Sunday, December 4th, 2016

My Next Adventure: Adventurous Kate in the Middle East!

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Image: Maistora

Surprise!

My next travels will be taking me to a new region of the world:

The Middle East.

On November 11, immediately after the World Travel Market conference in London, I fly to the Kingdom of Jordan as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board.  I’m very much looking forward to seeing this beautiful country, and I know it will be a fantastic welcome to the Middle East!

On November 19, I fly straight to Istanbul, and will remain in Turkey until I fly back to the UK on December 9.

Image: druidaxux

Now, because I’m sure you’re all thinking it, here it is:

Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in the Middle East?

In parts of the Middle East, it’s as safe to travel as in Europe or North America.  Remember that the Middle East is an incredibly diverse region, and just because Syria is under fire right now and there are bombings in Gaza, these incidents are not representative of the Middle East as a whole.

That’s why I chose Jordan and Turkey.  Both of these countries are rich in the treasures that the Middle East has to offer — kind hospitality, spice markets, desert dunes, ancient cities — and unlike some of their neighbors, the regions I am visiting have no more war violence or terrorist activity than elsewhere in the Western world.

The most important thing that you can do is educate yourself.  Read everything you can — especially blogs of travelers who have been there recently (but cross-reference their points with other sources).  Learn the language and customs.  Dress appropriately.  Did you see Sex and the City 2 (terrible film, I know)?  Everything Samantha did — do the opposite.

And perhaps most importantly, follow the news, but take sensationalized media coverage with a grain of salt.  Know that if there’s violence or terrorist activity in a small region of a country (for example, the Sulu Archipelago in the Philippines), the entire country will be put on your country’s danger list.  You wouldn’t go into bad parts of a city late at night — exercise that same caution abroad.

As a solo female traveler who blogs about solo female travel, I will be making it my mission to tell you about what it’s really like to travel alone in the Middle East.

Image: druidaxux

In Jordan

My Jordan itinerary is still being finalized, but I can tell you that it will definitely include:

1) adventurous experiences that you can find nowhere else but Jordan

2) activities in Jordan that are great for solo female travelers

3) instances that will lead to self-deprecating comedy on my behalf.  See camels.

I definitely plan on visiting the ancient rose city of Petra lit up by candlelight, crossing the otherworldly valley of Wadi Rum, hopefully on a camel, and slathering myself with mud and floating in the Dead Sea.  And eating lots of delicious Jordanian food, of course!

Image: Vin60

In Turkey

Turkey, honestly, was a bit of a spontaneous choice, since I need to spend more time outside the UK, but it certainly wasn’t a random choice.  I’ve wanted to book holidays to Turkey for a long time, it’s a cheap country, it’s exciting, and since I could fly there directly from Jordan, it was a no-brainer!

For me, the musts in Turkey are the city of Istanbul and the Cappadocia region, covered with “fairy chimneys.”  Since it will be the off-season (and quite cold), I’m not as sure about visiting the coast.  If anything, I’ll probably drop by the seaside town of Fethiye.

I also grappled over whether to categorize Turkey as the Middle East or Europe on this site.  I asked my readers; they polled at about 50/50.  While Turkey may become part of the EU someday, and Istanbul is considered a European city by many, Turkey overall seems more culturally related to the Middle East — so I’ll bucket it into the Middle East for now.

So get ready for a new adventure!

Have any suggestions?  Leave them in the comments.  I can’t wait to share my adventures in the Middle East with all of you!

Comments

28 Responses to “My Next Adventure: Adventurous Kate in the Middle East!”
  1. Kristen says:

    Oh my goodness, Turkey is one of my favorite places in the world. I went there last January and will be going back again this January – and having traveled there in cold weather, I would recommend rockin’ a scarf-shawl 24/7 (keeps you warm and can be utilized to cover your head when going into mosques). Also, skinny jeans can be a questionable territory when going into mosques – I had a friend who had to wrap a shawl around her because her jeans were too tight. Finally, definitely carry around a pack of tissues for the bathroom – they are big fans of the squat ‘n’ shake. As for best places to party? Get lost in the side streets off Istiklal and Taksim Square 🙂

    ENJOY!!!

  2. Kelli Anne says:

    This is such an exotic place to me, I am really excited to see your travels!! I am sure you’re going to have some amazing pictures!!! : ) Good luck and have a blast!!

  3. AH! How exciting. I can’t wait to read about your experience traveling alone as a woman. You should consider visiting Dubai.

  4. Romana says:

    I don’t know about Jordan, but Turkey is an amazing country. I’m sure you will love it.
    But I must say I didn’t find it that cheap… well, maybe if you compare it to UK. Have fun!

  5. Leah says:

    I found Turkey to be such a laid-back, homey kind of place. I remember drinking apple tea, smoking hookah, and playing checkers with a young Turkish man in a random “cafe” sort of place. It was as if I were a guest in his house for board game night. That sort of natural, easy feeling permeated everything there. Please write lots and lots of posts about Turkey!!! 🙂

  6. Jealousss :p

    Jordan has always been in my top 3 countries to visit. Hope you have a great time 😀

  7. Jordan is FANTASTIC. I went there for my 40th birthday. Incredible. In addition to Petra (we took two days to see it!) and Amman, don’t miss Jerash and Umm Qais. And be sure to buy a “Hand of Fatima”.

    http://www.coyotecommunications.com/travel/06jordan.html

    • Gareth Sear says:

      You went for your 40th? How cool! That is what I am Planning for mine next year. Five to seven days depending on flight dates. I was planning on going next feb but it appears to be very cold – Si now plannnng for April. Any more tips? Look forward to reading Kate’s blog on it . KATE – are you doing it on a shoestring budget, luxury or in between? And any tips on good blogs to read for information on an independent holiday in Jordan?

      • Gareth, Turkey will be done in my usual mash-up of shoestringing and sponsorships, but Jordan will be a much more high-end trip. SO many bloggers have done trips to Jordan — off the top of my head, baconismagic.ca, uncorneredmarket.com, goseewrite.com, legalnomads.com, alittleadrift.com, landlopers.com…and many, many more!

  8. Alison says:

    Wow major travel envy. Jordan has been on my list for so long. Looking forward to reading about your experiences here. Have a fun trip.

  9. Bill says:

    I just got back from Turkey two weeks ago and had a fantastic time. It was our second trip there. We rented a car and focused on visiting ancient sites. Other areas you might consider would be Side, Kos and the old town area of Antalya on the Mediterranean and Selcuk, which is near Ephesus and three other less known sites. Ephesus is the most restored ruin but is jam packed with cruise ship tourists. It’s still worth seeing though. Other ancient sites are completely uncrowded. One thing to be aware of if you get a SIM card. Unless you register your phone, you lose access after two weeks. The place we got our SIM card (a Turkcell store) never mentioned registering and from what I understand the registration takes so long that it is really a “buy a cell phone in Turkey” program.

  10. Istanbul & Ephesus was a blast when Q & I visited Turkey. I’d put Istanbul in my top 5 for fav cities. So jealous you’re going to Jordan! Petra has been on our list for a long time.

  11. Lindsey says:

    I love Turkey too! Have been twice, once with my parents and again last year with my boyfriend. It was different, the times I walked down the street by myself, with men being much more flirty and forthright. However, I never felt unsafe or threatened and most guys were stoked with a grin and a big “hello” right back at them! I would suggest covering up a little more than you might through Western Europe. Again, I didn’t feel unsafe, but after accidently wearing a tittie-top and having the minibus drivers having a good gawk at every opportunity…I felt more comfortable not flashing. I agree with Kristen – looser and more covered is probably the go, plus so comfortable!
    Cappadocia is a MUST and make sure you go for longer than you think you’ll need. It’s a LONG busride and as well as the standard two day tours, there’s so many beautiful, self-guided walks out of town and through the fairy chimneys. I also really enjoyed Pummakale – the pools were gorgeous and the entire landscape quite surreal.
    Gah! So excited for you and can’t wait to read all about it!

    • Lindsey, I had the same incident in Austria recently — let’s just say it was ridiculously hot in a wetsuit, so I unzipped it, bikini top on, and a bus full of old dudes gawked as they drove by…

      Great tips, and will remember. Thanks!

  12. Amanda says:

    Awesome news, Kate! I knew you were planning to visit Turkey soon, but had no idea about Jordan! I’m sure it will be amazing. Everything I’ve heard about that country has me continually nudging it higher and higher up on my travel list! I can’t wait to read your take on both these countries as a solo female traveler!

  13. Alex says:

    Looks like you have some very exciting adventures ahead of you! I visited Istanbul and Ephesus this summer and they are amazing. Ephesus is a stunning and well preserved ancient city- even for non history buffs I think it would be interesting. Istanbul…. what is there to even say? I LOVED it!

    I don’t know if it’s appropriate to post this here (delete away if not!) but the second half of this post details one of my favorite travel experiences ever from Istanbul: http://www.alexinwanderland.com/2011/10/03/city-sightseeing-istanbul/ I hope you can do something similar!

  14. Adding hot air balloon to my list for a return trip to Turkey! So much to see and do, wish we had more time the first time around.

    Such an AWESOME itinerary you have to look forward to. Dying to go to Petra. I can’t wait to read about your trip and more importantly, see what you’ll eat. 😛

  15. Antoinette B. says:

    Jordan and Turkey are VERY safe for solo female travelers with a good sense of mind. I went to Turkey by myself and felt very safe the whole entire time from Istanbul to Cappadocia and beyond! Btw, Turkish people don’t really consider themselves part of the middle East, more like Asia/Anatolia, with part of Istanbul being the only European side. You have to HAVE to go for the hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia overlooking the sunrise! It was the best 28th birthday present for myself! You will love every moment of it! And speaking of Middle East, one of these days go for Israel, it’s beyond beautiful despite its shaky political ground.

  16. Cam says:

    Fun, fun, fun!
    We love, love, love both Turkey and Jordan. The food, the people, the landscapes, the culture. *slight envy going on*
    If you can arrange it, add the hot air balloon tour over Cappadocia (expensive, but hands down the best balloon tour on the planet). I was there in November last year, and though it is cold at night, the days are quite nice. If you need a recco on a good budget hotel in Goreme let me know.
    Look forward to reading the full report once you return! 😉

  17. Claire says:

    Oh please please try to get to Pammukale while in Turkey! The calcium pools – the travertines – are simply incredible, really a sight to see. There is no end of things to do in Istanbul, the Spice Market was a favourite in particular. And as others have mentioned, Capadoccia (ie the small town of Goreme), where the fairy chimneys are, is definitely a must-see. I stayed in Rock Valley Pension in Goreme, while not in a cave was one of the best pensions I stayed in in Turkey.

    I went to Turkey a few months ago for a couple of weeks and felt very safe. Turkey is a beautiful country, I loved it.

  18. …absolutely brilliant site Kate! thanks so much.

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