Welcome to Travel Diaries, a Refinery29 series where we tag along as real women embark on trips around the world and track their travel expenses down to the last cent. Here, we offer a detailed, intimate account of when, where, and how our peers spend their vacation days and disposable income: all the meals, adventures, indulgences, setbacks, and surprises.
This week’s travel diary: A 29-year-old advertising account director spends a magical night in the Moroccan desert.
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Occupation: Advertising Account Director
Travel Companion: Best Friend, T.
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Trip Location: Morocco (Tangier, Fez, Chefchaouen, Marrakech)
Trip Length: 10 Days
Annual # Of Vacation Days: Unlimited FTO
Companion’s # of Vacation Days: 20 Vacation Days
Cost: Due to scheduling needs, we have to book our flights through two different airlines. We book one Air France flight from JFK to Orly returning from Marrakech to JFK with a layover in Amsterdam ($1,067.03). We then have to book a separate flight from Paris to Tangier on Morocco Air ($96.37) for our departure.
We also booked taxis to take us from Tangier to Chefchaouen ($55) and from Chefchaouen to Fez ($95).
Costs: We’re staying in riads (Moroccan guest houses) for most of the trip with a Sahara Desert Trek.
Dar Chams Tanja – $71.50 (1 night, includes breakfast)
Dar Zambra – $44.5 (1 night, includes breakfast)
Riad Tizwa – $112 (2 nights, includes breakfast)
Sahara Desert Trek – $279 (2 nights – 1 in desert/1 in Riad, includes 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners, and driver for the trip)
Riad UP – $168 (3 nights, includes breakfast)
Miscellaneous pre-vacation spending
As Morocco is a Muslim country, it is recommend to keep your shoulders and knees covered. Since it’s going to be over 100 degrees some days I decided to invest in some linen pants. Found a sale at Old Navy and get three pairs of pants. $45
We also pre-booked our tour in Marrakech through Viator. $103
3:30 p.m. – Time to leave for the airport! I had big plans of saving money and taking the subway to the airport but since I ended up drinking too much the night before and spending most of the day hungover #hotmess, I’m running late and take a Lyft. Traffic ends up being terrible though so probably should have taken the subway. $59.09
5:00 p.m. – Meet my best friend, T., at the airport. We’ve been friends since middle school and have been travelling together for about five years. She graciously got my boarding pass for me since I was late and we head through security. Since I have status on Delta and we’re flying another SkyTeam airline, we get access to the Air France lounge. Food isn’t anything to write home about but it’s free so we have dinner here before the flight.
8:30 p.m. – Flight ends up getting delayed a little bit but we finally board. I checked the seat map a week before we left and saw the back of the plane was pretty open so we took a chance on seats in the back. We lucked out and the seat next to us stays open and we’re able to sprawl out. I put on my eye mask and attempt to sleep off my hangover.
Daily Total: $59.09
9:20 a.m. – We land at Orly Airport outside Paris. As we have about a 12-hour layover, we plan to kill time in downtown Paris, living our best Mary Kate and Ashley Passport to Paris dreams. We breeze through security and customs. After a brief moment of being unable to find the signs for the train we almost break and take a taxi but we finally see directions to the Orlyval. We buy roundtrip tickets and head to the train which will transfer us to the subway into downtown Paris. $27.25
11:00 a.m. – We make our way downtown and get out at the Notre Dame station stop. We decided to use a service called NannyBag which allows you to store bags at hotels, restaurants etc. in major cities. The hotel we selected is just a few blocks from the subway and we drop off our bag. ($6.70 for one bag). We then grab brunch at a restaurant since we’re starving. It’s for sure a tourist spot but at this point we’ll do anything for food and coffee. I get an omelette and cappuccino ($19.88) and we enjoy the view of Notre Dame. $26.58
1:00 p.m. – As we’ve both been to Paris before we don’t really have a set agenda or any must-do’s. After wandering around in an attempt to wear off any jet lag (thank god I’m at least not hungover anymore!), we make our way to the Musee d’Orsay where we get tickets and share an audio guide. We spend a few hours wandering around enjoying the museum before we both start getting tired and head outside for some fresh air. $18.43
4:30 p.m. – We head back to the hotel and pick up our bags and get back on the subway to the airport using our return ticket. We print our boarding passes and head through security. I get Priority Pass membership free with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card which gives you and up to three guests access to lounges in airports around the world. We find the Priority Pass lounge and quickly take a nap. We then have dinner in the lounge where we proceed to get very excited by the make-your-own pancake machine and then subsequently proceed to break said pancake machine. This is why we can’t have nice things.
9:30 p.m. – We board our flight to Tangier. They serve an in-flight meal on the short 2.5 flight. At this point I’m so tired, I just nibble a little and then pass out.
10:30 p.m. – We arrive in Tangier and are greeted by our taxi driver that was arranged by the riad we’re staying at. He drops us off at our riad, Dars Chams, and we pay the pre-arranged amount. Our lovely hotel hosts brings us some mint tea and cookies to enjoy. We both take the longest showers of our lives and go to bed. $10.80
Daily Total: $83.06
8:00 a.m. – Tangier was really just a layover city for us so we’re all ready leaving this morning to head to Chefchaouen. We enjoy an amazing free breakfast provided on the rooftop terrace of our riad then quickly check-out.
9:00 a.m. – We pre-arranged a taxi to drive us from Tangier to Chefchaouen through Tangier Taxis. It’s for sure not the cheapest mode of transportation in Morocco but as our schedule is tight and we’re two female travelers weary about public transportation, so we decide it’s our best option. He picks us up right on time.
