The World Nomads Podcast: Jordan

In this episode, we explore Jordan, a safe, friendly and affordable middle-eastern destination, and we discuss climate change. What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint?


Photo © Getty Images/ Arthur Debat

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The World Nomads Podcast: Jordan

In this episode, we explore Jordan, considered one of the most hospitable places in the world. It’s safe, the food is amazing, and with a mix of Christian and Muslim religions, it’s a relaxed destination compared to some other middle eastern countries.

What’s in the episode

1:22 Cassandra talks 'mystical' Jordan

4:10 Jordan's open arms

07:30 The meaniful travel map

11:20 Keryn talks Jordan 

14:00 What is there for kids to do in Jordan?

18:30 Already planning the next visit

20:32 Travel News

25:41 What was Kay expecting from Jordan?

29:02 The Speeding ticket

32:55 How to prepare yourself for travel and reduce your carbon footprint

40:48 Next week

Quotes from the episode

Westerners are welcomed in Jordan. Literally, I was stopped almost every single day on my first trip for somebody to say welcome.” – Cassandra

“We were also able to spend more than a whole day with one specific Bedouin tribe that really went into how they are now inviting outside guests to come in, because it helps them sustain their way of life.” – Keryn

“I came across this random village of stray dogs. They were stray mountain dogs just chilling in the middle of the freeway and they would just bark at my car…” – Kay

“I speak for myself as an American who lives in Germany. And seeing my family comes with a huge carbon footprint. There are certain trips that we simply can't take without omitting a huge amount of carbon into the atmosphere.” - Alex

Hear how to travel the world making eco-friendly choices in this World Nomads Podcast episode on Sustainable and Ethical Travel. Listen Now

Who is in the episode

Keryn Means runs Walking on Travels, a resource for all things travel, food, culture, adventure, and family. In this episode Keryn discusses her trip to this destination with Experience Jordan which included the community activities visitors can learn about. These include herding goats and learning how to make your own eyeliner from natural wood.

Cassandra Brooklyn runs EscapingNY offering group tours for people who don’t do group tours and helps solo travelers plan their own adventures, including to Jordan. And is it safe? Cassandra shares her tips in this article for World Nomads. And here she shares her tips and tactics for female solo travelers to this destination.

Kay Kingsman is better known as the The Awkward Traveler. In this episode discover how Kay came up with the name for her blog and what she did when confronted by a pack of wild dogs on a road trip through Jordan.

Travel can be something of a double-edged sword when it comes to being a globally minded traveller aiming to reduce your global footprint. Alex North, who is not a climate scientist, nor a climate activist has compiled statistics about the CO2 emissions associated with tourism, as well as some tips on how to curb your personal emissions while traveling. Read more here.

Carbon emissions from a trip from LA to NYC

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Resources & Links

Visit one of the 12 social enterprises on Jordan’s Meaningful Travel Map.

Learn how to capture meaningful travel stories and go on global scholarship assignments for World Nomads.

Want to make money while your travel? Check out World Nomads Partner Program.

Next Episode: Tim and PJ – Extreme Engagement

About World Nomads & the Podcast

Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.

World Nomads is a fast-growing online travel company that provides inspiration, advice, safety tips and specialized travel insurance for independent, volunteer and student travelers traveling and studying most anywhere in the world. Our online global travel insurance covers travelers from more than 135 countries and allows you to buy and claim online, 24/7, even while already traveling.

The World Nomads Podcast is not your usual travel Podcast. It’s everything for the adventurous, independent traveler. Don’tmiss out. Subscribe today.

You can get in touch with us by emailing

We use the Rodecaster Pro to record our episodes and interviews when in the studio, made possible with the kind support of Rode.

Kim: Don't laugh, Phil.

Phil: Okay.

Kim: I'm going to have a go. Ahlan wa sahlan. Welcome to Jordan, our latest destination episode.

Kim: Did you like that?

Phil: Yeah, not bad. [crosstalk 00:00:23] I'm not sure how we rate that one, but there you go.

Kim: Phil, tell us why would you travel to Jordan?

Phil: Well, as we'll hear in this episode, it's one of the most hospitable places in the world. It's safe. The food is amazing, it has one of the new seven wonders of the world in Petra and the treasury buildings there. There's a mix of Christian and Muslim religions, so it's fairly relaxed compared to some other Middle Eastern countries. And here's something that will surprise you; large parts of the country look more like the Mediterranean than the Middle East.

Kim: Ooh, well let's get into it then and hear from our travel experts on this incredible country, including Kay, who we'll hear from later on.

