Hi, I have been backpacking before to Thailand so I am not new to backpacking, but have never been to Egypt or the Middle East before and was wondering if I needed to be more concerned about safety with being a woman on my own? What tips would you all have?
Absolutely it is safe.
In general terms women have no more to fear than men when backpacking. With reasonable common sense precautions (no more so than you would use at home such as don’t dissapear down a dark alley alone, don’t get so drunk you don’t know what you are doing or get into a car with a bunch of strangers for example) then you will be absolutely fine and absolutely safe.
Egypt in particular is extremely conscious of traveller safety, especially given the importance the government puts on tourism (it brings in a lot of their revenue), and they have set up a specific tourist police force to assist tourists. You will find them at every major site.
On a practical level, although generally very safe women do have a few extra considerations to make when travelling through Muslim countries.
Ensuring that you respect local customs and beliefs is a must, so wear respectable clothing (there is no need to go overboard, generally shorts or long cotton trousers and a basic cotton T shirt will suffice), and use a scarf to cover up shoulders and skin etc if entering into a religious place such as a mosque or walking around Islamic Cairo. Egypt is one of the least conservative muslim countries you can travel to (but remember that it is still a conservative Muslim country), and they are very used to tourists (including the fools who come straight off the cruise ships dressed in hot pants and bikini tops and then complain they are getting stared at!) so in general you have nothing to worry about.
It is still quite unusual for women to travel alone in a lot of Muslim countries so in parts of the middle east you still may get stared at. Don’t worry just ignore it, don’t make eye contact and carry on. You may get a few chat up lines too, but that is about it. Basically the more respectfully dressed and polite you are, the more respect you will be given. A lot of my female friends and women I have met on my travels have stated that they have found wearing a wedding ring, even if they are not married, stops a lot of unwanted advances, so maybe that is something to think about?
On the whole though you will be absolutely fine.
Thank you Michael. I was hearing so many scare stories of women having to completely cover up. You have eased my fears a bit. I am trying to be respectful of their culture I think, that is why I don’t want to make a huge mistake with what I wear but from the sounds of it basic pants, tops and shawls are ok?
I have travelled on my own in Egypt – don’t put up with any nonsense, same as you would anywhere and you will be absolutely fine! Michael is right, you might get the odd chat up line, or someone trying to sell sell sell…I just tend to remain polite, but don’t get into chatty conversations which might encourage.
I had a great time in Egypt and hitched up with some other travellers for part of my trip, and am still in touch!
You will find there are plenty of people travelling round, so it’s easy to hook up with people if you want to.
Don’t worry too much about the dress side of things – usual common sense prevails, and if you wear basic pants, tops and shawls you will be fine.
Egypt has so much to offer – you will have a great time.