising the island of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos, is found in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean meet. Its main island, Cuba, is the largest in the Caribbean and the second-most populous with over eleven million inhabitants.

Cuba has been inhabited for thousands of years, first by the Ciboney Taíno people until Spanish colonization in the 15th Century. It remained a colony of Spain until 1898 when it was occupied by the United States, gaining nominal independence as a de facto United States protectorate in 1902. Cuba’s 20th Century history includes political radicalisation, social strife, coups and times under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Corruption and oppression led to Batista’s ousting in 1959 and communist rule being established under Fidel Castro. Since 1965, the state has been governed by the Communist Party of Cuba.

Due to its varied history, Cuba is a diverse country and its culture has been influenced by customs from across the globe. Its primary influences are of Spanish and African in origin. Cuba is considered part of Latin America.

Much of Cuba’s reputation is built on its kind, friendly people with warm, beaming smiles. It has unique flora and fauna, including the Cuban crocodile, over 350 species of bird and over 100 species of palm trees of which one, the Royal Palm, is a national symbol. The country’s natural beauty extends to its famous beaches. With over 3,500 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the beaches are known for varying in colours, from brilliant white to volcanic black, and for the pristine clear waters lapping gently over them.

For a relatively small country, Cuba is brimming with World Heritage Sites, fine architecture and world-renowned sights. From Old Havana and its fortifications to the stunning and graceful city centre of Cienfuegos, which features French-inspired architecture, Cuba is overflowing with staggering history and beauty. Classic American cars are a common and sought-after sight, while its music is known across the globe and a sound synonymous with the country.

Cuba’s fame is further boosted by its exports. Believed to be among the very best in the world, Cuban cigars are renowned worldwide for their quality. Rum has through history been a hugely important product of the country and continues to contribute significantly to the economy. Its reputation is built on it being lighter, smoother and crisper than other rums in the Caribbean and it is further enhanced by its use in cocktails. Mojitos, daiquiris, the Cuba Libre and the canchánchara have all made a name for themselves around the world in more recent years, though their popularity in Cuba stretches back centuries.

havana-cuban band

 

Health Concerns in Cuba

If you are travelling to Cuba, it is really important to be aware of the health risks and the relevant vaccinations that will protect you during your visit. Immunisation jabs or boosters may be required, so it is vital that you check any requirements and suggestions in advance.

A fantastic place to start looking when considering your trip and the requirements before you travel is the NHS-run Fit for Travel website. The site features a breakdown of different diseases, the risks associated with it and recommendations for how you should protect yourself.

Anyone travelling to Cuba should be up to date with the vaccines recommended in the UK. Included are vaccines for measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and diptheria-tetanus-polio. Anyone with specific medical needs, or who may be at increased risk due to their work or lifestyle choices should consult their doctor for additional information.

Most travellers to the country should be vaccinated against tetanus, while hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid vaccines are recommended for some travellers, mainly where underlying health conditions, work, accessibility to treatment or lifestyle choices are more likely to pose a risk to an individual should an illness be contracted. It is of utmost importance that you seek advice on this from your doctor before travelling. A comprehensive list can also be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre site.

Malaria is not normally present in Cuba, unless contracted abroad, but there is a threat of Zika virus and Dengue fever, both for which there is no vaccine. Therefore, precautions must be taken to avoid mosquito bites. The mosquitos that are responsible for Zika and Dengue are known to bite during the day and frequent urban areas, but it is good practice to be prepared at any time of day.

If you will be needing prescription medicine during your trip, you should check the legalities of the medicines you will be taking in Cuba and ensure you have a copy of a letter from your doctor explaining your condition. As many medicines are unavailable in Cuba, if you need over-the-counter medicines, you should first check the most up-to-date advice, then consider taking enough with you to last the duration of your trip.

