I’m incredibly excited for you. Because if you’re here reading this post, you’ve likely already booked your tickets to Morocco. And I have to tell you, it’s one of the most beautiful, culturally rich, and unique countries I’ve ever been to.
Yes, OK, it is intense for a Westerner to visit for the first time. It’s not just the heat of the Sahara Desert, but the cacophony of sounds, colors, and tastes in Marrakesh; the crowds, the labyrinth of tiny alleys in Fez’s medina… you just can’t be casual about throwing whatever in your suitcase, because what you pack and wear can either add to your detract from your enjoyment of this amazing country.
Here’s some overall guidelines to start:
1. It’s hot and sunny during the day. Dress accordingly, in loose layers of natural fabrics. I wrote a researched article for Popular Science on how to dress to protect yourself from sunburn, give it a read.
2. But sometimes it’s cold at night. If you go into the Atlas Mountains or desert, the temperature drops quickly. Bring layers, especially if you’re going to go hiking way high up in the mountains.
2. Don’t wear black. It attracts and holds heat, and hardly anyone — save the women in burkas — wears it anyway. This is a hard one for me, being a New Yorker! What’s better to wear are bright colors, which protect you from the sun without being oppressive.
3. Bring modest clothing. I know if you look on social media, you’ll see influencers wearing cotton crop tops and cold-shoulder blouses. But look closer: they’re only wearing them inside their pretty riads (boutique hotels in former homes). This is a Muslim country. The men young and old can be rather, ahem, forward, no matter what you wear, but you’ll make your life easy if you leave the crop tops and shorts at home. Go with clothing that covers your shoulders and cleavage, and goes down at least to your shins.
4. Pack light. You don’t want to drag a huge suitcase over the cobblestoned streets to your riad inside the medina. Go with a carry-on if you can, or a duffel you can sling over your shoulder. Here’s my roundup of sustainable luggage brands.
Also, when you arrive, make sure you follow these tips for how to find the best authentic local fashion shopping.
Your Traveling Outfit
I’m assuming you’re traveling from the U.S. or Europe, and you’ll be on the plane for many, many hours. I always like to wear something on the plane that is comfortable but can be worn out and about once I arrive.
- Long-sleeved linen button-down – get one that covers your butt, so you can layer it over…
- Comfortable joggers – I recommend these. You can wear them hiking or at night in the Atlas Mountains, too.
- Comfortable undies in natural fabric
- Wool socks – I love merino wool because it wicks away moisture and odor.
- Oversized cardigan or sweater – I recommend merino wool, because it doesn’t hold on to odor the way acrylic or even cashmere does. Try Siizu, Eileen Fisher, and Nicholas K. for fabulous, super drapey sweaters.
- Sneakers – Or, if you’ll be doing any long hikes in the mountainous region, pack trail running shoes, which are smaller and lighter than hiking boots.
- Bumbag – I got into the habit of strapping a hip bag across my chest when I travel, because it gives me quick and secure access to my passport, wallet, and tickets, without me having to take off my backpack. This will also be safer from pickpockets. You could also pack a small crossbody purse if your style is more feminine.
- Passport and Passport case – Pockets in a case are super handy for storing your vaccination paperwork, extra visa photos, etc.
- Charging cord
- Mini wallet – There’s lots to choose from at O My Bag.
- Casual watch – You’ll be happier checking your wrist rather than pulling out your phone constantly, especially since in Fez, if you pull out your phone, someone leaps forward to give you directions… and then ask for money. Here’s a list of sustainable watch brands.
- (Optional) Uniqlo ultralight down jacket – My recommendation if you’re leaving from a cold country or hiking in the Atlas Mountains. This stuffs down into a tiny size so you can shove it in the bottom of your suitcase for the rest of your visit.
Clothing and Accessories:
- Long-sleeved blouse or tunic in breathable fabric – Tradland has some great versions, and Sourcery has some washable silk options.
- 2 pairs of long, loose trousers in lightweight fabric (a.k.a. pajama-style pants) – I suggest MATTER Prints, Par en Par, Ziran, or Sourcery.
- 1 pair jeans – you’ll see a lot of Morrocan women in jeans, but usually with a tunic or long top layered on top to cover their butt.
- Sleeved knee-length or longer lightweight dress – Par en Par does a great one, or check out Mirth, Ziran, Apiece Apart, or Accompany.
- Lightweight cotton jacket – I loved my Par en Par jacket layered over loose pants, since it can also be belted as a dress, but Symbology also has some.
- Caftan – You’ll probably find one to buy when you’re visiting, but it’s nice to have one with you when you arrive, too. Try Accompany or Symbology.
- Brimmed hat – This one rolls up so you can pack it instead of wearing it on the plane!
- Flat-pack day bag – Pack an attractive reusable canvas or cotton bag that you have lying around that fits your water bottle, and then make sure it’s tucked right up under your armpit when you’re walking around the medina.
