I knew it was going to be a challenge. Even for someone who identifies as quite minimalist, eleven days in Morocco with only a 40 litre backpack was going to be tough. Morocco’s climate is as diverse as its geography; during our holiday, we would be visiting cities, the coastline and the Sahara desert (via the Atlas mountains). We’d be there in November and needed to prepare for different weather and temperatures, whilst also dressing modestly and respectfully as it is a Muslim country. As a general rule, December to February are the coldest months in Morocco; you should bring a winter coat, scarf, hat and gloves. Spring and autumn are warmer but you will still need a light jacket (especially at night). Summer can be very hot; reaching 35-38°C/95-100°F. Light, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen will help you to feel as comfortable as possible.
In order to minimize unwanted attention and fit in more with the locals, both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees, whilst women should also cover their cleavage. You don’t need to wear a headscarf. Leave the mini skirts, crop tops, short shorts and sleeveless tops at home. Men might get away with long shorts, although in some rural regions these are considered to be underwear! Large cities like Marrakech and Fes are more used to foreigners and their style, but I chose to err on the side of caution and felt I was dressed appropriately throughout the holiday. In the countryside it is better to wear floor-length skirts or trousers, rather than knee-length items.
In this post, I’m going to suggest some travel must-haves that I personally own or products from brands I know and trust. There are so many products on the market that it can be overwhelming. Hopefully my personal recommendations will help you decide what to take with you on your next holiday (to Morocco or elsewhere). Along with product suggestions, I will let you know everything I brought with me on my 11-day trip, what I wish I had remembered and what I should have left at home!
What I packed
Clothes and accessories
- My winter coat, which is waterproof and windproof.
- Two T-shirts with modest necklines.
- Four tops with long or ¾ length sleeves, again with modest necklines.
- Two vest tops. Good for layering and one substituted as a pajama top.
- Two cardigans.
- A lightweight jumper/sweater.
- A black & white striped maxi skirt.
- Two pairs of leggings. I wore one pair under my maxi skirt as there was a knee-high slit, and the other pair I used as PJ bottoms.
- Black tracksuit trousers. I wore these during our Sahara desert trip, as I knew we would be spending a lot of time in a minibus, and wanted something that wouldn’t chafe during the camel ride.
- A pair of jeans
- A pair of trainers/sneakers.
- A swimming costume. Along with Morocco’s beautiful beaches, many hotels and riads have a pool or spa available to their guests. It’s fine to wear a one-piece or bikini in these. Unfortunately, only one of our riads had a pool and we didn’t use it as we checked in late and out early the next day.
- A light scarf. Scarves are really useful for covering your head, shoulders and chest, whilst also offering sun-protection in the desert and keeping warm at night. If you don’t have one at home, you can definitely buy one on arrival – the markets are full of them. Remember to haggle as you’ll first be offered the tourist price!
- Socks and underwear. Including extra thick socks for the desert!
- My phone for taking photos, navigation, referring to blog posts and articles we’d researched beforehand and booking our next night’s accommodation via the Airbnb app. My boyfriend also brought his Nikon D3200 for higher quality shots of the beautiful scenery and picturesque cities and towns.
- A power bank – During the desert trip, we didn’t have the chance to charge our electronics for over twenty-four hours so it was good to have the power bank for an extra boost. It also gave me peace of mind because, as a millennial, the thought of my battery draining fills me with dread!
- My kindle. Such a wonderful piece of technology.
- Chargers for my phone and kindle.
- Passport – the most crucial item!
- My backpack. My boyfriend and I both bought Osprey 40 litre backpacks after extensive research. Such a good buy! Mine is in ‘rainforest green’ (a really nice shade) and it’s very comfortable as it’s specifically made for women’s bodies. There are lot of zips, compartments, padding and good back support. It complies with the normal carry-on luggage restrictions so I could take it on as hand luggage.
- A day backpack. Choose something sturdy as you’ll be wandering around medinas, shopping in souks (markets) and possibly clambering on and off of camels with it. A bag between 10 and 20 litres should suffice; make sure it’s large enough to fit your water bottle, scarf, camera, wallet and suncream. Osprey are a really good brand; this backpack looks comfortable and well-equipped, as does this one. Alternatively you could bring a cross-body bag. You should keep an eye on your belongings at all times, especially in crowded markets, and look for a bag with good anti-theft features.
- A light travel purse. We left our passports and other valuables in our riads, and only brought out the money we needed for the day (along with our debit cards). If your hotel or hostel has a lockable safe, make use of it and leave the majority of your cash and cards inside. ATMs and banks are readily available across the large cities and towns so we didn’t bring any Moroccan dirhams with us – we got cash out on arrival.
