ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Travelling to Egypt in the Winter - Packing List and Helpful Tips

Updated on November 8, 2019
RJ Schwartz profile image

Exploring the world is not my life's focus, but when I go somewhere, I try to share my experiences with everyone

Original Photography of Egyptian Pyramid by R.J. Schwartz
Original Photography of Egyptian Pyramid by R.J. Schwartz | Source

Egypt has always been a place of mystery, magic, and history. The pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings all have worldwide recognition and collectively attract tens of millions of people to see their magnificence up close and personal. Additionally, there are dozens of lesser-known Temples, Tombs, and monuments which almost feel like an added bonus to visitors. It seems that everywhere you look, there is something ancient and immense just waiting to be studied, explored, and of course photographed. It’s no secret that tourism has been an integral part of the Egyptian economy, especially since 1975, when the government eased visa restrictions. Overall visits peaked in 2010, but in recent years have been fewer due to unrest inside the nation and the Middle East; the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 was a pivotal moment which really hurt tourism. But, fortunately since then there have been changes in the leadership and it appears that the current government is serious about trying to revitalize the tourism industry by demonstrating that Egypt is a safe place to visit.

Interior of Philae Temple - Egypt
Interior of Philae Temple - Egypt | Source

To Go or Not to Go Was the Question

As scholars of antiquities and fascinated by all things spiritual and historical, my wife and I wanted to visit Egypt, starting many years ago. But like many people, we were nervous about the political climate and kept pushing the idea of taking a trip off. It didn’t help that the media in America highlighted the Arab Spring as a total catastrophe and focused wide-eyed on every bombing, skirmish, and act of violence. Since we had no other source of reliable information, we chose to stay home and wait it out; hoping that the monuments would still be standing if and when we ever had the chance to visit Egypt. Finally, in 2016, things seemed to be quieter and we started talking about the idea again. Fortunately for us, one of our friends passed through Egypt and we were able to get a factual account of what was actually happening inside the country.

Hieroglyphics from inside a tomb in the Valley of the Kings
Hieroglyphics from inside a tomb in the Valley of the Kings | Source

Many Trusted Sources Were Wrong About the Political Climate of Egypt

Needless to say, we realized that the American media was shown to be very one-sided and only provided a small sampling of what things were really like. There were no gun battles on the city streets, nor were there suicide bombers around every corner. And although the country is predominantly Muslim, there were few if any extremists and everyone seemed to get along just fine, regardless of skin color, national origin, or any other trait. The country was a safe place for people of all backgrounds and religions. The violence other Middle Eastern nations saw daily stayed far from the Egyptian borders and life there was peaceful, but the economy was struggling due to the lack of tourism dollars. It seemed to be the right time to start planning once again.

After some deliberation, we booked a trip about a year in advance for the first two weeks of December, 2018, along with a small group of our friends. As it seems with all big plans, the time flew by and we found ourselves with just a few months remaining until our flights. So, like everyone else planning to visit a different country, we sought out ideas on what to expect and what to pack on the internet. Needless to say, we were unsatisfied in what was available. Most travel sites seemed to overly stress the same information the media was pushing; it was a mixture of fear, nervousness, and anxiety topped off with a generous helping of vagueness. Being experienced American travelers, we decided that we’d adopt the “better safe than sorry” approach and packed everything and anything we thought we might need over the course of a two-week excursion. Of course, in hindsight, we found that we could have left much of it at home and probably brought other things instead. We managed just fine, but realized that our experiences could be beneficial to others who wanted to make the journey

The old meets the new on the banks of the Nile
The old meets the new on the banks of the Nile | Source

Think Outside of the Box When it Comes to Weather

The first thing we tried to understand is the weather as it would directly impact what clothes we needed to take. In some ways, the Egyptian winter season is quite similar to the United States, with temperatures cooling down in late October and remaining cool until late March. It doesn’t get down to the extreme cold temperatures, but does get chilly. Daytime highs, for example in Cairo, are around 70 degrees in December and nighttime lows are in the middle 50’s. If you are living in the northern part of the United States, these temperatures might look very appealing when planning your vacation; I know we saw temperatures in the 70’s and were excited. Temperatures in the mountains in Idaho are usually in the single digits with extreme winds about that time of year, so we were easily lulled into a state of vacation bliss before we even stepped foot in Egypt. We took whatever information we could find and proceeded to over-pack and set out with passports in hand on a wonderful journey of discovery and excitement.

