In December 2016, we were looking into visiting Egypt for a couple of weeks. Before we booked our trip we were warned constantly that we shouldn’t go to Egypt because it isn’t safe. Most of these warnings came from family and friends who had our best interests at heart, but in most cases had never been to Egypt.
We recently wrote about the Top 5 Reasons To Visit Egypt Now, but we thought we would address some issues about safety that some people may have.
Is Egypt Safe?
This question comes up often when we speak about Egypt. There has been a lot of negative coverage in the media and the US government has even issued travel warnings about Egypt. So how safe could this country really be?
As we covered in our Is Jordan Safe post, you need to take what the media says with a grain of salt. Their purpose is to drive ratings and numbers. We’re not saying that what they’re saying is not true, but that sometimes it can be hyperbolized. Your best bet is to do your own research on the country you want to visit and talk to people that are actually there or have been there.
Government Travel Warnings
The United States issues travel warnings all the time, to countries all over the world. Most people don’t look into what the exact warning issue is, but often assume the worst and won’t travel there. If we lived by this way of thinking, we would never leave the country!
You absolutely should read travel warnings, but don’t use that as your only source of information. Travel warnings for a country usually warn travelers about a specific area to avoid or if an event or holiday is about to occur. Again, do your own research and ask around.
We really like this article on travel warnings and how to interpret them.
Is It Actually Safe There?
It’s easy for us to say, “take our word for it,” but it’s nice to see some actual statistics.
Since 2002, the average number of unnatural deaths of Americans abroad per year is about 827 people. In 2015, there were about 73.5 million Americans that traveled outside the country. That comes out to a 0.001% chance of dying of an unnatural cause while traveling abroad. To put that number in perspective, in 2015 there were 15,696 murders in the United States out of a population of 320 million people. That comes out to 0.004% of the population. This means you have a higher percentage chance of being murdered in the United States than dying of unnatural causes while traveling abroad.
Unfortunately, between the country having a revolution in 2011, the negative coverage of the Middle East, and the travel warnings, tourism has dropped from 14 million visitors in 2010 to 5 million visitors in 2016. This has caused the economy to suffer greatly.
This was evident during our time there. People were thrilled to see Westerners visiting. They kept saying, please tell your friends how great it is here! We did enjoy ourselves and more importantly, we never felt unsafe while visiting.
Egypt is a more conservative country and, as when visiting any country, you should respect their customs. Both women and men should dress modestly. If you are visiting resorts on the Red Sea or on the Mediterranean Sea, the resorts tend to have a much more relaxed atmosphere and swimsuits and tank tops are accepted.
Driving is very dangerous in Egypt. Do not attempt to rent a car or drive in Egypt. Hire someone that knows how to drive and buckle up! There are military checkpoints along the road throughout the country, however, there seem to be no rules for drivers, especially in larger cities.
As an example, we took a bus from Hurghada to Cairo and even the bus driver had us very concerned for our safety! He was passing cars constantly on two-lane highways and would drive in to oncoming traffic like he had the right of way!
We were even warned not to try to cross the street on our own. That warning makes a lot of sense when you see how chaotic driving is there.
It is important to be a safe traveler no matter where you visit. These are general safety precautions that can be applied to most places, including Egypt.
- You should always secure your valuables and not flash money around.
- Egyptian vendors have been notoriously aggressive with trying to get tourists to buy their goods. During our 2-weeks there we experienced this a couple times. You just need to be firm, but respectful and say no thank you.
- Stay away from demonstrations and rallies when traveling. If you book through a tour company, they should know the areas to stay clear of.
- Don’t go walking around areas aimlessly that you don’t know, especially after dark.
- Keep your passport or a copy on you at all times.
- Get travel insurance, as you never know if you’ll need a trip to the hospital or if you unexpectedly need to cancel your trip. You’ll want to be covered.
- Register with the State Department so they’ll know where you’ll be and when. If there is ever an emergency where you’re visiting or back in the states, they will know how to get a hold of you.
- Travel with a phone. SIM cards are very cheap in Egypt and internet can be hard to come by in most places.
- Consider joining a private or group tour. It can be difficult to travel around the country on your own in Egypt.
Is Egypt Safe?
Egypt is a wonderful country that unfortunately has suffered in many ways — particularly when it comes to tourism. Egypt is as safe as you make it, just like any other country. Do not listen to scare tactics used by the media. Read what actual travel warnings entail. Do your own research, be informed and make your own decision if it is safe enough for you. At the end of the day, it’s your vacation and you should enjoy yourself. If you are too scared, you won’t enjoy your trip.
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