Kay Kingsman: And then the cop, he was kind of chilling over to the side and he saw me and he waved. And I was like, "Oh, everyone's so friendly here." So I waved back. He waved harder and I'm like, "Wow, what is he doing over there?" And so I waved back harder. And then he was like, "No..."

Kim: She is a crackup. That story later. But let's kick off with Cassandra Brooklyn, somewhat of a regular on the podcast. Partly because Phil, she's super knowledgeable but also I love her laugh. She runs Escaping NY, planning group tours for people who don't like group tours, and they include Cuba, Mexico and Jordan, a country that Cassandra has been to quite a few times now.

Cassandra : I sure have. As a solo traveler and also leading group tours there.

Kim: Is it mystical?

Cassandra : Mystical. Did you get that from my website?

Kim: Yeah, I did.

Cassandra : Yes, because the trip, I believe it's called Mystical Desert Wonders, or something.

Kim: That's it.

Cassandra : Something catchy that hopefully people are searching for. It's so is. And I wound up in Jordan by chance. I've heard of the country, but I'd never really thought of going. I was going to Egypt, to visit a friend and I had some time and I looked at the map and I was like, huh, Jordan's right there. I wonder what Jordan's like. So I asked around and I only found one person I knew that had been there and he told me it wasn't worth it because he did a day trip from Israel, which is the worst way to go because you're spending 10 hours on a bus each way to go to Petra and then you only have a few hours to explore. I thought there'd be more to it.

Cassandra : So I started doing a bit of online research, showed up, spent about a week and a half there, backpacking on my own. Meeting wonderful people. I was late to meet my friend in Egypt because I was having so much fun in Jordan. I had such a blast and I've been back a few times since, and now I'm leading trips there.

Phil: It's sort of quite westernized, in a way, I hear. So, quite open to western visitors coming as well. And I'm talking about women traveling there specifically.

Cassandra : Absolutely. I think it's a wonderful destination in many ways, but specifically it's a great introduction to the Middle East for westerners and for women specifically. I felt extremely safe all the time. And of course, every woman is going to have her experience and women have to be more careful and women suffer more when they travel. They have to put up with more just being women and in every country in the world. But in Jordan I felt extraordinarily safe, and when I've been ... I've written several articles about travel safety, actually wrote two for World Nomads, one on travel safety tips for Jordan and one specifically for women. And I was surveying as many women as possible and I struggled to find women who did have some sort of negative experience, just because I didn't want to write it just about my phenomenal experience.

Cassandra : But westerners are welcomed in Jordan. Literally, I was stopped almost every single day on my first trip for somebody to say welcome. Whether it was a police officer, whether it was a customs' official in the airport, whether it was a shop owner, whether it was somebody just standing next to me waiting for a cab or waiting across the street. They would say, "Welcome to Jordan."

Cassandra : They want people to know that they are welcome in that country. They want people to know that they are a friendly country that gets a bad rep because of their position geographically. People wrongly assume that it's unsafe, so they go out of their way to make people feel welcome. I can't tell you how many people stopped me to ask if I needed directions somewhere. Ask if I needed help translating to catch a cab.

Cassandra : Trying to catch a shared car from a busy corner where nobody spoke English, to a city that I wasn't sure where it was. Multiple people coming together to make sure I get into the right vehicle and translating to the driver and ensuring that ... Showing me how much I should pay maximum so I'm not being overcharged. And then the gestures that they're making to ensure I get out in the right place, and they're showing me how to get to my final destination. So it was ... I was blown away with the kindness there in general as a traveler, but also as a woman I felt very safe. Jordanian women are very well educated. They're very independent. Some of them do wear headscarves and that's optional, 100%. Some of them don't, and they have a lot of opportunity. I'm not going to speak on behalf of Jordanian women, but from what I've heard from my Jordanian friends there, it's definitely ... It's one of the most, if not the most progressive countries in the Middle East for women.

Phil: Which brings us to one of the things we really wanted to talk to you about is these programs encouraging Jordanian women to get involved in tourism.

Cassandra : Yes, yes. There are a lot of different programs that are being set up. Most of them are in the north and central part of Jordan and their purpose is to encourage entrepreneurship that creates lasting change in communities. So it's not the Jordanian government trying to set up some new charity model. They're trying to encourage entrepreneurship and enterprise that is creating change in communities. And many of these programs are led by women and support many women.

