7 Things to keep in mind as a solo traveler in Morocco
Are you dreaming of red dunes, starry nights, and amazing sunsets in the Sahara? Warm days on the beach and surfing in Essaouira? Crowded markets filled with traditional Moroccan handicrafts like colorful rugs and soft leather slippers? Can hardly wait to walk through the beautiful blue streets of Chefchaouen? Morocco has so much to offer every type of traveler, and it would be a shame not to see it all for yourself.
Luckily, you don’t need to wait for a travel partner or family trip, because Morocco is also a suitable destination if you are traveling alone. However, if you’re planning a solo trip to Morocco, here are a few things you should keep in mind as a solo traveler in Morocco:
Be sure to dress appropriately
Morocco is relatively progressive and modern, but still a Muslim country. Be respectful of the local customs and make sure to dress appropriately. Women are not required to wear a headscarve, and a lot of local women don’t either. However, leave your shorts and tank tops at home.
Dress modestly in loose-fitting clothes and cover your knees, shoulders, and cleavage. Although you can get away with western clothing in the cities, in small villages in the countryside it is best to cover down to your ankles and wrists. Men do well to dress modestly as well as shorts are not considered appropriate for anyone. It is custom in Morocco to remove your shoes before entering a house and even some shops, slip-on shoes are there for most convenient.
There is no need to be afraid
Morocco is generally a very safe country. Apart from petty crime and minor scams, tourists rarely experience any problems. Most scams are easy to spot, and a firm “no” usually helps. Don’t flash valuables and keep an eye on your belongings at all time. Unfortunately, as a western woman, you are very likely to experience harassment. This happens even if you are traveling with a partner, but especially as a solo female traveler. Street harassment is a big problem in Morocco, even for local women. As annoying as it is, it rarely goes beyond catcalling, proposals and unwanted attention. Avoiding eye contact and ignoring any advances are generally the best way to deal with this.
But don’t walk around alone at night
Although Morocco is safe for solo travelers, you still need to practice common sense. Avoid quiet and poorly lit backstreets, especially in the Medina, and don’t walk around alone at night. That is where you are most likely to get in trouble. Instead, find other travelers or a guide to go with you and stick to busy areas. Take a taxi back to your hotel or riad instead of walking in the dark.
Be assertive and confident
Don’t be discouraged by the aggressive sales techniques of vendors or persistent guides; they’re just trying to make a living. As a westerner, the Moroccan way of interacting with others can take some getting used to, but keep in mind that they don’t mean you any harm or ill will. Be assertive and confident and don’t be afraid to say “no, thank you” and walk away. Saying no is not considered rude here and most people will back off as soon as you make it clear that you are not interested. And once you get used to it, you will start to enjoy the directness and forwardness of the locals.
It is easy to meet people
Morocco is becoming more popular as a destination for solo travelers. As a result, it is easy to meet other travelers during your trip. Hostels in Morocco are filled with young backpackers, eager to make new friends. Moroccan themselves are also generally friendly and open people. You will be surprised how many of them speak perfect English, French, Spanish or Italian. If you are polite and learn a few words in Moroccan Arabic or Berber, you won’t have any problem striking up a conversation with the locals. As soon as you greet them in their language, they will likely invite you in for a cup of tea and a chat.
It is worth it to plan ahead
If you are limited on time, it is worth planning ahead, so you don’t miss out on anything. It would be a shame if you didn’t get a chance to visit everywhere you wanted to go while in Morocco. There are plenty of tour companies around, but it is always a good idea to do some research before your trip, so you pick the right one for you. Especially as a solo traveler, you will want a tour guide who is reputable with good reviews. That way they can plan the perfect itinerary for you, and you won’t lose time during your trip.
Embrace the cultural differences
Morocco is a unique country with its own culture and customs. So, if you are planning to travel to Morocco, don’t expect everything to be like home. Because what would be the fun in that? Morocco can be overwhelming, especially to those new to solo travel or North Africa. Be aware that you are not home and respect the local culture and customs. The best things to do is to embrace the differences and enjoy them.