I recently traveled to Egypt. Here’s a few things that I wish I knew before I traveled!
- It’s not necessary to travel with a Tour Agency, but they do know how to make it more fun!
When we got to Egypt we were greeted by a representative from EG Travel tours and a bus took us to our first hotel. At first, I was a little anxious about having tour guides– I hadn’t met them prior to this trip and had no idea who they were. After the first day, when Micho and Ashraf took us to the Great Pyramids, I was set. They were amazing tour guides and were very accommodating to our group of 12. We had a packed schedule full of pyramid and temple visits, ATV rides through the desert and snorkeling. In our downtime, they still wanted to hang out with us, and we convinced them to walk to a coffee shop at night, which turned into them helping us crash two weddings! They knew how to do Egypt right (loved my tour guides!).
- Stay away from the buffets!
OKAY FRIENDOS. Why would you go to another country where half the culture comes from its food and its people, to sit in a buffet in a resort full of people and food from your own country??? There’s no culture in pasta, pizza, and hot dogs– all of these foods are served in the Holly Pointe Cafeteria. The real food in Egypt is the food you find on the streets by accident. We stumbled upon the best shawarma sandwiches and knafeh. And the best of all was koshari, a rice and lentil dish, from a restaurant called Abu Tarek. The restaurant only serves two things– koshari and rice pudding– and they have perfected the recipe. I have been craving it every day since I have been back!!!
- Opt for hats and scarves rather than sunblock
I am pale. Like if I was a Crayola, I would be named “Casper: The Friendliest Ghost.” So obviously my pale skin tone calls for a lot of protection from the sun, and everyone warned me before leaving that I needed to bring lots of sunblock. When I got to Egypt, however, I learned very quickly that the sunblock was not the trick; I sweat off most of the sunblock by the time I would get to the activity for the day and it provided no sufficient coverage from the sun. I found that covering with a hat or scarves provided more relief from the sun
- Follow the dresscode
Egypt is a more conservative country, so be respectful. Don’t walk around in booty shorts, and don’t show up to any of the mosques without your shoulders and legs covered. It’s not as bad as people make it seem. I tend to have a more revealing wardrobe at home and I still managed to find cute outfits that kept me covered.
- The people are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
I have never had more people come up and want to talk to me in my entire life. They are genuinely interested in everything you have to say and are just so curious to learn more about you. Oftentimes, especially in the more local places, many people have never seen an American. It was a very different experience to be a foreigner, but I loved learning about the people as they tried to figure out who I was.
- “Habiby ten thousand camels if you’ll marry me!”
You will get catcalled A LOT. Especially in the tourist areas. Just keep your head down and keep walking or give a smile and move on. There’s no need to stop and talk. Plain as that. Think about walking through a market like walking into a frat party in your hottest outfit– people will stare and comment, but you’ll just ignore and continue having fun with the people you entered the party with.
- Go explore!
The best things were found when we just walked around. Little weddings, coffee carts with teas and spices, meats and breads on strings, and horse-drawn carriages. My tour guide thought it was the funniest thing when I took a picture of an egg stand because to him that was completely normal, but personally, I’ve never seen an egg stand! All of my eggs come from a Grade A package at shop rite. Just explore– there are so many things for you to see that you will never know exist until you’re surrounded by the culture.
- Bring toilet paper… and a lot of it!
Need I say more? The bathrooms either don’t have toilet paper, or you have to tip someone for toilet paper. Just bring it with you when you leave the hotel!
- What doesn’t kill you makes you… have to use the bathroom a lot.
Everyone always says not to drink the water or eat the fruit when you go to Egypt. And guess which stubborn tourist did both? Yep, me. And boy did I pay. I was sick for three weeks and slightly miserable when school started. And even now I still feel like my body is catching up on rest. SO be smart and don’t drink the water or eat the fruits.
- It will be one of the most eye opening cultural experiences that you will ever have.
Hands down, Egypt was one of the craziest and most interesting experiences I have ever had, and I wouldn’t trade a second of it.
I loved my trip to Egypt. When I return though I’m going to be *a lot* more prepared!