Luxor sightseeing at night
Luxor sightseeing at night | Source

Before You Go

If I tried to write about the total experience, I'd need to publish a novel (maybe two). Instead, I’d like to give you a first-hand account of what I think you should know, what to pack, and what to leave at home. Of course, everyone is different, so use this as a guideline and you’ll be further ahead. One person's list isn't always going to work for the next person.

Before You Go

1. Check your health insurance to see if it will cover you in Egypt. If not, then purchase short-term insurance. Unfortunately one member of our group was seriously injured in a fall and found out they were not covered outside of the United States. This led to thousands of dollars in medical charges, which they had to put on a credit card.

2. Make sure your passport is current and has at least 6 months remaining before it expires. This is common advice found on every travel site, but it pays to double check.

3. Give your phone the once-over, but with a different approach than you might usually take.

-first and foremost, remove all of your personal information, especially banking apps, anything that stores payment information, retail or department store apps, and if you can manage without them, remove your social media apps - a good way to decide if something is worth keeping is to think about your phone getting stolen or lost: what information would hurt you if thieves had access to it?

-second, shut off all apps from automatically refreshing - it saves a lot of battery life, especially in areas of poor connectivity

-third, if you don't have a password on your phone, consider adding one just in case something happens

-clear as many of your contacts as possible - if your phone is stolen, it's likely that every name and e-mail address will be spammed or possibly hacked

Consider downloading short-term apps that you’ll find useful such as Google Translate, Currency Exchange Rate, your airline, your hotel, etc. - learn to use them before you depart so you are comfortable with them; especially the exchange rate ones.

I purchased an international calling plan from my carrier for me & my wife. It wasn't cheap, but I felt it was worth spending the money on. Others relied on Wi-Fi, but found it wasn't consistent and had connectivity problems. A few members of our party purchased a local sim-card for their phones, which were surprisingly affordable and reliable.

Finally, make a list of important phone numbers such as the U.S. Embassy, local hospitals near where you are staying, other members of your party, your attorney, and other important numbers, just in case.

The author preparing for an evening camel ride in the desert
The author preparing for an evening camel ride in the desert | Source

Packing List for Clothing

Almost everything outside of your hotel is made of stone, so sturdy fabrics are a good choice. You'll be walking on sand and uneven terrain. The weather changes quickly once the sun goes down, so layers are necessary. Plan accordingly and do not rely on “buying it there,” like you might when travelling domestically; You’ll be disappointed or maybe even out of luck. This basic list is unisex.

Jeans or Heavy Trousers – plan 1 pair for each 2-3 days to minimize weight (you may get dusty, but not too dirty)

Oxford-type shirts or long sleeve blouses - plan them for part of the layering process - they add warmth and will keep the sun off exposed skin (expect to wear each one multiple times)

Cotton or lightweight nylon T-shirts as a base layer (this would be something you can buy while in country with ease)

Underwear

Long sleeve cotton or bamboo shirt for an extra layer

Loose Sweater or fleece over-shirt (make sure it blocks the wind)

Light windbreaker that fits over layers (it's best to try things on at home for goodness of fit, before you leave)

Hiking Boots or Sturdy Shoes (I personally would avoid sandals or flip-flops as the sand will really be rough on your feet, but you may wish to bring them to wear around your hotel.)

Travel Vest – it may sound corny, but is very practical. These inexpensive vests have lots of pockets and they are easy to take on/off when needed (like when you go through security screening at every monument). I found this to be the most useful thing I brought - I kept my passport in an inside zippered pocket, some cash in an easy access breast-pocket, my camera and extra photography equipment in the large side pockets, a journal, pens, first-aid kit, lighter, map, and my extra phone battery in the vest. While my travelling companions were always looking for something, I had everything I need at my fingertips and it was secure.

