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My Experience as a Solo Female Traveller In Morocco

. Saturday, 18 May 2019 .
"Is that a good idea?" or "Aren't you scared" were definitely the most common questions I was asked when I told people that I was heading to Morocco as a solo female traveller. When I started planning my trip to Morocco, safety was something that I considered but I didn't really give it much more thought than I would any country I visit alone to be honest. But people's reactions made me think twice and I started doing a bit of googling - probably not my brightest idea because I came across numerous articles, newspaper reports and blog posts relating to safety in Morocco, particularly aimed at women. Now I'm not saying having too much information is a bad thing, of course this information should available for people to read and make informed decision about the places they are visiting. However I must admit, had I done this research prior to arranging and booking everything I seriously might have reconsidered. But for better or worse I'm a pretty stubborn person so there was no backing out now. It's safe to say that the vast majority of things I read painted Morocco in a very negative light, which certainly wasn't my overall experience of the country. So I thought I would add my two cents to the picture in the hope of reassuring some people who have also been put off by what they've seen online.
Hassan Tower
I visited Morocco for 10 days in February of 2019, I spent most of my time in Rabat as I was working for a travel company whilst I was out there and this is where they are based. Most people probably aren't familiar with Rabat but it is actually Morocco's capital city! I also visited Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech during my time in Morocco and my experience varied a lot in the different cities.

I definitely experienced harassment during my time in Morocco; some of which was just due to being a tourist in a foreign country, but some was much more directly aimed at me because I was a woman on my own. However I was taking steps to reduce this as much as possible, which is what I'd suggest you do.
  • Walk with purpose. If you look lost and confused, people will use this to try and talk you into things that you otherwise you wouldn't agree to. I'd suggest looking at the map and familiarise yourself with the next few roads you need to take, then put it away while you're actually walking. When you've reached as far as you can go, stop out of the way to look at the map again before setting off. If you look lost people will offer to guide you. Some of these people may just innocently want to help, others may expect payment in return, so it's best just to avoid anyone offering you directions full stop. I have also heard of people being led to a completely different place under the guise of helping them find their way in order to rob them among other ulterior motives. So my advice would be to avoid accepting directions from people all together and make sure you're very firm with your 'no' otherwise they'll likely continue to pursue you. 
  • Dress conservatively, particularly young women. My usual attitude is that everyone should be free to wear whatever they want, however in a conservative/religious country such as Morocco it's worth noting that what you wear will greatly impact your experience. I understand that when you're in a hot country, you want to wear less clothing to keep cool and catch the sun, but just be wary that if you're wearing less clothing you're going to attract more attention from local men. I would recommend wearing clothing that covers you from shoulder to knees. I primarily wore either culottes or midi skirts with a high neck t-shirt. 
  • Have a bit of a resting bitch face. This isn't something that comes natural to me as I'm generally quite a smiley person! But unfortunately looking approachable isn't something that will work in your favour in many places in Morocco. 
  • If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, or you don't want to have a conversation with them, then it's best to totally blank them. If you engage them in any kind of conversation they're going to see it as you being interested in them. It feels incredibly rude but if you start a conversation, men in particular will not leave you alone. 
  • As with everywhere, keep your money and your valuables close to you, and don't flaunt them. Certain parts of Morocco, particularly in Marrakech, have very high theft rates against tourists. The Moroccan officials are trying their best to reduce this as they want to encourage the tourism industry, but it's worth doing everything you can to be cautious too. 
Camel ride in the desert outside Marrakech

Generally the best experience I had in terms of safety/little harassment was in Rabat, but the worst was definitely Marrakech. Rabat isn't as popular with tourists as other cities, despite being the capital. In fact most people don't even seem to realise that it is the capital! Rabat is quite a modern city in many respects; the public transport is quite good, there's lots of multicultural food options and it is quite clean. In fact in some parts of the city you could easily mistake yourself for being in Paris! Morocco gained independence from France in 1956 but there are certainly a lot of French influence still present. Whilst I received a few comments off men in the street, it was generally very harmless and after I ignored them they dropped it. In more touristy areas such as Casablanca, Fez and Marrakech, people tended to be a bit more persistent. 