Cassandra : A lot of them have to do with cooking. So leading traditional cooking classes and helping people create their own meals or to create their own products that can be taken back as a souvenir. There's also projects that relate to weaving and paper-making and pottery and soap-making. So women are earning their income by producing these products that are sold to tourists. But also they are leading these courses to teach travelers their traditional skills that have been passed down generation to generation.

Speaker 1: In fact, doesn't Jordan have a meaningful travel map?

Cassandra : Yes, they do. The meaningful travel map is ... It's exactly what this is. These are the enterprises, that's what they call it. These meaningful social enterprises that are lifting up communities, in a sustainable way. So a lot of these organizations are also dedicated to being environmentally sustainable. And also just sustainable in the sense that they're not just getting a lump of money from the government and then they're going to burn through that and go away. They're sustainable in the sense that they are creating lasting employment for their communities. So if you go to the Jordan tourism boards website, they have this beautiful meaningful travel map that you can click on and you can see these different enterprises on the map and you can see what it's about. And in some cases it'll link you to their website. In some cases it'll link you to a Facebook page that's all in Arabic.

Kim: I love your laugh.

Cassandra : Right.

Kim: So infectious.

Cassandra : So the last article I wrote for World Nomads, the exploring Jordan from a local woman's perspective, one of the suggestions that I made is that you can absolutely go on your own to Jordan. I've done it. It's fine, it's safe. If you really want to visit as many of these female-led enterprises, you're best off either joining a group tour that includes that or hiring a travel planner or tour operator to help you include some of those places. Because then many of them are not on the normal itinerary. Many of them, you're going to need some private transportation and a guide or translator to get there. But they're totally worth going. And we, of course, we visit those on my trip. I knew you were going to ask.

Phil: I think the map is-

Cassandra : And if you weren't, I'm putting it in.

Phil: Yeah. I think a map's a great idea, because when I was in Nepal earlier this year, we were in Pokhara, we went looking for a women's collective that does weaving and fabric making. And we had to traipse around the streets looking for it. It was pretty hard to find. So-

Kim: So a map like this would be a good idea.

Phil: A map like that would be awesome.

Kim: Yeah. Fabulous. Well we did mention your website at the beginning of the chat. We've mentioned the website at the beginning ... The end of the chat. We'll share it in show notes for you too Cassandra.

Cassandra : Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, it's ... And my trips are ... They're not just for women. I know some women prefer to travel in all female trips. My trips tend to get a lot of women because I'm a woman and I prioritize finding some female guides and visiting female run enterprises. But they really are open to everyone.

Cassandra : And I do want to comment on something that I wrote about in the article, was this interest in female guides. That's been a real struggle, because tourism is typically a male dominated field in Jordan, as it is in the Middle East and as it is in many countries, but specifically in the Middle East. And so sometimes to even have an all female tour going and it can be a challenge to find a female guide on the ground, so they might have to use a male guide. So that's something that I'm prioritizing. And I know other tour operators are prioritizing that as well. And it's something that travelers should request because it's going to not just make sure you get the experience that you want, but it's going to encourage them to hire and train more female guides because there are very, very few right now.

Kim: Good advice, Cassandra. And can you expand on that?

Phil: Yeah, a few. Yeah. But remember when we spoke about women and travel and one of our early episodes as well, and these figures ... And that was only a year or so ago, but these figures still stand up. Remembering that globally women make up just over 48% of the world's workforce, okay? But the UN women's 2010 global report on women in tourism found that even though women make up a large amount of the tourism workforce, they're mostly represented in service and clerical level jobs. And poorly represented at professional and managerial levels. And to add to that, there are earning 10 to 15% less than their male counterparts. And here's a few other facts; only one in five tourism ministers worldwide, are women. Women pilots make up only 5% of all pilots worldwide. And there are about 18 to 20% of the cruise industry workforce, but only 5.4% of cruise officers are women.

Kim: Let's revisit those stats at the end of 2020. See if there's been a shift. Well, Keryn Means runs walking on travels, and yes, this chat does relate to Jordan. But first Keryn kicks off explaining what her site is all about.

Keryn Means: Okay. So walking on travel started back in, I believe 2011 now, when I was traveling back and forth to Asia, because I used to be in book publishing. And I started bringing my oldest son with me when he was 14-months-old, and people were asking me how I took him, but more importantly why I took him with me to Asia. And for me I was like, "Well, why wouldn't I?" It cost $100 to sit him on my lap and fly for 15 hours to the other side of the world, and go on a trip and let him experience a different part of the world and expose him to new foods and people and my clients loved seeing him.