A wide brimmed hat & a stocking cap (for cooler nights and sleeping)

Thick socks – you’ll walk a lot and the cushioning will help (of everything on the list, this is the one thing you might want to take extra pairs of)

Small backpack that is comfortable to carry (you’ll be packing water mostly, so test a few out before you go to make sure they are suitable)

Sweatpants and sweatshirts for sleeping – we traveled all over the country, mostly in small villages, and can validate that it gets cold at night in the desert

Remember that you are travelling in a predominantly Muslim nation and what you wear should be respectful of the local people. We did encounter tourists wearing shorts, halter-tops, and other articles of clothing which exposed copious amounts of skin. They weren't received very well outside of Cairo or other major "westernized" areas.

Example of ancient wall art
Example of ancient wall art | Source

Toiletries and Personal Items

My wife and I packed and traveled together, so we were able to distribute some of the load. There are some items on this list which you can possibly purchase, but be advised that your normal brand is probably not available in Egypt. A great piece of advice is to pack everything in small zipper bags to avoid leakage in your suitcases (with some items, you may want to double bag them)

Bar soap & Washcloth or Sponge (liquid soap is heavy - washcloths are not a standard item in many places, so it's best to bring your own)

Shampoo & Conditioner (Egypt is very dry, so you may want to review what you take)

Razors & non-aerosol shaving cream

Brush/Comb/Hair Clips/Bobby Pins/Hair Accessories (think wind and lots of walking)

Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and dental floss

Lotion for dry skin

Small sewing kit & buttons (make sure it's functional and not just for show)

Makeup (lighter tones and products with sunscreen)

Q-tips/Cleansing Pads/Make-up Remover

Eye Drops/Contact Solution/Contacts/Spare Glasses/eyeglass repair kit

Feminine hygiene products (pack twice the amount you think you’ll need)

Baby Wipes in small packets or you might want to try a great item my wife discovered called "puss 'and pits" - on those days when you can't shower or are feeling like you need a little spot cleaning

The Sakkara Guest House - A Home Away From Home

We stayed at the Sakkara View Guest House in Abu Sir for several days beyond amazing staff and hospitality - plus they have a dreaming dome in the center of the house
We stayed at the Sakkara View Guest House in Abu Sir for several days beyond amazing staff and hospitality - plus they have a dreaming dome in the center of the house | Source

Medicine Chest

If you have never traveled outside of the country, you are likely to find yourself with travelers diarrhea, or an upset stomach due to long flights and food you are not used to eating. It's a good idea to bring your own over-the-counter medications. Find a small zipper bag to keep everything in one place and make it easy to transport in a backpack when you are out visiting the attractions.

Anti-diarrhea medicine (Pepto-Bismol chewable & Imodium - take both a short-term and long-term product - you'll need them)

Advil or other pain/inflammation tablets (you will be walking a lot and sore muscles will need caring for)

High Quality cough drops/lozenges (Young Living, DoTerra, or another high-quality brand)

Ben-Gay, Bio Freeze, Salonpas, or another brand of liniment for topical relief

Ear Plugs – Egypt is sometimes noisy at night and these help a lot when you are trying to sleep in a small village

Hand Sanitizer - you will be touching a lot of things that others have touched

Antacid – Rolaids or Tums

Allergy Medicine or Benadryl in case of a reaction to something unplanned

Decongestant/Nasal Spray

Spare roll of Toilet Paper - carry extra toilet paper with you at all times - public toilets usually do not have paper (unless you pay the attendant)

Lip Balm & Sunscreen

Insect repellent pump spray/After-bite - you won't have too many insects in the winter, but if you stay in villages, you will have mosquitoes at night

Band-Aids/Corn or callous pads/Moleskin/Neosporin

Motion sickness medicine or set of magnetic bracelets for motion

Any prescription medicine you are taking (the MUST be in the original bottle, clearly marked with your name, etc. on the label)

Vitamins, herbal supplements, probiotics

Birth Control & Yeast Infection Kit/Cream

Anti-itch cream

Tweezers, thermometer, nail clippers/file

Many of the sites have active archaeological sites near the main attraction - they are off limits, but you can see them from above
Many of the sites have active archaeological sites near the main attraction - they are off limits, but you can see them from above | Source

Accessories and Miscellaneous Items

This is my short list of necessities. I packed too much when I went and some items went unused for the duration of my trip, such as binoculars, a tripod, extra lenses for my camera, and my laptop. The list below is considered essential.

