Thinking of worldschooling in Egypt?
If you’re looking for an exciting, challenging, and rewarding destination to teach ancient history and Middle Eastern culture, nothing compares to a trip to Egypt.
We spent a month with our infant and kindergartner and learned all the things about traveling with small children in the Land of Pyramids.
Getting Ready for Your Trip
I am a big believer in prepping your worldschooler for international destinations.
Laying the foundation for your trip with some basic knowledge of the culture, history and language dramatically enriches the experience for everyone.
Consider trying these tips to prepare your worldschooler for an international destination before you go.
Overall, Egypt is among the safest places you’ll ever go. Crime is extremely low in the major cities.
I am more comfortable walking around even the worst neighborhoods in Cairo or Alexandria than in many neighborhoods in New York, Paris, or London.
Definitely don’t let reports of terrorism freak you out. You are very unlikely to be targeted for a terrorist attack here.
That said, the US Government and most of the European travel boards advise against traveling near any of the borders or the Sinai Peninsula, as well as political protests (duh).
Many also advise against visiting religious sites, although the locals gave me the impression this was an exaggerated issue.
Use common sense. Don’t go looking for trouble and it’s very unlikely to find you.
That said, there are a few areas of concern. The biggest is transportation.
The Seatbelt Problem
If you’re accustomed to road safety in the Western world, you’re in for a shock.
Car seats in Egypt are almost nonexistent.
Worse, many of the cabs aren’t even equipped with seatbelts. When they are, you often have to dig around to find them embedded in the seats—on a busy street, with racing traffic, while your Uber drive impatiently inches forward.
And unlike many countries in Europe or North America, renting a car and driving yourself here if you’re not used to it is not a realistic option.
So how to deal with this?
For starters, avoid the traditional cabs altogether.
As one local put it to me, “they’re drama.”
Aside from needing to know exactly what a fair rate is so, you can haggle for it (again, on a busy street, with racing traffic, while the driver impatiently inches forward, as you desperately attempt to keep your children from getting run over), they’re older cars and tend to be the least likely to have seatbelts.
Instead, use a rideshare service like Uber or Careem (if you’re not familiar, Careem is Uber’s younger, rougher-around-the-edges cousin in the Middle East).
If the driver arrives with no seatbelts, send him on his way. Make no exceptions.
Once you find a driver you like with seatbelts, consider hiring him for the week. Ask a local what a good weekly rate is, and then haggle hard for it.
As for car seats, we used one of those car seat/stroller combos for our youngest and belted our 5-year-old in the back behind the driver.
Do not drink tap water in Egypt.
You will get sick of hauling bottled water everywhere, but you will get much, much sicker from drinking the local water.
Spare yourself and your family the epic gastral intestinal drama, and possibly a trip to the hospital.
Airbnb vs. Residential Hotels
If you’ve been worldschooling for a while (especially with more than 1 child), I probably don’t need to tell you that hotels are not ideal.
However, in Egypt, residential hotels are fairly inexpensive and offer a lot of the benefits of an Airbnb. They typically are spacious even in the cities, they generally come equipped with kitchens and washer/dryers and they often offer daily housekeeping.
Airbnb, on the other hand, offers a much more local experience, and hosts often accommodate service-based requests.
Egyptian food is extremely underrated. When it comes to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, most people think of Lebanese or Turkish, but Egyptian food is inexpensive, creative, and kid-friendly.
The national dish is kushari. It’s pasta-based and usually topped with lentils and tomato sauce. Restaurants typically serve it with a hot sauce on the side that you can leave off for little ones (but you should totally try it!).
Other Middle Eastern favorites like falafel and shwarma are cheap and widely available street food in Egypt.
Worldschooling Activities in Egypt
There are so many ways to give your kids real-world lessons in Egypt. Here’s just a few ideas.
A day at the bazaar.
Homeschoolers tend to emphasize financial skills at an early age, and bartering at Khan el Khalili (the largest open bazaar in Cairo) is a fantastic real-world lesson in smart shopping!
Give your kids a modest budget and see what they come back with!
Please be mindful that while you certainly want to get a fair price for your item, this is how vendors make a living.
Don’t get too caught up over a few cents, or even a dollar. Money goes a long way here, and while it may be pocket change to you, it could be dinner for the seller.
Generally, vendors start at about twice the price they expect to get.
The Pyramids at Giza
It goes without saying that you must see the Pyramids at Giza if you visit Egypt.
However, this site is also potentially a very expensive tourist trap.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
-No matter what your taxi driver or anyone standing outside the gates tells you, you do not need a guide to enter the area around the pyramids. The entrance fee is about 200 Egyptian pounds (or roughly $13 US).
-Camel rides, rides in horse-drawn carriages, and other on-site guides often quote you one price, then get you on their ride and begin tacking on additional “fees.” I personally advise avoiding them altogether and just walking. The roads around the pyramids are paved, and you can even get a stroller on them (unlike most of the rest of Cairo!)
Cairo is full of incredible museums.
Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
With dozens of mummies on display, heaps of ancient treasure, and mammoth statues, any one of the exhibits at The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities would draw tens of thousands of visitors back home.
Museum of Islamic Art, Cairo
Our homeschool strongly emphasizes international art history lessons.
So I absolutely could not miss the Museum of Islamic Art. Spend a day exploring the history and culture of this rich artistic tradition.
Grand Egyptian Museum (Opens November 2022)
If you’re planning a trip later in the year, I’m jealous! The Grand Egyptian Museum plans to open its doors in November of 2022.
This gargantuan museum was under construction near the Pyramids at Giza when we went, and we didn’t get to step inside, but it looks amazing!
Overnight Excursion to Alexandria
We really wanted to go to Luxor, but transporting the whole family via air was expensive, and the idea of being on a train for 10 hours with 2 small kids was not appealing.
However, Alexandria is a mere 2 hours via taxi. We paid about $45 to get there.
There’s a lot to learn, so we stayed for a while.
Cleopatra’s Palace (Underwater Dive)
If you or your family scuba dive, Cleopatra’s Palace is an underwater dive site of the goddess queen’s ancient city.
It’s an amazing way to experience the Mediterranean Sea up close and personally!
For the best experience, wait for a clear day when the water is calm.
Visit this epic, waterfront stronghold around sunset. Kids love exploring the maze-like, open-air corridors and marveling at the spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea.