Know Before You Go | Egypt Expedition
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Egypt Expedition

Know Before You Go

For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.

Getting There

Complete Your Checklist

Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.

  • Verify your passport: In order to enter Egypt, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry. A visa is also required - see Visa Information below for more information.
  • Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group as soon as it opens! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
  • Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
  • Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
  • Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.

Visa Information

A Visa is required for all U.S. travelers going to Egypt. It is your responsibility to apply for this visa and obtain all necessary travel documents. EF Ultimate Break will not complete this process for you, but we’ve provided additional information below regarding this application process:

  • U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in order to enter Egypt. You can purchase your visa at the airport upon arrival for $25. The entry authorities require exact change in crisp, new bills
  • You can also purchase your visa in advance by using a visa provider, such as our partner VisaCentral
  • We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps

Stay Healthy Abroad

There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Egypt, however it is very common for travelers from the U.S. to experience gastrointestinal issues (nausea, diarrhea) when traveling to Egypt. We recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry requirements. See more tips below for staying healthy in Egypt:

  • Drink bottled water only. Avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth or showering. We do our best to provide water bottles each day, but in preparing for limited opportunities to purchase water throughout the tour, we recommend travelers purchase bottled water when given the chance (in major cities at supermarkets, when the Tour Director suggests, etc.). DO NOT refill your water bottle with tap water.
  • Take proper care with sun exposure, the sun is very strong in some of the areas you are visiting
  • Travelers’ diarrhea is one of the most common illnesses among travelers to Egypt. Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
  • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself or wash them in bottled or disinfected water.
  • Certain medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) are banned in foreign countries. Consult your physician at least four weeks prior to departure to make sure any medications you want to bring with you are legal.
  • Public restrooms in Egypt can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.

Pack Like a Pro

Egypt is a highly conservative country so travelers should dress modestly, covering shoulders, cleavage, and knees. T-shirts (with a sleeve that covers upper arms), long pants, and long skirts are recommended in many areas. Less conservative clothing can be worn in beach areas. This not only helps deflect unwanted attention, but also helps encourage interactions with local women, some of whom wouldn't approach travelers wearing skimpier attire.

Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website. We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. See more packing tips below:

  • 1 lightweight jacket
  • Comfortable walking shoes or sandals to keep cool during city sightseeing
  • Closed-toed shoes for activities in the desert
  • 1-2 pairs pants, long skirts, long dresses
  • 3-4 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
  • 1-2 nicer outfits for the Welcome Dinner, Farewell Dinner
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen. Pro Tip: Bring two travel-size sunscreens in your carry-on
  • Underwear and socks
  • Toiletries, medicine
  • Hand sanitizer
  • 1 reusable water bottle
  • Phone or camera. Please note you may be charged a fee at certain sites to take pictures with a camera. See more information in “Use your Phone, Internet, and Electronics”
  • Passport
  • Debit / Credit cards and cash
  • A power adapter – type “C” or “F”, or a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)

Note: Pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing you can easily layer to accommodate high and varying temperatures. Modest dress is generally preferred for women in Egypt, but all travelers are required to cover their knees and shoulders in sacred places like mosques or other religious sites.

International and Domestic Travel (Flights)

When preparing for your international flight to Cairo, check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. With this information, you can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.

  • If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
  • If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
  • Long Flights: Travel from the U.S. to Northern Africa can be a lengthy process (10-20+ hours travel time total). Bring a book, watch a movie (or five), and drink plenty of water!

Arriving in Cairo

If you booked flights with EF Ultimate Break, your transfers to and from the hotel when you arrive in and depart from Cairo are included. When you land in Cairo, an EF representative will meet you in the airport just before you go through immigration. Be sure to look for a sign, and know that if you go through immigration, you won’t be permitted to go back in and look for the agent.

Note: The Cairo International Airport is the international airport of Cairo, and is the busiest airport in Egypt. You’ll notice this, especially upon arrival. If you have difficulty finding your group or representative to bring you to the hotel, just give our team a call at 800-766-2645.