Keryn Means: So he just came along and my husband sometimes got to come and sometimes he didn't. Sometimes I had to hire a babysitter. But it was just a lot of fun and it really shaped, I think a lot of who he was. He learned how to walk on the Great Wall of China, and not a whole lot of kids can brag about that that way. And he still holds it over his little brother's head that he has been to Asia and his little brother has not been to Asia. Because that is true first-world children problems at this point in my kids' lives at least. So the site came about somewhere in between one of those trips we ... I was just like, "You know what, I really need to start writing down these stories." And it seemed like other parents needed to hear that this is possible.

Keryn Means: I was also hearing a lot of people just talk about Disney and that was the only trip you could take with kids. I had no interest in that at the time. And I was just saying there's a lot more you can do with babies and toddlers than you think you can. Let's kind of push the limits a little bit. And you can still hike mountains, you can still do lots of things. And so my site just kind of evolved from there, and continued to grow and we're almost nine years later. Now looking at it, so...

Speaker 1: So you can be an adventurous traveler with children. The two things aren't mutually exclusive.

Keryn Means: Absolutely not. Yeah. You can definitely be adventurous with your children and I firmly believe that your kids actually make you more adventurous.

Speaker 1: So your son will remember ... Well, he will have that anecdote of learning to walk on the Great Wall of China, as opposed to having a birthday cake that looked like the Great Wall of China.

Keryn Means: Exactly.

Speaker 1: So you visited Jordan, and we'll get to your personal experience there, because I believe that you did that without children. But on reflection, is it a place that is family friendly?

Keryn Means: Yes, absolutely. It is something that we, my husband and I are looking at right now to bring our sons back to, because my husband was actually very sad he couldn't join me on that trip. So we're already looking into when we can go, what time of year and what places we'll take the kids.

Speaker 1: I have read that they love children, but there's not a lot for kids to do, because the children are included as part of the adult family. So they kind of do things as a group. Is that how you operate as well? You don't necessarily look for places that have to have, Disneyland's, as an example.

Keryn Means: That's exactly right. I mean when I was there, much like the Middle East and the rest of Europe as well, there is this community culture. It's all about the family. While in the United States, especially, a lot of times children are almost looked at as this inconvenience in a lot of ways when you go places. While when I was in Jordan, they were just a natural part of the environment and the family and the community at large. They were supposed to be there. That was just the natural order of things.

Keryn Means: I'm like, "Okay. I just walked across parts of Jordan and Palestine." And I was like, "Oh my gosh, my kids would love this." They would have had a blast and they would have been asking more questions than I ever could.

Speaker 1: So what were you doing in Jordan then, without the family?

Keryn Means: In Jordan I was there partially for a conference, but also to kind of get the lay of the land and experience a tour with the company Experience Jordan, which was similar to what Cassandra was doing as well. She was doing a different one. So I was on a cultural trip that was really taking us from Amman down to Akbar, which was seeing a lot of the historical sites of Jerash, the Citadel in Amman. Of course going to Petra, but also little Petra, staying in lots of Bedouin camps, and really getting in with the people and seeing what the community activities that visitors can learn about. As in herding goats and learning how to make your own eyeliner from natural wood and other kinds of activities. And eating a whole lot of food.

Speaker 1: Yummy food?

Keryn Means: Yeah. Oh my gosh. I can't eat hummus anymore in the United States. It's just not the same.

Speaker 1: Really?

Keryn Means: It's so good over there.

Speaker 1: What's the difference?

Keryn Means: I don't know, but it was so good. I mean, I'm going to just say like the water, the olive oil. I don't know, but it was just ... It was so delicious and creamy. I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That in the baklava, I mean, come on.

Speaker 1: Oh yeah. Oh, the baklava, yum yum yum. So was it a kind of off the beaten track experience?

Keryn Means: It was a little bit of both. It was definitely, if I had planned the trip myself, I would not have experienced more than half of what was there. We hit the highlights, which I wanted to be able to do because I knew my own audience that I write for would want to hit those. You want to hit the ancient city of Jerash, which has a lot of old ruins and the Romans came through and everything. You want to hit Petra when you go to Jordan, if you go to Jordan and you didn't go to Petra. I'm not sure if you actually went to Jordan, most people would say.

Keryn Means: And when you're done, Akbar, of course you have to jump into the Red Sea and you want to kind of wander around, you want to go to a souk. But what I wouldn't have known to plan for myself, would be to go to a woman's cooperative where they are making tons of local products. And a lot of refugee women that are coming in from Afghanistan and Syria and a lot of war-torn countries are learning how to make products or do a trade so that they can start their own businesses.

Keryn Means: We were also able to spend more than a whole day with one specific Bedouin tribe that really went into how they are now inviting outside guests to come in, because it helps them sustain their way of life. We were able to learn why some of these smaller, more locally owned spots are actually much more important to the economy, and also the ecosystem, because some of these are using so much water that Jordan just doesn't have. Jordan is I believe the second poorest water country in the world, meaning they just don't have enough water to sustain their own country. So they actually have to buy water and bring it in, which is a very foreign concept for a lot of us because we're so used to just having water coming out of our tap at all times.

Keryn Means: So we just really got to kind of dig into those local organizations and the local way of life in a way that I feel like a lot of first-timers going into Jordan probably just hit the highlights. They might have a local meal with a family because they knew how to set that up, just Googling on the web and then they move on and they're out the door.

Speaker 1: You've experienced it and you're looking at going back with your husband and your children. What kind of adventure will you have this time in Jordan?

Keryn Means: I would love to do a lot more hiking. My husband loves to get out into nature and hike and look at rocks. And my kids love to scramble up any rock and water formation at all. I believe it's in the Spring, one of the Wadi, I think it's Wadi Musa you can actually hike down into ... They're almost like slot caverns. And so I want to be able to get there when the water's at a decent level where it's safe to hike through and it's not too hot.

Speaker 1: I'm really enjoying as part of ... Having this opportunity to produce a podcast, looking at some of the countries in the Middle East. And we recently did one on Oman, and we chatted to a local blogger there. And she was talking about the fact that, look, yeah, we're part of the Middle East, but we're part of it. Get over this fact that everything's the Middle East and that it's all really dangerous and you can't ever travel there.

Keryn Means: Absolutely. And Jordan, I believe even they'll say they're like the Switzerland of the Middle East. They're just kind of there, hanging out while all their neighbors are having issues around them. But they really are just this wonderful welcoming people. I mean if anything, we were kind of this oddity, because I mean I'm very pale skinned with red hair, and a lot of people haven't seen that, I guess in Jordan. Especially on some of the teenage girls would really ... They would come up to me and just ask if they could take a picture. Or they would just want to say hi and I was just like, "Oh, okay, hi."

Speaker 1: Thank you Keryn and we will have a link to walking on travels in show notes. Now Keryn mentioned the issue Jordan has with water supply, Phil. And reportedly besides the rapid population growth, the impacts of climate change are likely to further exacerbate the water scarcity problem in the future. I say reportedly. Do your own research on that.

Speaker 1: Later in the episode and not related to Jordan, we will hear from Alex North who has reflected on climate change in her carbon footprint. But, as I said, that's later. More about Alex then.

Speaker 1: Phil, what's your travel news?

Phil: Okay. If you ever whizzed across Europe on one of the high speed trains, you'll know how amazing they are. I've always preferred them to one of those quick and dirty flights.

Speaker 1: Yeah, speaking a quick and dirty, don't get a hamburger on the London to France. Worst one I've ever had in my whole entire life.

Phil: Really?

Speaker 1: And I love a burger.

Phil: Okay.

Speaker 1: There's a tip. I digress.

Phil: Look, anyway, I love the fast trains for getting around Europe because you start and finish in the middle of the city. So you're immediately where you want to be, rather than in some cow paddock on the back blocks, or the outskirts of the place that you're trying to get to. But one thing that they did, the very fast trains, was they killed the overnight sleeper train. Look, anyone to young to have experienced them, they were really fantastic. You'd be thrown into a four berth compartment with people you didn't know, and then you'd spend all night talking and drinking and making your new best friends in the world.

Phil: There was one particular trip that I did, from the North of Spain down. My partner and I, we were sharing a cabin with a flamenco duo and the dancer part of the duo was a trans-woman. It was just the most amazing ... We didn't speak Spanish, they didn't speak English and we used a Spanish English dictionary to work things out. But we had the most fabulous time, and of course they pulled the guitar out and there was dancing and-

Speaker 1: See you couldn't script that.

Phil: No absolutely not and you could also only do it because you were on a eight hour train ride, which fast train would have cut down to about an hour. So you wouldn't have done it. But so they're back, these sleeper at trains, because not only are they a great way to travel, but the whole flight shame thing has made people realize that, yeah, there is a better way to travel that reduces your carbon footprint.

Phil: Say instead of a quick and dirty flight, let's get on the train. And so now they're going, "Well if I'm going to be on this long distance train and it's going to be several hours, then let's ... Might as well use it overnight." So that I can travel between the two destinations and work on both days rather than wasting a day. So sleeper trains are back and I think it's fantastic.

