“What do I pack?”
So sayeth we all, about two seconds after the high from booking our airplane ticket fades. Especially when you are traveling to a country that is very different from your own in terms of weather and culture, this can be extremely tricky.
Particularly if you are headed to Egypt in the warmer months (which are very, very warm) you might be planning to pack shorts. While you can pack a pair or two, the better option by far are long, loose fitting pants. You can go for sleek neutrals, brightly colored “harem” style pants, or many other options besides.
There are a couple of reasons to pack long pants. One, wearing shorts is about the equivilant of carrying a neon sign over your head emblazoned with the word TOURIST. Depending on the color of your skin, you might be pegged as a visitor either way, of course. But it’s always better to be seen as a traveler than a tourist, and you’ll feel less out of place.
Two, it’s polite. It’s not nice to think about the fact that you might get stared at because of your clothing choices, particularly as women traveling alone. And you might even be able to ignore any stares or comments – after all, if you go with one of our single women travel groups, you will have the benefit of group safety. However. It is always important to be mindful of the cultures that you are visiting. It will be considered good manners to cover up, particularly your legs. And who doesn’t want to be good mannered?
Remember, although a large part of the country is desert, Egypt does have its seasons like most other countries. The winters are mild, and will not require much bundling up. However, a few light layers will be very important, as well as something waterproof for the occasional rainy spell.
Even in the warmer months, the nights might prove more cool than you were expecting them to be. Some layering pieces that can be easily worn over your every day outfits can he helpful. It can also be a nice way to expand your outfit choices, by making sure that all the layers that you pack can be combined by mixing and matching.
And then we come back to the good manners. If you go to any area that is particularly conservative, it can be a good idea to cover up your arms and shoulders as well as your legs. A loose something or other in your backpack is easy to take on and off when you need to. I like to bring a light button up shirt or a long cotton wrap.
Remember how we were talking about good manners? A headscarf is a nice way to show respect, particularly if you are planning on visiting any religious sites. Some might even require you to wear one. However, they can be an excellent addition to pack in any case. A large, light cotton scarf can serve a number of purposes, from shawl to wrap to skirt. You might even be able to fashion it into a bag if the need arises.
Long Skirt or Dress
I have written before (at length) about how important it is to pack a long skirt or dress. They are really versatile, often easy to fit into small compass, and can be dressed up. You will probably want something dressy for evening wear, and these are a great way to provide for that. Maxi skirts or dresses can also help with the good manners part of our packing manifesto. They are nice and conservative, as well as being cool and breezy.
I feel like not enough people appreciate hats. Especially the big brimmed kind. They have made a comeback in recent years, which has been really fun to see, but it’s not all about fashion. Hats are literally a sunshade that you can wear. And, especially if you are traveling to Egypt in summer, this can be an important item to pack. Thankfully, the re-emergence of wide-brimmed hats in popular fashion means that they are easy to find. You will probably be able to locate one that suits your particular style, and can keep the sun off your face and neck. And a cute hat can be a fantastic way to add some flair to any outfit.
Hey, you’re in Egypt, you’re not going to be sitting around a hotel all day. You’re going to be out in the market places or trekking through historical sites. For this, it is vital to ditch the cute sandals. Not kidding. Shoe choice is going to be very important here, and comfort is the most important aspect. Imagine how annoying it would be to have your view of some incredible ancient monument spoiled by blisters.
A secondary concern might be not to go too “touristy”. What I mean by that are the giant, chunky neon numbers that we keep in our closets and pretend aren’t really there. These can be comfy, but they might also send the message that you are very new to travel and don’t know what you’re doing. Also, and I admit that this is vanity speaking, they are hard to put into a well-thought-out outfit, unless you’re going full athleisure. It is possible to find comfortable shoes that also look good. You just have to take a little time to search for them.
Shoes have always been important to me as I have learned how to travel alone as a woman. And even if you are traveling in company – we love our ladies’ travel groups for the safety they offer – you might still go out by yourself at some point. Hobbling along in ill-fitting shoes at the end of the night can, unfortunately, attract the wrong kind of attention. Walking strong in comfortable shoes makes you more of a force to be reckoned with.