If you are planning your first Egypt private tours or Egypt classic tours, this guide is for you. Just remember that while Egypt is, indeed, a sophisticated and very modern country where almost anything you need can be purchased, there are a few important exceptions – items you will probably want to bring with you. To the seasoned traveler the following list may seem almost too basic, but if you are making your first Egypt tours and travel, it won’t.
Contending with Sun and Heat in Egypt
Hats and Other Covering
Shade is always at a premium, what with the hot Egyptian sun. Bring a wide-brimmed hat. For women, this is especially important, as you will be more accepted when touring old churches and mosques if you wear some type of head covering. You will also want to bring scarves or similar apparel, not only to protect from the sun but for visiting religious sites where such attire is expected. When it’s really hot, you can soak a plain cloth hat or scarf in water to help keep your head cool.
Sunburn is a major concern. It can wreck your trip. I have seen this too often to ignore. Many tourists’ vacations are virtually ruined after only one day of sightseeing. You can buy sunscreen in Egypt, but to be sure, you probably should bring your own favorite brand and strength.
More than once, you will find yourself admiring a brilliantly glaring view of sand and desert. You will NEED a good pair of sunglasses with an ultra-high UV rating. Again, while these may be purchased in Egypt, you might be wise to bring your own . . . and a spare pair.
Canteen or Water Holder
Remember, much of Egypt is desert . . . real desert. Water is scarce. Because staying hydrated is critically important for your comfort, you will want to be sure and carry water with you. Of course, bottled water is easily accessible, but hauling these around can be a bother, even a burden. You will find it is much better to bring along a canteen, or something similar, to allow you to carry your water on your waist or over your shoulder. Alternatively, a fanny pack, backpack, or shoulder-bag will make this equally convenient.
Here’s a great tip: Before you leave for Egypt and start your Egypt tours and travel, go to the beach toy section of Target or Wal-Mart and find one of those water bottles that come with an attached battery-operated fan. You will be very glad you did!
Other Needs in your visit to Egypt
Yes, it is fun to just roam and explore new areas, but when you travel to an extremely “foreign” environment such as Egypt, you run the risk of missing all the good stuff, like the classic antiquities and other aspects of the experience. So, I advise you strongly to pick up a good guidebook (or two). Two good ones are “The Rough Guide” and “The Lonely Planet.” Even with guided tours, you’ll find that such a book will give you time for orientation both before and after the actual tours. These too can be found in Egypt, but why not be sure, and save some time, by picking one up before you leave?
I’m sure I don’t have to remind you to bring your camera to capture moments from you Egypt tours and travel. But there are a couple of things you should consider. For instance, if you intend to take photos inside tombs, you’ll want to bring a high-speed film. Most people use ASA 800 film, which they push to 1600. This is because many monuments require that you do not use a flash when taking pictures inside.
Also, do not under-estimate the mammoth size of many Egyptian monuments, they are truly monumental. Tourists are often disappointed with regular lenses. A good wide-angle lens will be an excellent accessory. Of course, a video camera will provide you with wonderful souvenir footage of your trip; however, again, keep in mind that filming inside many museums, monuments, and tombs are prohibited.
Comfortable Walking Shoes
This is probably one of the first things most people will tell you to bring to Egypt before you start your Egypt private tours or classic tours. Most tourists will be doing a considerable amount of walking, and shoes should not be just comfortable, but comfortable. Unlike leather shoes for mountain walks and such, it is also preferable that walking shoes be able to “breathe” and perhaps made of lightweight nylon or similar fabric. “Tennis shoes” or other sporting types of shoes are good for this. Also, keep in mind that there are a lot of steps in Egypt.
Egypt uses 220-volt plug-ins, and plugs are two-prong rounded. You’ll need one of the two varieties of power adaptors. For electronic gear that has switched to allow you to change the power input type, a simple wall adapter is all you will need. However, for devices that don’t feature such switches, you will need not only a wall adapter but also a power converter.
