How to Right-size Your Expectations of Travel to Egypt

Egypt is one destination that under-promises and over-delivers. That said, first-time visitors should really make a conscious effort to “right-size” their expectations of travel in Egypt. It’s definitely a developing country, and some would even say it’s still the third-world. It’s not a bash, it’s just a fact.

However, it also has the only Wonder of the Ancient World still standing. It’s got river cruises and up-scale restaurants. It’s a bucket list destination that you may be spending literally thousands of dollars on, and it’ll be worth it. But not every second will be an effortless and luxurious experience. Just know you’ll be having a variety of experiences across the spectrum, and go with the flow. It’s more fun than being disappointed in the less than ideal moments!

Understand that You Will Need to Tip, and No One Will Have Change

Tipping is essential in Egypt. In fact, many tour companies actually cover up the fact that their Egyptian staff often live on tips alone–no salary, no cut of the profit, no fee. So, do not skimp on tipping.

At the same time, however, remember that Egyptians are savvy, so no, they won’t have change. Or maybe they will, but they’ll tell you they don’t. Pay with small denominations whenever possible!

I gave in and let the guy in this tomb take my picture. I didn’t have small bills, so I over tipped 50 EGP. It happens!
Essential info: The Ultimate Guide to Tipping in Egypt

It Will Be Hot, and You Will Have to Wear a Lot of Clothes

Unless you’re lucky enough to visit Egypt in January or February when temperatures are mild, it’s going to be quite hot for your trip! And because Egypt is a primarily Islamic country, you’ll need to wear long skirts, long pants, long-sleeves shirts, scarves, etc. And not just women; even men dress conservatively in Egypt. Modesty matters here.

But fear not! Dress like the locals do: Breezy dresses, linen fabrics, and loose-fitting clothing are all great ways to stay cool in even the hottest months. Bring a hat and pack sunscreen, too, but most importantly, keeping your skin covered with light fabrics will actually help you stay cooler.

Abu Simbel was the hottest place we visited. Thank goodness for breezy dresses!
Just for You: How to Travel Egypt for Two Weeks in a Carry-on

Cairo is Chaos

Driving in Cairo is chaotic, and I’m so glad we didn’t have to navigate a car, or even a cab, by ourselves! The lines on the road are merely for decoration, since no one uses them, and traffic lights are suggestions. Somehow, it all just works!

If you’re planning to cross the street, make sure you’re walking behind a local if you want to make it across unscathed. The only place we’ve been that’s similar to this is Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and yet in both places, the lack of regulation just works.

Bumper to bumper traffic for an hour: Check.
Read next: What to Know Before You Visit Cairo

Not Everything is Included in the Price of Your Tour

The big secret behind that “cheap” tour of Egypt you found is this: Nothing is included. Tipping (which is not optional), tickets, excursions, etc., are not actually included in that price. That’s how they keep the price they show you so low. I researched several tours from several companies before choosing one for our trip, and this was the case with all but one–Egypt Elite.

Just for reference, all the tickets we used on our two-week trip added up to 12,570 EGP ($421 USD). Luckily for us, it was all included with our tour through Egypt Elite! We didn’t have to evaluate at each site if it was worth the cost, plus we got to go at our own pace. The whole experience was far less stressful than the alternative!

Those ticket prices really add up!
Tour better: Why You Need to Travel with Egypt Elite

There is More History than You Can Comprehend

It’s a lot, y’all. And it’s perfectly fine if you have trouble keeping it straight. It’s helpful to do a little reading before you go, but honestly, just take it in, admire it, and ask questions. (And then tip your guide accordingly!)

It’s mind-blowing just how old the temples, tombs, and monuments are in Egypt. And it’s nearly unbelievable that the color you can still see on some of them is original from literally thousands of years ago. Don’t stress about not knowing enough; just enjoy it!

You won’t grasp all the history on your first trip to Egypt, but that’s okay!
Read next: The Ultimate List of Ancient Egyptian Facts You Need to Know Before Your Trip

Want more? Check out my dedicated Egypt Page for everything you need to plan your trip!

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