Traveling to Egypt or Jordan is a dream for many. Seeing the pyramids – the only Wonder of the Ancient World still standing – Cruising the Nile – Exploring the incredible, multicultural city of Cairo. There’s so much culture and history to absorb. Then, if you’re lucky, you visit the Kingdom of Jordan where you walk in biblical lands, camp in Wadi Rum, and explore the astonishing city of Petra. Our days in Petra were the highlight of our trip. Having a plan for what to pack for Egypt and Jordan made our travel so much easier.
Deciding what to bring on a trip to the Middle East can be difficult. The culture is quite different from what westerners are used to and the climate is a challenge. Much of what you decide to bring will depend on your time of travel, and your planned activities. I traveled in March when there was some rain expected in Cairo but otherwise the weather would be hot and dry in both countries.
What to Pack for Egypt & Jordan: Documents
- Passport and visa – make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months past your travel time, and that you have enough blank pages in your passport.
- Travel insurance – this is a big, and usually expensive trip, so it’s wise to purchase insurance to cover the cost of any complications that might arise. In particular, ensure you have medical coverage.
- Vaccination records – consult your physician or travel medical clinic well before your travel date. There are several vaccinations that are recommended for travel to Egypt.
Gear & Gadgets:
- Camera and lenses – highly recommend a camera with a viewfinder, whether a dSLR or a bridge camera. I traveled with a basic point-and-shoot and regretted not having a real viewfinder. The bright sun made the LCD panel on my phone and P&S camera impossible to see.
- Dust cover for camera
- Travel Tripod – well-reviewed ultra-light tripods, but we did fine with one of the Joby small, flexible stands
- extra batter and memory cards!
- Binoculars – our guide was thrilled to use our compact binoculars to examine the hieroglyphs on monuments. I carried my Swarovski CL.
- External charger ( bonus points if it has SD card backup capability like the RAVPower FileHub)
- Headlamp – if you’re going to Petra, DO go to Petra By Night, an exceptional experience where you walk the narrow Siq lit only by luminarias. It’s an uneven path so a headlamp would have been a great help.
What to Pack for Egypt & Jordan: Miscellaneous
- Money – you will be able to exchange money or withdraw local currency when you arrive, but having small denomination bills of your home currency will be helpful.
- Please do not give money to the children begging in the streets. Hopefully they will go to school if begging isn’t profitable. If you must give them something, bring pencils or small notebooks to hand out. Or support a community program through Pack for a Purpose.
- Sunscreen and a good sunhat.
- Toilet paper, and cleansing wipes.
What to Pack for Egypt and Jordan: Clothing
The culture in both Egypt and Jordan requires women to dress modestly. Though as a tourist you’re exempt from the dress code, it is always better to be respectful as you are a guest in the country.
Exceptions: Western dress is accepted in resort areas – beaches, hotels, etc. And Jordan is generally more accepting of western dress, but we still suggest dressing respectfully, eg., t-shirts are fine, spaghetti strap tops not so much…
Recommended for men and women:
- Shirts, light colored*, long sleeves which roll up if necessary (Columbia Sportswear offers affordable convertible shirts for men and women)
- Pants, light colored, with fold up or zip off to knee length (women – look for the slimmer fitting versions of these pants – i.e., Columbia Aruba, which will work best transitioning from touring to dining)
- Tees and a light sweater, merino wool recommended for lightness and odor resistance
- Sturdy shoes (especially important when exploring ancient sites)
- Sun hat
Additional Suggestions for Women
- travel dress, midi or maxi skirt in lightweight material
- 1-2 lightweight scarves – brightens any outfit and covers your head in places of worship
- avoid short shorts and form fitting clothing unless on private boats or at resorts
- * we chose to wear black in Cairo to fit in better with the local population (though of course, we were easily identified as Americans wherever we went).
We found the Egyptian and Jordanian people very friendly and appreciative of our efforts to respect their culture. We wore our shorts and tees on board our Nile boat but covered our shoulders and knees when out and about. A scarf works well for the inevitable dust AND serves as a head cover when you visit sacred sites. (One unfortunate confrontation on the streets of Cairo convinced us that covering our blond hair was a good idea so, after that, those scarves came with us everywhere…)
We traveled through Egypt with Abercrombie & Kent, but did the days in Jordan on our own. So very glad we had the opportunity to visit these storied lands. If you have the chance to see and explore Jordan and/or Egypt, GO, don’t put it off!!
For a bit of reading before traveling to the Middle East read:
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