Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Travel Documents & Tour Preparation
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
- Visa: A visa is required for this tour. Please find additional information below.
- Travel Insurance: While travel insurance is not required, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers here.
A Visa is required for all U.S. travelers going to Egypt. It is your responsibility to apply for this visa and obtain all necessary travel documents. EF Ultimate Break won't be completing this process for you, but here is some information regarding this application process:
- U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in order to enter Egypt. You can purchase your visa at the airport upon arrival for $25. The entry authorities require exact change in crisp, new bills.
- You can also purchase your visa in advance by using a visa provider, such as our partner VisaCentral.
- We recommend having at least two blank passport pages for entry stamps.
- Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
- Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
- Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Free Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
- Wi-Fi is not available on the bus.
- Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
Arrival Information & Transportation
When preparing for your international flight to Cairo, check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. With this information, you can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time.
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
- Long Flights: Travel from the U.S. to Northern Africa can be a lengthy process (10-20+ hours travel time total). Bring a book, watch a movie (or five), and drink plenty of water!
Arriving in Cairo
Welcome to Egypt! If you booked flights with EF Ultimate Break, your transfers to and from the hotel when you arrive in and depart from Cairo are included. When you land in Cairo, an EF representative will meet you in the airport just before you go through immigration. Be sure to look for a sign, and know that if you go through immigration, you won’t be permitted to go back in and look for the agent.
If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel. Accommodation details will be available in your online account 30 days prior to departure.
Note: The Cairo International Airport is the international airport of Cairo, and is the busiest airport in Egypt. You’ll notice this, especially upon arrival. If you have difficulty finding your group or representative to bring you to the hotel, just give our team a call at 617-619-1411.
Getting from A to B
On this trip, you’ll take a private bus and internal flights between cities which can take anywhere between 2-8 hours depending on distance, local traffic, and bathroom or photo-stop breaks. The beauty of travel is that you get to explore a new place, but note that it takes time and energy to see everything worth seeing!
Note that there are several early morning departures during this trip. Some mornings, as an example on day 5, your group will depart for a flight to Luxor at 5am, and the next day depart at 4am for the Optional Hot Air Balloon Ride. As they say, early bird gets the worm! Read below for more must-knows:
- Prepare to walk between 2-5 miles per day, especially when sightseeing. We’ve packed a lot into this trip, so be ready for a fast-paced adventure!
- Remember it will be HOT in Egypt, so keep your water, hat, and sunscreen close!
- Many of the main locations you visit, such as the Pyramids or Temples, charge a fee for anyone bringing in a camera. The fee can be quite expensive, but can range anywhere from 50–350 EGP. However, phones are allowed in and can be used to take photos at no extra cost.
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon nap, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- Insight Timer: Meditation apps are very in right now. This one is especially amazing because there are 80,000 free daily meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, and stress.
- What’s Up: If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed, What’s Up can help you manage these feelings with interactive games, forums, and a thought tracking diary.
- Talkspace: No need to make appointments or commute to a therapist’s office. Talkspace gives you 24/7 access to real, licensed therapists. You can talk, text, or video chat with them right from your phone.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Egypt, however, it is very common for travelers from the U.S. to experience gastrointestinal issues (nausea, diarrhea) when traveling to Egypt. We recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry requirements. See more tips below for staying healthy in Egypt.
- Drink bottled water only. Avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth or showering. We do our best to provide water bottles each day, but in preparing for limited opportunities to purchase water throughout the tour, we recommend travelers purchase bottled water when given the chance (in major cities at supermarkets, when the Tour Director suggests, etc.). DO NOT refill your water bottle with tap water.
- Take proper care with sun exposure. The sun is very strong in some of the areas you are visiting.
- Be prepared. Travelers’ diarrhea is one of the most common illnesses among travelers to Egypt. Bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless you can peel them yourself or wash them in bottled or disinfected water.
- Certain medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) are banned in foreign countries. Consult your physician at least four weeks prior to departure to make sure any medications you want to bring with you are legal.
- Public restrooms in Egypt can be quite bare. We suggest carrying bathroom tissue and hand sanitizer with you.
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi or Uber, and always have cash on hand.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
Though Egyptians are friendly and helpful, there are some commons scams that are good to be aware of, particularly when it comes to shopping. Locals may try and tell you that you’re going to the "tourist" markets and that they can take you somewhere more authentic. In reality, they may just be taking you to their friend’s shop full of fraudulent items.
Your Tour Director may bring you to shops that are more expensive than those you find wandering the markets. However, your Tour Director brings you to those shops specifically because they can assure the authenticity of the products there. You by no means have to make any purchases during these stops, but please be advised that you could be taking your chances with quality elsewhere.
Because Egypt has a reputation for having some of the best prices for gold in the world, scams surrounding it are especially common. Do your research before shopping for gold, and ask your Tour Director for recommendations.
Women in Egypt
Female travelers in Egypt may face treatment different from what they are used to back home:
- Though local women tend to dress conservatively, this is not expected of foreigners and many travelers dress as they normally would back home. That being said, there are travelers who say dressing more conservatively helps draw less attention and made them feel more comfortable, so it's not a bad idea to pack a few conservative clothing items to have on hand just in case.
- It’s common to be catcalled in Egypt. Years of feedback and advice tell us that it’s best to ignore the calls and keep walking forward.
- If you do find yourself receiving unwanted attention, staying in a group is one of the best deterrents.
While Egyptian law doesn't technically criminalize same-sex relationships or non-conventional gender expression, LGBTQ+ individuals face significant social stigma and discrimination in Egypt, including harassment and prison sentences. Discretion for LGBTQ+ travelers is advised.