Do NOT forget to bring your prescription medicine! It may be generally available in Egyptian drug stores, but it may be called by a different name. So, to avoid confusion and problems, I suggest you bring the drugs you will require with you. Fortunately, there is no problem bringing prescription medication to Egypt. It is also more convenient to bring your favorite non-prescription medications along. Though you can find equivalent non-prescription medications, such as aspirin or heartburn medication, you might not find your favorite brands. Special note: Don’t forget your Immodium. Of course, no one wants to contract “Tut’s Trot” or “Mummy’s Tummy”, but just in case, having some Immodium or other anti-diarrheic with you is a very good idea. Moreover, the most common brand of bottled water, Baraka, contains magnesium, and so may act as a mild laxative. Another water brand to try is Siwa.
While most hotels will happily give you a wake-up call to catch you Egypt tours and travel right in time, many don’t. Particularly if you aren’t traveling with a group, a travel alarm will come in very handy. I often use mine to make sure that I can catch a little sleep in airports, and still catch my flight.
some of the larger hotels, as well as some of the better-equipped smaller hotels, might supply a sewing kit in your room, but don’t count on it. Most Egyptian tours are relatively long, and it is not unusual to lose a button here or there as you clamber through pyramids and tombs.
It is generally unnecessary for you to haul your favorite libations along with you. You will find many very good beers and wines in Egypt, and they are easily affordable. In fact, I consider Egyptian beer to be excellent. However, harder alcoholic beverages such as whiskeys and bourbons can be quite hard to find, and very expensive if you do. You may bring up to two liters of liquor into the country, and you may buy additional liquor at a reasonable price at the tax-free shop prior to leaving the airport. Why would you want to do this? Well, it is not uncommon to pay as much as $13.00 or even more for a single shot of Jack Daniels.
Cigarettes are available and inexpensive, but only in very limited variety. For example, Marlboro Lights are readily available, but not Marlboro 100s. In fact, very few “long” cigarettes are available. While you can purchase “American” cigarettes almost anywhere (LE 23.50), usually what you will find are Egyptian-manufactured cigarettes, which are noticeably harsher than the ones you are used to. Remember, just because you are buying Marlboro does not mean it will be the same Marlboro that you would buy in the U.S. or Europe.
If you are the type who likes to take home souvenirs, you should consider bringing an extra bag when you visit Egypt. Just stuff it inside another bag before you leave home, and then use it to carry back souvenirs. Alternatively, many business people or guests of Egyptians often bring presents into Egypt, and once emptied, the bag is used to take souvenirs back. You can find plenty of bags to purchase in Egypt. They are cheap but not the best quality.
What to Wear in Egypt
Egypt is a very conservative country and visitors need to respect this. For instance, absolutely no topless or nude sunbathing is permitted. Just use your head-On the practical side, leave your synthetic clothes at home; they will prove to be too hot in summer and not warm enough in winter. You want to bring materials that breathe. Since the Egyptian summer can be blazing hot, it is advisable to wear cotton. In winter, you’ll appreciate having layers that can be removed during the heat of the day and put back on for the cooler evenings.
Follow the example of the locals and wear loose and flowing garments. Not only are these appropriately modest, but they are also very practical in the hot climate.
Have you ever wondered why the Bedouin wear layers of flowing robes? Why do they cover their heads and the back of their necks? Centuries of living in desert climates have taught them that loose garments keep them cooler, and layered garments allow wind to enter and circulate, creating a natural ventilation system. It’s important to protect your head and neck from loss of moisture helps prevent heat stroke.
Bring comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking, and temple floors are far from even. In summer, wear a hat to protect yourself from the glaring Egyptian sun.
What to Bring in Egypt
Above all, travel light. Get wheels for your luggage, and leave heavy items at home. Bring a camera. If you don’t, you will be sorry. Sunglasses are a must, as the sun is very strong in Egypt. For more, please see above.
Finally, as with any expedition to a new and foreign environment, bring along your good humor and a positive attitude. For many, and even those who have done extensive traveling in the U.S. or Europe, Egypt will be very different. You will find that attitudes are more “laid-back,” time is less important, and even that some Egyptians can be a bit annoying (especially when selling their wares or their services at tourism sites). In Egypt, you will hopefully learn to let the smaller problems you might encounter roll off your shoulders, and simply enjoy this, the oldest of all civilizations.