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Believe it or not, both times that I have travelled through Morocco I have been by myself.
The first time I visited, I didn’t even read about Morocco before I went. Let alone what to expect as a solo female traveller, so I’m really happy you’ve found this page to prepare you!
Now, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it’s an easy country to travel solo as a woman in. In fact, that would be far from the truth. But, what I will say is that, although it’s a challenge, it’s completely doable if you exercise caution and awareness like you would in any other country that you travel solo in.
Now, because you’ve found this page, I already know that you’re a bad ass chick that wants to travel on her own to Morocco and that’s so awesome! But, there are some safety tips that I think every female traveller needs to be aware of before visiting.
I would say that I am now an experienced solo female traveller, having visited and lived in countries such as Turkey, Egypt, India, UAE and Jordan by myself. So, I’m hardened as to what to expect in a predominantly Islamic or patriarchal society.
I’ve learned some hard lessons, but I feel that I am all the better for it and wouldn’t necessarily fear travelling to a country solo (unless declared unsafe, obv) as I trust my own instincts.
Morocco is a truly beautiful country that I would encourage any woman to visit. It’s so rich in culture, home to some of the most friendly and hospitable people and there’s a colourful adventure around every corner.
So, take the leap, book the trip and follow these 14 solo female safety tips – you’ll be just fine!
It seems nowadays that every man and his dog seems to chime in when you’re travelling to a country that the media deem unsafe. You can’t mention that you’re travelling to Morocco without the “is it safe?” question.
There is so much negative press about Morocco that it’s a wonder that anyone actually visits the country if this is what we based all our opinions on!
And I know it’s not just press, it’s word of mouth too. Personally, I didn’t have many bad experiences in Morocco and only one isolated situation that made me feel unsafe (more on that later).
Sure, I got ripped off a few times but did that pose a threat to my safety? No. Of course, everyone’s experience is different and what happened to one person, may not necessarily happen to you.
If Morocco is a country you really want to visit, you have to look beyond the negative press. Not every person in a country is bad and when do you ever hear much good in the news?
Try to keep a positive outlook and think of all the incredible places you’ll be visiting. It really won’t be much fun if you keep recounting all the bad stories you hear in your head.
2. Research Morocco and gain an understanding of the local culture & religion
Something I think that is important is to do a little research into Morocco. Remember, you’re not here to change a country, you’re here to embrace it!
Islam is the recognised religion in Morocco and accounts for almost 99% of people practicing it. This means that it is a conservative country and a predominantly patriarchal one.
Only this year, in 2018, did Morocco introduce a violence against women law. So, although there is progress, equal rights are not quite there yet.
On that subject, it is quite common for male intimidation and catcalling to occur but mostly it’s harmless if you let it pass over your head. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, but as it’s not your country, it’s best to try to ignore it and move on.
The local language is Arabic and I learning a few phrases can go along way;
- Hello = Salaam Alikum / Mahabah
- Thank you = Shukran
- You’re welcome = Afwan
- How are you = Kaeef halak
- Yes/No = Neam Falen/La (or La Shukran an important one!)
3. Dress conservatively – think about appropriate outfits to pack
Islam is widely practiced in Morocco with men being able to wear pretty much what they like and women needing to cover up head to toe.
You will see many women wearing the traditional abaya, burka or a conservative clothes and a hijab (scarf) on their head. Don’t panic though, that doesn’t mean that you have to dress that way!
Tourists are given a little leeway with how to dress as locals are well aware that many tourists who are visiting Morocco aren’t Muslim. But, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make an effort to dress conservatively.
That means covering up your shoulders and legs to an extent (the furthest I went was having a wide sleeved jumpsuit that showed my arms and a medium length playsuit that showed my ankles).
I did see girls who were wearing strappy tops and shorts but I personally didn’t feel comfortable going out like that. As I was travelling solo, the last thing I needed was to draw more attention.
When you’re planning on what to wear, you should also consider the heat. Here are some recommendations that I have;
- Jumpsuits – the perfect all in one cover up! The great thing about these is that they come in all different patterns and are super cute as well as being conservative.
