Morocco: notes from a woman on the road
There is not one destination I have traveled where at least one person hasn't asked me if it was safe. Morocco is no different. In fact, I probably get this question the most with Morocco... as well as Mexico... But for now we will stick to Morocco. 'Safety' is a relative concept, of course. But I will address specific fears surrounding traveling alone as a woman and give you a couple tips on how to walk the walk once you get there.
I'll Preface my notes with this. Morocco is one of my favorite countries (ironically right next to Mexico). I have traveled to many places, but few have touched me in such a profound way as this beautiful country and it's people. There is so much diversity and color in the landscape. And Moroccans are some of the kindest most generous, soulful people I have ever met As a surfer, I have spent a lot of time exploring the coast. But have also wandered into the berber villages of the snow capped Atlas mountains, the seemingly endless Sahara, the bustling souks of the cities and the arid desert landscape that melts into the Atlantic.
Long story short, my answer is a resounding YES - Morocco is safe for women. I have seen and experienced even the most remote corners of this country and not once have felt unsafe.
I think humans by nature fear change and the unknown. And for many people, the reluctance to explore this part of the world comes from not knowing or understanding the culture. It feels wild and unfamiliar to most westerners. Which, in truth, is what I love most about it. But that's what traveling is about, right?
While we fear the unknown it also excites us. And as we travel more, we learn more... We expand our horizons and our personal frame of reference and as our fear melts away we gain compassion for what we don't understand.
Granted, not everyone will experience their travel in the same way I do. Or suzy or sally, or whoever. We do not share the same eyes, background and do not make the same choices. But in my opinion, anything can happen anywhere. There are pleeeennnnttyyy of places in the US that have felt much more unsafe than Morocco.
So, It goes without saying apply the same sense of awareness during your travels as you would at home. Here are a few basic rules of thumb to follow in Morocco Specifically.
Use your street smarts and common sense
Don't go meandering late at night alone. especially in the cities. The streets are impossible to navigate if you don't remember your way back home. So plan to be back before sunset unless you have a friend with you.
Respect and honor the culture
Don't be an asshole. Plain and simple. There are plenty to go around, we don't need to further dampen the reputation of foreigners as disrespectful/ oblivious. Do some research. understand what is and isn't appropriate to wear. Cover your shoulders and wear something that goes below the knee. Women are viewed differently here. Honor that. And they will honor you.
Be Kind but Firm
More than likely you will be spending time in the city. Fez, Marakech, Chefchaoan, they are all tourist towns. Which means the locals will be more pushy when it comes to sales. Express kindness, and know when to say no thank you. I always try to be charismatic and humorous when dealing with someone. Bartering is a part of the fun. Enjoy the game! And if someone gets upset if you don't buy something. Don't take it personally :)
Make friends with locals
Be discerning with this and use your judgement. I'll be honest and say that most people you will meet in the city are going to try to make money off of you... and that's ok! You're there to experience the culture. It can feel annoying sometimes, but is is what they know. So, you will often hear something like "my brother (sister, mother, cousin father, etc) has a hotel/taxi/shop and so on and so forth. Listen to your intuition. As women we all have it. Open yourself to new experiences. You will win some and lose some. And that is experience as well.
Go with the flow
This is a 'rule' you should follow anywhere you travel. That's what traveling is about. The flow state. It's about opening your mind to new experiences, trusting the process, not letting the little things get to you. Live in the moment.... All of these things will make your experience that much better,
As I mentioned earlier, Moroccans are some of the best people I have ever met. And for me, as much as I love how beautiful this country is, its always the people I remember and the connections I make that have a lasting impression. Once you break that cultural barrier, you will fall in love and never look back!