Camera, film, and several sets of spare batteries - my phone did a great job with most photography, but my 35 mm camera pictures were much better (I took over 3,000 pictures in 2 weeks)

Portable phone charger - unlike here in America, there are not power stations everywhere, so many people take a portable power source and charge up in-between sites.

Power converter - Egypt uses "c" type and "F" type plugs - I purchased an all-purpose kit with different adapters just to be safe (see link below)

Charging cords - phone, iPad, or any other electrical device

Small flashlight - there are opportunities to go inside tombs and pyramids that may be dark or shaded, so a light may be useful to you

Sunglasses (wraparound if possible) - I brought a spare pair (you can find these to purchase in Egypt)

Notebook & pencil

Neck Pillow (optional for the flight)

Travel Cup with lid – if you stop and purchase a beverage along the road, most places won't have a lid for the cup

Fix-it kit - I always pack a small bag of "what if's" that includes safety pins, rubber bands, small roll tape, zip ties, paperclip or two, etc., just in case something breaks

Conclusion

Egypt is an amazing country and there is no doubt that you will find more things to do and see, than you have time. Take lots and lots of pictures where you can. Write things down for review on the flight home. Immerse yourself in the culture and history of this great nation. But, keep a watchful eye for trouble, respect the traditions and laws, and don't make a spectacle of yourself in any way. There are no-go zones due to active restoration crews working throughout the country; stay out of the way and be mindful. Some areas are off-limits for photography unless you purchase a photo permit - abide by these rules of have your camera taken by security. Read as much as you can before you go, pack for success, and have fun.

© 2019 Ralph Schwartz

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    2 months ago from UK

    This article will be of great help to others travelling to Egypt. I never travel without a small hand gel/sanitiser.

  • RJ Schwartz profile imageAUTHOR

    Ralph Schwartz 

    2 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

    Vivian - I think Americans get preferred treatment in Egypt (we are bringing much needed tourist dollars to the nation). We are neither Christian or Muslim so religion wasn't discussed the entire time I was there. We stayed outside of the metropolitan areas with the "regular" people and everyone seemed harmonious. We did see armed military checkpoints but never felt threatened by any of it.

  • Noelle7 profile image

    Vivian Coblentz 

    2 months ago

    Funny you mentioned how safe it was. Acquaintances of mine visited there several months ago and had a wonderful trip too. However, close relatives of our neighbors live in Egypt but come to visit the US a couple times each year. Their children are in the US for college. When I spoke with them a while ago, they shared quite a different perspective! They were going to attend church one week but missed the bus, and it was the very bus the Coptic Christians were killed on by ISIS.

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/coptic-christ...

    They have also shared that they can be driving along the street, and military people come zooming by carrying guns and sometimes stop people and demand to know who they support politically and greatly harass those who don't tow the political line. They are Christians living in this Muslim region, and they said it can be difficult to keep a job once word gets out you're a Christian there.

    They have bought a house here in the US for their kids to live in while attending college, and they've been trying to immigrate here for YEARS, though they find the cost of living is more in the US. However, there always seems to be some minute thing amiss in their application, and it keeps getting thrown back into the system. They were considering hiring an attorney since they've been trying for over 7 years on their own to get in.

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    Doris James MizBejabbers 

    2 months ago from Beautiful South

    Sounds like you and the Missus had a great trip. If I ever have another chance to go to Egypt, I will definitely consult your list. I had the chance to go with a group with whom I'm involved a few years ago, but there had been some flareup of old problems and my husband objected. He's been there, so it was no skin off his nose. Anyway, I enjoyed your article.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)