Medical facilities in Havana are superior to other areas of the country, but specialist treatment may still require evacuation. Any treatment can quickly become very expensive, particularly if involving a stay in hospital, and often the cost may need to be covered prior to action being taken. Medical assistance can be sought through the emergency ambulance number 104. It is vital that you purchase comprehensive travel insurance prior to your trip to ensure you are covered even in worst-case scenarios.

beach cuba

Food and Water

Cuba is a culinary delight with delicious food and exquisite smells. As with many countries around the world, food is an integral part of getting to know the culture and adds to your experience immeasurably. Cuba is home to many unique, memorable dishes and following simple advice allows you to enjoy them safely.

Unfortunately, Cuba’s hot, rainy climate is not only an attraction for visiting tourists, but the ideal conditions for bacteria, viruses and pathogens to flourish. It is extremely important to avoid unwashed, unpeeled fruit and vegetables, raw eggs, undercooked foods and unpasteurised dairy products. While street vendors look appealing and may smell incredible, their standards for cleanliness will be far below those of reputable restaurants and should, therefore, be avoided.

Eating at well-known, respectable restaurants is likely to be a safer option, particularly if they are used to catering for tourists. If you are preparing meals yourself, ensure you thoroughly cook your food and use equipment that has been well cleaned prior to starting. It is also a good idea to carry products like hand-sanitiser with you at all times. Making sensible and careful choices about the foods you eat will help to ensure you have a healthy and happy visit.

Due to an ageing infrastructure, Cuba’s tap water is not safe for tourists to drink. Bottled water is commonly available in areas popular with tourists, and many hotels will have it available for sale. Even tap water that is perfectly safe for locals has been known to cause illness in tourists, so it is best to refrain from drinking tap water anywhere. If you are aware that you will be travelling to an area not frequently visited by tourists, or where bottled water may be hard to come by, it is important that you look at alternatives before travelling, such as a bottle with a built-in filter.

General hygiene measures, such as regularly washing your hands, will also help to reduce the likelihood of illness, and packing medicines that can help should you be unfortunate is always advisable.

eggs ham cuban bread

Crime

Crime levels in Cuba are considered low and gun crime is virtually non-existent. The Cuban government does not release specific crime figures. Car-related crime and muggings have been known to take place from time to time and precautions should be made to reduce the risk of this. Travelling with a reputable tour operator and only using licensed taxis are measures that can be taken to increase your safety. Pickpockets and bag-snatchers may frequent areas popular with tourists, so be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and, where possible, leave expensive items in a safe place. Carry a copy of your passport rather than the original and be aware that hi-tech items, such as phones and computers, are highly sought-after by Cuban criminals.

Cuba is a one-party state and there is a high level of social control and strong police presence. Freedom of speech is restricted somewhat, and you should avoid demonstrations or large public gatherings.

Driving standards are variable and strict laws exist. If you are driving and involved in a serious accident, you could be subject to an investigation that may take months to complete. You may not be allowed to leave the country during this time.

havana-street

Terrorism Risks

There is no recent history of terrorist attacks in Cuba, although such attacks can never be ruled out. Travellers should be vigilant at all times.

Family Travel Safety (Cuba with Kids)

Cuba is an astonishing destination for anyone and this is particularly true for children. It is famous for its fascinating culture and has a deeply rich history, so it is an amazing experience for young travellers. Lacking in the advanced technology that they may be used to, it is an opportunity for them to reconnect with the world itself and delve deep into areas of life they may not be as exposed to at home.

Warm, welcoming and with activities to excite and entertain children, Cuba is a destination that should appeal to families. Its low crime level and relatively low threat from mosquitoes given its climate make the focus always turn to the people and their hearty smiles rather than anything problematic. Beaches, watersports and wildlife spotting are activities that can easily be enjoyed by all the family too.

Cuba’s care for children is evident in its education system, with an enviable system in place that has led to exceptional literacy rates among the country’s adults. This heartfelt approach extends to visitors, who are always appreciated and welcomed.