- Swimsuit – For the pool at your hotel. Here’s a list of sustainable swimwear brands.
- Large scarf – for wrapping around your shoulders or covering your head if you visit a mosque. I like Miss Pom Pom, but I’m sure you have one lying around!
- 2 pairs of short wool socks – Lightweight merino wool wicks away sweat and odor. Trust me.
- Pons Avarca sandals – These are comfortable, but protect your toes from the dust, which is crucial in Morocco.
- Neutral nice sandals – Something a wee bit fancier if you’re having dinner at a nice place.
- Kayu clutch – great for dressing up or down to take along just the essentials.
- Underwear – Here’s my 5 rules for packing undies for travel.
- Lightweight pajamas – I like People Tree
- Long-sleeved white tee – Cute enough to wear in the city, but also great for hiking. Get one from Ably, which has eco-friendly stain resistance.
- Wool beanie – If you’re going up to the Atlas Mountains for a hike.
- Hiking pants – Ditto
- Mpowered Luci light – I like this better than a flashlight because it’s lightweight, collapsible, will float on water, and is generally just like a pretty lantern, instead of the high beam of a flashlight that blinds anyone you accidentally train it on.
- Sarong – Great as a cover-up, hair towel, or picnic blanket. I got mine in India from Anokhi, but of course you can get these anywhere!
- PurSteam traveling iron/steamer – this thing is tiny, but crucial!
- Travel yoga mat – So you can get a good long stretch in every morning, regardless of where you are. I fold mine up and pack it inside the suitcase
- Universal sink plug – So you can wash your clothing in the sink. I used mine constantly.
- Travel dry line – I like this one because it comes with a stuff sack.
- Waterproof reusable laundry bag
- Travel sewing kit
- Reusable sealable bags – I got these on the recommendation from a digital nomad blog, and I’m so glad I did. We’ve been using various sizes already for things that come up, but they take up no room in my suitcase side interior pocket.
- Lockable luggage cable – if you’re taking the train or you’re nervous about leaving your luggage inside your tent in the desert, this will give you peace of mind.
- Travel first aid kit – Get a basic one, then add in medications you’ll need, like malaria pills, altitude medication, ibuprofen, Imodium, etc.
In addition to your normal travel toiletries, make sure to bring…
- Coola Tinted SPF BB cream – This is my absolute favorite tinted SPF moisturizer. It’s not too thick and makes your face glow!
- 1 lip tint – Something subtle
- Mesh shower bag – Having all my shower stuff in a separate bag is crucial to ensure I don’t leave things behind in the shower, because I see the empty shower bag when I’m packing and remember I need to fill it up.
- Sunscreen! – Here’s my guide to non-toxic sunscreen.
- Menstrual cup – reusable, therefore you won’t have to go on a pilgrimage for tampons. Once you use it, you’ll never go back.
This waterproof and pickpocket-proof backpack is the best for travelers.
- Portable phone charging battery
- Lifestraw purifying water bottle
- Books/magazines – Put away your phone and indulge in some old-fashioned reading and relaxation.
- Earbuds – I like Bowery’s by LSTN
- Earplugs – Get them on a string so you don’t lose them when they fall out
- Camera, lenses, extra battery, battery charger, extra memory cards – I love my compact but powerful Fuji x-t10, with a wide angle lens for landscape, architecture, and room shots; and a 50 mm lens for portraits and food.
- Lens bag and camera bag
- Moleskine – for jotting down your deep thoughts
- Travel pen with carabiner
- Chico reusable bag with stuff sack
- Wide-mouth reusable coffee cup with sealable lid – Can be used for coffee, or also as a to-go container in a pinch for soup, fruit, snacks, etc.
- Sunglasses – here’s my shopping guide to the best eco sunglasses
- SPF chapstick
- Mini tube of SPF cream – It’s so handy to have this in day bag all times in case you find yourself in full sun. Here are my favorites.
- Hand sanitizer – It’s common that there’s no soap available, or you’ll fall in love with a stray kitten that you want to pet!
- Bamboo travel utensil set – so you don’t have to use disposable one in areas that have terrible or non-existent waste disposal. Make sure it’s plastic or wood (not metal) so it doesn’t get confiscated by airport security.
- Pack of tissues – this isn’t for your nose, so don’t think I’m advocating this over a reusable handkerchief. It’s for bathroom emergencies.
- Reusable handkerchief – Yup, this one is for your nose, or you can use it as a napkin.
- Portable pillow
- Eye mask
- Adaptor – you could order this, or just pick one up in the airport as soon as you land, which I think is the simpler solution.
- Basic toiletries – Micellar water and cotton round, moisturizing face oil, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant – When spending more than 8 hours on a plane, you’ll be happy to have access to these.
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