On a trip to Jordan, Kevin Hackett finds that his 16-year-old son couldn't care less about his father's expenditure.
Travelling with Kids: Jordan's Wadi Rum is a bumpy ride in a hire car
Crucially in the summer months, Jordan's daytime temperature is a good 10 degrees below ours here in the UAE and humidity is practically non-existent. Perfect, then, as a summer destination for my visiting 16-year old son and I. It was to be the usual tourist stuff: a day and night at the Dead Sea, staying at a Mövenpick resort, followed by two nights at Petra at another Mövenpick for about Dh500 per night booked through Make My Trip (www.makemytrip.ae). To wrap up the adventure I chose a day's camel trekking through Wadi Rum with a Bedouin guide followed by a night under the stars at a desert camp. What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, it turned out. First of all, in order to guarantee making it from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in time for our flight, I agreed to drive to the airport rather than avail ourselves of Etihad's complimentary transfer service. That way my son Ethan would have sufficient time to emerge from his pit, have breakfast and not forget anything. We left in good time, arriving just as the free coach did. And I was perfectly happy until I realised just what five days' parking at Abu Dhabi airport was going to cost: Dh950. Should have caught that bus, even a taxi would have been cheaper. Still, not wanting to dampen spirits I kept a lid on it. We were supposed to be having fun.
Upon landing at Jordan's Queen Alia airport things were looking up. Until, that is, I went to the Avis desk to pick up our wheels for the trip. What should have been a new Peugeot 208 turned out to be a 207 that was so dilapidated it looked like it had been rallied by Sebastien Loeb. Not wanting to delay our travels I begrudgingly agreed to accept this switch, but it would have been nice to have had a working horn and fuel gauge. And a valet every few months. And a suspension that didn't seek to throw us off the road at every opportunity.
Anything else? We should have booked two nights, not one, at the Dead Sea's Mövenpick because we both loved it there. The beach access, the pool areas, the multiple restaurants and the rooms themselves - it's really quite special. I should have researched how much it costs to just walk around Petra to prevent a coronary (minimum of Dh600 for two) and, as for Wadi Rum, if camels are the ships of the desert then neither of us will be signing up for a two week cruise anytime soon.
Lessons learnt: don't park at the airport; don't hire a car from Avis; and, if you want to see Wadi Rum (and you must), do so by camel by all means but make it an half an hour excursion at the most and see the rest from an off-road vehicle with an engine and cushioned seats. After two weeks we're still having difficulty walking. But visit Jordan and do so with a teenager. He didn't moan about a single thing, unlike his old man.