One thing to consider prior to travelling is what provisions you will need for your children. Specific items considered necessary in other countries may not be available for purchase, and the food may be very different from what your children are used to. If you know that this is likely to cause problems for your children, it is best to prepare in advance and consider what you can take with you rather than assuming that you will be able to purchase things once in the country.

Family Travel Safety (Cuba for Women)

From a safety perspective, Cuba is as good as it gets when travelling abroad, especially for women. Chivalrous machismo means that men will want to take care of women and will go out of their way to protect and help females. However, the excess of this, is that Cuban men can pursue women relentlessly. While local women may be used to this and give back as good as they get, this can be quite a shock to women not used to such forwardness. Ignoring such comments can be a start, but there is no substitute for learning some phrases in Spanish that can make your position crystal clear.

Typical tactics such as wearing plain and modest clothing will also help. If you are interacting with locals, such as through dancing or conversation, do not be afraid to make them aware of what is and what is not acceptable. However, Cuba is not a typical travel spot and is not a common spot for solo travellers. For this reason, there are few hostels and therefore fewer travellers in a similar position to keep you company.

Female sanitary products are not easily accessible in Cuba and some, such as tampons, are non-existent. It is, therefore, important that they feature on your ‘to pack’ list and are not forgotten.

cuban woman in doorway

Tips for Staying Safe in Cuba

• Buy the Right Insurance

It is obligatory for foreign travellers to Cuba to have medical insurance, so you must purchase a policy before travelling and ensure you have proof of this if it is requested upon arrival.

Furthermore, you should make sure that your policy covers you for any activities that you are planning on doing while in the country. Some policies may have exclusions, while you may find one that is better suited to your needs through more extensive research.

Remember to purchase a policy that covers you for medical evacuation should it be required. If you are travelling between June and November, Cuba’s hurricane season, ensure you are covered for any possibilities that may entail from being caught up in a natural disaster.

• Learn the Language and Customs

Cuba is quite a unique country and will in many great ways be so different from your homeland. However, this means it is vital that you learn some of the customs before travelling and that you ensure you will not accidentally involve yourself in something that could cause you bother.

Seeking up to date advice is always a good thing to do. More than this, it is a good introduction to what you can expect during your visit.

Cubans are renowned for being friendly people. Making the effort to speak to them in their language, even if you are limited, will always be well-received and appreciated. As well as this, learning particular phrases prior to your visit will help you in certain situations and will avoid ambiguity.

• Travelling Around

The roads in Cuba are not renowned for their safety. Laws can be strict around drivers, and while it is possible to drive on a UK Passport for six months, the conditions are likely to be very different from what you are used to. Rented cars have also been known to be targeted by criminals looking to take possessions off people.

Licensed taxis are generally a reliable method of getting around. You are advised against walking to and from places after dark.

A safe way to travel is with a reputable tour operator who will be able to inform you directly with good ideas, safety tips and things to avoid. It is important to remember that Cuba has a very good record of safety for travellers, but accidents and unfortunate events can happen, so you should guard against complacency, be vigilant and ensure that your trip is remembered for all of the incredible things that you will be doing!

If you’re travelling to Cuba, then stay safe and give yourself peace of mind with a comprehensive travel insurance policy with Navigator Travel Insurance.

Is it Safe to Travel to Kenya?

Kenya is a country that features close to the top of any nature or wildlife lover’s bucket list. And this is with good reason. Home to around 60 National Parks and Reserves, beautiful beaches and world-renowned scenery, Kenya is a destination that can change a person’s perspective on the whole world.

Officially the Republic of Kenya, it has the largest economy in eastern and central Africa. Tourism is a major economic driver, along with agriculture, tea and coffee and a blossoming fresh flower export trade.

Sadly, Kenya isn’t without its troubles. It has a volatile relationship with its neighbour, Somalia, and the country’s crime rate, on the whole, is considered high. This does include attacks targeted towards tourists, particularly car-jackings and increasingly common ‘snatch and run’ robberies. 

