What to Pack for Travel to the Middle East
So, you’re planning a trip to the Middle East? Here’s what you’ll need to pack for your trip!
Culturally Appropriate Clothing
In most Middle Eastern countries it is rude to bare your shoulders and knees. Try to bring light, loose layers. Long pants, skirts, long sleeve shirts, and t-shirts are appropriate. If you are doing any sightseeing (pyramids, Petra, etc), it’s fine to wear hiking shorts, but it would not be appropriate to wear shorts out to dinner in Cairo, Amman, Muscat, etc.
The only countries where women must cover their hair are Saudi Arabia and Iran. Plan to bring a shawl or other fabric to cover year head and neck if you are visiting either of those countries.
Sunscreen + Polarized Sunglasses + Hat
The sun in the Middle East is no joke. Make sure you are adequately prepared if you will be out of doors sightseeing or hiking – you definitely need to wear sunscreen and a hat is a good idea.
From the Red Sea to the Arabian Gulf, to the Dead Sea – there are plenty of beaches in the Middle East. Typically, if you are staying at a hotel on the beachfront it’s fine to wear regular beachwear.
If you’re using a public beach, there is an expectation that people will be more covered (especially for women). Plan to wear long shorts and a t-shirt over your swimsuit.
Copy of Your Marriage Certificate
If you’re married and you are planning on staying in hotels in more rural areas of the Middle East, it’s not a bad idea to have a copy of your marriage certificate with you. We’ve been asked a few places to show this at check-in – usually, we got away with just showing our wedding rings, but sometimes people put up a bit of a fuss!
What Not to Pack for a Trip to the Middle East
In most Middle Eastern countries, you are not allowed to pack and bring in your own alcohol. Several have options to purchase it at duty-free, but many do not. As a rule of thumb, don’t carry it in – plan to buy it there.
Again, most Middle Eastern countries do not allow pork in through customs. Muslims do not eat pork and many countries do not allow it to be sold. Some countries with non-Muslim populations will sell it in certain grocery stores. So if you need it, plan to buy it in the country.
Medicine Without a Prescription
Depending on what you prescription medication you bring with you (especially psychotropics), it’s a good idea to have your prescription with you. Your bags might be searched at customs and some countries will take your medication if you can’t show a prescription.
Most Middle Eastern countries (even the UAE) have very strict drug laws. Like many, many years in jail. Don’t even bring weed.
If you have any questions about what’s appropriate to pack for a trip to the Middle East, please feel free to ask in the comments below.