So you've booked your flight to Egypt, secured your perfect all-inclusive vacation and you've got kiteboarding, delicious Egyptian cuisine, and mysterious Pharaohs on your mind. Now you have to figure out what you're going to pack for this trip. Every person travels and packs differently. Some people never bring too many pants, favouring versatile clothes that are easily hand-washable, and leverage layers to stay warm if necessary. Others prefer to dress to impress with designated outfits for the beach, nightlife and safaris.
Before you start rolling the t-shirts and folding the pants, consider the length of your trip. This will dictate the amount of clothes you need to pack or how often you need to hand wash your underwear and clothes. Will you be moving from city to city? If so, then you’ll need light luggage and a backpack for long days out. Finally, what kind of trip are you preparing? For most people, your trip is going to include some ancient Egyptian sites and beach time at the gorgeous Red Sea resorts.
This packing list is a guide to what to pack for Egypt no matter which season you're travelling in. It also serves as a handy starting point for ideas of what to bring and a reminder of things you might have missed.
When to Visit Egypt?
There's really no wrong time to visit Egypt, as the weather is generally pleasant year-round, except for the scorching hot summers.
November – March - This is the best time to visit for cooler weather and generally empty sites (except for December and early January because of school holidays). Winter is mild (10C to 15C degrees in December – February) in Egypt, but Alexandria does get quite a bit of rain during this period.
April – May / September – October - These are the best months to visit Egypt, especially if you're planning to explore both the North and South regions. The weather is warmer but not scorching hot, so it's pleasant enough to both hike and hit the beaches.
June – August - If you don't mind the heat, summer in Egypt is perfect for the beach and pool lounging. This is peak season at the Red Sea while Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan have fewer tourists due to temperatures that reach over 40C degrees.
Important Points To Remember
Egypt's climate is dry – it is mostly desert.
It is hot – even during the high season of travel, it is still sweltering. Temperatures during the middle of the day are close to 40C/104F, with no cover so be careful of heat exhaustion.
Conservative clothing – Being mindful of Muslim culture means being more covered up. That might be something you're already planning to do. If you’re heading to the Red Sea resorts, this does not apply. You can wear pretty much whatever you want there.
Lots of sand – Sand gets everywhere, and it may affect what you pack and what you choose to wear.
Tight quarters – If you plan on entering the Pyramids, be prepared for tight quarters, some serious squatting, buzzing flies, and humidity from all the other bodies inside.
Thirsty – Your guides will have a near unlimited supply of water. Still, you'll notice is that you'll be constantly thirsty, so make sure at least one of your travel partners can carry water.
THE PACKING LIST
LUGGAGE AND ACCESSORIES
Backpack - Even if you are not usually a backpacker, we highly recommend bringing a backpack for easier movement. Choose a carry-on sized one that is comfortable and easy to carry. It should have plenty of pockets and compartments for organization, lockable zippers, and be weather resistant.
Standard size expandable suitcase – 4-wheel 26″ roller suitcase.
Bag for single day clothes – In case the airline loses your luggage, always carry a separate bag with one additional day's worth of clothes.
Packing Cubes - You won't understand why you need these until you buy some. They're excellent for staying organized. No more having to reorganize all your stuff every time you need to get one thing out of your suitcase. A medium-sized packing cube is perfect for rolled-up t-shirts and can easily fit up to 8-10 t-shirts.
Organizing bags - In addition to packing cubes, bring along an electronics organizer (if you travel with a lot of gear), shoe bags, a laundry bag (or a separate packing cube if you prefer), and a toiletries bag (to avoid liquids from spilling on your clothes).
Locking Purse - Better safe than sorry, bring a handy lockable purse with you to keep your water bottle, camera, wallet, and other stuff.
CLOTHING FOR ALL SEASONS
For Summer - (3) temperature regulating t-shirts, (3) blouses/t-shirts, (1) insect-repelling long-sleeved shirt, (2) pairs of loose-fitting pants, (1) pair of jeans/smart casual pants, (2) skirts, (1) dress, and everything else in the other categories.
