I was a young lady traveling in Cairo, Egypt once. I met many wonderful people whom I still keep in touch with, and experienced so many beautiful memories. Cairo is such a enchanting place to visit, and Egyptian culture is rich and ancient. But, if you are a woman traveling on your own, it’s helpful to get an idea of what to expect, as new culture can also bring some uncertainty and the unexpected. Here are 8 tips to keep you rocking out on your Egyptian adventure with little worry.
Dress to Impress
Leave the tube top sundress and hot pants at home, unless you want to be the main attraction on the street. Instead, opt for garments that cover your shoulders, back and front along with shorts or skirts that fall below the knee. Scarves are a nice touch too, not for religious reasons, but to keep you locks lush in the hot, dusty desert.
Items to leave at home- toiletries. You can find everything you need in the city at super cheap prices. Not only is the price right, but that means less hassle with liquids at the airport and more room in your bag for goodies. One thing to bring- tampons. Pads are easy to find, but tampons are a little bit tricky and they do tend to be more expensive.
Just For Women
Indulge yourself with age old middle eastern pampering at a local beauty center. Manicures, pedicures, facials are available for prices that won’t break the bank, and facilities are known for cleanliness. Touch up those furry eyebrows with gentle Halawa wax made of water, sugar and lemon. This sweet, all natural concoction will peel hair away with little pain and redness. Threading is a popular alternative to waxing. where cotton threads are used to remove unwanted hair quickly and efficiently.
Relax! Don’t scurry around like a lost little puppy. Like any other place in the world, you’r not going to hang out in a dark alleyway at 3AM by yourself, right? Use common sense. Egyptian people are extremely friendly, very hospitable and will bend over backwards to help you. It’s handy to know a few basic Arabic words, which will generate more goodwill, and help in not getting ripped off when hailing a taxi or buying merchandise. Also, be careful when lighting up a cigarette. Smoking in the street is frowned upon for women, so wait till you are in the next café or restaurant.
The Egyptian marketplace is such a unique cultural experience, filled with people bustling up and down narrow roadways with tents and stands clustered in every nook and cranny. Shopkeepers sell everything from gorgeous silk scarves and colorful clothes to house decor spices and authentic art. Ladies, expect some verbal harassment- especially if you are blonde. Just ignore and continue on your way- it’s quite harmless. Also, make sure to barter your little heart out! Don’t be afraid to walk away from a stubborn shopkeeper, chances are, they will chase you down and agree to the price you want.
Ever consider the Cairo metro? Like any metro around the world, it’s crowded- but clean and quick. All that crowding can get a little uncomfortable though, but don’t stress! The Cairo metro has two “ladies only” coaches. When you step onto the platform just look for the “ladies” sign and wait for your train to arrive.
Relax! Cairo is as safe as can be, as long as you stay smart. It’s the age old “don’t go off with strangers” rule- be polite and firm. The stereotype that western women are “easy” still lingers, so don’t be surprised if some men are very forward- and don’t get offended. Remember that when it comes to stereotypes, westerners have their own regarding Arabs. This is a chance to put those stereotypes to rest!
Courtney is a full-time writer covering soccer, travel and the outdoors. You can find her scouting out hole in the wall joints for the perfect carnitas taco, jumping in the ocean under the light of a full moon or exploring the beautiful Florida wilderness and documenting her adventures in her blog, www.localtravelgal.wordpress.com.