As a female traveler who lived in Morocco for 3 years, I often get asked about how I felt travelling around Morocco as a solo traveler often. Thankfully, I can say I was very blessed to few bad or scary moments in my time living alone in Morocco. Particularly, when I lived in the most remote desert village, that was 20 hours away by road to Rabat, I felt safest travelling.I definitely felt like I was prepared and aware on how to stay safe abroad.
In the south of Morocco, the culture of taking care of your neighbour is the norm. I also lucked out being a young woman, that locals felt a social obligation to make sure I would get from point A to point B safely. That kindness that I received often and around the entire country from strangers and friends alike, I am forever grateful. But realistically, as any other place in the world, one must be aware of the dangers of travelling alone or in a country vastly different from your own. So here are a few of my tips on how to stay safe abroad:
1. Sign up for STEP
A really helpful tool you could use is to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that lets U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to register their upcoming travels with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. That way the Embassy or Consulate can be aware of you are in the country in case they need to alert you to anything security related. Also, you can check in with them in case of an emergency.
2. Register with the Local Police
Whether you’re travelling with Around the World Beauty or any other agency, or even travelling solo, I highly recommend contacting the local police to let them know your travel plans when you arrive. When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, I always felt safe when I would tavel in or out of Zagora. That’s because the bus operators would always update the local Gendarmarie/police station that the foreigner was travelling. Sidenote, it was technically part of my own duty to report my travel but let’s get real sometimes I’d forget. But then the head of the police would call me to reprimand me/strongly remind me (haha) that he knew I was travelling and its in my safety’s interest to report myself.
3. Research the Local Travel Vendors
Make sure you only use tour guides/drivers and the like that are registered with a reputable company. I do understand some companies are smaller than others but I always check for a solid website, see how many reviews they have and on where (Airbnb, TripAdvisor, etc), and if you’re like me I like to use agents or vendors that have been recommended to me directly from friends or family that have used their services.
4. Have Realistic Sense of Potential Dangers
Please exercise realistic expectations of possible danger/s. There is a chance of harm coming to you in remote areas no matter where in the world you are. Potentially because of political/social climate in whatever country, nature/landscape or the area where you’re choosing to explore is isolated. But ideally, exercise precaution and don’t go off exploring isolated regions or terrains without a group, or a trusted professional local guide.
5. Stock up on Emergency Essentials In-Country
Find the local pharmacy when you arrive to stock up on emergency essentials. If you plan on taking active excursions like hiking or going to be in the desert dunes this could be super helpful. That way you can avoid a sticky situation if you’re in a country where you do not speak any of the local languages and/or there’s no local store/clinic when you’re on the road. Buying in-country will: 1.) Help you carry less in your luggage on your flight 2.) Compared to the U.S Dollar most pharmary items will be significantly less expensive 3.) You will also support the local economy.
So those are some of my general ways on how to stay safe abroad. It might be second nature to some, but it might be brand new advice for others. In the end, its better to be safe than sorry.
Peace, love & couscous,
Brenda Garcia Jaramillo
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