Speaker 1: Yeah I think ... I haven't done a sleeper, but I love train travel so I must try that.

Phil: Sure. Look, a list of the most dangerous and the safest destinations to visit in 2020 has been released. These are always a bit subjective, but I kind of agree with this one. I'll have to say. Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia and parts of Ukraine have been declared among the most dangerous according to International SOS. I've got no objections with that.

Phil: Also on the list, some war torn countries in Africa and the Middle East including Mali. Yep. Central African Republic. Yep. The Democratic Republic of the Congo. Yeah, but you can still go there because if you want to go see the gorillas, you go through the DRC, but you have to be careful and make sure you use a reputable tour operator for that one. Iraq is on the list. Obviously Syria and Yemen. I've got no qualms about that at all. They should not be on your list.

Phil: But on the safest side, they've named the Nordic nations, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland, as well as Switzerland, Slovenia and Greenland. All of them having insignificant travel safety risk.

Speaker 1: Well, Switzerland's always going to be on that list.

Phil: Yes.

Speaker 1: That wraps it up.

Phil: That's it, that's my news.

Speaker 1: Thank you very much. Kay Kingsman is better known as the Awkward Traveler. And I quote from her site, Phil. Recipe for an awkward traveler. Add one cup of 20-something female. Heat a teaspoon of puns and dumb memes on medium low-heat. Stir in a couple of plane tickets, train rides and a road or two. Let simmer for an uncomfortable amount of time. Pair with two slices of always getting lost and mixing up itinerary times. Use a dash of salt to taste. And let's find out why she got the name.

Kay Kingsman: Funny story. It's not actually a funny story. I always start everything with funny story and I feel it just gives people an expectation. It's not that funny. But I had just graduated from my undergraduate studies and pharmaceutical ... I don't know, I don't even remember anymore, and I couldn't find a job because I'm just a terrible interviewer and I would nervous sweat the whole time and not answer questions. So I was like, "Well I have no job and no money." So I just was just driving around and my friends were like, "Are you alive? Are you okay?" So I started my Instagram page and I would just post pictures of where I was ... Of the places I was, were... I don't know English that well.

Speaker 1: Was?

Kay Kingsman: One of those tenses. And then they'd be like, "Oh, okay. She's in California, she's alive. Oh, she's in Arizona now." So that's, I guess that's kind of how it started.

Speaker 1: So, we're chatting with you because you've just got back from Jordan. How was it?

Kay Kingsman: It was, I guess not what I was expecting, but at the same time, I don't know exactly what I was expecting. But I was pleasantly surprised.

Speaker 1: Okay. So you don't know what, or didn't know what you were expecting, now I'm having trouble with tenses. So you were pleasantly surprised. What does that mean exactly?

Kay Kingsman: I was surprised that there were a lot of trees. Well, there weren't a lot of trees that's a lie, but there were a lot of the shrubbery, and the people were very welcoming. So that's always a nice feeling whenever I go anywhere. And I was also pleasantly surprised that the prices for food also wasn't too expensive. Everything else was. But food was acceptable ranges.

Speaker 1: So how did you travel?

Kay Kingsman: Yeah, so I basically did a road trip. I flew into the airport and then I rented a car from the airport, and then just kind of circled the country. I guess not circled. I went down one main highway and then came back up. But you know.

Speaker 1: You are funny.

Kay Kingsman: Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 1: So what was it ... were you frightened about driving? Were the roads in good condition? Obviously you'd had to have done some research before you hired a car. Was the process easy?

Kay Kingsman: You would think that I would have done research, but I didn't. I just went online and booked a car for the duration of my trip. And I guess I'm always a little nervous because I don't want to be a statistic, but I'm not a good driver. I don't ... I'm not that great at driving. I get nervous easily, and I'm always very skeptical of road rules and I forget them sometimes. But it's like, are you supposed to stop at a red? You are. Okay. I'm rambling. I'm rambling.

Speaker 1: Are you supposed to stop at a red light? I think that's kind of a universal thing. Red means stop.

Kay Kingsman: Red means stop. So that's kind of how I drive, which isn't recommended. But I rented a car, did a road trip and I would say at least compared to western driving ... What's the word ... etiquette? It wasn't that bad. It wasn't like Jakarta, Indonesia, where I don't think there are rules. But for the most part, especially on the freeway, it was very straightforward.

Speaker 1: So what was some of the great things that you saw and, even more importantly, the things that you experienced?

