Up until a couple weeks ago, whenever I thought of visiting Egypt I pictured the pyramids, lots of desert sand, and hot-hot sun. Now that we are taking the kids for a month-long adventure, I’m shocked at what we are actually packing!
As I’ve stated before, it’s important to me that my kids see all parts of the world good, bad, and ugly. For our family, living a rich life includes letting go of fear and stepping into the unknown. And believe it or not, there is a way to prepare for uncharted terrains. It’s a whole lot easier to be courageous when you’ve taken some precautions.
With the help of Egypt Uncovered, our tour company, I’m learning that there are a handful of necessary items to bring that I never would have guessed. I mean truly …. never, in a million years, did I think we’d bring winter down jackets to the desert!
People may think I’m crazy for taking my kids to a place currently deemed unsafe, but that things aren’t always what they seem. If you really want to be a world traveler, there are ways to educate yourself about where you are going so that you don’t unnecessarily step into harm’s way. Use resources like reading the State Department’s website for any updates on travel alerts, immunizations, visas, contact info for embassies, hospitals, etc. But don’t stop there. It’s important to also connect with people who are educated and experienced with where you are going, like a solid tour company. We decided on Egypt Uncovered for a myriad of reasons; their website was thorough, user friendly, the company is based in London so they have a Western idea of what a family may or may not need when traveling, and they started their business in Egypt fifteen years ago which makes them leading experts on how to see the country in my mind. We also look for people to talk with who have recently visited the country or might have a friend that has just returned with up to date news versus people who have never been but have a lot of warnings for you. (know what I mean?)
Life is about taking (calculated) risks and this is how my family does it.
Here are 7 things we learned you need in the desert …
p.s. You will notice that cameras are not one of these seven items. Holy smokes! Wait till you see ALL the camera gear we are bringing! I’ve decided to save that for a separate post … coming soon!
The Desert Gets Cold at Night! 1 of 7For part of our trip, our family will be camping in the desert with a Bedouin Tribe. In January, the desert can get cold at night, reaching 32 degrees Fahrenheit! We were told to make sure we bring warm jackets AND long underwear ... to Egypt! Who knew?! I found our family these down jackets that stuff into a compact small pouch to not only keep us warm but save room for packing.
Respecting Culture 2 of 7We talked with our tour company, Egypt Uncovered, about different ways to make sure we are respecting the religions and Egyptian culture. Since the country is predominantly Muslim, there are certain areas where men and women are expected to have their knees and shoulders covered. Capris seem to be the perfect answer!
Staying Cool and Covered 3 of 7I love scarves, wraps and headbands (as many of you know already!) I asked Egypt Uncovered if it'd be okay to wear tank tops on hotter days and bring along a wrap or scarf to cover my shoulders whenever needed. They said this was perfectly fine and most importantly, still respects Muslim culture.
Protecting Your Face 4 of 7When spending time in hot climates, I look for facial sunscreen that has Zinc Oxide in it. This way the UV rays are blocked. For more information on sunscreen for your face, check out the New York Times article What to Look for in a Sunscreen.
Literature for the Whole Family! 5 of 7Brian and I homeschool the kids, and part of preparing for a trip like this is to find books that bring the country and culture alive through great story telling. Whether it's "The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid" by G. Stilton, "The Red Pyramid" by Rick Riordan, or "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coehlo, everyone in the family has a book to help the trip become that much more real!
Red Sea Diving 6 of 7Scuba diving in the Red Sea has been a dream that Brian and I have shared for years. Brian happens to turn forty when we reach this part of our trip! For Christmas, he found us a water proof guide for identifying sea life specific to the Red Sea. We have one of these guides for Thailand, and it makes the dives that much more exciting when you are able to identify all that you see!
Writing it Down 7 of 7I don't know about you, but being in a foreign land awakens my writing like nothing else. Bringing my journal is at the top of the list, and I can't wait to share this adventure with you as it unfolds! What about camera gear? Holy smokes! Wait till you see the gear we are bringing! That's a whole different post you will get a kick out of!
Me Ra Koh loves cameras, kids, and parents, and spends her life bringing them together. See her new show Capture Your Story with Me Ra Koh on Disney Junior. Her book Your Baby in Pictures is a national bestseller. She is honored to be one of SONY’s Artisans of Imagery. Me Ra and her team of certified teachers lead CONFIDENCE photography workshops for women nationwide. She has been featured in The New York Times, Parenting, American Baby, Popular Photography, and her photography has been on exhibit from San Fransisco to New York. You can find her at merakoh.com.