is a dedicated traveller, travel writer and regular
contributor to the Journeywoman network. What follows
is her female-friendly advice based on a month-long
stay, in Egypt, with her mother.
Egyptian cities are very modern and local women
may appear in public with makeup, jewelry and
flowing black hair, they always dress conservatively.
They do not show their shoulders or wear tight
shirts. Their skirts are always just past their
knees, or they wear slacks. It is rare to see
an Egyptian woman or man in shorts. In the smaller
towns of Egypt, many females will wear the traditional
galabiyya (loose gowns) and most will cover
in Egypt, my philosophy is to dress as the local
women do. Bring shirts that cover your shoulders;
T-shirts are fine. I always cover my legs with
long, cool, cotton Indian skirts. And, in the
evening, I wear long culottes that look like
a skirt. If you follow this formula, it indicates
a respect for the culture and, you wont
be approached or stared at as often by the local
a safe hotel...
travelling alone, American hotels have security
checks at all entrances and are generally very
safe. But you can also find interesting smaller,
family-owned three-star Egyptian hotels where,
once they get to know you, they look out for
you. These can become your home-away-from-home.
local female guides...
matter how much you learn from reading travel
books, having a personal tour guide is wonderful.
Inquire at the front desk of your hotel or ask
your travel agent about how to go about finding
one. For very little money you can book a local
guide (and a driver) who go through rigorous
training and years of classes on Egyptology
(some are even Ph.D. Egyptologists). If possible,
its really nice to have the
intimacy of a female guide. This way you can
talk to her about such issues as marriage and
family life. From past experience, Ive
found that these females enjoy the opportunity
to talk with a foreign woman. Most of them have
never travelled outside of Egypt.
transportation secret for women...
Alexandria both share a secret pertaining to
women. Alexandria has its streetcars. Cairo
has a wonderful Metro which is safe,
clean and very cheap. Because Egypt is, to a
large extent, a Muslim country, the front car
(or two) on each train or streetcar is reserved
for women only. Its a wonderful experience
just mingling exclusively with the local women.
Many will come up and talk to you, while laughing
shyly. However, women can also ride in the mixed
compartments and you will invariably be offered
a seat. Very few tourists use these systems
and, personally, I felt that the locals were
impressed to see a foreigner on their transit
from one destination to another in Egypt is
safe, quick, cheap and reliable. You can also
use their rail system, very inexpensive (but
also very crowded). The train ride through the
Delta from Cairo to Alexandria is beautiful
and its only $10 return-- first class!
Train stations are bustling with thousands of
people, so do take the precaution not to leave
your luggage unattended and watch your purse
or daypack. Get a porter to take you to the
right platform. He will even position you at
approximately the area where your car will stop.
nice to go out in the evening. While in Cairo,
take advantage of attending local concerts or
the opera. For as little as $10 you can attend
the Opera or, as I did, an international Arab
Music Festival. Again, very few tourists attend
and because Egyptians are so friendly, many
will come up during intermission to talk and
even introduce you to their family. As in the
evening in any large city, remember to arrange
for a taxi to take you there and pick you up
after the event (unless you are with a group
of people and you feel that there is safety
ask for help...
afraid to ask for help. Egyptians are amongst
the most friendly people I have every met. Tourist
police are stationed near all the busier
tourist areas and will not only help, but they
will file a report if there is a problem. If
you are feeling tired or uncomfortable in any
situation, need directions or simply do not
understand the language, do not hesitate to
ask a passing female for her assistance. They
will generally graciously help you out. In fact,
I found that many empathetic women would step
in even before I realized that I needed help.
Egyptian women definitely heightened my belief
in the international sisterhood of females!
more female-friendly advice about Egypt, click here