The Egypt Packing and Culture Guide for Solo Female Travelers

By SoFe Travel Editors
Posted on

Egypt is exciting, confronting, hot, rich in preserved pieces of history, and an absolute must see destination for every solo female traveler. While it’s perhaps not the best country for the new totally solo traveler, it’s still safe to travel with a few extra precautions. It’s also easy to go with a group and a perfect way to explore with a safety net and see all the best places.

Like many countries in the world, there are cultural rules and expectations on what women wear and how they represent themselves. We believe that women should wear what they want and do what they please, but our ideal world just doesn’t exist. Ignoring the culture of a country can not only really ruin your experience of your trip, but it can even be dangerous. 

Egypt is a conservative Muslim country, and at a glance, that means it’s best to leave the string bikini at home and get excited about light fabrics, loose fits, and shirts with sleeves. Cairo is less conservative where short sleeves and longer shorts will be just fine (although conservative is better), but the more off the beaten path you go, the more you should lean toward long pants and long sleeves and have a headscarf in your bag when you need it. Think breezy, cool fabrics with a loose fit to not only keep conservative but also let your skin breath in the heat.

If you are coming with us on The Egypt Global Meetup Tour, feel free to bring a tank or two and some lounge shorts for our hotel pools and Nile River cruise, where we can feel free to relax the dress code a bit with a cold beer in hand. It’s not fair to be the one gal on the trip in crop tops and booty shorts bringing unwanted attention to the whole group. The only attention we want to attract are chats with locals over tea, and smiles from curious kids.

Camel in Egypt solo female tour

Solo Female Traveler Egypt Packing List

Essentials

  • Sunglasses
  • Copies of your travel documents- passport, flight itinerary, travel insurance policy and contact info.
  • A pair of breathable, solid walking shoes like Keens or Teva, our favorites.
  • Loose-fitting, pants 
  • Ankle length lightweight skirt
  • Short sleeve or longer type tops that have modest necklines (if these are long enough to cover your bum and lose fitted, it’s ok to wear leggings with these, especially in Cairo)
  • At least one lightweight scarf
  • A one-piece swimsuit/ bathing suit cover-up

Toiletries

  • Sunscreen
  • Body soap
  • Shampoo/conditioner . Even better, for the savviest of packers, get a travel soap that washes it all – body, hair, clothes, everything. (Special discount for our travelers, use SOFETRAVEL at checkout)
  • Period essentials
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
solo female travelers on a boat in Egypt

How much should you pack?

We always recommend sticking to a carry on in almost all of our travels. In countries like Egypt, where sadly, scammers in the airports and city of Cairo are everywhere, it’s best to have a bag that’s always with you and easy to carry. This is much less of a concern on our Egypt Global Meetup Tour, but even though you’re safe with us, it’s good practice to travel light. It’s no fun to be weighed down by extra stuff you really don’t need, plus you will still have to carry your bags from you room to the vehicle.

Invest in a comfy, breathable, walkable pair of sandals for this trip. Trust us, you’ll need them.

Keep in mind, in mosques, you will have to take your shoes off. There are strict rules about conservative clothing while in a mosque, and if you aren’t dressed appropriately, you won’t be allowed inside. Always keep a scarf stashed in your bag just in case, because you will need to cover your hair during our visit to a mosque as well.

The more south you go from Cairo, the more conservative and the hotter it gets. While some solo female travelers may not be used to wearing such conservative, lose fitting clothing, we suggest embracing the comfort of it, using it to protect your skin from the hot sun, while relaxing in them after a big, delicious meal with a couple drinks.

Women traveling solo in Egypt tours

Harassment

You will be harassed. It’s unavoidable. If you haven’t yet grown a thick skin for street harassment, a walk through Cairo (especially if you are not dressed in a culturally sensitive manner) will leave you in tears if you aren’t armed with the right attitude. It’s unfortunate that this is the reality, but most of it is totally harmless. Remember that absolutely nothing is free, no one you just met on the street wants to just help you out of the goodness of their hearts, and if you accept any “kindness”, you will be expected to pay for it. It’s the way of Egypt.

Here are some tips to ward of harassment: 

  • Ignore. Don’t even bother smiling. Just keep about your business.
  • Wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact.
  • Ignore. We mean it, so we said it twice! Ignore them but also ignore your internal commentary on it all. Let it roll off your back and walk on focusing on all the amazing things around you.
  • Dress respectfully and you will find both men and women will respond to you in a more respectful manner.
  • While it probably won’t happen, especially if you are with us on The Egypt Global Meetup Tour, do feel free to stand up for yourself if you feel threatened. Egyptian men you do not know should not be touching you at all.

Tipping

Being cheap with tips in a country where people rely on them is irresponsible travel, plain and simple. People depend on tips to feed their families and they deserve to be appreciated for a job well done. Both tourists and Egyptians are expected to tip for almost every service. Luckily, most tipping expectations are lower than Western countries like America, another tipping culture.

When you tip, do so discreetly directly to the person you are tipping.

 

Here are minimum, yet respectful, amounts to tip.

Tips can be in dollars, euros or Egyptian notes but not coins, because foreign coins cannot be exchanged or used to buy anything. 

Tour related tips

  • Tour Guide US$6 per day
  • Bus/Taxi Drivers for tours US$3 per day
  • Hotel Housekeeping US$3
  • Nile Cruise Crew (most boats have a tip box in reception) not less than $5 per day per person. This tip is divided among all staff – cleaners, maintenance, wait staff, cook, etc. If any of the staff have been especially wonderful to you, an extra tip of $3 – $5  on departure day is always appreciated.

Once off

  • Restaurant Waiter less than US$5
  • Porter or Baggage Handler  US$1
  • Toilet Attendant 5 Egyptian Pounds

If you are coming with us on The Egypt Global Meetup Tour, the tips for all of the porters and drivers are included, but the rest is up to you and totally at your discretion.

Solo Female Travel Quick Guide:

  • Go to Egypt. It’s a magical country that will surely take your breath away.
  • Dress culturally sensitive to maximize your experience.
  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing. Have a scarf for extra modesty with you at all times.
  • Leave the booty shorts and string bikinis at home, but do feel free to swim and relax the rules in Western only hotels and cruises.
  • Egypt is a tipping culture for Egyptians and tourists alike