While this may seem concerning, close to 200,000 British tourists visit Kenya each year, with most leaving having had trouble-free and highlight-filled visits. Tourists from Germany and the UK are most likely to visit the country, and with tourism playing a key role in the country’s economy, it is in their interest to ensure these visits are safe and memorable for all the right reasons.

With some of the most incredible sights in the world, it is impossible to rule Kenya out. Instead, through simple adaptations, careful consideration and well-researched planning, you can organise a trip to Kenya that is not only mesmerising at the time, but life-enhancing moving forwards.

Kenya Elephants Safari

Health Concerns in Kenya

It is very important that anyone travelling to Kenya is aware of the health risks and the relevant vaccinations that will protect them during their visit. Checks should be made well in advance of your trip to ensure that sufficient time is available for immunisation jabs to take place.

A fantastic place to start looking when considering your trip and the requirements before you travel is the NHS-run Fit for Travel website. The site features a breakdown of different diseases, the risks associated with it and recommendations for how you should protect yourself.

Anyone travelling to Kenya should be up-to-date on immunisation for hepatitis A, polio, tetanus and typhoid. It is likely that you have already been vaccinated against some, if not all of these diseases, but it is vital that you check with your health advisor before your trip so that you can be confident that you are properly prepared.

Some travellers, depending on what they are doing or the specific areas that they will be travelling to, may require further immunisations. A comprehensive list can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre site. Suggestions include protection against cholera, hepatitis B, meningococcal disease, rabies, tuberculosis and yellow fever.

Malaria is a threat in Kenya and can be very serious, even fatal. While there is no vaccination, precautions can be taken to reduce the risk. It is spread by mosquito bites, so covering up skin with clothing or using insect repellent on exposed areas are essential measures. Sleeping under a mosquito net is a very sensible precaution. Seeking medical treatment swiftly is vital if symptoms do occur, and be aware that malaria can develop many months after exposure.

Travel Insurance that covers you in the event of an accident or illness in Kenya is vital. In major cities, private healthcare is well respected and reputable, so, if possible, find insurance that will cover you for this. It is also advisable that your insurance covers you for evacuation in the unlikely event that your health needs greater care and attention.

Mosquito Protection

Food and Water

Irrespective of where you are travelling in the world, food and drink are a huge part of the experience and embracing the culture. Kenya is no different, and many traditional dishes will be commonly found wherever you are in the country. 

Typically, Kenyans will eat three meals a day and break during the morning and afternoon for tea. Githeri and Ugali are Kenyan staples, while meat, stews and potatoes are also very common. More recently, cheese has grown in popularity in Kenya, predominantly among the middle-class people.

As with any country around the world, caution should be taken when it comes to eating and drinking. If you are planning on eating like a local or at unfamiliar restaurants, be sure to take care and do your research. 

Make sure that food is well cooked and hot when you eat it. Fruit, nuts or vegetables with a protective layer that you can peel and prepare yourself are ideal. If you are eating out, make sure you are satisfied that any fruit or vegetables have been properly treated before your meal.

Stay clear of any food that you are unsure of its preparation or care, unwashed or unpeeled vegetables and unpasteurised dairy products. If in doubt of anything, it is best to show caution and choose something else, as illness from food can be extremely serious and will, at the very least, reduce the enjoyment of your trip.

It is always best to drink bottled water in Kenya (be sure to check the seal is unbroken). Tap water is unsafe and should not be drunk or used for brushing your teeth. If there is no alternative, make sure it is either filtered and treated, or boiled first and left to cool. Avoid unpasteurised milk and juices, and don’t drink beverages with ice in.

Nairobi Kenya Food and Fruit

Crime

Most visits to Kenya are trouble-free and leave tourists with an enviable experience to cherish for life. However, it cannot be ignored that the country does have a high crime rate and that tourists can be a target for criminals.

Crime rates are high in all regions, but particularly in the larger cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa. Coastal beach resorts are also common areas for criminals to operate. Attacks can include car-jackings or bag snatches, while pickpocketing in populated areas like travel stations is rife.

