I visited Morocco a few years back with a group of uni friends, overlanding from Casablanca down to Marrakesh. I had a fabulous time and really liked Morocco, but my experience in Marrakesh Medina was not as I had expected. Sure it was an Aladdin’s cave full of beautiful trinkets and treasures, and I became a complete magpie, picking up everything shiny… But it was one of those travel experiences where I was very aware of my own safety.
It wasn’t like a really dangerous place or anything, but it is one of those places that is completely teeming with tourists so is a massive target for thieves. So here are my top tips for staying safe in the medina:
1. Cover up and wear loose clothing is possible.
I was travelling as a group of 5 fabulously dressed fashion students with some degree of skin on show, and we stuck out like a sore thumb. Showing skin or wearing tight clothing attracts a lot of unwanted attention and some very leering men. And I’m not just talking about wearing skimpy outfits, obviously that is going to be an issue here. I mean like even having your legs on show is going to give the wrong impression. Cover up as much as possible – a good option would be a maxi skirt and a long sleeved shirt tied up. Add a headscarf and you’ll be covering up as well as channelling global chic. Yes.
2. Act confident but make a scene if necessary.
Cat-calling is inevitable really, as Moroccan men are not used to seeing women without their husbands accompanying them. But you just have to think of them as being just like those pervy builders round the corner. Just ignore them and act confident and you’re all good. However on my trip it got to the point where a friend I was with was being followed by a man who was attempting to touch her. If this is the case you have to kick off a bit and act like you would do at home if a strange guy was trying to touch you. This is not ok.
3. Don’t stray too far from the main pathways.
The Marrakesh medina is a rabbit’s warren full of alleys and winding pathways so it is incredibly easy to get lost. Even for me, the girl with a built-in compass in her head. The alleys can be narrow and, ok I’ll say it, a bit scary. So I think if you’re worried about your safety you should trust you gut and stick to the main routes around the medina.
4. Wear a cross-body bag.
This is a safety tip for all of your travels really. Wear a cross-body bag so it can’t be easily snatched. I also like to keep my hand over my bag to avoid pick-pockets, of which there are plenty in Marrakesh.
I don’t want to put you off here, Marrakesh, and Morocco in general, is a great place to backpack and is full of gorgeous food in tangines, great markets to shop, rooftop bars and lots of culture. But it’s important to be aware that you should be on alert in big touristy areas like the medina and take a little consideration into your outfit choices. But you know, still fabulous ones of course.
What do you think of my female safety tips? Are there any you would like to add? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!