Things You Need To Know Before Travelling To Egypt
Egypt was the first country I visited on my first solo adventure around the world. It is not the easiest place to travel on your own for the first time, but if you like a challenge and you’re open to adventures, embrace your fears and go for it! Here’s the list of the things I wish I’d known before setting foot on Cairo.
Be careful with who you trust
When I got to the domestic terminal on the Cairo Airport, one of the airport security guards came up to me when he saw I wasn’t a local, told me to follow him and that’ll he would take me to the correct gate. I obviously complied because he was an airport security guard. But he took me to a sketchy part of the terminal and asked me for money. In this case, the only right answer would be to give him something because he could frame me for something or say he found something illegal with me. I had no power. So I gave him like 1€ because it was the only cash I had on me, and he left me there alone.
Be careful with who you trust, even if it’s a police officer. If someone tells you to follow them, just politely tell them you don’t need any help and move along.
Learn how to cross the street
Seriously, I wish I embraced the fear faster and just went for it. The traffic is one of the craziest I’ve ever seen in my life, but the secret to go around the cities in Egypt is just to act confident and go for it. Drivers won’t stop for you on crosswalks and sometimes not even on red lights, so you just have to put yourself on the road and avoid the cars. It might seem crazy but you’ll get used to it.
Almost Everyone Expects Gratification For Your Help
Even when you don’t ask for their help, you’ll find that Egyptian people are extremely friendly with the few tourists they find. In my first days there, when I was still getting used to the traffic “rules”, people came up to me and helped me cross the street and make up conversation, only to expect a “baksheesh” (tip). Or sometimes to take you to their friends/family shop of Egyptian souvenirs or perfumes which they claim to be unique in Egypt and has been in their family for generations. I got taken to more than 3 identical shops. Do not believe them and just say you’re not interested and that you’re in a hurry.
Make Sure Your phone is Globally Unlocked and Buy a SIM Card
If you’re staying for at least 3 days I strongly advise you to purchase a local SIM card. They’re extremely comparing to other countries (100 EGP for 5gb, which is around 5€) and having internet anywhere is a life-savior anywhere you go.
But make sure your phone is unlocked globally. I only found out that my phone wasn’t unlocked when I tried on my new SIM Card. That was a major problem for me especially because there isn’t wi-fi everywhere like in the States. But luckily I had the idea of buying the cheapest android phone there was, using the SIM Card on it and then sharing the connection by creating a wi-fi hotspot. It cost me 40€ but It was worth it and totally necessary, which leads me to my next point:
Uber is Your Best Friend
Uber, like everything else in Egypt, is super cheap. I went from the airport to the pyramids (about 1h30 ride with traffic), for as little as 5€. It’s a lot safer and convenient than taking a taxi because the chances of getting scammed with a taxi are way higher. Just make sure you always have enough battery on your phone and a powerbank as a backup.
Don’t be Afraid and Enjoy
One of the most important things I learned traveling is to always act confident and look like you know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Even if you don’t know where the hell you are, just keep moving forward. Harassers often look for people that look “weak” and disoriented because they’re the easiest to influence. Who would you mess with if you were the bad guy? A scared looking tourist or a person that looks like he/she can kick your ass?
Don’t let yourself be demoralized by what other people say about Egypt. It’s a beautiful country with amazing people and culture that’s been suffering a lot due to the lack of tourists. Of course it’s not the safest country in the world but it’s perfectly safe to travel if you know what you’re doing and it’s an experience you’ll never forget.