Vigilance, self-awareness and blending in with the culture are effective methods to help avoid being a victim of crime. Always keep watch over your belongings and remain aware of your surroundings. Don’t wear expensive jewellery, or flash valuables. If possible, dress modestly like a local and avoid standing out as a tourist as much as possible. Avoid carrying large sums of money and, where possible, carry the money in different places, such as a concealed money belt and different zipped-up pockets.   

Educate yourself prior to your visit on local police customs and be wary of thieves posing as police officers or security guards. Scams are common, so be cautious of people telling sad stories in an attempt to make you part with money. Although some may sadly be true, this is a common technique used by criminals. Never accept food or drink from a stranger, as druggings have been known to take place so that possessions can then be stolen. Do not walk around after dark and stay in well-populated areas. Trustworthy local people, such as hotel staff and police officers, can help with advice on keeping yourself safe in different areas.

Be sure to take out comprehensive travel insurance before travelling so that there is no need to resist an attack and put yourself at risk. If you are the unfortunate victim of an attack, do not resist. Sentimental or irreplaceable belongings are best left at home or in a safe place and not taken out during your visit.

Nairobi Crowded Streets in Kenya

Terrorism Risks

It is considered very likely by the British government that terrorists will try to carry out attacks in Kenya. The heightened threat comes after a number of attacks over the last few years, with military bases, shopping malls and hotels among the places targeted. 

Travel close to the Somalian border is strongly advised against. Much of the terrorist threat in Kenya is from Al Shabaab, a militant Somalian group opposed to the Somalian government. They have made threats against Kenya due to Kenya’s military interventions in Somalia.

Kenya’s authorities have increased security as a result of terrorist threats. Tourism is an integral part of Kenya’s economy and accounts for a significant percentage of jobs, so it is vitally important to the country that they make tourists feel welcome and safe.

Kidnapping and ransoming are techniques that have been used by terrorists in the country.

Following the most up-to-date advice and reporting suspicious activity to local police will help to make visits safer for tourists. Vigilance and avoiding known crime and terrorist hotspots are further safety measures. Large gatherings or protests should be avoided as these can quickly turn and are a clear target for people wishing to cause trouble or harm. 

It is always good to be prepared for any possible issue, so make sure your travel insurance covers you for any eventuality and that you will be able to get home in the event that you are caught up in something.

Family Travel Safety (Kenya with Kids)

Kenya is an enthralling destination for travellers of all ages. Although it may not be one that jumps out straight away for families looking to travel, it is one that the children will certainly thank you for later.

A whole host of activities, from safaris to white water rafting, waterfalls to snorkelling, make the country an adventure-filled paradise where every minute can be covered with activities if that’s your wish.

Kenyans are well known for making their visitors feel welcome and this is especially true of children for whom they will often go out of their way to make feel special. Many destinations in Kenya, such as the Masai Mara or the Southern Rift Valley are used to having young visitors and are therefore set up to accommodate them. Be confident in that, wherever you head, the whole family will have a stunning experience from beginning to end. 

Children in Kenya

Family Travel Safety (Kenya for Women)

Kenya is a safe place for female travellers, both in groups and individually, particularly in the common tourist hotspots such as safari regions. In day-to-day life, you are likely to encounter Kenyans who are respectful, friendly and helpful.

However, there are common precautions that should be taken. Taxis from trusted sources are an effective way of travelling around, and much safer than walking between venues at night. Avoid drinking alone in bars, as this can lead to persistent hassling. If this does occur, turn down and refuse all offers, and never accept a drink from a stranger.

Modest dress with shoulders and legs covered is advised. If you are a lone female traveller, avoid long stretches on the beach if you want to avoid hassle as this can attract unwanted attention.

Discrimination, around both gender and race, can be common in some areas of the country. It is always worth taking precautions and following advice from trusted sources in your local area as to local customs.