Your Tour Director and Group Escort

Your Tour Director will tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. While in Egypt, the Egyptian Tourism Police mandates all foreign groups must accompanied by an armed guard and/or convoy. Often he will blend in to background, but if engaged, can be another local touch point and perk!

Use your Phone, Internet, and Electronics

We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Read on for additional connectivity must-knows:

  • Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
  • Wi-Fi is not available on the bus
  • For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter.
  • Many of the main locations you visit, such as the Pyramids or Temples, charge a fee for anyone bringing in a camera. The fee can be quite expensive, but can range anywhere from 50–350 EGP. However, phones are allowed in and can be used to take photos at no extra cost.

Note: Egypt operates on 220 volts and use Types C or F plugs with two round pins. A staff favorite adapter is also the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com) which is compatible to all countries.

On The Ground

Money and Tipping

The currency of Egypt is the Egyptian pound (EGP), and small cash bills are key. Some stores will take credit cards, although cash is preferred. We recommend you bring a debit/credit card with you, which you can use to withdraw cash at local banks if needed.

  • While better exchange rates are usually found overseas, it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive
  • Cash is king in Egypt, but you should take debit and credit cards with you to withdraw cash at local banks as needed (be wary of fees)
  • It’s extremely useful to have supply of U.S. currency and local currency in small denominations for this trip. $1 bills are extremely useful; sometimes even a $10 bill cannot be accepted or broken
  • Expect to pay 5 EGP to use a bathroom anywhere, with the exception of hotels and nicer restaurants
  • Budget around $30-$40 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities
  • We recommend tipping your Tour Director $44-$66 at the end of the trip, plus additional tips for local guides listed below. Tipping is an important part of Egypt’s local economy and you may also be solicited to tip locals who assist you in public places, including taking photos. We recommend having small bills in USD or local currency for this purpose. See local guide tipping recommendations:
    1. Desert Safari Driver: $2
    2. Snorkeling Boat: $2
    3. Felucca Ride: $1
    4. Hot Air Balloon Ride: $1-$2

Note: Many of the main locations you visit, such as the Pyramids or Temples, charge a fee for anyone bringing in a camera. The fee can be quite expensive, but can range anywhere from 50–350 EGP. However, phones are allowed in at no extra cost and can be used to take photos.

Transfers Between Cities and Sightseeing

On this trip, you’ll take a private bus and internal flights between cities which can take anywhere between 2-8 hours depending on distance, local traffic, and bathroom or photo-stop breaks. The beauty of travel is that you get to explore a new place, but note that it takes time and energy to see everything worth seeing!

Note that there are several early morning departures during this trip. Some mornings, as an example on day 5, your group will depart for a flight to Luxor at 5am, and the next day depart at 4am for the Optional Hot Air Balloon Ride. As they say, early bird gets the worm! Read below for more must-knows:

  • Prepare to walk between 2-5 miles per day, especially when sightseeing. We’ve packed a lot into this trip, so be ready for a fast-paced adventure!
  • Remember it will be HOT in Egypt, so keep your water, hat, and sunscreen close!
  • Many of the main locations you visit, such as the Pyramids or Temples, charge a fee for anyone bringing in a camera. The fee can be quite expensive, but can range anywhere from 50–350 EGP. However, phones are allowed in and can be used to take photos at no extra cost.

Note: We recommend you bring a book or download music ahead of time for transfer days. Or, catch up on sleep during those early morning departures!

Optimize Your Free Time

If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add ons.