- Scarves/Pashminas – my ultimate weapon. A scarf is so useful in Islamic countries as not only does it cover up your shoulders but it saves you from having to borrow/buy one when entering a mosque. These can actually be bought really cheap from the souks.
- Maxi dresses/skirts – These are also a great idea as you can dress them up or down how you like
- Shawls – the perfect addition to an outfit and it can keep you warm on chilly nights
This cute boho playsuit was made of cotton so it was breathable, but also covered me up!
4. Don’t be afraid to be rude
The Brit in me has definitely been kicked out in terms of politeness when I travel alone.
I no longer feel guilty about saying ‘No’. Most of the time, I walk around with a resting bitch face as a means to protect myself. I have no qualms with being rude or strong when I need to be.
It’s not that I want to be rude, but if any men approach me in a way I deem inappropriate or try to harass me, I don’t take it lightly.
Believe me when I say that it’s better to be rude and shut whatever is happening down then for it to escalate to the point that it’s too late to leave the situation.
Trust your instincts, tell people when they make you feel uncomfortable and don’t be afraid to cause a scene or leave the situation entirely if it escalates. Remember, you know your boundaries and you shouldn’t have to justify that to anyone, period.
5. You have a boyfriend (even if you don’t in real life!)
Isn’t it sad that your boyfriend couldn’t make it to Morocco with you this time? And, he was sick in the hotel room with food poisoning? Lol! Another one of my secret weapons.
I lost count of the amount of times I was asked if I was single, married or had a boyfriend in Morocco.
Of course every single time I told them that I had a bf/husband in UK that couldn’t make it with me on the trip as he had to work.
If I had a pound for every time I had the same response of ‘If I was your boyfriend/husband, I wouldn’t let you go alone’ I would be rich. HA! If you were my boyfriend and you wouldn’t let me go alone; you wouldn’t be my boyfriend hun!
I even go as far as to screenshot a picture of me and a male friend to show them if they ask. Of course, it would be my biggest and strongest looking male friend to intimidate them into backing off ;).
Wear a ring, screen shot a picture of a hot guy on your phone, lie through your teeth. You always have a boyfriend!
Table for one, it would be two but he’s sick ;)
6. Try not to tread off the beaten path
The only time I had an incident happen was when I went somewhere alone that wasn’t on the beaten path. I actually found that, although they were chaotic, the souks were a lot safer than outside of the city walls.
The incident in question was on a walk up to the Merinid tombs in Fes. I had one guy follow me in a car up the road and beep and harass me to the point I had to cross the road to avoid him. And another guy follow me all the way from the bus station. I never usually get spooked but as I couldn’t see anyone up at the tombs or around and I alone, I started to panic.
Luckily, the police were up at the tombs (behind them shading from the sun) and I just burst into tears asking for help.
At once the police were like shining knights and mounted their horses to ask him why he was following me. Apparently, it was just to ask me if I wanted a tour guide but I think that’s total BS.
What I was happy about though is he didn’t come anywhere near me after that and the situation was dealt with pretty quickly.
Lesson learned: always stay on the beaten track and make sure you have a means of transport available to you.
This view made it all worth it in the end!
7. Avoid walking out alone late at night
An obvious tip but one that I feel should be said; avoid going out late at night.
Although I would go out at dinner times to grab something to eat, I would go straight back to my Riad after that. To avoid getting lost in the souks, I would set my google maps route to the restaurant and follow it straight back.
Another thing that I would do is to avoid drinking unless it’s in your Riad and it’s offered as a service. I had a drink on my last night at Riad Fes but it’s not a habit I take up much in Morocco.
As an Islamic country they don’t have great views on consumption of alcohol and it should be respected.
8. Rise above the staring and cat calling
Ugh, another unfortunate thing that happens in Morocco is the staring and cat calling. Here’s just some examples I had on a daily basis in the souks of Fes;
- “Do you want a Moroccan husband?”
- “Nice ass”
- “Where you going beautiful girl? Look at my shop”
- “Where are you from?”