Kay Kingsman: Okay, I'm going to have to go day by day because my memory's terrible and I'm bad at ranking things by favorites. So I think Jerash was really cool. I've never seen Roman ruins, I guess, in real life. That was my first exposure to them and they were super cool. I headed towards the Dead Sea after that and then there's a little branching off road that goes to baptism site of the Jesus Christ, which is wow. Pretty big name people over here.

Kay Kingsman: Then I went to Petra and then I chilled in the desert for a long time. Chilled. It's funny because it's a desert. But anyways. Oh I drove back up through Jordan. I got a speeding ticket. But that's another story.

Speaker 1: Well do tell the story.

Kay Kingsman: Well, the speeding ticket. Slight side note again, I don't know kilometers. I just guess half the time, and I think the speed limit was 60 kilometers an hour. Is that how it's measured?

Speaker 1: Yep that's it.

Kay Kingsman: That sounds right. Okay. I was going 90.

Speaker 1: Ooh, in a 60 zone. Yeah.

Kay Kingsman: Yeah, that's a little bit above. And then the cop, he was kind of chilling over to the side and he saw me and he waved and I was like, "Oh, everyone's so friendly here." So I waved back and then he was like, "No," he waved harder. And I'm like, "Wow, what is he doing over there?" So I waved back harder. And then he was like, "No." And he was pushing his arm to the side and I was like, "Oh, maybe he has to tell me something." So I pulled over and he walked up to my car and I was like, "Hi." And he's like, "Where's your license?" And I was like, "My what?" And he's like, "Your license and registration." And I was like, "Oh no, I'm getting a ticket."

Speaker 1: All right, let's get back on the road. What were the other things that you saw or experienced that are particularly fond memories for you?

Kay Kingsman: Well, I don't know about fond, but when I was driving at night, which is something I don't recommend because once you get outside of the city there's no lights and ... But I was and I came across this random village of stray dogs. They were stray mountain dogs just chilling in the middle of the freeway and they would just bark at my car and I'm like, "I need to go forward." But they were forming a barricade. It was the strangest, most intimidating moment of my life.

Speaker 1: So how'd you push through?

Kay Kingsman: I barked back. And that seems to work.

Speaker 1: Now are you, at this point, driving on your own or do you have someone with you?

Kay Kingsman: I was driving with my boyfriend.

Speaker 1: Would you recommend a driving holiday in Jordan?

Kay Kingsman: I would if you're comfortable driving outside ... In a different country. I think Jordan wasn't bad. It's probably one of the better countries I've driven in outside of the U.S. All the signs are in Arabic and English. So I mean if you speak one of those two you're good.

Speaker 1: Any message that you want to give to people that are considering Jordan as a destination?

Kay Kingsman: Jordan as a destination. It's really, I think I enjoyed it with my boyfriend, but I think it's also a great destination for groups. I can't really speak on traveling solo since I didn't, but I've also heard good things about that. So I feel in general, this is a long message. In general, it's a great destination.

Speaker 1: Funny lady. While she says we all know her as the silly travel blogger, Kay is a published author and we'll have links in show notes.

Phil: By the way, 60 kilometers an hour is around about 35, 36 miles per hour and if you get a speeding ticket you are not covered for it by your travel insurance.

Speaker 1: Now. Alex North, she's not a climate scientist nor is she an activist. But she has done some research into why, for the globally minded individual, and you mentioned it in your travel news, they brought back the overnight sleepers on trains, because people are preferring those.

Phil: Yep, thinking about it.

Speaker 1: Yeah, than flying. Well travel is something of a double-edged sword and she's created an infographic reflecting what she has learned.

Alex North: Yeah, I think partly how we are going to do this together is to be aware of exactly how much carbon flying and traveling does emit into the atmosphere. And to put that in concrete, understandable terms so that we can make decisions and trade offs in our behavior. Then we can at least be prepared as consumers when the time comes that the corporations as well are forced to reckon with climate change.

Alex North: I think that's one of the most important things that we should keep in mind is that flying should not be framed as this really glamorous thing that we do lightly. Flying, especially the takeoff and the landing portions are so, so fuel intensive, that it's just not something anybody should be applauding to fly to another city, to have lunch and then fly back the same day. That is simply a behavior that we cannot justify anymore.

Alex North: However, and I speak for myself as an American who lives in Germany. And seeing my family comes with a huge carbon footprint. There are certain trips that we simply can't take without omitting a huge amount of carbon into the atmosphere. And I don't know that there are really other realistic ways for somebody to travel across the Pacific or across the Atlantic, in order to have relationships with people in other countries. In order to still take part in their careers. But to at least be able to think about that and to reflect critically on those decisions I think is already a good step.