Woman driving in Kenya

Tips for Staying Safe in Kenya

Buy the Right Insurance

Make certain that you have the right travel insurance for what you will be doing during your visit to Kenya. Some activities that are possible in Kenya, and that will truly enhance your experience, may not be covered by a standard insurance policy. 

Check your policy carefully to see if there are any exemptions, such as places that will invalidate your insurance. If in any doubt, clarify this before you travel. 

Make sure that you are covered for emergency evacuation should expert medical attention be required.

Learn the Language and Customs

Kenya is a very diverse country with many different communities and languages spoken. Because of this, it isn’t possible to learn everything about the country or language before heading on your visit.

However, learning a little bit of the local language for where you are staying will go a long way. Most people you encounter will speak English, but traditionally they will speak in their mother tongue in their communities. Making an effort to learn just a few phrases will show respect and consideration.

It is also important that you research what may or may not be acceptable in your chosen destination, as again this can vary across the country. Take care to show respect and modesty in your clothing and actions. Be sensitive to people’s religion and avoid political discussions. Even if you disagree with some of the traditions you encounter, ensure you are respectful at all times.

If you are ever unsure, seek advice from a trusted source. Hotel staff, tour operators and the police are usually good sources of information and can advise you appropriately. Remember to be vigilant and self-aware.

Kenya Masai Mara Tribe

Respect Wildlife

Stunningly beautiful and one of the main reasons to visit, but fiercely dangerous. Use reputable companies for tours and safaris, listen to instructions and abide by laws and regulations.

Under no circumstances should you take a risk for that perfect picture, or seek to create your own interaction with the animals. The rules are there because they protect lives.

Keep your wits about you as wild animals are found all around Kenya, not just in the parks. While most animals won’t attack unprovoked, it is not always possible to tell what might be spooking them, or what you may be standing between. Take great care where you go, and never swim in inland waters where crocodiles may inhabit the waters. Some areas may be designated as nature trails where you can leave your vehicle. If this is not the case, then do not leave the vehicle!

Remember also that many people’s livelihoods depend on wildlife in Kenya. Be considerate and respectful of this fact. Kind words, praise and a thankful attitude will go a long way towards showing them that their work is appreciated.

Giraffes Amboselli in Kenya

 

If you’re travelling to Kenya, then stay safe and give yourself peace of mind with a comprehensive travel insurance policy with Navigator Travel Insurance

 

Is it Safe to Travel to Jordan?

Jordan is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Middle East. It’s a beautiful country of contrasting landscapes and cosmopolitan cities, a place where ancient ruins are hidden by deserts and fantastic dive sites await you underwater.

But while Jordan is one of the most stable countries in the region, its geopolitical location in the centre of an at times unstable part of the world, leads many travellers to shy away from visiting.

That shouldn’t be the case. Despite being bordered by Iraq and Syria, and despite having a less than friendly history with neighbouring Israel, Jordan is a perfectly safe place to visit.

Of course, there are different laws and customs to follow and certain border areas to keep a distance from. To help you to plan your next trip, here’s everything you need to know about staying safe when you’re travelling to Jordan.

Jordan architecture and Ruins

Health Concerns in Jordan

The first thing to point out to would-be travellers is that it’s important to be up to date on any vaccinations you might need before departing on your trip to Jordan.

It’s highly recommended that you keep up to date on the best information available, as things can change quickly anywhere in the world. The first place to check is the NHS website, where you’ll find expert and up-to-date medical information. You’ll also want to check the Fit For Travel Website, which offers excellent insights into both health and safety and the vaccination requirements in Jordan.

Book an appointment with your local GP or travel nurse who will both be able to give you the up-to-date information you need before departing for Jordan, as well any vaccinations or boosters you require before your trip. It’s best to begin this process several months before departure, as you might need to wait for some vaccinations.

