Choosing Morocco as your vacation destination is a significant step in planning your next travel adventure. To get started, you should consider what type of experience you want to have and how much time and money you’re willing to spend. These decisions influence the more detailed plans you’ll make later.
What kind of experience do I want to have?
The type of experience you hope to have is likely related to the reasons you chose to travel to Morocco. Think about this before choosing specific spots to visit or envisioning what you might pack. The list below offers a few options you might consider.
- Are you looking forward to a relaxing, poolside vacation? Morocco has several mid-range and upscale hotels with pools, hammams and gorgeous views. With plenty of coastline along the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, beaches and sleepy fishing towns are plentiful.
- Is the history found in ruins, ancient medinas and museums more your thing? While history and culture are everywhere, they’re especially plentiful in and around Fez.
- Is mixing with locals a priority? If so, consider staying in smaller, family-owned riads or bed and breakfasts. Mingle with others around the medinas and in cafes. Some tour companies offer the option to go to a guide’s home and dine with his family, which can be an easy and fulfilling way to sample the “real” Morocco. You might also consider volunteering in Morocco.
- Are you going primarily for the natural wonders? Morocco’s several mountain ranges, diverse national parks and vast desert spaces are spotted with villages. You can explore many of these areas with daytrips from a cozy village riad, or the more rugged adventurer can opt for camping. Hiring a guide for trekking Morocco excursions in these areas may provide you with a more personal experience you wouldn’t likely encounter on your own.
Morocco has a lot to offer, and these aren’t your only options. And, of course, you can certainly opt for a combination of these activities. The key is to think about the type of experience you want, so that you can identify activities and sights that add up to your optimal adventure.
How much time and money am I willing to spend?
A few weeks and a few thousand dollars allow you to see much of the country, exploring its varied terrains and cultural pockets. Less time or money would likely prompt you to focus on a smaller region of the country, potentially offering you a more intimate glimpse into that area.
Like most travel destinations, Morocco offers a wide range of accommodations from hostels, modest riads and bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels and riads. Dining options range similarly, from inexpensive street fare to high-end restaurants. Since accommodations and food tend to claim a large portion of a travel budget, your decisions in these areas will impact how far your money can go.
What else should I consider?
After determining the type of trip you want to take and the time and money you have available, you’re ready to dive into the details. Refer to travel sites and guide books to identify specific activities and locations. Find out what modes of transportation will take you between those places (buses, trains and taxis are all available in Morocco). Locate nearby accommodations in your price range. Make a list of what you need to pack (plan to dress appropriately for the local culture, the season and your activities). And, of course, make appropriate arrangements to care for obligations at home (bills, pets, etc.).
How do I feel about the language barrier?
Unless you speak Arabic, you’ll likely encounter communication challenges during your trip. Some travelers welcome this as part of the adventure, while others avoid certain destinations for this reason. If you haven’t experienced this before, you’d be amazed at how far a few words and body language can take you!
If the language barrier concerns you but doesn’t scare you away, consider these options to help you cope:
- Teach yourself basic Arabic (or even just some key words and phrases) using a phrasebook or basic instructional set.
- Hire an instructor or tutor to provide you with a few language lessons before you leave (or if you plan to travel for a few weeks, take language courses while you’re in Morocco).
- Travel with a tour group or hire a guide for part or your entire trip.
If you attempt to learn some Arabic, be sure that you’re learning Moroccan Arabic, specifically. While Moroccans understand the Standard Arabic more common in Eastern nations, Standard Arabic may not help you to understand Moroccans.
Written by Shelley A. Gable, instructional designer and freelance writer.
Photo by Alexbip.