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website. We recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag. See more packing tips below:
- 1 lightweight jacket
- Comfortable walking shoes or sandals to keep cool during city sightseeing
- Closed-toed shoes for activities in the desert
- 1-2 pairs pants, long skirts, long dresses
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
- 1-2 nicer outfits for the Welcome Dinner, Farewell Dinner
- Bathing suit
- Sunglasses, hat, and sunscreen. Pro Tip: Bring two travel-size sunscreens in your carry-on
- Insect repellent
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine
- Hand sanitizer
- 1 reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera. Please note you may be charged a fee at certain sites to take pictures with a camera. See more information under "Money & Tipping"
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- A power adapter
Note: Pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing you can easily layer to accommodate high and varying temperatures. Lightweight layers can also help make it easier to dress up or down as needed. Modest dress is is the norm for locals in Egypt, but is not particularly expected of travelers. That being said, all travelers are required to cover their knees and shoulders in sacred places like mosques or other religious sites.
Egypt operates on 220 volts and use Types C or F plugs with two round pins. A staff favorite adapter is also the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com) which is compatible to all countries.
Money & Tipping
We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.
Budget around $30-$40 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.
Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.
The currency of Egypt is the Egyptian pound (EGP), and small cash bills are key. Some stores will take credit cards, although cash is preferred. We recommend you bring a debit/credit card with you, which you can use to withdraw cash at local banks if needed. Read below for more information on money, tipping, and budgeting in Egypt:
- While better exchange rates are usually found overseas, it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
- Cash is king in Egypt, but you should take debit and credit cards with you to withdraw cash at local banks as needed (be wary of fees).
- It’s extremely useful to have a supply of U.S. currency and local currency in small denominations for this trip. The US dollar is pretty widely accepted, and it can sometimes be difficult to get Egyptian pounds as ATMs commonly run out of money.
- $1 bills are particularly useful; sometimes even a $10 bill cannot be accepted or broken.
- Expect to pay 5 EGP to use a bathroom anywhere, with the exception of hotels and nicer restaurants.
We recommend tipping your Tour Director $44-$66 at the end of the trip, plus additional tips for local guides listed below. Tipping is an important part of Egypt’s local economy and you may also be solicited to tip locals who assist you in public places, including taking photos. We recommend having small bills in USD or local currency for this purpose. See local guide tipping recommendations:
- Snorkeling Boat: $2
- Felucca Ride: $1
- Hot Air Balloon Ride: $1-$2
Many of the main locations you visit, such as the Pyramids or Temples, charge a fee for anyone bringing in a camera. The fee can be quite expensive, ranging anywhere from 50–350 EGP. However, phones are allowed in at no extra cost and can be used to take photos.
The official language of Egypt is Arabic, but most locals also speak English. Try your hand at some of the local language:
- Hello: Salam
- My name is (your name): Ismi (your name)
- How much does this cost?: Bekam Hada?
- Yes: Na’am
- No: La’a
- Thank you: Shukran
- Where is the bathroom?: Ayn el-merhad?
Note: Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!
As you prepare to spend time in a new continent, country, and culture, prepare yourself for ancient tombs, world-famous Pyramids, and vibrant cities. Read on to learn more about Egyptian and Muslim culture, and see specific tips to help you make the most of your trip.
- While in Egypt, the Egyptian Tourism Police mandates all foreign groups must accompanied by an armed guard and/or convoy. Often they will blend into background, but if engaged, can be another local touch point and perk!
- Areas like the Red Sea are more relaxed with clothing, but Egypt is a conservative and Muslim country so you should be mindful of covering more “private” body parts on this trip.
- PDA is not accepted or normal in Egypt. This includes holding hands and hugging.
- We said it once but we’ll say it again: Do not drink the tap water. Egypt is still technically considered a developing country and the tap water is not safe to drink, and not even to brush your teeth.
- There's no technical speed limit in Egypt, and in many places there are no traffic lights. This means a lot of traffic, traffic noise (horns), and required extra caution to cross the streets.
- Bargaining is common in Egypt; at the markets, try it out and start by asking for a price that’s half of what’s initially offered!
- Be considerate when taking photos of locals, and know that some people, especially women, might not want their photo taken at all, or will ask for a payment in return for the photo. When in doubt, just ask the person if you can take a photo of them.
Food & Drink
Using the bounties of the Nile Valley, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a gastronomic heaven. You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips when dining in Egypt, and delicacies you must try:
- Ful Medammes: This dish of fava beans is the most common breakfast for Egyptians, usually served with eggs, cheese, or bread.
- Mahshi: A favorite for vegetarians, Mahshi is veggies stuffed with some sort of rice filling and leaves (grapevine, cabbage).
- Shwarma: A popular street food, shwarma gives you the choice between chicken or beef marinated with spices and placed in a wrap then served with tahini. YUM.
- Roz Bel Laban: Egypt’s version of rice pudding. If you like rice pudding you’ll love Roz Bel Laban.
- Falafel (Ta’meya): Another breakfast treat or snack, Egypt’s ta’meya is made with fava beans instead of the traditional chickpeas.
- Fattah: Tracing all the way back to ancient Egypt for special celebrations, this is a main dish that combines crispy bread, rice, meat, and sauce.
- Sayadeya: A coastal delicacy that uses white fish fillets marinated in lemon juice and spices then lightly fried!
- Tea: Tea is the national drink of Egypt and is offered everywhere! Breakfast, after lunch, and when socializing… and that’s the tea.
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.