Minimum requirements for your trip to Jordan will be vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, typhoid, polio and diphtheria, which most people will generally be up to date with anyway. Rabies can be a problem in rural areas, so it might be wise to consider the rabies vaccination if you’re planning on travelling away from major tourist sites and cities.

Healthcare isn’t generally free in Jordan, and all hospitalisation will require payment. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have up-to-date travel insurance that covers you for any potential medical emergency or illnesses that might arise when you are in the country. Costs can quickly mount up in an emergency, so make sure that you have adequate cover.

Jordan is a country of contrasts. While medical facilities in the capital Amman are in most cases superb as they are in tourist centres such as Aqaba on the Red Sea, in more rural areas they can be somewhat lacking. Make sure that any travel insurance policy you take out for your trip to Jordan covers you in more remote areas, and allows for evacuation to a major city if you plan on travelling to remote destinations.

Jordan is also a popular diving destination, as the country has a short Red Sea coastline and access to spectacular dive sites. If you’re planning on going scuba diving while in Jordan, then make sure you dive to your qualifications and abilities, and make sure that your travel insurance covers you. Check your depths and limits, or you might find that you are not insured when it comes to the worst. Aqaba is the dive centre of Jordan, and there are great medical facilities available here if you are involved in an accident.

The biggest problem that tourists encounter in Jordan though, is usually the heat. Don’t underestimate the sun, because this is a dry and arid country in the Middle East. You can eliminate the danger of sunstroke or heat exhaustion by timing your visit. Don’t visit in summer, and instead plan your trip for the much cooler and more pleasant winter months. Stay hydrated and avoid hiking in the middle of the day, particularly in desert areas such as Wadi Rum.

Diving Red Sea

Food and Water

For travellers visiting Jordan, it’s also important to know about any health and safety issues that might arise when it comes to the food and water situation in the country.

Jordan has a rich culinary tradition that goes back centuries, and that draws on influences from across the region. Certain dishes might be familiar from across the Middle East, but in Jordan, they are served in a distinctly local style, and you can find variants on the likes of falafel and shawarma and everything else in between.

In fact, Jordan is a great country for foodies, be you a meat-eater or a vegetarian, and there’s little to worry about when it comes to food safety. In Amman and other cities like Aqaba, food hygiene standards are high, and you can’t go wrong when you’re eating out in restaurants or at hotels.

Some of the best food in Jordan however is the street food or local fast food. This is where you’ll find the best shawarma and falafel. Luckily, the preparation processes for dishes like falafel ensure that it’s difficult to get ill from, and they’re usually prepared and deep fried right in front of you.

As with anywhere in the world though, if the restaurant or fast food shop doesn’t seem hygienic for any reason, then simply give it a miss and move onto the next. If there’s no one eating there, then you might want to move onto somewhere busier too. Noting where the locals eat is always a good indicator.

In the cities tap water is safe to drink, which means you don’t need to worry much about fresh fruits and salads being prepared with tap water. It’s all generally safe and you’ll have to be unlucky to get ill. You can stay extra safe though by avoiding tap water if you think it might unsettle your stomach as you’re not used to the mineral content. You can bring along a refillable water bottle and make use of refill stations or, better yet, bring along a bottle with a purifier and simply filter tap water.

There are some great restaurants, both local and international, and plenty of excellent dishes to try across the country. There’s no need to fear the food or drink while you’re travelling in Jordan.

Shawarma

Crime

Jordan is a welcoming and hospitable country, and crime levels are generally very low. For visitors, the chances of being a victim of crime are hardly worth worrying about. It’s incredibly rare to be caught up in something untoward.

Petty theft can occur, as it does anywhere in the world, so keep an eye on your valuables and keep anything important locked away in your hotel room. More serious crime isn’t generally an issue either.

One problem that can affect travellers, although it’s very unlikely, is if you’re travelling in remote areas. Tribal and feudal lines are very important in Jordan, and issues are often solved by families without getting the authorities involved. While tourists won’t directly have a problem, they can become caught in between two feuding sides, so keep a close eye on local politics and customs when travelling.

