How to Pack for Two Weeks in Egypt in a Carry-on

No one “likes” packing, right? It’s kind of the worst. But there’s an undeniable feeling of accomplishment and triumph that I get every time I pack perfectly! Or at least close to perfectly. My husband and I are both committed carry-on only packers, and while I will always hate packing, I have come to accept certain challenges as opportunities.

Two weeks in Egypt, in winter, in a carry-on? Challenge accepted. And mission accomplished! Here is my Egypt packing list, perfected just for you.

The Right Luggage

This is where success begins! The right luggage will take you places. Rolling, heavy, cumbersome luggage will weigh you down. My husband and I both travel with a 46L backpack on our back as our “carry-on,” plus a smaller backpack on the front as our “personal item.” This leaves our hands free and is way better for your body than crossbody bags and roll-aboards. We love Osprey!

More luggage suggestions here: The Best Bags for All Your Travels

3 Maxi or Midi Dresses

After using the right luggage, the real secret is packing items that can all go together. It doesn’t have to be all black or all tan or all navy to go well with the other things you want to pack! Solids are easy to mix-and-match, but don’t be afraid to throw in a pattern now and again.

Maxi and midi dresses will be your best friend in Egypt. Just make sure you’ve packed dresses made from breathable fabrics. They’ll keep you cool, dry quickly if you need to wash them, and keep the strongest of the sun off your skin.

More here: The Most Common Packing Mistakes You Might Be Making (and how to avoid them)

3 Button-down Shirts

I don’t have a lot of long-sleeved dresses. So, one of my strategies in packing for Egypt was to wear a button-down over my dress to keep my upper arms covered. I could also wear my button-downs with my pants, so these really pulled double duty! Having three button-downs, three dresses, and two pair of pants that all went together gave me over a dozen different combinations to choose from, so I never had to wear the exact same outfit twice!

Read next: Important Things You Might Forget to Pack for Egypt

2 Pair of Pants

I suggest two instead of three to save space, but still give you options. I love my linen joggers, and I wore them the most on my trip. I also packed a pair of long, wide-leg pants. Again, this helped me have plenty of options so I didn’t need to re-wear the same combination multiple times.

Read on: Your Ultimate Guide to the Pyramids in Egypt

1 Kimono

I love kimonos! It can be a bathing suit cover up, head covering, scarf, or, if needed, you can also actually wear it as a kimono cardigan as intended. This is great to wear with one of your dresses, or on a really hot day, you can wear it over an undershirt and a pair of your pants. Easy, breezy, perfect.

More here: What Every Woman Should Pack for Every Trip

1-2 Scarves

I’ll be honest with you, I never needed to cover my head in Egypt. Even when we visited a mosque, our female, Muslim guide insisted I didn’t need to wear a head covering. I still recommend taking one, though, since you may want to use it for sun protection, as an accessory, or if you have a different experience and find it appropriate to cover your head.

Essential info: Everything You Need to Know Before You Visit Egypt

2 Pairs of Shoes

I know you want to wear your adorable gladiator sandals every day, but let me tell you, you’ll want something sturdier! Your sandals are perfect for a museum day, or on your Nile cruise ship, or at your Red Sea resort, so pack them if you want them and have the space.

However, for most of your exploring days at the pyramids, tombs, temples, etc., close-toed walking shoes are best. Even better if they’re slip-on, slip-off shoes like the ones below so you can get in and out of them easily on your flying days. You’ll have to take them off for screening most of the time at the airport.

Take it from my podiatrist: The Ultimate Guide to Your Travels and Your Feet

1 Hat

There are two options here, but just choose the one you like best! I’m a visor fan, but I know that ladies more fashionable than me love a nice sunhat. Choose what you like best so you can protect your face from the sun!

Keep reading: Why Egypt it a Safe Place to Travel (even for women!)

1 Swimsuit

While Egypt is a conservative country, wearing a swimsuit is perfectly acceptable at your hotel pool or your Red Sea resort. You still might want to keep it on the modest side while in Egypt, but definitely bring at least one suit with you. Here are some cute options!

Read next: The Ultimate List of Books to Read Before Your Trip to Egypt

In Winter

If you’re visiting in the high season (December, January, and February), it might be chillier than you expect, especially in the evenings! Here are a few things you’ll be glad you brought with you. Yes, you can still go carry-on only, even with a few extra winter items!


You won’t need your puffer coat (although Egyptians will be wearing puffers, wool coats, and heavy sweaters!), but you will want a light jacket. I brought a jean jacket, and that was enough for me. Use your own judgement, and check the forecast for all your Egypt destinations before you go.

Also helpful: How to Travel Egypt Like a Pro

Light Sweater

Similarly, you won’t need your Icelandic wool sweater, but you’ll want something to keep you just a little bit insulated. This is especially true if you’ll be dining outside on your Nile cruise! Here is a great option for you, and it comes in several colors.

Things You Might Not Think to Pack

It happens to us all–including me! If you’re going somewhere for the first time, you’re undoubtedly going to think, “Oh, I wish I knew I needed to pack that!” Here are some common items you might forget to pack until it’s too late.

Sunscreen and SPF Moisturizer

While it’s true your arms and legs will be mostly covered, you’ll still need sunscreen on the skin that is expose: Forearms and neck come to mind. It’s also always a good idea–in Egypt or anywhere else–to use a moisturizer with SPF on your face. Take both of these:

Take it from my dermatologist: The Ultimate Guide to Sunscreen for Travel

SPF Lip Balm

Similarly, did you know your lips can burn? Mine do! I am so grateful for lip balm with sun protection, but in Egypt you’ll also be glad for the protection from dryness. Trust me, you want the lip balm!

More here: The Top 5 Essentials for International Travel

Body Glide

Okay ladies, let’s be real. There’s going to be a lot of sweat, especially if you visit in summertime! Use it where sweaty skin rubs together. Your upper arms and thighs will be so grateful. That’s all I have to say.

Read next: The Pros and Cons of Traveling Carry-on Only

Bug Repellent

Okay, full disclosure, this is one thing my husband and I wish we had packed! We thought it would be cool enough that bugs wouldn’t be a problem, but we were wrong. Sure wish we had thrown a few of these in our luggage before we left.

Keep reading: How Not to Get Sick in Egypt

Laundry Detergent

Ah, yes, the last secret to traveling carry-on only for two weeks is… Do laundry while you’re traveling. I know, it’s not glamorous! But it’s doable. Another option is to have your accommodation do your laundry for you, which is incredibly affordable in Egypt. Either way, you will probably need to clean something during your two week trip!

Read next: The Ultimate List of Things You Can’t Do in Egypt

Want more? Get everything you need on my dedicated Egypt Page!

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9 responses to “How to Pack for Two Weeks in Egypt in a Carry-on”

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  8. I just came home from Egypt and packed very similarly! Your list is perfect, right down to the bug spray! You are right on with the advice about shoes, especially about slipping them on and off at the airport. We’ll done!

    1. Thank you! That is high praise!

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