Food and Drinks

Using the bounties of the Nile Valley, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a gastronomic heaven. You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips when dining in Egypt, and delicacies you must try:

  • Ful Medammes: This dish of fava beans is the most common breakfast for Egyptians, usually served with eggs, cheese, or bread
  • Mahshi: A favorite for vegetarians, Mahshi is veggies stuffed with some sort of rice filling and leaves (grapevine, cabbage)
  • Shwarma: A popular street food, shwarma gives you the choice between chicken or beef marinated with spices and placed in a wrap then served with tahini. YUM
  • Roz Bel Laban: Egypt’s version of rice pudding. If you like rice pudding you’ll love Roz Bel Laban
  • Falafel (Ta’meya): Another breakfast treat or snack, Egypt’s ta’meya is made with fava beans instead of the traditional chickpeas
  • Fattah: Tracing all the way back to ancient Egypt for special celebrations, this is a main dish that combines crispy bread, rice, meat, and sauce
  • Sayadeya: A coastal delicacy that uses white fish fillets marinated in lemon juice and spices then lightly fried!
  • Tea: Tea is the national drink of Egypt and is offered everywhere! Breakfast, after lunch, and when socializing… and that’s the tea.

Note: Vegetarian options will likely be available but let your Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.

Local Customs, Culture, & Safety

As you prepare to spend time in a new continent, country, and culture, prepare yourself for ancient tombs, world-famous Pyramids, and vibrant cities. Read on to learn more about Egyptian and Muslim culture and see specific tips to help you make the most of your trip.

  • Please refer to the U.S. Department of State’s page on Egypt for specific information on the country’s latest regulations and alerts, and remember you are subject to the laws of the country where you travel. For example, while Egyptian law does not criminalize same-sex sexual activity, LGBTQ individuals face significant social stigma and discrimination in Egypt.
  • As a woman in Egypt you may experience cat-calling or shouts, usually by groups of young men on the street. Try to ignore the calls and keep walking forward, but always exercise caution and stay with a buddy or your group.
  • Areas like the Red Sea are more relaxed with clothing, but Egypt is a conservative and Muslim country so you should be mindful of covering more “private” body parts on this trip
  • PDA is not accepted or normal in Egypt. This includes holding hands and hugging.
  • We said it once but we’ll say it again. Do not drink the tap water. Egypt is still technically considered a developing country and the tap water is not safe to drink, and not even to brush your teeth.
  • There is no technical speed limit in Egypt, and in many places there are no traffic lights. This means a lot of traffic, traffic noise (horns), and required extra caution to cross the streets.
  • Carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you. Most public bathrooms do not provide toilet paper so come prepared.
  • Bargaining is common in Egypt; at the markets, try it out and start by asking for a price that’s half of what’s initially offered!
  • Be considerate when taking photos of locals, and know that some people, especially women, might not want their photo taken at all, or will ask for a payment in return for the photo. When in doubt, just ask the person if you can take a photo of them

Women in Egypt & Safety

Gender roles are more defined in Egypt than in Western countries. Because of conservative practices, religion, and a more traditional society, women are expected to dress more modestly, and adhere to certain behaviors. Read on for a few additional tips if you are a woman traveling to Egypt:

  • Female travelers should be prepared for some degree of cat-calling and harassment from local young men in Egypt. EF Ultimate Break and the Tour Director will do everything in our power to prevent and preempt this kind of behavior. We understand it’s easier said than done, but ignoring most verbal harassment is usually the best policy. Act confidently and keep walking forward,but always exercise caution and stay with a buddy or group.
  • Modest Dress: Local Egyptian women are expected to dress modestly, especially in rural areas. Visitors aren’t necessarily expected to dress like locals, but showing respect for the local culture goes a long way
  • Going Out: Avoid local bars if you’re just with one other woman or in a small group of women. Instead, try to go with a small group of 2-3 travelers.

Note: If a harasser is persistent, a useful phrase is ‘ayb aleik’ (shame on you), which, if shouted, can stop some cat-callers in their tracks.

Safety Abroad

With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:

  • Again, remember you are subject to the laws of the country where you travel. In some countries, consensual same-sex sexual activity, public gathering, or dissemination of pro-LGBTI material may be illegal.
  • Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
  • Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
  • Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
  • At the end of a night out, consult your Tour Director and stick with your group to use trusted transportation back to the hotel
  • Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
  • Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411

We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.

Bon voyage!