For winter - (2) temperature regulating t-shirts, (2) temperature-regulating long-sleeved shirts, (3) blouses / lighter sweaters, (1) pair of baggy pants, (2) pairs of jeans/smart casual pants, (1) dress, everything else in the other categories.
Basic temperature regulating t-shirt - No matter what the season, you'll want at least one basic temperature regulating shirt.
Cute temperature-regulating shirt - For some strange and inexplicable reason, Merino wool keeps you cool in summer, warm in winter, dries quickly, and keeps away moisture.
Insect repellant top - You'll need this in both summer and winter since insects and mosquitos in Egypt are pretty active. If you're particularly concerned, you can also spray Permethrin on your clothing before you go. It lasts up to six washes.
Long-sleeved temperature regulating top - Winter in Egypt is relatively warm during the day and chilly at night. You'll want temperature regulating tops that are suitable for this variation in temperature. Even if you travel in summer and you end up hiking or camping, you'll want at least one of these tops.
Blouses / Shirts - For the rest of the time when you're out and about, you'll want some nice tops (short or long-sleeved depending on your sensitivity to sunlight). People generally dress smartly, so keep that in mind when choosing clothes. Just make sure you pack lightweight clothes.
Cardigan - Having one on hand for chilly evenings or for mosque visits. You'll also want an additional layer when taking a bus or train or plane anywhere.
Lightweight, loose pants - If you're going to Egypt in the summer, you'll want baggy and lightweight pants. If you're travelling in winter, you'll probably want just one pair of lightweight khakis and two pairs of jeans to mix and match according to the season and your personal style.
Jeans/dockers - If it's summer, it's way too hot to wear jeans. However, you'll probably want to bring at least one pair of dockers for evenings. If you're travelling during winter, you'll want to bring a few pairs of jeans/dockers pants and maybe one pair of lightweight ones. Mix and match according to the season.
Skirts - If you're travelling in winter, you probably only need one, if any at all. During summer, a couple will do. Make sure they're long, and they match your tops.
Dresses -If you're travelling during summer, bring one nicer casual dress that you can wear both during the day and in the evening. If you're visiting during winter, you can bring one just in case or bring a skirt and a cute top. Either way, make sure it covers below the knee and your shoulders or can be paired with a cardigan.
Scarves - Bring several scarves and a few basic shirts to mix and match and create new outfits.
Large shawl - Carrying a large wrap is helpful for impromptu mosque visits or for protecting your skin when the sun is too intense. Plus, it's a cute outfit accessory as well.
Swimsuit - Yes, you can wear a bikini in Egypt, but a one-piece is a little more respectful. Definitely no topless sunbathing or swimming.
(Women) Cover-up - Bring a cover-up and wear it if you're lounging around a resort or hotel.
Sun hat - To prevent your skin from breaking from the intense Egyptian sun, especially if you're prone to burning.
Sunglasses - No explanation necessary. Yes, you need them in winter too.
OUTER and UNDERWEAR
(Women) Bras (2), workout bra (1), underwear (7) - Pack a couple of regular t-shirt bras, one workout bra for outdoorsy days or if you want to hit the hotel gym. It keeps moisture and smells away.
Sports socks - These are perfect for all-day wear without smelly or sweaty feet. Just a few pairs will do. Hiking socks are quite thick so stick to the thin ankle ones for outdoor activities.
Fleece - Even in the summer, you'll want to bring a jacket for early morning hikes, overnight camping trips, or for freezing cold long-distance buses and trains.
Packable down jacket - There are some winter days when it gets pretty chilly, so a proper jacket does come in handy. A packable one is warm but doesn't take up much room in your suitcase.
(Women) Leggings and a basic t-shirt -to wear as pyjamas or to wash and wear as clothes if necessary.
(Men) Two tank tops to double as PJ's that you can use at some point on the trip.
Sandals - Pick ones that are cute and comfortable to walk in all day or hiking ones for the great outdoors.
Flats - Choose some that are cute, comfortable and durable. You only need one pair.
