We have finally arrived at the land from where it all began – Egypt. The cradle of the important civilisation along the Nile, this patron of Pyramids was long in our wanderlust-list. As the last voyage destination of 2015 for Team OneTimeFashionista, we are excited to touch down here to celebrate Christmas and merrily usher into the New Year. We had to assiduously put the pyjamas, pantaloons and pashminas while we packed our suitcases, keeping in careful view the festive time of the year, location and climate of the destination, local norms and culture and more importantly keeping our own FQ (Fashion Quotient) uncompromised and intact. Read on as we share our packing tips for you so that you can truly Walk Like An Egyptian!
Whether you’re a fashionista or a no-frills traveler, our detailed packing list is planned not only for our need but for you to customize them to fit your own personal travel needs and style. This isn’t your average packing list!
Note: This travel wardrobe for Egypt below shows what we are wearing on our way to the airport.
Welcoming the travel fashion challenge, I have squeezed down to 5 most important tips applicable for everyone and this is how I have planned our wardrobe for Egypt keeping these in mind:
#1. One to carry one to check in: Our airline has strict baggage restrictions and we don’t want to pay ridiculous fees to check our bag on every single flight (our Al Italia flight flew via Rome to Cairo. Also, there will be couple of intra-city flights in Egypt). So, our best bet is one check-in luggage and a carry-on bag per person. This doesn’t include camera kit and Tanusree’s mini-messenger bag to carry travel documents, fresh mints, face wipes, hand cream, lip gel and a handbag mirror.
#2. Make a smart-list: If you’re a first time traveller and feel clueless about how to pack, start making a list in your phone or notepad, stick to that list and check one by one as you pack along. After travelling for years, we still follow this rule like a pro.
#3. Packing for activities and weather: If you have a complicated itinerary (we always do), packing should be done accordingly. Moreover, there are always different activities involved, and the weather seems absolutely impossible at times. So we pack an umbrella, our hot weather sunnies, a light-weight jacket, an extra pair of jeans or trousers (for activities like helicopter or hot air balloon ride, to save yourself from gusty wind and embarrassment caused if you are a woman wearing skirts or short dresses) in every new country we visit, even in summer. The weather in Egypt in end of December, early January will be pleasant for these two Londonders visiting, however, the sunglasses and sunscreen lotions will look after our face & body during the day while the light-weight jacket and scarves will keep us warm and cosy for our trips to the deserts, for early mornings and late evenings.
#4. Pack the precious, and the spare: If you’re planning a long trip and feel completely overwhelmed at the idea of packing all your belongings into a single bag, this is what you should do – we always pack all our valuables like electronics, gadgets, jewellery, money in our carry-on bag. Tanusree prefers to be ultra cautious by packing her most favourite piece of clothing or accessories in the carry-on bag as well. Always keep one spare set of nightwear in your carry-on bag, in case of missing luggage, this will be handy for the first couple of nights until your bag arrives.
#5. Recycle wardrobe: If you’re a seasoned traveller who’s just tired of dragging around a heavy, oversized suitcase and it’s time to put an end to your over packing. Mix & match, repeat and restyle the classic pieces of clothing and accessories to avoid carrying excess luggage but still manage to travel in style.
Generally, three aspects influence what to pack for a travel destination: local culture, intended activities once on ground and local weather.
Firstly, when in Rome…the old adage: Respect other cultures when you travel
We have previously emphasised on norm of modest dressing in Tanusree’s outfit post from Morocco that how important it is to respect the law of the land you are travelling to. When you are a guest in somebody else’s home, you behave in a certain way, the same theory applies when you arrive in a foreign land. With this comes a new set of rules, traditions and expectations.
You don’t have to like them forever, you don’t have to take them on, but you definitely have to respect them and follow them while you are visiting that culture.
While Tanusree categorically calls herself an atheist, Shehzaad believes in spirituality. None of us practice a particular religious faith or any rituals, but if we visit a temple, church or mosque in a foreign land then we make sure we cover up our arms and legs. This is just basic respect and showing our acknowledgement and appreciation for the ways and thoughts of a new culture.
Egypt is a Muslim country. The culture and dress code are not as strict in Egypt as they are in some Muslim countries, but it is still best to be modest, especially for women.
What women should wear?
From our interactions with Egyptians in London, we gathered that women do not show their shoulders or wear tight shirts. Their skirts are always just past their knees, or they wear tights. 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 their hair. Therefore, Tanusree will be seen wearing mostly maxi dresses, full sleeves blouses, cardigans, trousers and jeans. No over the knee skirts or dresses for Tanusree while in Egypt. Adopting the moderately conservative dress code will hopefully deflect unwanted attention from the men on the street while sight-seeing, which for most women is desirable.
