Traveling to Egypt Tips: What to Know Before You Go as a Solo Female Traveler!
Traveling to Egypt as an American, and especially as a woman, requires a little forward preparation. Mentally, emotionally and practically, it’s important to plan ahead when traveling to Egypt. The Middle East should not be a last-minute decision for Americans and it’s important to take the necessary precautions in order to enjoy the country and culture.
Is it safe for female travelers to visit Egypt?
Generally speaking, yes, it is safe for female travelers to visit Egypt. However, having spent some time in Turkey as a #solofemaletraveler and not loving it, I decided to plan Egypt with friends and family. I traveled for 2 weeks with a girl friend and we felt perfectly safe. We did take precautions with attire and such, but we were completely fine traveling on public transportation, Ubers and flying domestically.
What precautions should I take as a solo female traveler to Cairo?
As a female traveler in a Muslim country, it’s especially important to dress modestly. I have an entire post on what to wear in a Muslim country, so be sure to check out those tips. If you are traveling solo, your attire becomes even more important to avoid unwanted attention and risky situations. In Cairo, a city with 20 million people, solo female travelers can easily take Ubers, but you should be cognizant of the fact that conservative Muslim men may not want to be alone with a female. I found many Christian Uber drivers, and even a female Muslim driver, but just note this cultural difference and sit in the back seat to create some space between the genders. Culturally speaking, it’s unusual for a female to tell a boy or man her name or age. Usually local women identify themselves as “the wife of ----” or “the daughter of ----” and not provide these personal details. My friend had a 10-year-old boy running down the street screaming her name after she introduced herself.
Best Tips for Traveling to Egypt
It will save you so much time and headache at the airport if you get an E-visa before arrival. They are the same price as the visa on arrival and provide a 30 day stay. You can submit it months before your trip and just select the timeframe you want the visa to be active.
As I stated, wearing culturally appropriate clothing in Egypt is important. While the country is predominantly conservative Muslim, it’s still quite chaotic. Cairo is loud, with lots of traffic and people everywhere. Depending on your travel experience this can be quite a cultural shock. Street vendors will also be quite pushy with tourists as the hard sell is culturally normal. You can minimize this by taking private tours so you tour guide can discourage them. Or you can learn “no” in Arabic, which is “la shukran.” Blondes receive more attention than brunettes and women get catcalled more than men. If the attention is too much, don’t be afraid to tell them no or ask politely for them to leave you alone. There are also tourist police in most of the main attractions and they don’t look too kindly on those hassling the tourists.
Nile River Cruise & Domestic Flights
If you are planning any domestic flights or want to do a Nile River cruise, it’s important to book these well in advance. Domestic flights are relatively cheap but can fill up fast. We traveled on AirCairo and Egyptian Air and had no issues with our checked bags and flight details. We did have a long delay from Aswan back to Cairo and the airline provided free drinks/snacks at the airport.
In all the bazaars and shopping streets, even taxis, haggling is considered the norm. My general rule is to get a few prices on an item you want to buy so you know a good starting point. Usually, you can reduce the price by 30-50% from the original price offered. But please remember to bargain in good faith. Don’t waste a vendors precious time haggling with you for an item for 20 minutes (and losing other potential business) to then walk away over $1-2.
Again, Egypt is an Islamic culture, so PDA is taboo. Even holding hands or cross-gender embraces can be considered disrespectful. While you are in your hotel room or private resort, it is generally ok, but in the open, at restaurants, local attractions, on transport, etc. PDA should be avoided.
It is always possible to get sick when traveling. If you bring over-the-counter medicines, make sure you don’t have anything with Codeine or Methadone in it. Tylenol and Advil are good standbys, as are mosquito repellent and Tums. If you take regular medication, it’s important to bring the outside packaging along with the prescription (where possible). Having the name and ingredient list on your medication will reduce the issues at the airports.
The quality of water in Egypt is not great. Locals are able to drink the water because they have adapted. However, it is strongly recommended for tourists to only drink bottled water when in Egypt. It’s extremely cheap and sold everywhere. You can also take the time to try some different drinks. We LOVED the pomegranate sparkling water from Schwepps with real bits of pomegranate inside. There are apple-flavored sodas, coffee beverages and lots of cold teas to try. The fresh juices are also some of the best so be sure to indulge!
Always have some snacks on hand! This is a good tip for all travel, but especially in Egypt. Sometimes transportation is delayed. But mostly, you are in the desert. You will sweat (for me, almost constantly) so you need to replenish salt and electrolytes. Make sure you have water (or some hydration) with you. I usually keep a few granola bars and some nuts or dried fruit in my bag at all times, restocking whenever I find a grocery store. When traveling in the White Desert, visiting the pyramids or on a boat all day in the Red Sea, you never know when hangry will strike and should be prepared. You don’t want to spoil your vacation because you are hungry!
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