All-purpose sneakers - You can wear them to hike up a mountain or to explore a new city. These are your go-to travel shoes, and if they get dirty, you can throw them in the wash. These are especially useful when visiting historical sites.
Water shoes (optional) - If you're headed to the beach you'll definitely want to pack a pair of water shoes. Several beaches in Egypt may have jagged rocks, and some even have sea urchins so if you're planning on swimming, you'll need some sort of footwear into the water.
Slippers – Are easy to throw in on the outside compartment of the suitcase.
Shoe pouches – A small accessory that is quite useful as a lightweight bag to store shoes while keeping your suitcase clean.
TOILETRIES AND ACCESSORIES
Light hanging toiletry bag - to keep all your toiletries conveniently at hand.
Nail clippers – You'll certainly need these, especially when it gets dry in Egypt.
Eyewear cases – Not the coolest accessory but safer than losing your sunglasses while hanging to your shirt collar.
Oral care -Don't forget your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss sticks. Your favourite brands might be a little more expensive, so it's easier to just bring your stuff with you.
Shaving machine - Use a compact electric shaver for short trips and if you don't have sensitive skin, you can easily buy a razor at a pharmacy.
Deodorant - Cause we all sweat.
Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-in Conditioner, and Soap - Your favourite hair and skincare brands (especially niche brands) might not be available in Egypt. Leave-in conditioner is essential because the water in Egypt will dry out your hair. As for soap, we recommend you buy a multitasking travel soap that you can use to clean yourself, clothing, and dishes.
Hand sanitizer and face wipes - Egypt is a dry and dusty desert, so face wipes or baby wipes will help you stay fresh. The hand sanitizer is always handy to have, especially if a bathroom isn't available, at restaurants and for spontaneous snacking.
Makeup - For minimalists, a tinted moisturizer, mascara, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, and lipstick are all you'll need. However, for makeup-lovers, you also need travel-sized versions of your favourite makeup. Just stay away from anything prone to melting.
SPF Chapstick - Use it often and only buy the SPF kind. If your lips don't dry out from the air, they'll get sunburned from the sun.
50 SPF Sunscreen - You will constantly re-apply, especially on those intense days in Cairo and Luxor where there is no cover at all, and you are bouncing between ancient sites. Chemicals in sunscreen have a negative effect on the ocean, so if you're going swimming, we recommend an environmentally safe brand.
Insect repellent - If you're travelling to Egypt in the summer, you'll definitely want insect repellent. It's not as bad as when you're going to tropical destinations, but even so, the mosquitos are pretty relentless. Plus, it's safe to use on your clothes and your skin, and it doesn't make you feel or smell bad.
Chafing gel - You know that uncomfortable rawness you get between your thighs from them rubbing together? It's very real, especially when it's hot out.
Menstruation things - If pads are your period weapon of choice, you can easily find your favourite brands in Egypt. However, tampons and menstrual cups are impossible to find, so pack some along with you.
Skincare - Whether it's hand, face, or body moisturizer, you'll need it all. What you don't want to skimp on is a face moisturizer. All the sun and heat will dry out your skin and don't forget to pack a good body lotion too. Your body needs hydration as well.
Miscellaneous - In terms of jewellery, all you need is 3 pairs of earrings plus what you're already wearing and a few cute and matching bracelets and necklaces. Also, pack a waterproof phone pouch and a perfume bottle atomizer if you want to bring your favourite perfume along. Also don't forget to pack a hairbrush, hair ties and bobby pins.
TRAVEL SAFETY AND FIRST AID
Travel Insurance - Yes, you need travel insurance for if things (hopefully don't but often do) go wrong. Check out the different plans and pick the one that's right for you.
Photocopy of important documents – In case you lose something like your passport, credit card, or other essential documents, leave this in your suitcase and separate from your day-use bag.
Extra cash – Don't underestimate how much money you need for your trip and always bring more than your budgeted amount, especially for tipping.
Luggage Locks - Stuff can get stolen from your suitcase while passing through airport security, on the bus or train, or during you stay at a hostel (or hotel, even). So bring a couple of these small TSA approved locks with you whenever you travel.