Alex North: As well as making sure that we fly directly whenever we can. That we don't load up planes with a bunch of heavy baggage and unnecessary gear, that we could perhaps rent on location at the destination. Rather than buying a surfboard to bring with us and then bring it back.

Alex North: And then also choosing to use transportation like the locals do when we are at destinations. Now the flights to some exotic location already comes with a lot of carbon emissions. And if we choose not to take taxis but rather to take the bus or to walk or to bike, we can at least get rid of the carbon emissions on the back end of our travel, at least when we're there.

Phil: This is a problem that has context as well, because it's all well and good to say that you should catch a train instead of flying. As long as you don't live on a massive Island, like I do, called Australia, where you actually have to catch a plane to get off the Island to go somewhere else. Because it's actually quite impractical to consider using container ships. They only take a handful of people at a time.

Phil: So as much as I recognize that it is up to each of us to do the best we can to reduce our carbon footprint, I don't think that we should say that all carbon output is bad and therefore should be stopped. But I think you should, and I agree with you, I think you should not take it lightly. I think you should think very hard about when you take a flight, but I don't think that means that you shouldn't take them. I think it means that you should minimize your use of them and think of these other alternatives when you get somewhere.

Alex North: Honestly, yeah, I completely agree with you. I think we live in a globalized world and many of us have friends and family and careers spread all around the world. And to just tell people you can't fly because it's bad for the environment isn't realistic. Most people are not in a position where they can just step outside of this system. That's not realistic to ask people to do that. Furthermore, I think as travelers, we know that there are so many wonderful things that come with travel that just opens our perspective and makes us more empathetic and compassionate for different ways of life. And we as consumers really do have an incentive to preserve this magic of travel for future generations. We want to make this possible for our children and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren. We don't want them to also never be able to travel and we also don't want them to miss out on seeing the wonderful wonders of nature that we've been able to see.

Phil: And those benefits are not just one way either. Travel has benefits to the place and the people that is traveled to, if you know what I mean. It has benefits for the host countries as well. It's an enormous economic driver. It's lifted millions of people out of poverty. The other thing, and I hope you agree with this as well, is to measure travel only by its carbon output is wrong, because there are many other benefits by which it should be measured.

Alex North: Yes, that is absolutely true. But at the end of the day, it's true this flight is going to fly without you. Whether or not you are on it, that carbon is going to be omitted into the atmosphere.

Speaker 1: But, Phil, isn't it as simple as, and a lot of airlines offer this, just three bucks is carbon offset. Does that actually achieve anything do you think? Or are we clicking that button to make us feel better about our carbon footprint?

Alex North: I think it's both. One should absolutely do their due diligence to see what sort of carbon offsetting initiatives this airline is actually investing in. Are they planting trees, are they rolling out clean energy sources in developing nations? What exactly are they doing? There is definitely a lot of information. There's conflicting information about how effective different methods of carbon offsetting are.

Alex North: I think that the prevailing opinion among climate activists right now is that investing in clean energy sources is one of the best ways to reduce carbon around the world and so it really depends. One should look at where is this carbon offsetting money going. And if the initiatives that are done by the airplane, or by the airline, aren't really in line with what you believe is a responsible use of those funds, then you can always find a different organization to donate.

Speaker 1: Alex, thank you so much. Really value your input and in particular, what I will take away from this is, and I am a light traveler, but you're right. Do you really need to take your surfboard to Indonesia, when you can equally hire one and give back to a local company? I think that is one of the takeaways from this chat for me.

Alex North: Thank you so much for having me. I really valued the opportunity to talk about something I've been reflecting on and trying to educate myself about. And I don't have the answers, I'm not a climate scientist, but I think that at least looking at these numbers, has been for me personally, very eye opening. And has made me be able to travel more critically and think more honestly about how my behavior and how my adventures really do effect the planet for future generations. And so I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you guys today.

Speaker 1: It's a pleasure, Alex, and you might like to check out that infographic in our show notes, and you may also like to share what you've done to reduce your carbon footprint by emailing

Phil: Yep. Good idea. Let's hear from you. Next week, an engaged couple who traveled around the world for a year, exploring marriage customs in all those diverse cultures. Does it tear them apart or bring them closer together? Click bait. Find out in the next episode.

Speaker 1: See you.

Phil: Bye.

1 Comment

  • Kay said

    relistening to this episode brings me so many great memories! Incredible storytelling throughout the entire episode!

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