What to Pack for a Month in Egypt?
A Ladies’ Packing Guide for living in Cairo
So it’s official; you’re travelling to Egypt! You’ve booked your flight, renewed your passport, and now there’s just one question left looming in your mind… what on earth do I pack??
Rest assured, I’ve got you covered! It took reading many articles and several separate shopping trips before I felt confidently prepared for my first trip to the Middle East. Since then, through much trial and error, packing needlessly shapeless clothing, and back-and-forth emailing friends for advice (thank you Katy!!) I’ve finally got a sense for what belongs in the suitcase, and what’s best left in your closet.
Follow this post, and hopefully you’ll be able to avoid some of the mistakes I made along the way!
Questions to keep in mind while packing:
How long is your trip?
This one’s common sense; the shorter your trip, the less clothing you need to pack. For longer durations, it’s important to evaluate how frequently you’re comfortable with doing laundry, and how many outfits you’d like to cycle through
- Where will you be staying?
If you’re planning on visiting mostly tourist beach locations (like Hurghada or Sherm el Sheikh), it’s more acceptable to pack shorter sleeves and shorts. However, if you’ll be staying more inland of Egypt or among locals, it would be wise to stick to more conservative outfits that cover your shoulders and knees, and aren’t super form-fitting.
- How much luggage can you take?
Always double-check your airline’s baggage allowance so you don’t encounter any extra fees! And it’s a good idea to under-pack a little so you can bring back items you’ve purchased, or pack clothes you can leave behind to make more room.
The Ultimate Packing List:
Some tips before we dive into the packing list:
- Stick to linen or cotton materials for cool, breathable coverage!
- Avoid synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester at all cost, as they trap heat and sweat!
- Try on outfits before you pack them—you may find that that cute polka-dotted top you think you can’t live without, actually doesn’t go with any of your pants and is a waste of space
- Get your thrift on! You can find a surprising amount of linen and comfortable long-sleeved clothing at your local thrift shop, and why spend money on a whole new wardrobe if you might not wear a lot of it after your trip?
Summers in Egypt are hot, hot, hot! Somehow your clothes have to be comfortable, modest, and breathable in 90°F-100°Fweather! However, the heat here is dry, and I’d take it any day over the much less bearable 80°Fweather of humid summers back in Virginia.
Winters in Egypt, on the other hand, can get pretty cold! Don’t write them off just because you’re in the desert—pack those long-sleeves and some thick layers!
- Summer Clothing:
- 4 light, breathable cotton t-shirts that cover your shoulders and chest
- 2-3 ¾-length or long-sleeve shirts for extra coverage
- 1-2 light kimono jackets or wraps that you can layer over t-shirts or dresses with shorter sleeves
- 2-3 pairs of linen or elephant pants
- 1+ maxi dresses or skirts, depending on your clothing preferences
- 1 pair of comfortable jeans for cooler evening jaunts
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (for wearing around private housing or at the beach)
- Bras & underwear
- 1 weeks-worth of socks
- Winter Clothing:
- 3-4 long-sleeved shirts
- 1-2 sweaters for the colder days
- 1-2 t-shirts for warmer days
- 2 pairs of loose, linen pants
- 2 pairs of comfortable jeans
- 2 jackets—one light-weight, and one heavier
- 1 dress or skirt
- Bras & underwear
- 1 weeks-worth of socks
- Comfortable Shoes
- I’d recommend bringing 1-2 pairs of open-air shoes or sandals like Tevas (my favorites!) or Chacos, along with 1-2 pairs of comfortable closed-toed tennis shoes or Sperrys for long, dusty walks in the city and around sites.
- Old t-shirts and shorts will work great as pjs in the summer, but don’t forget to pack long-sleeved shirts and thick pants for the winter
- Don’t leave home without at least one UV-protected pair!
- A Scarf
- Scarves are a great, versatile accessory that can be added to an outfit for extra coverage. If you’re planning on visiting a mosque, then packing (or buying one in-country) is a must!
- A Sturdy Backpack
- If you’re traveling as a student, or are planning any excursions around/outside the city, a good backpack to hold your books, sunscreen, currency (etc.) is invaluable.
- Bring at least a couple hundred of your own currency with you to be exchanged for local currency at the airport or a local bank, and remember to notify your home bank that you will travelling so that your card usage is not restricted
- An Adaptor
- Chances are, the outlets of your home country won’t match those in Egypt. Make sure to pack a type C & F converter so your electronics don’t run out of juice on the first day!
- Toothbrush, razors, contacts—you know the drill! Just don’t forget someChapstick—you’ll thank me later!
- A Camera
- I personally brought my Nikon with me, and I’m so glad I did, because it’s been invaluable in capturing the beautiful historical and cultural sights of Egypt!
- A Swimsuit
- If you’re thinking about visiting the popular resort areas around Hurghada or Sharm el Sheikh, or if you want to hang by a public pool in Cairo, a swimsuit is a good thing to have just in case.
- A Hat
- The sun is hot here, and if you’re planning long excursions into the desert, you’ll want to do everything you can to mitigate the risks of heat-related illnesses and sunburns.
- Workout Clothes
- How long are you staying? If you’re in the country for a few months and want to stay ahead of all those falafel sandwiches (speaking from experience—they catch up to you!), you might consider packing a modest workout outfit you can wear to the gym.
There are some itemsyou can definitely make do without, but that can make your life more comfortable depending on the length or purpose of your stay. As much of the water in Egypt from the tap isn’t safe to drink, you’ll find yourself heavily relying on single-use plastic water bottles for your daily water. If it’s in your budget, I’d recommend buying a reusable filtered water bottle (LifeStraw has some good ones!)
There are also some things you can either pack or buy in Egypt, depending on your luggage space and preference. There are many stores and groceries in Cairo that sell Western-brand products, so rest assured you’ll be able to find common toiletries like shampoo/conditioner/toothpaste, or sunscreen, which is another necessity commonly available. You might also want to pick up some hand sanitizer &tissues either before or after your flight. Many public bathrooms in Egypt don’t provide soap or toilet paper, so it is important that you always carry either tissues with you, or small Egyptian bills to pay for tissues at the door.
Best of luck with your preparations! At the end of your day, as long as you have your passport and luggage in hand and show up to the right airport (that’s a story for another time!) the rest will fall into place.
Leave a comment below if you think I’ve left anything out of my list, or if you have any suggestions for fellow travelers!