15 Egypt Travel Tips – What to do and what not to do for a successful trip
We were thrilled to work with The Sharper Traveler and Divas, Passports and Stilettos to create content for a wonderful 10-day trip to Egypt. If you have not already, make sure to read our previous blog Traveling in Egypt – Small Group Tours. There we highlight the advantages of international travel with a groups and having everything taken care of for you. Here we will share some Egypt travel tips, and what to do and what not to do. So you can have the very best trip to this country that connects Africa and the Middle East – with influences coming from both cultures.
#1 Be prepared for the heat
Think about spending hours in a hot desert as you look at 4000 year old pyramids and temples. Bring a hat, sun screen and a scarf. (You can buy one of the many sold there) It can be very dusty at times so wrapping a scarf around your mouth and that can be helpful. Especially if you get caught in a sand storm like we did. It will also keep the sun off your neck.
Wear light colored clothing – thin cotton and linen are best. Long flowing pants, skirts and dresses are very nice and help keep you covered in a more conservative culture. Just don’t have them be too short.
#2 Stay Hydrated
You must drink lots of water. While we pride ourselves at home for rarely using single use plastic bottles, you just have to get over the amount of waste (and trust me it is a lot) and drink bottled water. Sometimes your hotel may have filtered water out that you can use to fill a water bottle and use that. We never saw that at the places we stayed.
You will go through a ton of bottles of water unfortunately. It’s just a part of international travel. You have to stay hydrated but don’t drink the tap water. We didn’t even brush her teeth with it. It’s not worth possibly getting sick since you are not used to the water there. But for soda and juice we made sure to only use canned and juice boxes to help cut down on the waste.
#3 Bring medicines with you
It is not always easy to get what you need even if you do find a pharmacy. We carried our prescriptions, antibiotics, ibuprofen, Tums and anti-diarrhea meds. Someone in our group , even if not us, used everyone of these. I wish we had brought cough drops too because the dust in the air got to us at times. We did eventually find an open pharmacy and got some cough drops and electrolytes. Next time we will add these to the list of must have health products.
#4 Bring a wash cloth
Not everywhere had them and trust me it will come in handy to get all the dust off.
#5 Have $25 dollars US cash in your pocket
This is for your visa when you enter Egypt. Unless you already got it ahead of time. We paid our tour representative upon arrival and he had them all.
#6 You don’t need a bunch of fancy clothes
Even if you are doing one of the riverboat cruises, people just don’t dress up no matter what their website says. It is good to have a nice outfit or two for dinner in Cairo or wherever you go. But you don’t need a whole suitcase full of clothes to impress. Comfort is more important.
#7 Don’t just go to Cairo
Get out and explore the country a bit more outside of Cairo. A riverboat down the Nile for couple nights is nice (3 nights is plenty). And once in Cairo, get out of your hotel and explore. There is so much activity once it gets dark and cooler out.
#8 Don’t expect fancy food or a lot of variety
Meals are pretty basic: meat, chicken, rice and cooked veggies. And don’t eat anything that has to be washed except for maybe at a fancy restaurant. They probably used the tap water. We just didn’t fine a lot a variety of foods. And it was pretty hard for me finding things to eat because I’m a pescaterian with some food allergies and aversions. I just don’t eat a lot of fried foods and while I love seafood, I never really found a meal I enjoyed.
But some in our group found a great salmon at our first hotel that I missed out on. I was tempted to take a taxi or Uber back to Giza just to have one great meal on the trip. My husband and most of the others didn’t have any problems eating however. They aren’t as picky lol!
#9 Let your credit card company know that you are traveling
We’ve touched on this in previous posts because it’s always good to do on any trip. And don’t expect to use your American Express much as most places wouldn’t take it or charged 5% to use versus 3% for Visa or MasterCard.
#10 Don’t pack your schedule too tight
Make sure to have a couple good mornings to sleep in a bit and an afternoon off. The six hour time difference can take a toll on your body especially if you aren’t used to traveling. And the heat is no joke! Between the jet lag and heat, give yourself time to acclimate. You don’t want to miss out on something in the middle of your trip because you’re too exhausted.
#11 Get a tour guide that is suited to your needs
If you just want some highlights at each temple you visit maybe don’t hire an Egyptologist as a guide. While that information can be useful, you can easily hit information overload. And maybe get tired of standing out in the heat to hear every detail. Opt for the “Readers Digest” version unless you want every detail. There are a wide variety of tour guide options to give you what you’re looking for.
#12 Be prepared to have people constantly selling you stuff
This can be overwhelming and aggravating to some as many won’t take “no thank you” the first few times you try to say it nicely. And personal space is almost not heard of here. They say to ignore them but that too can be hard. We always strive to be polite and understand that tourism took a hit hard in recent years. Egypt has a lot of very poor people and just like us, they too can be desperate when it comes to feeding their family.
A little patience and compassion can go along way. And don’t think everyone who approaches you wants something. Most don’t actually! Many people are very friendly, see few Americans and are eager to talk to you. If you aren’t interested in local culture and people why are you even traveling here in the first place, right?
This is a big one. When you do organize tours, there can be a lot of people to tip and it can be overwhelming. Luckily our tour guides took care of most of it as it was included in the price. But beware many acted like it wasn’t and would ask again. Of course if someone goes above and beyond for you, what is a couple extra Egyptian pounds. 20 Egyptian pounds is just a little over a dollar! And that extra bit you’re willing to give will likely help fee someones family.
#14 There are a lot of homeless cats and dogs
If you follow our blog regularly, you know this is common in many countries we visit. There were also a ton of camels, horses and donkeys that didn’t seem to be in very good shape sadly. We like to check out a local shelter if we can. And if not we look up ones who helps with these issues and make a donation when we get home. We made our donation to Chance Animal rescue. You can find them on Facebook and make donations to Ahmedkamel12327@gmail.com via PayPal.
#15 Bringing back souvenirs
There are a lot of great treasures to be found. Go to government certified place to make sure you’re getting something made in Egypt and not China. That being said there are a ton of great souvenirs at the marketplaces to bring home to your friends and family. Just make sure to haggle. It’s something you might not be used to but a big part of Egyptian culture. A good rule of haggling is to take the price given to you, take it in half and subtract a bit more. Meet them somewhere in the middle and be prepared to walk away!!
We hope you enjoyed our Egypt travel tips and learned a bit about what to do and what not to do. Have you been to Egypt before? We would love to hear other tips you’d like to share!