Drunkenly booking myself a one-way ticket to Marrakesh, age 20, was undoubtedly one of the most impulsive decisions I've ever made. I had some idea of what Morocco might be like, but the more I researched solo-female travel there, the more I began to wonder if I had made a giant mistake. As the weeks before my departure flew by, I got increasingly nervous and tried to arm myself with as much information as possible.
In hindsight I had no reason to worry, but these are the tips I wish I'd read before I left...
There is no need to feel threatened, but if you are a relatively inexperienced traveller, there are certain ways to make your time a little easier.
Plan your first night's accommodation in advance and research thoroughly how to get there.
Maps aren't always useful in Marrakesh with it's teeming souks and distinct lack of road names. Take a compass too so you are at least aware of your direction. Hostel Marrakesh Rouge, one of the friendliest hostels I've ever
stayed in, has extensive instructions and even a video of the route to walk. It's obviously possible to get a taxi, but I personally feel safer and less annoyed at the cost of the
Maybe you think it defeats the point of solo-travel, but I had the most fun in Morocco with other travellers I met along the way. A temporary
companion can make long bus rides, eating out and simply wandering around a whole lot less hassle. The best thing about travelling independently is that you have the freedom break off on your own whenever you like.
Use your languages.
With Arabic and Berber, I didn't stand a chance, but brushing up on any smattering of French you might have learnt in school can be useful. Revise the phrases for pleasantries, directions and numbers at the very least. Trying to communicate in English is understandably difficult and has the potential to be a offensive too.
Morocco is primarily a conservative, Muslim country. As a woman travelling alone you will attract plenty of attention, but don't be disrespectful or allow what you wear to give local people the wrong impression. Here are some suggestions...
The points are only suggestions, many foreign girls wear whatever they like, but I felt more comfortable covering up in the cities.
Communication and body language...
There is often an expectation for foreign women to be a bit "loose". To avoid fuelling this stereotype and getting into awkward situations, it is important not to do anything that might be misinterpreted as flirting.
As always, this article is supposed to help you travel in Morocco- not scare you off entirely!
Over five weeks travelling, from Marrakesh up to Al Hoceima on the North Coast, I experienced nothing worse than pestering and one occasion where a young man tried to steal my bag at the crowded Festival Gnaoua d'Essaouira- I tugged it away from him and he sloped back into the throng.
For more on Morocco:
Travel and safety advice from elsewhere in the world: