How to Manage Morocco as a Babyboomer

Village in the Draa Valley in Morocco

Get fit!

There’s nowhere in Morocco without stairs – and lots of them – but the views are worth it! You’ll also need to be fit to handle the amount of walking as cars are not permitted in the medinas (old city) areas; the best places to stay.

Bring cash!

When I say cash, I mean Moroccan dirhams. Very few shops and restaurants accept credit card. Pay for your accommodation before you leave Australia. That’s one less thing to have to worry about having cash for. You will also need cash for city tax, which is unable to be paid when you book.

Hire a four-wheel drive!

To see the most beautiful parts of the countryside, you will need a four-wheel drive. If you’re a nervous driver, hire a driver or have one of your children drive you like I did.

Use the R and P roads!

They’re not great, but there’s no traffic. In one seven-hour drive, we saw not more than a handful of cars. Quite a few more donkeys but they’re not driving like speed demons. The N roads are crazy busy. So are the cities: Casablanca, Marrakech and Fés. Make sure to visit some smaller towns. El Jadida, Ouarzazate, Chefchouen and Asilah were the ones where we stayed.

Stay in a riad, Kasbah or palace or all three!

I cannot recommend these highly enough. You will get to experience the real local culture and cuisine and meet some of the wonderful friendly locals and if you’re a budget traveller like me, for an amazingly low price. Just gorgeous!

Learn some Arabic!

Although French is understood is some areas, Arabic is preferred. And you will need it in the souks! La choukran– no, thank you.

Cover up!

If you want to look like a tourist, wear revealing clothes and no headscarf, if you’re a woman. We must have looked like locals because when pulled over by the police, we showed our Australian passports, and he said, “but you live in Morocco?”

Make hand sanitizer your best friend!

Many of the delicious foods are eaten with your hands, always make sure they are clean. If eating with locals, it is good manners to use just your right hand. Because of having to use handrails to scale stairs, my hands always need cleaning before eating. It’s your hands that may be carrying germs, not the actual food.

Be prepared to pay for every small service!

Everyone is trying to make a living. So when you are looking for your riad, several guys will want to show you the way. Pay the ones who carry your luggage, not the ones who point down the street and expect 20 dirhams! ($3)

Don’t buy anything that you can’t bring home in your suitcase!

My daughter learned an expensive lesson here. She bought about $100 worth of gifts for friends and a cooking tajine for herself, packed it all herself, took it to Poste Maroc, to be told it would cost more than $750 to send to Australia with no guarantee it would arrive unbroken. I think she can buy an extra seat on the plane back to Australia for less than that!

Allow yourself at least 3 weeks!

We had two and it wasn’t enough. We wanted to see the goats in trees, but they are only seen on the road from Essaouira to Marrakech. Next time!

Want to read more of my travel experiences, go to BABY BOOMERS’ BUDGET TRAVEL

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