Anti Diarrheal (Imodium) -There's a really high chance you will get diarrhoea in Egypt and maybe an upset stomach too.
Rehydration Salts - Egypt is hot, and if you're out and about all day, it's easy to get dehydrated. Diarrhoea also doesn't help. Rehydration salts are great for replenishing electrolytes, especially when your stomach is upset.
Advil - Always bring some painkillers in case of body aches, cramps, etc. They're just good to have.
Dramamine - If you're prone to motion sickness then bring the non-drowsy version so you can still function during the day.
Strepsils – If you get sore throat easily, then a pack of these is always handy.
After Bite gel – For children and those that are easily bitten.
Travel First Aid Kit – It’s a good idea to stick a small one in your bag but remember to remove the scissors if you aren't planning to check your luggage.
External Hard-drive – where you store all of your photos and videos or back them up as the trip goes on.
Air Pods – Primarily for watching Netflix on the plane.
Tech Pouch – This is a great for keeping a lot of small gadgets together.
Various chargers - for all the electronic gear for the trip.
VPN - To access your bank account or any secure online account, sites get worried when you're in a foreign country. Accessing some of these sites could be annoying or downright impossible. Also there are quite a few sites that are blocked in Egypt.
Power bank - You're out and about all day and using your phone to navigate, take photos, and whatnot. Picking a light, fast one with multi charging ports is essential.
Universal travel adapter - You can use them in every country and never have to worry about plugs again. Some also have USB slots, which is super handy if you are mainly charging phones, cameras, and tablets. Pack two just in case.
GoPro Camera - For adventure footage and photos.
Sports watch – a rugged, waterproof sports accessory for snorkelling and diving trips.
Kindle -Not only can you keep guidebooks on there, but it's also nice to be able to read at your leisure on those long-distance trips or at the beach.
Headphones -The small noise-cancelling wired ones do a pretty good job of blocking ambient sound on aeroplanes (and everywhere else).
Laptop/Tablet (optional) -A lightweight laptop or tablet is easier for travel planning than a smartphone.
Insulated water bottle or water-purifying bottle - Single-use plastic isn't environmentally friendly and buying lots of bottled water is expensive and inconvenient. Drinking tap water in Egypt is a big no-no.
Microfiber towel - Pretty much all hotels will have towels for use on hand, but it's always nice to have a towel you can use when travelling. Whether on the beach or at an impromptu picnic, a microfiber towel dries quickly and is also great for hikes and outdoor activities.
Travel pillow - Not just for the plane but also for sleeping on long-distance trains and/or buses. Just attach it to your backpack when you aren't using it.
Eye mask and earplugs - Making your environment as quiet and dark as possible makes for better sleep, especially if you're planning on staying downtown in Cairo particularly. Most likely the street noise will be annoying enough to interrupt your sleep. We highly recommend bringing earplugs, even if you don't usually sleep with them.
Toilet paper - You can always buy toilet paper while there or take some from your hotel. If you're particularly worried about hygiene, also bring your travel toilet seat covers. Note - don't flush anything down the toilet in Egypt, not even toilet paper. The pipes can't handle it.
Stuff sack for dirty clothes – A standard 20L/medium stuff sack to throw in things that need to be hand-washed.
Sleeping bag liner – If you’re planning to camp and stay in hostels, sometimes the bedding is just plain uncomfortable or questionable. A sleeping bag liner will put a barrier between you and your bedding while camping in the desert, sleeping on a felucca, and staying in budget hotels.
Snacks and granola bars – If you have to skip meals because of a packed schedule, or you’re travelling with children, it is recommended to pack a bunch in your backpack.
Egyptian Arabic Phrasebook - Is more of a nice-to-have than a necessity. However, it will be particularly useful if you're travelling through Egypt independently and if you're not at tourist sites. Google Translate is quite helpful but it translates to Modern Standard Arabic, not Egyptian Arabic, which sounds different.
Lonely Planet Guidebook - It's nice to have a reference but it's not a necessity if you've done proper research or have internet access.
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