Top tips for women’s wear:
- If you’re planning to ride a camel, a skirt is not a good idea even if it is maxi.
- Tight clothes and low necks are to be avoided.
- If your blouse is see-through, make sure you wear a tank top underneath as they are also not welcomed and will draw attention and even comments, especially from young men.
Going out to dinner, especially in a comparatively nice and posh restaurant, it is advisable to wear smart clothes; for example- a pussy bow full sleeved blouse paired with a cropped trouser, envelope clutch, mid length court shoes and having a stole to cover bare shoulders would be a good idea at the same time you can look stylish. Tanusree have packed a couple of pashmina stoles with embellished sequins and pompom details. On cruise boats, also, it is nice to have something smart to wear in the evening – a maxi evening gown or dress with sleeves styled with a party clutch and heels will look the part, keeping the culture factor in mind.
What men should wear?
For men, what to wear is less of an issue than it is for women. Patriarchy bites again! Casual trousers, chinos, jeans and shirt, T-shirt or polo are fine. If you are travelling in summer, make sure they are lightweight and natural fibres – cotton is best. Since its winter now, Shehzaad will be sporting light-weight jumpers styled with colored chinos and jeans. For evenings, polo shirts layered with a thin jacket or velvet blazer over casual shirts are some of the looks to try on.
We have seen men wearing shorts in the hotel. Lots of people also wear them along the Corniche (the ‘prom’ beside the river) but most people are seen wearing full-length trousers in town. No rugged jeans or shorts in religious places, please.
Secondly, specific activities such as; outfit for Photo-shoot at Pyramid and Parties (we will usher 2016 here)
You may hear about some people who say they have been to Egypt and have worn exactly what they want, where they want, and nobody cared. For an exclusive Bollywood-ish shoot near Pyramid and also for New Year’s Eve party, we are going to make it an exception and wear exactly what we want! Expect flowing chiffon maxi dresses styled with Cleopatra styled headgears on Tanusree. For Shehzaad, take a clue from SRK’s wardrobe from the songs of his latest film Dilwale. Blame Tanusree for the ideas.
Lastly, special weather packing
Egypt is hot. Even in the winter, temperatures are generally high during the day so you will need light cottons at any time of the year. But it can get cooler in the evening and early morning. You can also feel the chill on a cruise and on the overnight train, because you get a breeze on the boat and they tend to turn the air conditioning to freezing on the train! So for any of these occasions, we packed light-weight jumpers and cardigans.
Dress your feet comfortably
You will need ‘practical’ shoes. The roads and pavements are not tremendous (but improving in places) and to get to many of the sights you have to trample over unmade ground. Comfortable boots or smart converse shoes with sturdy soles are the best, they will save your feet especially in places like Luxor where its very dusty. Sandals are OK in the hotels and on cruises, but there is lot of sandy dust so they will become uncomfortable in town. When the coarse sand gets into sandals it can very quickly create blisters.
Final thoughts and notes
Some tourists wear what they like (tank tops, short dresses, shorts, deep necks, see- through blouses) – without any consideration for the local culture or customs. This can be done, of course, and the tourists then imagine that this is OK (and trying to pass on to others). But, in fact, having done it without having comments made directly to them or encountering trouble, it still does not make it the right choice. Whatever the situation may be, we have arrived here by our own choice. And it really isn’t all that hard to amend our choices for a few days. It all boils down to respect and earn respect in return.
If Egypt is your next travel destination and you are stressing about packing, we hope you find some solution in this post. More detailed packing tips are shared in our Packing Picks series of posts for different locations we have visited so far. While Tanusree thinks Hawaii was better than the rest, Shehzaad on the other hand thinks Norway was rather short and crispy.
As always, we hope to return safe and sound with memories of a lifetime. Nothing crossed our minds more than safety this time round. According to the Foreign Travel Advice of Government of UK, the sections colored in yellow and orange in this map below have high threat from terrorism.
British passport holders are advised against all travel to these places, and if you still do, a standard travel insurance provided by most companies will not cover you which is unfortunate. Travelling is becoming dangerous day by day but as legends say, life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So, when in fear or in doubt or in joy or in moment of sorrow, just travel! Because travelling is rebellion in its purest form.
This is the last post of 2015. Happy Holidays!!!0