My worst, and only hands on experience, of harassment happened in Marrakech. I was walking in the medina, looking for the Musee de Mouassine which is down some small narrow streets off a main street. A group of teenagers, primarily boys, were hanging around down one of these narrow streets. I very nearly didn't walk down there but I wanted to go to the museum and wasn't about to be put off by a group of kids. Whilst walking down there a few of them shouted things like 'hello'/'how are you' but nothing major. I smiled and kept on walking. After I'd walked past them they came up behind me; one of them put their arm round my shoulder and grabbed at my breast and two more (I think) grabbed/slapped at bum. It all happened really quickly. I shouted at them to get away/get off and pushed away the boy who's arm was round my shoulder. It made me angry and uncomfortable but I wasn't about to let it ruin my day. In fact I was actually vlogging that day and didn't mention it at all in the video, simply because I hadn't really processed it yet so didn't know what to say. In hindsight the reason it made me so angry is because it says a lot about how a country raises its young men that these boys thought this behaviour was acceptable. However I also know there are a lot of young men in the UK who behave in a way that I don't think is acceptable and would never raise a child of mine to behave like. 

Despite this one experience, my overall time in Morocco was a very positive one and I would definitely return if the opportunity presented itself. As a woman I would recommend you do everything you can to keep yourself safe, but don't let stories you've heard put you off a trip here. 

If you have ever thought about travelling solo but aren't sure about it, check out a previous post I wrote about why I think you should travel solo. 

Have you visited Morocco? Is it somewhere you'd like to visit? Let me know in the comments! 
"Is that a good idea?" or "Aren't you scared" were definitely the most common questions I was asked when I told people that I was heading to Morocco as a solo female traveller. When I started planning my trip to Morocco, safety was something that I considered but I didn't really give it much more thought than I would any country I visit alone to be honest. But people's reactions made me think twice and I started doing a bit of googling - probably not my brightest idea because I came across numerous articles, newspaper reports and blog posts relating to safety in Morocco, particularly aimed at women. Now I'm not saying having too much information is a bad thing, of course this information should available for people to read and make informed decision about the places they are visiting. However I must admit, had I done this research prior to arranging and booking everything I seriously might have reconsidered. But for better or worse I'm a pretty stubborn person so there was no backing out now. It's safe to say that the vast majority of things I read painted Morocco in a very negative light, which certainly wasn't my overall experience of the country. So I thought I would add my two cents to the picture in the hope of reassuring some people who have also been put off by what they've seen online.
Hassan Tower
I visited Morocco for 10 days in February of 2019, I spent most of my time in Rabat as I was working for a travel company whilst I was out there and this is where they are based. Most people probably aren't familiar with Rabat but it is actually Morocco's capital city! I also visited Casablanca, Fes and Marrakech during my time in Morocco and my experience varied a lot in the different cities.

