After many questions about "safety" and "comfort" as what it's like to travel as a woman in Morocco, I wanted to share an open and honest opinion on what it was like.
For setting, I spent two weeks in Morocco traveling with my friend Kiersten of The Blonde Abroad. We traveled together by multiple forms of transportation: private transfers, guided tours, taxis, an overnight train, a day train, and walked the streets of each city we went to. We spent time in Marrakech, Essaouira, the Sahara Desert, the Skoura Oasis, Chefchaouen, Fes, and a quick overnight in Casablanca.
The truth about traveling in Morocco as a woman:
Morocco was my most (thus far) challenging country to travel in. Nothing about the experience is spoon fed — I'm not just speaking about the unwanted attention. It's tough, and it's hard to put into words why. I can't promise you a trouble-free, no "unwanted attention" trip to Morocco because I myself didn't have that.
I never felt "unsafe" or in "harms way" during the trip. However, there was unwanted attention and cat-calling. It required thick skin to ignore the comments, not respond, and keep walking. I think it's a destination that is better traveled with a friend, as it is more comfortable being in a pair. I've heard from other travelers that when they traveled with a man, that their experience was different. If anything, the unwanted attention was more annoying and a very unfortunate thing for Morocco.
There are wonderful things about Morocco — the culture, the history, the sights, tastes, and more. I really loved Morocco for these things, and I think it is so much more than the unwanted comments.
On the flip side, there were those people, both men and women, like our guides and drivers who were incredibly kind and generous, helping us to have a great experience. I truly adored Morocco for it's beauty and in the same hand held an annoying feeling from the unwanted attention. The bottom line is that I felt safe during my two weeks of travel and at the same time received the unwanted attention.
Here's a few tips for traveling in Morocco as a women:
- Take care and practice safe travel protocol, like not walking down empty streets at night. Have a general idea of where you're headed when walking the streets.
- Ignore the comments. Nothing good comes from responding, and eventually they realize they can't get a rise out of you. It's tough but you start to understand that this way of speaking isn't coming from everyone and really more so from the touts (street vendors).
- Set boundaries. Walking the streets, on every turn there is something being sold. It's okay to say no thank you and keep walking. Often times I would not respond at all, but a simple "no merci" often worked.
- Dress conservatively. Morocco takes dress seriously, and by choosing to dress to what is cultural, is both respectful and will not draw more attention. I stuck to loose pants, t-shirts, longer dresses, and skirts. When I was back inside the hotel or riad, I would then wear dresses that went to my knees.
- It is true that those offering help, you must take caution in receiving it. "Guides" will offer to help you if you look lost, and then at the end of it ask for money. I would avoid these at all costs.
- Don't carry large sums of cash on you — just like anywhere else you would travel in the world.
- Spend the extra money on private transportation and avoid public transportation in the form of buses and shared taxis. I think having a trusted driver recommended from a hotel or reputable guide company aided in any potential unwanted circumstances.
- Travel with a friend, it definitely eased the unwanted attention.
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