- Reusable water bottles. I brought this 1 litre one and this 500ml one. Both are extremely light and have clips, so they can be secured to your backpack (if it’s too full to fit them in the side pockets). Your riad may provide filtered water or alternatively you can buy large bottles of water and refill your smaller bottles day by day. Better still, invest in a bottle with an inbuilt filtration system.
- Important papers file. For example, an international driving license (if you want to hire a car), your travel insurance policy and your visa (if required).
- Medicine. We brought a small selection, including painkillers and plasters (as we knew we’d be walking lots). Bring Imodium in case you have an upset stomach – it’s fairly common for tourists to be affected, especially at the start of their holiday. Exercise caution when buying from street vendors – especially uncooked vegetables and fruit that can’t be peeled. Fruit juices are often mixed with tap water, so look for a market stall where you can see the vendor creating fresh juice, which isn’t watered down.
- Hand sanitizer. An absolute essential! Some public toilets don’t have toilet paper and many don’t have hand soap.
- Suncream. Even though we travelled there in November, I brought SPF 50 with me.
- Personal prescriptions or medication. Come prepared. Don’t assume you will be able to find exactly what you need in the Moroccan pharmacies and supermarkets.
- Padlocks. Ideal for keeping your luggage secure while using public transport or leaving it unattended while you’re out exploring. I also used a padlock to secure my day bag whilst wandering around the crowded markets (better safe than sorry!).
- Packing cubes. Another great buy! Not only do they help you organize your luggage better by grouping clothes by category (such as putting all tops into the same cube), you can fit more in by compressing the cubes and squeezing the extra air out.
- A lightweight towel Some hostels and riads do not provide towels (although luckily all ours did). These towels don’t take up a lot of space and dry very quickly. I have the purple one!
- Tissues. A lot of public toilets in Morocco don’t have toilet paper, and those that do often charge you for it.
- Contact lenses.
- An umbrella. We were very lucky – it only rained on the last day, when we were en route to the airport.
- Other necessities. A comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a combined bottle of shampoo & shower gel, a shower scrubber, an eye mask and ear plugs. I can’t sleep without ear plugs (at home or away), but they are especially important in Morocco because the call to prayer is blasted out from mosques, five times a day (including before sunrise and between sunset and midnight).
Should have packed
- Lush soap bars. We knew some of our riads didn’t provide shampoo so we had to bring our own from home. It would have been more environmentally-friendly to bring a soap bar from Lush (or another company), rather than small plastic bottles of shampoo. As we were travelling with hand luggage only, we had to bring bottles under 100ml. We’ve since purchased a bar for our next holiday.
- Wet wipes to supplement the hand sanitizer.
- More colourful clothing. I took a lot of dark clothes (black, navy, grey, burgundy) and in hindsight, having looked back over the photos, it would have been nicer to wear some brighter colours.
- My sandals. We did so much walking I preferred to wear my trainers. Also my sandals are open-toed and some of the roads were very dusty and sandy (and sometimes a bit mucky!). If you have comfortable, close-toed sandals, it’d be a good idea to pack them.
- An adapter. We didn’t need to bring one as Morocco uses the same plugs as Germany. However, if you’re not from mainland Europe, a universal, worldwide adapter like this will allow you to charge up to three devices at once.
- Wide-leg, loose-fitting clothing, like capri trousers, jumpsuits, maxi dresses & maxi skirts. Avoid anything floor length as the medina paths can be dusty and littered.
- Tunic tops, kaftans and long-sleeved blouses. Easy to throw over a vest top or pair with a maxi skirt or trousers, and very cool in the heat. They are also sold through the markets in Morocco so you may want to buy one whilst you’re there. A light denim or cotton shirt would be a good idea too.
- Flipflops. Useful for hostels and inside a hammam (A Moroccan spa treatment, which consists of a hot steam bath followed by a rigorous massage)
- A hat. Either a wide-brimmed summery one or a woolly hat during cooler months.
- A travel hairdryer.
- Spare glasses.
- Travel pillow. We didn’t need one as it was a short flight to/from Germany, but if you’re flying long haul it’ll provide a lot of comfort.
- Pretty sandals for relaxing by the pool or dinners in a fancy restaurant
- Equipment for a more active holiday – whatever you might need for hiking, trekking, surfing or camping.
- Insect repellent. We didn’t have any problems whatsoever with mosquitoes and other flying fiends (hurrah!), but that may be because we went in the winter.
I hope this has given you some practical ideas about what to bring with you to Morocco (or a country with a similar climate!). If you have any other must-haves that you always take on holiday, please share them in the comments below.
Ciao for now!
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