When I told people I was traveling to Egypt, their first reaction was often surprise. When they found out I was traveling alone, their reaction turned to worry. A 5’1” girl traveling alone? In Egypt?
I don’t often travel alone, and as my dad put it, Egypt was not a good place to break them in. Oh well, I’ve always been a fan of trial by fire, and this was no different.
Initially, I wasn’t apprehensive about my solo Egyptian travel plans. I’ve traveled a lot and often in sketchy situations, and I figured that the media was likely blowing the situation in Egypt out of proportion.
But, once I got to the Middle East and was traveling in Israel and Jordan and people were STILL giving me that look, I started to get a little nervous. There were times when I thought to myself that I was being foolhardy, and that maybe I should just cancel my trip and go another time.
I’m so glad I went with my gut and didn’t cancel anything.
Because I never felt uncomfortable – not for one second, and I think that, even as a woman traveling alone, it is safe to travel in Egypt.
But, let’s not get cavalier here. I took a lot of precautions and was far more careful than I ever have been, so as not to appear on an Egyptian milk carton, if there is such a thing.
Here’s what I think you need to do to stay safe as a woman traveler (especially if you are alone!) in Egypt.
1. Cover up
I did see women dressed in next to nothing, and they weren’t getting mauled or thrown into unmarked vans or anything. But, I felt like it was prudent to cover up a little bit.
I wore long pants/skirts and long sleeves, and I even threw a scarf around my head for a portion of the day.
2. Don’t be a hero.
Sure, I wish I could walk around at night and in any old neighborhood I chose, but I didn’t. It probably would’ve been fine, but I didn’t feel the need to prove anything to anybody.
I only walked in the areas I knew, and I only walked at night when accompanied by other people. It shouldn’t be any problem to meet friends at your hostel, so make nice and then go exploring!
3. Spend a little extra money.
When in doubt, I went with the option that felt safer but was a little more expensive. Though normally I stick to my Jew-roots and go with the cheapest option available, I figured that wasn’t the best idea in this situation.
4. Make friends, but don’t be too friendly.
The men in Egypt are very friendly, to say the least. I made friends with several Egyptian men that worked on tours and at my hostels. Though it was sometimes difficult to straddle (no pun intended – I did NO straddling in Egypt, I swear) the line between friends and too friendly, I managed it and assume most women can if they use some common sense.
On the other hand, I saw some girls at my hostels being completely cold to the workers, and they missed out on some great friends and hilarious encounters. I was just careful to keep my new buddies from getting too touchy feely, as it would’ve been a shame not to hang out with them at all. They made my time in Egypt really fun.
Though it obviously depends upon the comfort of the woman and of her ability to make smart decisions, I would say in general that Egypt is safe for women travelers.
It is actually almost an ideal time to go, because the country is empty. Prices are dropping, and this may be the only time you’ll be able to enjoy Sharm El Sheikh holidays or visit the Great Pyramids in solitude.
While traveling there, I kinda fell in love with the country. Yes, the culture and history are unrivaled, but what I truly loved was the insane energy and vibe of the people.
I don’t know if this is a new, post-revolution quality, but the Egyptians are hungry for change, excited about the future, and generally in love with life. I now feel a deeper connection to this country and their politics, and am hoping for nothing but the best for them in the future.
Please, be smart, and don’t go if you think you’ll be uncomfortable. But, if you’re feeling confident and are looking for a fun and affordable destination that is filled with culture and sun, then head to Egypt! Follow the tips listed above, and I think you’ll have a great time.
Would you have hesitations traveling to Egypt? Have you ever been somewhere that other people thought wasn’t safe?