I definitely experienced harassment during my time in Morocco; some of which was just due to being a tourist in a foreign country, but some was much more directly aimed at me because I was a woman on my own. However I was taking steps to reduce this as much as possible, which is what I'd suggest you do.
  • Walk with purpose. If you look lost and confused, people will use this to try and talk you into things that you otherwise you wouldn't agree to. I'd suggest looking at the map and familiarise yourself with the next few roads you need to take, then put it away while you're actually walking. When you've reached as far as you can go, stop out of the way to look at the map again before setting off. If you look lost people will offer to guide you. Some of these people may just innocently want to help, others may expect payment in return, so it's best just to avoid anyone offering you directions full stop. I have also heard of people being led to a completely different place under the guise of helping them find their way in order to rob them among other ulterior motives. So my advice would be to avoid accepting directions from people all together and make sure you're very firm with your 'no' otherwise they'll likely continue to pursue you. 
  • Dress conservatively, particularly young women. My usual attitude is that everyone should be free to wear whatever they want, however in a conservative/religious country such as Morocco it's worth noting that what you wear will greatly impact your experience. I understand that when you're in a hot country, you want to wear less clothing to keep cool and catch the sun, but just be wary that if you're wearing less clothing you're going to attract more attention from local men. I would recommend wearing clothing that covers you from shoulder to knees. I primarily wore either culottes or midi skirts with a high neck t-shirt. 
  • Have a bit of a resting bitch face. This isn't something that comes natural to me as I'm generally quite a smiley person! But unfortunately looking approachable isn't something that will work in your favour in many places in Morocco. 
  • If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, or you don't want to have a conversation with them, then it's best to totally blank them. If you engage them in any kind of conversation they're going to see it as you being interested in them. It feels incredibly rude but if you start a conversation, men in particular will not leave you alone. 
  • As with everywhere, keep your money and your valuables close to you, and don't flaunt them. Certain parts of Morocco, particularly in Marrakech, have very high theft rates against tourists. The Moroccan officials are trying their best to reduce this as they want to encourage the tourism industry, but it's worth doing everything you can to be cautious too. 
Camel ride in the desert outside Marrakech

Generally the best experience I had in terms of safety/little harassment was in Rabat, but the worst was definitely Marrakech. Rabat isn't as popular with tourists as other cities, despite being the capital. In fact most people don't even seem to realise that it is the capital! Rabat is quite a modern city in many respects; the public transport is quite good, there's lots of multicultural food options and it is quite clean. In fact in some parts of the city you could easily mistake yourself for being in Paris! Morocco gained independence from France in 1956 but there are certainly a lot of French influence still present. Whilst I received a few comments off men in the street, it was generally very harmless and after I ignored them they dropped it. In more touristy areas such as Casablanca, Fez and Marrakech, people tended to be a bit more persistent. 

My worst, and only hands on experience, of harassment happened in Marrakech. I was walking in the medina, looking for the Musee de Mouassine which is down some small narrow streets off a main street. A group of teenagers, primarily boys, were hanging around down one of these narrow streets. I very nearly didn't walk down there but I wanted to go to the museum and wasn't about to be put off by a group of kids. Whilst walking down there a few of them shouted things like 'hello'/'how are you' but nothing major. I smiled and kept on walking. After I'd walked past them they came up behind me; one of them put their arm round my shoulder and grabbed at my breast and two more (I think) grabbed/slapped at bum. It all happened really quickly. I shouted at them to get away/get off and pushed away the boy who's arm was round my shoulder. It made me angry and uncomfortable but I wasn't about to let it ruin my day. In fact I was actually vlogging that day and didn't mention it at all in the video, simply because I hadn't really processed it yet so didn't know what to say. In hindsight the reason it made me so angry is because it says a lot about how a country raises its young men that these boys thought this behaviour was acceptable. However I also know there are a lot of young men in the UK who behave in a way that I don't think is acceptable and would never raise a child of mine to behave like. 

Despite this one experience, my overall time in Morocco was a very positive one and I would definitely return if the opportunity presented itself. As a woman I would recommend you do everything you can to keep yourself safe, but don't let stories you've heard put you off a trip here. 

If you have ever thought about travelling solo but aren't sure about it, check out a previous post I wrote about why I think you should travel solo. 

Have you visited Morocco? Is it somewhere you'd like to visit? Let me know in the comments! 

2 comments

  1. Your so brave to go travelling on your own and it’s so great that you did! I’m sorry you had that bad experience but I’m glad you didn’t let it ruin your trip. I’ve never been to Morroco before but it looks like a beautiful place! X

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  2. I think it's beautiful you allowed your confidence take the lead so you can enjoy traveling to a unique culturally defined city. I think the tip about looking like you know where you're going is genius! When I was at my University, my professor taught us that creepy people prey on those who look lost but if you're aware of your surroundings and look like you have done authority, they won't bother you. I'm sorry those kids were jerks towards you. I like that you didn't let it stop you from enjoying your day. Lovely post Chloe!

    Natonya | https://justnatonya.wordpress.com

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