Terrorism Risks

Despite being surrounded by countries that seem to be perpetually at war either with themselves or their neighbours, Jordan is a country that’s incredibly peaceful and stable.

This might be the Middle East and this might be a country that shares borders with Iraq, Syria and Israel, but there’s a relatively low chance of terrorist attacks occurring in the country. Security is kept tight in the cities and at tourist attractions. But of course, don’t let your guard down and always keep abreast of the news.

Given the country’s location, politics can cause rapid changes and conflict can arise quickly and suddenly. For that reason, it’s best to keep away from the border with Syria, where conflict has been ongoing on the Syrian side for several years.

With tensions across other parts of the Middle East, such as in Iran for instance, British nationals always need to be aware that they might face dangers in other nearby countries, including Jordan. While this isn’t too much of a worry in Jordan itself, it always pays to be careful and to listen to the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, even if it’s just to make sure your insurance will still be valid.

Family Travel Safety (Jordan with Kids)

Traditionally, Jordan hasn’t been seen as a family travel destination, but things are changing as the country becomes better known to travellers. It’s becoming increasingly apparent how easy and safe it is to visit.

Jordanians are welcoming to families with young children, and they’ll go out of their way to ensure you have a smooth trip and get all the assistance you might need. Family is a big deal in Jordan, so you can rest assured that it will be easy to travel around with kids.

If you are travelling as a family then try to avoid the heat of the summer, as it will be uncomfortable for young kids not used to scorching hot temperatures. Even in winter, it can be hot, so make sure you bring along plenty of sunscreen and keep the kids covered up (as well as the adults, of course).

Children will love all the traditional Jordanian sights, such as the ruins of Petra, while in Amman there’s even a Children’s Museum to visit. On the Red Sea coast, be careful when visiting the beaches and keep an eye on your children, just in case there are strong currents. For teenagers though, the Red Sea is a true adventure playground where you can swim and snorkel.

Petra Ruins Jordan

Family Travel Safety (Jordan for Women)

While most women will enjoy a friendly and hassle-free trip to Jordan, some solo female travellers might, unfortunately, face harassment from men in cities.

Jordan is a male-dominated society, while women are expected to behave conservatively. To avoid trouble, female travellers should research local traditions and dress modestly while they are in Jordan, even if they don’t always agree with the local customs.

Women in Jordan

Tips for Staying Safe in Jordan

Buy the Right Insurance

It’s incredibly important that you choose the right travel insurance before you depart. Everyone’s trip is different and you never know what might happen, so it always pays in the long run to be prepared for the worst eventuality.

You need to be sure that you’re covered for all eventualities, particularly if you are planning on partaking in a few adventure sports, such as hiking in the desert or scuba diving. Make sure you have adequate insurance for any sports that you’ll be doing in Jordan.

Learn the Language

The local language in Jordan is Arabic, and this is spoken by almost all Jordanians regardless of their race or ethnicity. Jordanian Arabic is the standard that you’ll find spoken in Amman and other cities, and the language that you’ll see written down and spoken on the television.

Various dialects exist outside of the cities though, with the most prominent and distinct being Bedouin Arabic, which is spoken by the semi-nomadic Bedouin tribes of the desert. While most Jordanians in the cities and in the tourism industry will speak English to a high level, it pays to at least try and learn a few words of Arabic. You’ll instantly endear yourself to the local population, and start to make many more positive connections.

Bedouin Tribe Man

Know the Laws

Jordan is a majority Muslim nation and the local laws and customs reflect this fact. To be safe, then make sure you keep informed of local laws that might differ from your home country.

What might seem normal at home, might be completely illegal in Jordan. To avoid unwanted trouble in an unfamiliar country, then learn the local laws and stick to them, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them.

If you’re travelling to Jordan, then stay safe and keep covered in the event of an accident by taking out a comprehensive travel insurance policy with Navigator Travel Insurance. Contact us today for a quote.