Being chased by a group of Berbers demanding money from me was not how I imagined my first day in Morocco. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. While it wasn’t an ideal start to a vacation, it was a necessary lesson for me. I hope my mistakes can help people wanting to visit this amazing country.
Ignore, don’t engage.
The first piece of advice I would give anyone thinking of going to Morocco is learn how to ignore people. As a blonde American woman, I clearly stood out in most areas of Morocco (aside from those touristy places), which seemed to draw attention from nearly every man I passed in the streets.
While it’s easy to become annoyed or overwhelmed by the attention, simply ignore the people talking to you and they’ll eventually leave you alone. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s much easier to handle if you’re able to ignore their original requests.
Brush up on your haggling skills.
When you’re out in the shops, no price is final. Start low and walk away when they continue to get higher. More often than not, walking away will cause the seller to cave in and give you a decent price.
Ask your someone at your riad to give you a list of standard rates of things. They can tell you how much you should pay for a taxi and the average cost of items in the Medina.
Marrakech isn’t the only city in Morocco.
Morocco is a pretty big country with a lot to offer. The majority of my trip was spent in Marrakech. While the city is interesting and has a lot of things to see, there are plenty of other places worth visiting. Before you set your agenda, write down the things you want to do in Morocco. For example, are you interested in surfing? Check out Essaouira.
Nothing is free in Morocco.
Very rarely will you find someone willing to help you out of the goodness of their heart. If someone offers to give you directions or have their friend show you the way, don’t listen to them. That is a scam for money.
If you’re fine with paying for directions, carry around small change to give them instead of large bills.
If you’re not OK with paying for directions, ask someone in a shop for help. Since they’re working, they’re not able to follow you or lead you to the correct place. Again, if they offer to have their friend show you the way, politely say, “No thanks.”
I would consider myself a well-traveled person, but I have never been to a place like Morocco. It is both beautiful and gritty. And I can’t wait to go back.