Travelling the world is a goal most people want to accomplish in their lives. Some people use the word dream to describe travelling, because they are not able to, or very rarely, go travelling due to their busy schedule. If they ever do, they are not fully prepared and more often than not, have no idea about the city or country of their destination. This kind of list will help a lot, not only for people who are undecided but with every other person who loves to travel. It’s smart to be prepared the best way one can, and since they are going out of their comfort zone and timezone, it always feels good to be extra ready.
Out of all the countries in the seven continents, one of the most popular tourist destinations is Egypt. This is mainly because of the Pyramids, if India has the Taj Mahal and China has the Great Wall, Egypt has the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and the River Nile. Egypt is in the northeastern side of Africa and is bordered by Sudan to the south and Libya in the west. Egypt’s capital city is Cairo and the country’s population is almost 100 million. This is a place where locals are used to tourists, and most are friendly, but it can be a bit of a culture shock if travellers don't prepare ahead of time. This list, however, will help!
25 The Hot Weather
Egypt’s weather is usually hot and dry. If one doesn’t like super hot weather, avoid going there in the summer. June, July, and August are the hottest months of the year, ranging from 100 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s less hot in Cairo since it’s in the north of Egypt.
The coolest (least hot) time to visit is in the months of October to April. It can be pleasantly cool at night time, which is a great time to walk around and enjoy the streets of Cairo. Always check the local weather forecast when you’re there to prepare you for what to bring and what to wear when going outside for a tour or a hike.
24 Check the Calendar
One should be checking the Egyptian calendar for holidays that are celebrated on the days one visits there. There are two holidays one should be prepared for in Egypt, the first is Ramadan. In Ramadan, most tourist spots close early, restaurants and shops too. This is a religious holiday and those who practice it don’t eat anything from early in the morning until sunset. Schedule an early dinner or a late one as the stores and restaurants are closed as early as 2 p.m. and will open after the end of the fasting.
The second holiday is Eid Al Adha, essentially a celebration. As a woman and a tourist, avoid crowded public places like parks and malls as there’s a significant increase in sexual harassment on this particular holiday.
23 Brush Up on Arabic
Most tourist places in Egypt have people working there with at least an acceptable knowledge of the English language, but we like to impress them as smart tourists, too. Arabic might as well be the hardest language to learn in the world, but here are some useful words a tourist could learn in one sitting. Learn them on the plane going to Egypt and you’ll at least be a bit ready once you land there. Hello and the response to it, we already know. Shokran means thank you, a firm one means no, thank you I am not interested. If it doesn’t work, use Khalas, it means enough or stop. Most will ask you, Izayik? That means how are you to a woman. Mashi - okay, it’s fine; Qwayes - good; Shweya shweya - a little; Kateer - a lot. For directions, the following means left, right, straight, and here: shemal, yameen, alatool, and henna.
22 Sunglasses Are A Must
Probably the most important thing to bring, sunglasses are crucial to enjoying one’s trip in Egypt. Most of the tours will be done in the daytime and the sun is up in Egypt as early as 5 a.m. and as late as 7 p.m. Remember that the sun is different in Egypt, it’s closer to the equator than any of the places you’ve probably been to, so get sunglasses with a little extra juice in them, polarized and/or with UV protection. This is the first thing you should pack because it’s the easiest to forget. One can buy a pair in Egypt, but sunglasses will be more expensive there.
21 A Scarf Will Come Handy
Scarves are a good idea to bring as a woman traveling to Egypt. First, the culture in Egypt is for the women to cover as much skin as they can, especially if they are going out in public, so a scarf is great apparel to do just that. Use it to cover our arms down to the elbows. Second, it can be used as a hijab. But if we are going to do that, one might as well learn the proper way to do it. There is a correct way, and one can easily go online and check videos on a step-by-step and accurate way of wearing a hijab.
20 Appropriate Clothing
Now that we are talking about the culture, wearing appropriate clothes in Egypt is important. One should not pack any skimpy shorts, short skirts or dresses, sleeveless or backless items or anything tight fitting. Skirts should reach the knees, capris are okay.
If you visit the hotel pool, one might check to see what other swimmers are wearing. If the women are wearing bikinis, then one should be okay wearing one. Otherwise, swimsuits should be a modest one-piece. A suitable cover-up should be worn for traveling through the hotel lobby, no matter what kind of swimwear one puts on.
19 Light-fabric Clothes
This is a good tip if a person is a light packer and doesn’t want to bring excess clothes. Choose light fabrics for when one needs to wash them, they would easily dry. Plus, it helps a lot in the hot and dry weather. Accidents could happen, stains and such, so bring those breathable clothes. Linen and polyester are good, but the best is a kind of combination of these two and cotton. Rayon is the answer, though it is not a natural fiber, but it has the best components of all the other fabrics, especially designed for dry and hot weather. But one can always pack extra if they do not mind the additional weight and hate to wash clothes while on vacation.
