Morocco is becoming increasingly popular among travelers and as a destination that offers palace-like accommodation in Riads, endless shopping in the Souks and impressive nature experiences including camping in the Sahara Desert it’s not hard to see why. Perhaps though, it’s time for a simple guide on visiting Morocco without leaving a douchebag impression, because a few little changes can go a long way to make sure you have a wonderful (and safe) travel experience as well as travel with respect to the area you are visiting.
Before I visited Morocco, I read many blog posts and reviews which said things like “there’s no need to cover up because people know you’re a tourist.”
Insert massive face palm here.
Anyone who gives that advice has completely missed the point of why you cover up. It’s not to blend in. It’s out of respect for the local culture of which you are a guest. Put it this way, when I visit America and I go to a restaurant, I can’t use my “get-out-of-tipping-free-because-I’m-a-tourist” card. Instead, I leave a tip because that’s the way they do things there, I’m a guest and will be respectful of the social norms. It’s the same principle when deciding what to wear.
Put in that little extra effort and cover yourself from shoulders to knees.
Haggling is common practice in the Souks and other marketplaces, but I think there is such a thing as over-haggling.
For many of us travelers visiting Morocco, everything is so cheap as it is, we have a good exchange rate and are obviously privileged enough to go traveling to new countries. Haggling down to the last cent with someone whose quality of life is not quite as privileged as you just screams greediness.
There’s something to be said for giving back to the places we visit, so by all means haggle a little but keep yourself in check before you rip off people who probably need that dollar more than you.
Walk To The Right
If you are walking through the alleyways of the Medina, remember to walk to the right.
Motorcycles and scooters will go whizzing by you in these narrow streets and, though they navigate the obstacles with ease, it’s douchey to make yourself an obstacle while you wander along slowly walking in the middle of the street.
Or worse, blocking the street to take *another* photo of one of the gorgeous doors.
Stick to the right when you walk and if you stop to take a photo, stand to one side as oppose to the middle of the street.
Don’t Support Animal Cruelty
Unfortunately, Morocco is not exempt to the exploitation of animals for the entertainment of tourists.
In the Jemaa el-Fna square it won’t take you long to find examples of this from monkeys on chains performing backflips to snakes being “charmed” for tips. While I was there I witnessed one of the stressed-out monkeys get kicked repeatedly by the “owner” after it wouldn’t perform a backflip when on the command. There were even tourists feeding monkeys chocolate to get them to jump on their shoulder for photos at Ouzoud Waterfalls.
Part of not being a douchebag tourist is not supporting tourist activities that cause suffering to others.
Give Back When You Take
Walking into a person’s stall or store, taking a bunch of photos for the ’gram and walking out is straight douchey. Yet I saw it a lot on my recent visit and even saw that some store owners had placed signs up in an attempt to combat the behavior.
Of course the colorful displays of spices are eye-catching, the rugs are unique and the shiny trinkets are like being in the cave of wonders itself, but at least buy a little something while you’re there or leave a tip for the store owner.
Open Your Heart
Morocco is a wonderful country to visit with an energy and ambiance like no other. Over and over again the people I met during my visit were nothing but friendly and helpful. Visiting as a solo female traveler, I was nervous at first but was quick to realize that it wasn’t all as scary as the media made it seem and I felt safe the entire time I was there.
I believe that if you assume the worst in people, you will find it.
Open your heart, put your biases aside and enjoy what Morocco has to offer.