14 Basic things to do to be safe in Egypt – many people forget the basics

  1. Plan your trip before you go.  I have written posts on the most frequently asked questions as well as advice on a myriad of topics on Egypt.  You can find them in my Travel Guide
  2. Book trusted, recommended hotels and do it before you leave home.  When you arrive take their advice on where to go and where not to go if it is offered.
  3. Do make sure all your documents are in order – passport valid for minimum 6 months after your departure date from Egypt etc.
  4. You can now buy a SIM card at the airport on arrival or find out from your hotel where is the nearest place to buy one.  I would get a package that gives you more internet than phone access so you have google maps also etc.
  5. Keep in touch with home.  Let someone know your itinerary and arrange with them that you post on FB or message them regularly during your trip.  Give them the contact details of your hotels, cruise boat, tour manager.  Most people see for themselves shortly after arriving that they are safe and well taken care of.  However, do remember your family at home do not have your new insight and their imaginations can run wild within a short space of time.
  6. Tell someone where you are going.  Especially if you are traveling alone let the hotel know each day you go out what time to expect you back and leave your phone number with the reception desk.
  7. Carry Passport Copy – If you don’t want to keep your passport with you always – at least carry a copy of it.  Security at some sites have asked visitors to produce their passports (very rarely).
  8. Wearing earphones will lessen the hassle from vendors because they think you can’t hear them.  However, I do recommend not having anything actually playing in your ear – or at least at a low volume so you are aware of your spacial surrounds – but I would recommend low volume when out walking in any country not just Egypt.
  9. Dress appropriately for local customs and the weather.  For more detailed tips on how to dress you might like to read my post What Should I Wear in Egypt.
  10. For the sake of equality of the sexes…if you are going to assume there is a threat from every man you pass, don’t also assume that every woman you meet is not going to try a tourist scam on you.
  11. Take out health/accident AND cancellation insurance.  Hospital and medical treatment in Egypt can be quite expensive for tourists – yes, different pricing structures.   You cannot leave hospital without either clearing the insurance or paying there and then, if you have to go to a hospital.   Have a look at my post re Hospital in Luxor   It tells what you need to know about initiating insurance payment but this info will apply to any hospital and the sooner they start it, the sooner you can leave, assuming you are ok 🙂
  12. Tell someone if you are unwell – ALWAYS tell your tour leader, tour guide or whatever person is responsible for you if you have received any hurt or scratch from a cat/dog or even insect bites, get a heel blister, have a small accident (whatever) or feel unwell immediately.  At home you may pass these little things off without a thought but when you are away from home the local person will know better if it is advisable to administer a treatment or seek medical advice in the situation.   Please don’t think that you are making a fuss about nothing.  The person guiding or hosting you should appreciate that it is better to be safe than sorry and respond accordingly.  I am constantly surprised at the number of people who don’t want to “complain” and suffer minor annoyances for several days before admitting to discomfort.  Taking care of a potential problem in the early stages is always easier.
  13. Recovering Alcoholic  If you are a recovering alcoholic be very clear when presented with refreshments – especially free drinks such as at the Captain’s Cocktail Party on cruise boats – be very clear with the person supervising the drinks table which cocktails contain alcohol.  There is not a high awareness of alcoholism in Egypt and I have seen a waiter tell someone that all the drinks on a table were the same – they were not.
  14. Medical Record – If you have any allergies, are a rare blood type, have medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, or have to take certain medication like blood thinners, blood pressure meds etc. it is a good idea to have that information recorded and keep it with your passport.  If you prefer to leave your passport in the hotel safe then make up a little info packet and keep it in your bag. It should contain your medical info, hotel details and a contact number for a family member at home.  Hotels don’t ask for this information but at Mara House we welcome the information in advance if you are ok with giving it to us.

Why would you keep written medical record in your bag?

    • in case you were in any type of accident requiring emergency medical assistance – it would be important those attending you access this info asap
    • if you suddenly fell ill and could not discern the reason yourself.  For example if you are on medication for high blood pressure and didn’t know that hibiscus tea “kirkadee” is the strongest natural product known to lower blood pressure.  You will be offered free “welcome drinks” everywhere you go in Egypt and hibiscus tea is the most common offered.  Drinking too much a few days in succession could drastically lower your blood pressure beyond safety limits.
    • The most obvious thing an attending medical person would do is search your bag to check for medication if you were unable to speak for yourself.
    • Apple iPhones have a Health app already installed when you buy it and the icon is a white square with a little red heart on it. This app can be accessed even if your phone is locked and awareness of this is increasing.  You can record your medical information and family contact details etc here – it’s a good idea to use it.  You can also download this kind of app for Samsung and other phones – but I don’t know how aware all medical personnel are on this subject.
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