March's Client of the Month is Nancy B. Nancy is not just my client but she is someone that I consider a friend. I met Nancy before I started in the travel business - she and I were both in technology sales. Not only is she a fun and beautiful person (inside and out), but she's smart and has a great energy that you just want to be around. I really do have the best clients!
Nancy decided to go to Egypt last year and the experience changed her life - so much so that she's now traveling the world in a remote work program. If you'd like to follow her on her journey, check out her blog, Nancy From Now On.
Read on to learn about Nancy's experience to Egypt in her own words.
Why did you decide to go to Egypt?
I fell in love with Egypt when I was 10 years old learning about the pyramids and mummies in 5th grade history class. I was also obsessed with Indiana Jones as a kid. He was my idol. I've always loved history, archaeology, and learning about past cultures and different ways of life.
What was your favorite day of the trip and why?
My favorite day was when I visited Valley of the Kings in Luxor. I had been dreaming about visiting the valley since childhood. Being surrounded by the various excavation sites and seeing archaeologists working on restoration projects in King Tut's tomb was a real "pinch me" moment. I also loved visiting Dahab, a city on the red sea. The restaurant and business owners treated us like royalty and bent over backwards to make our stay unforgettable.
How was the food? Did you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
They say "man cannot live on bread alone," but I beg to differ. I could eat baladi bread and hummus every day of my life. I would also highly recommend kanafeh which is a cheese pastry dessert. If you see it on the street or in a shop- you gotta try it!
What was the biggest surprise?
Perhaps it shouldn't have been a shock, but Egypt is hurting for tourism. Most of the places I visited were almost empty except for a couple other tourists or small groups (large sites still had a good amount tourists, but smaller tourist towns were hurting). Many restaurants and resorts along the red sea in Dahab were entirely closed because there simply aren't enough tourists to keep them open. The coast was full of dark establishments locked up due to lack of business. The few restaurants and stores that were open were extremely accommodating and grateful for the business. Many asked me to speak on video to promote their business or write a review for them to let my friends know I was having a great time and everything was safe.
What was your least favorite thing about the trip?
I was shocked at the population size, air quality, and the immense amount of traffic in Cairo. I think I had romanticized images in my head of Cairo during the Tut-mania craze of the early 20th century. It's a city of about 20 million people now. The pyramids are fairly close to the city even though most photos show them as if they are far away in the desert. I managed to snag a few photos without people in the background, but, like any major historical site, there are a lot of tourists and you need to be prepared to navigate the crowds when you're visiting Cairo/Giza.
Let's talk safety. This is a concern for a lot of people traveling to the Middle East. Can you talk about this? Did you ever feel unsafe, and if so, where and why?
I had a lot of concerned family members and friends reach out before I left on my trip to express their worries and doubts about my decision to go to Egypt as a young woman. I will say I never felt in danger at any point in time on my travels. As with many Middle Eastern countries, shop owners and men are a little more aggressive in trying to get your attention to purchase whatever they're selling. I also was approached and asked for photos with men on numerous occasions, but I simply would decline and never felt unsafe in doing so. Sometimes I would say yes and it was always fine. They were simply excited to be photographed with someone who looks different. I'm from Chicago and I behaved no differently in Egypt than I would walking the streets alone back home: be smart, act condent, try not to go out late at night alone, and always have enough charge on your cell phone to call for help, if needed. I always recommend buying a SIM card in every new country so you have access to making calls and sending messages without needing to be connected to wi.
What advice would you give to people traveling to Egypt?
Go there with an open mind and an eagerness to understand the culture, talk to locals and get to know them and what their thoughts are about what is happening in the world right now (especially the Middle East). It is not Western culture so always be prepared and carry hand sanitizer and toilet paper at all times because you WILL need them. Always haggle if you want to buy anything in a shop at reasonable price (don't be afraid to walk away). And if people are bothering you with a too-forward-sales-approach on the streets, the best thing to do is ignore them completely because even a "no" can be considered response.
What was your most memorable experience?
This is hard to answer, but I would say my time at a deserted beach resort on the Red Sea along with visiting Dahab and snorkeling the "blue hole." It was sad to see such a beautiful country with loving people so empty. I wanted to help them with tourism so hopefully my words here will assist them in some way.
Anything else that you would like to add?
If you're considering going to Egypt, now is the time. Danger can be found all over the world and I honestly feel safer traveling to foreign countries than I do living the US sometimes. I'm currently living outside the US at the moment as a digital nomad BECAUSE of my Egypt trip- it gave me the courage to travel on my own. I learned that I shouldn't let anything hold me back from chasing my dreams. If I could go back in time and talk to my 10 year self I'd be able to tell her, "You did it, Nancy." And I think that's priceless.
If Nancy has convinced you that you should consider traveling to Egypt, consider joining me on my small group trip in October. You can check out the details here.