- “I love you”
These seem like quite harmless statements but I can tell you now they were not meant or said without a harmful intent.
It’s constant and it does get annoying, grinding even. Most days, I just laughed it off, played along, others I started to get annoyed.
But, that’s what they want, to get your attention and a rise out of you. So, best to just ignore it.
So many people would ask me for my phone number, Whatsapp, a Facebook friend request or Instagram add. At first, I had a hard time saying no and as I was posting stories from Morocco on my Instagram, I was bombarded with social media messages and marriage proposals lol.
Although it is nice to make friends when you travel, I would be selective on who you give your social media details to. Adding one person, could mean they send your details to others and you have a whole load of new ‘friends’ that want to bug you all the time.
Save the hassle and just politely decline. Say that you don’t have a Facebook account and your phone is off/isn’t working. Of course, they won’t believe you but it’s better to lie than to be harassed online.
10. Don’t be afraid to make a scene or alert police if something happens
Like my situation at the Merenid tombs, don’t be afraid to alert tourist police, make a scene or ask for help if something happens to you!
If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable or scares you, it’s better to cause a scene than to suffer in silence. Nine times out of ten, this will scare the person and get them to back off.
The tourist police in Morocco take your safety very seriously and, in my personal experience, I found them to be extremely thorough and comforting. The last thing they want is for tourists to have a bad time visiting Morocco so they do their upmost to ensure that they keep you safe.
11. Book in at a safe Riad/hotel
This is something that maybe a little harder to ensure but it’s always worth checking into a safe Riad in a central location.
The next question you’ll probably ask is; how can you ensure that it’s safe?
Well, for me I always use Booking.com to book my hotels and what’s great is they have certain categories such as solo travellers. This means you can filter reviews from people and see whether, in their experience, they found it safe being there alone.
I also look at Tripadvisor and look for ‘themes’ in reviews. Is it 24 hour security? Does it feel safe? Is it in a safe location? Are the staff friendly? These things can make a big difference to your trip.
12. Look and act confident
Easier said than done but there’s a time old saying that if you act like a victim you’ll most likely become one.
Look, act and walk with confidence. Try to look like you know where you’re going and hold your head up high.
Make sure you have data on your phone, so you can use Google maps and don’t have to ask for directions and end up in the wrong side of town.
To avoid being ripped off, act like you know (or research) the prices already, tell them you’ve been in Morocco a while or even better you live there (even if it’s your first day).
Confidence can go a long way in ensuring that you’re safe. Act like you know what you’re doing and people will think you know what you’re doing! I may sound crazy, but try it for yourself and see the difference it makes in how people treat you.
13. Don’t let any taxi drivers ‘bring a friend’
Something that really started to annoy me was the amount of taxi drivers that would pick up their ‘friends’. Of course, I would be paying for their trip as I would see no money being paid to the cab driver as he came out.
One time, in Chefchaouen, we were even waiting outside someones house to pick up a kid for school – that’s when I lost it.
Why was I paying for people to be in my cab? Sorry, but I had no idea if it was a kid or someone else that wanted to harm me. So, I made him drive off. Not to mention I had a bus to catch that he was making me late for.
I didn’t know these people from Adam and it’s a lot harder to fight off two people than one. So, I just flat out refused if someone got in the cab after that. It may sound harsh, but you don’t know where they may take you or what could happen to you!
Don’t let ‘friends’ get in the cab if you’re alone. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
14. My biggest tip of all; embrace Morocco for the beautiful country it is!
Some of the above tips and advice may be hard to hear but they are not meant to ward you off! I just wanted to ensure that you were prepared for some of the challenges that come with travelling to Morocco as a solo female traveller.
The positives of this beautiful country far outweigh the negatives. Morocco is incredibly diverse and is full of friendly faces, yummy food, beautiful cities, gorgeous riads and it’s definitely an adventure you won’t forget in a hurry.
So, don’t miss out and end up regretting it. You are more powerful and stronger than you think. Go with confidence and surety that you can hold your head up high and travel safely and responsibly as a woman in Morocco.
You have got this girl – go for it!