Morocco: Survival Lifehacks

Morocco: Survival Lifehacks

By: Laila Sherif Said | Facebook: Meanderings by Laila | Instagram: Meanderingsbylaila

Bio: Laila is an avid traveler, photographer and lover of all things colorful and natural. For someone who loves to live the moment and delve into the adventures life throws at her, she hates onions.

1. Language:

Everyone speaks either Arabic (Moroccan-dialect-Arabic) or French. Some speak English. Most, if not all, understand Egyptian Arabic (and love it, for that matter, just like they love Egyptians).Helpful transportation

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2. information to get around:

Train website: www.oncf.ma

Bus Company: CTM: www.ctm.ma

Bus Company: Supratours: www.supratours.ma

You can check timings, prices, destinations & seats (only for the buses), but not the availability so make sure    you’re at the station to purchase the tickets before your planned departure time.

Big white 6-seater taxis. Found in their own stations/huddles all over Morocco. Serve as transportation to specific destinations, although they can drop you off anywhere on the way. 5 Dhs per passenger/seat. Fixed rate.

They won’t move until all 6 seats are taken/paid for. Seats that aren’t really seats, because that arrangement allows two whole individuals to be huddled together in the passenger seat, and four crammed on the couch.

Small blue/red taxis (color depending on the city) serve as normal, private taxis. Fare depends on the destination & trip. In some cities, some would stop to pick up others going in the same direction (but they’d probably ask if you mind first).

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3. Arriving in Morocco:

In the Casablanca Airport, as soon as you’re set to leave the airport, an INWI booth will be awaiting you. INWI is one of the best mobile/cellular carrier companies. Upon showing your passport, you get two free INWI SIM cards. You can charge them with phone & internet credit from any actual INWI store (in most train stations and all around the city). Recommended.

Maroc Telecom is also another company providing good network coverage in most places. Also recommended.

Don’t exchange all of your money at the airport. Never exchange all of your money at once.

Airport currency exchange booths are good for emergencies, though, since they’re open 24/7, 7 days a week.

Banque Populaire sell debit cards you can save some of your money on, for backup, so that you’re not carrying all cash. You can’t use them everywhere, though you can withdraw.

“It’s preferable to get a travel currency card from home than getting it at the airport. That way, you’re free to use all the ATMs and the charges levied are comparatively less.” – Ishteyaq

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4. When Shopping:

BARGAIN.

If you’re buying leather and want to be sure if it’s real, keep in mind that real leather doesn’t burn. So if you have a lighter handy…

Take an empty bag with you; plastic bags are being banned all over Morocco.

Do your shopping in Rabat, or Agadir, or Essaouira. Maybe Chefchauen for specific things. Not Fes, Meknes, Marrakech and definitely not Casablanca.

“If you find yourself shopping in Fes, though, start bargaining at 20%. Never go above 30%. That’s the actual fair price.” – Ishteyaq

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5. Everyday Life:

Locals hate being photographed (see photo above).

Don’t even think of directing your camera in a random passerby’s face. They could even go to the extent of following you, stopping you, demanding to see the picture and even deleting it. And then asking for money for not getting you in trouble. It’s a really sensitive issue, so, like I did, just take photos while maintaining eye contact with them so they don’t notice the sound of the click.

Stay hydrated, especially in the summer. The heat can be deadly.

ALWAYS be on the lookout for pickpockets.

Keep your wallet and your phone and your IDs by your side, in a sealed bag, under your clothes if possible. Unfortunately I fell into the mistake of not taking care a couple of times.

For girls, attire should be mainly conservative, since it is an Arab/Muslim country, although in most beach towns and touristic cities/areas, shorts and dresses and such are received neutrally.

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