18 Wear the Right Shoes
This is probably more of a reminder than advice. When women pack, they always pack at least two pairs of different shoes. One pair is more formal and elegant, and the other pair is more comfortable and outdoorsy. With every other piece of clothing that we have to be conscious about while enjoying Egypt, we could mix up the shoes we are wearing for the activity we are going to do. Remember to use those comfortable shoes when taking a tour of the Pyramids, as getting there may be via a 5-minute walk, which is what most tourists do. Then, don’t forget to have a nice dinner in a classy restaurant wearing sophisticated high-heeled shoes.
17 Water Bottle
Hydration is the key to maximizing your fun times in Egypt. If one has a favourite water bottle or a cute container, by all means, bring it on the trip. The temperature in Cairo and at the Pyramids is reason enough to make sure one has some form of hydration on our person.
We can buy those drinks filled with electrolytes, but water is still best and easy to acquire in all kinds of places. Be sure to drink bottled water instead of the drinking water available in the hotel restaurant or lobbies, tap water, house water, or any kind of water that is not sealed in a bottle.
16 Sunblock Will Help A Lot
Just like sunglasses, sunblock is an important item one needs to bring on a trip to Egypt. And just like sunglasses, it could be real expensive if it is purchased in Cairo. It doesn’t much matter what kind an adult uses, whether picking a sun cream, sunscreen, sunblock, or suntan lotion, they are all good. Remember to reapply during the day.
Don’t pay much attention to the SPF even, these factors are only for actual sunbathing (hours of exposure). UVA rays and UVB rays, who knows what they are and what the difference is and which ones have those? There are actually sunblocks that would protect from both UVA and UVB rays, and while we’re here, UVA rays penetrate the deeper layer of skin and UVB just the layers we see. Getting badly sunburned is a good way to ruin your fun.
These days, people need their electronics wherever they go. They even need them most when going on a vacation. Whether it’s a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone, we need it for connectivity and selfies. If it’s other electronic devices, like an amateur or professional-grade camera, one needs to learn a few things about electronics use in Egypt.
The country mainly uses 220 voltage sockets and you will also find strange looking sockets even in your hotel room. They are the round prongs instead of the flat rectangular ones we are used to. Go to an electronics store and ask about voltage adapters for travel overseas.
14 Important Travel Documents
If we are traveling in a foreign country, we always make sure we have our camera, some money, and a map for when we go out and explore. Sometimes the most important things we tend to leave behind in the safety of our hotel rooms because we don’t want them getting lost or destroyed while we enjoy ourselves outside.
It’s crucial that we have our identification, especially if we are in foreign soil, so there is a simple solution. Important papers that police and other establishments might require of us, we should make copies of and bring them with us wherever we go, problem solved.
13 A Backpack Will Be Useful
A nice comfortable travel bag is a good companion when travelling alone. Usually, we like sling bags, but cross-strap ones or cross body bags could accentuate one’s chest and that’s not a good image for our friendly locals. Put on and cover it with a matching scarf, or use a nice, cute-looking backpack.
Easy to wear, and gives one complete freedom of both arms, just make sure they are theft-proof, especially when wandering in a crowded area like a Cairo market. There are a lot of theft-proof backpacks in attractive colours and patterns. Now we’ve got a fashionable bag to put our documents, sunblock, SLR camera, and water bottle in.
12 Hand Sanitizers
The worst thing that could happen on a vacation in a beautiful country is to get a nasty tummy ache. Can’t get out far and long, just stuck in our room, moaning and watching reruns of popular sitcoms dubbed in Arabic. If watching Phoebe sing Smelly Cat in Arabic is not your idea of fun, then make sure you prevent this from happening.
Money is commonly dirty, and Egyptian money is no different. Always have a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you, be sure to whip it out and pour it on after touching money. Wash your hands every chance you get, before eating and before settling in your hotel room. Better safe than sorry.
11 Money and Tipping
Tipping is a common thing in Egypt, that’s what a very famous tourist site and one of the Great Wonders of the World does to its people. Try to hide your dollars and euros, a sight that would make a local ask for more tips.
Use a separate purse if you must for your Egyptian monies, and have them changed to tipping denominations. Tip 10 percent in restaurants (for the waiter), for the tour guide a 20 percent tip is generous enough. For drivers, and other servers, the equivalent of one dollar is enough. If backed in a corner, use your Arabic and say shokran or khalas.
10 Look Into Private Tours
To enjoy a tour in Egypt and avoid getting ripped off by opportunistic locals, a good way to go about is to arrange for a private tour. Hotels in Cairo can set this up for you, that way it is guaranteed to be safe and you will not be taken advantage of as a tourist.
If traveling alone, they arrange a group private tour, that’s less expensive and safer. Do not accept offers of private tours and cheap ones from locals, even if they say it’s a special one and that you will not be disappointed. When one knows nothing about the place locally, the best bet is to put your fate in the hotel’s hands.
9 Riding a Taxi
The same way you would find a tour guide, getting a taxi in Egypt (and truthfully in any foreign country, third-world or otherwise) is not always safe. So avoid being a target and just hail one in the streets of Cairo like you are a local, or like you’re in New York.
If a need to use a taxi arises, have the hotel arrange for it as this is the safest way. They will not get a taxi that would jeopardize their guest in any way, shape or form. Get a hotel card from the lobby and give it to the taxi driver (if he’s a different one) on your back.
8 Talking to Locals
Locals in Cairo usually know the regular English words like hello, bye, thank you, yes, and no. Here is the opportunity to brag to them about your learned Arabic. If you nail it, they’d be so happy and will let you know.
They appreciate tourists who make an effort to learn and speak their language, they know how hard it is to pronounce correctly. Talk about your family and ask them about theirs and you are golden to them. Avoid the usual conversation taboos, and it’s okay to be late, so if they are, do not make a big fuss about it.
7 Pretend You Are Married
When traveling alone in Egypt, there is one piece of advice that most women who’ve been there found that does the trick with all Egyptian men. Just pretend you are married. If you feel you can commit to the role more effectively, get a gold ring that looks like a wedding ring as a prop.
If one cannot do a Meryl Streep worthy portrayal as a married woman travelling in Egypt, as long as we make a guy walk the other way in Cairo, that’s good enough. It’s a sure way to take care of this pesky problem if all you want is to be left alone.
6 The Tourist Police
Tourist police in Egypt are of the same rank and jurisdiction as the Egyptian National Police. There really is no difference, they are just stationed in places where tourists are mostly and perhaps are above-average in English communication speaking skills.
If we feel weird about something or someone, if words are not enough and firm shokrans and multiple khalas doesn’t change the situation. If one gets to that point where one feels threatened and unsafe, find a Tourist Police officer and they’d be there to help you out. Just remember to get your documents ready as it might get to that point, let’s hope hard this does not happen, but also be ready if it ever comes.
5 Haggle Like You Mean It
Before going home, of course we need to have our souvenirs. If haggling is more of an expertise and a fun interaction rather than an awkward and uncomfortable thing, then Cairo is the best place. Be sure to visit Khan El Khalili, enjoy a nice cup of coffee in one of their coffee shops, and try out some Egyptian street food if you have the stomach for it, there’s plenty in the place.
Basic haggling skills that might work with Egyptian shop owners: haggle on something that you will really buy, set your price for it (in your mind), then ask them how much, start with half of what they offer or half of how much you think it is in your mind, then go from there. Good luck!
4 Eat Kushari
Cooked in a combination and intervals of stir-frying and boiling, kushari (or koshari) is a dish made of rice, macaroni, lentils and mostly vegetables. Do not board that flight home without trying this truly authentic Egyptian dish.
Kushari has been a dish in Egypt since the 19th century and is best eaten with tomato sauce and garlic vinegar. Kushari is actually Egypt’s national dish and has been part of their lives as it adapted and morphed from a street dish, to a soldier’s staple food, to a popular home dish, and now in restaurants all over Egypt. Try one and taste Egypt on a plate.
3 Be Alert and Aware
If taxis are too unpredictable and uncomfortable, bear in mind that Uber operates in Cairo, so whip out that phone and book a ride instead of getting a taxi. Uber rides are more comfortable and safer than the random taxi cab. If riding the train, then look for the carriages that are exclusive for women and ride that one, it’s safer than the other option, especially if one is traveling alone. Do not be too comfortable talking to strangers, do not accept any kind of invitation from them, and don’t be too chatty or get too close with them. If one feels weird, decline offers of selfies, dinners, or private tours.
2 Handling Catcalling
Being a tourist, we cannot help but stand out in a crowd, with our skin tone and hair color, and height. Having said that, local men will always notice and some naughty ones will start calling out the insensitive and mean things they think should be accepted as a compliment.
If one hears catcalling, that silly whistle, or even indecent offers, try one’s best to just ignore them. Remember that we cannot change the way they are, and responding could only escalate it. Follow the clothing advice above to at least give them less incentive. Boys will be boys, no matter where you are, Egypt or home.
1 Have The Time of Your Life
Cairo is a beautiful city and Egypt is one of the most historic and culturally-rich countries in the world. Many people dreamed of going there and never stepped foot in their life. From the Pyramids to the Sphinx, from the Egyptian Museum to the Karnak Temple and the Valley of Kings tombs and across and along the Nile River, it is truly a magnificent place to be.
We hope we’ve helped a little on what things to bring and in preparing yourself culturally. But more importantly, you should also prepare to experience one of the times of your life. Safe journey and happy travels!