11:30 a.m. – We arrive in Chefchaouen and our taxi driver informs us that he can’t drive us to our riad so someone will walk us there and we have to tip them. The most adorable little man picks us up and walks us up many many flights of stairs. We don’t have change so we have to give a generous tip but we don’t mind since he was so nice and friendly. We check into our riad, Dar Zambra, and leave our bags since our room isn’t ready yet. $5
1:00 p.m. – After wandering around the streets and getting lost many many times, we finally make it to the main plaza and decided to grab lunch at La Lampe Magique. We share a few dishes including vegetable couscous, Kefta Tangine and Chicken Pastella, all of which are delicious. ($8.50). We then wander over to the Kasbah ($6) and climb the tower which gives some pretty stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains. $14.50
3:00 p.m. – Feeling tired we decide to head back to our riad and hang out on the rooftop terrace.
6:00 p.m. – We grab dinner at Café Clock which also has locations in Fes and Marrakesh. We each get Lamb Tagine and share a bottle of sparkling water. For dessert, T. gets chocolate cheesecake and I get the most delicious carrot cake I’ve ever tasted. Not sure if it was at all Moroccan but it was so good. $11.80
8:00 p.m. – Head back to the riad and get ready for bed as we’re both exhausted.
Daily Total: $31.30
9:00 a.m. – We get to sleep in, which is very nice, and then get ready to enjoy free breakfast on the terrace of our riad. We’re brought plates of breads and jams and butter and my heart’s content. We hang out and enjoy the view of Chefchaouen one last time before heading back to our room to pack up.
11:15 a.m. – Our taxi driver hoofed it up the hill to our riad this time so we didn’t have to waste time attempting to locate him. We’re headed to Fes which is about a three-and-a-half hour ride. The countryside is beautiful and changes from lush green to golden sand as we make our way south. We stop once but only for a bathroom break.
3:30 p.m. – After a little bit of confusion finding our riad, our taxi driver finally drops us off at Riad Tizwa where our gracious hosts show us around and offer us the customary mint tea as we fill out paperwork in the beautiful courtyard of the riad. We head up to our room and settle in before dinner.
5:30 p.m. – We decide to head out and get an early dinner. We had a few places in mind but they’re closed until the evening due to Ramadan. However the sister location of the restaurant we ate at in Chefchaouen is open so we head to Café Clock. As it’s getting close to sundown the streets of the Médina are packed, like the L train on a Monday morning but, like, times ten. It’s a little overwhelming at first but we finally get our bearings and make our way through the crowd to the restaurant. As it’s one of the few places open it’s packed and a wonderful Australian couple offers to share their table with us. T. and I decide to share the hummus and falafel and then I get the lamb burger while T. gets a chicken and raisins dish. We chat with table mates, V. and J., about their travels; they’re on an eight-week journey since J just retired and I’m very jealous. They are the nicest people. $11.30
7:30 p.m. – We head back to the riad. The streets are much quieter now as it’s time to break fast for Ramadan and is quite the stark contrast from a few hours earlier. We catch up on emails and browse social media which is mostly full of GOT last episode predictions and memes.
Daily Total: $11.30
9:30 a.m. – We wake up and have free breakfast on our riad terrace which has sweeping views of the city and surrounding mountains. Per usual, I eat my weight in bread, butter and jam and this time enjoy some homemade yogurt for good measure.
10:30 a.m. – Our tour guide for the day, Adil, pick us up at our Riad. We booked him through Trip Advisor and while he wasn’t the cheapest option, he got very good reviews. We walks us down the street where our driver Husain is waiting and we begin our tour. $45
11:00 a.m. – Adil starts by taking us to the Royal Palace. We cannot go inside but we take some pictures by the gates outside and he tells us some history of the Palace. We then walk down the street which was once the Jewish Quarter. He points out the architecture on the buildings that were originally built by the Jewish people, while also explaining the history of Moroccan Jews. Finally he drives us to Fortress Borj Nord where we are able to walk around the fortress though we do not go inside. However, there are sweeping views of Fes that are absolutely breathtaking.
11:30 a.m. – Right across the street from Fortress, we head to a ceramics co-op, Mosaique de Poterie where we’re given a tour of the facilities to see how things are made and then, Disney World-style, are deposited out into the gift shop. We look around and are not pressured at all to buy anything. We see lots of nice things but being that we still have a desert trek and another city ahead of us decide to pass on purchasing heavy, breakable pottery.
12:00 p.m. – We get dropped off and Adil proceeds to walk us inside the medina. We walk through food stalls and clothings stalls. He takes us to a weaver where I purchase some handmade scarves and pashminas. It’s my first time haggling and realize afterwards I paid way to much but I’ve learned my lesson for next time. $120
1:00 p.m. – We then wander around some more including visiting Madrasa al-Attarine ($2 admission) which is an Islamic school that was built in the 14th century. It’s a small building with an open courtyard in the middle, however the entire place is covered in intricate tile work which we spend some time admiring. We then walk through the medina to The Qarawiyyin Mosque University which is the oldest existing, continually-operating higher educational institution in the world. Since it’s a mosque and we are not Muslim we are only allowed to look through the open air doors to see inside. After more weaving through the medina we stop at Zawiya of Moulay Idriss II which is the final resting place of the founder of Fes. Again, as non-Muslims, we cannot go inside but are able to see the massive wooden doors and massive columns inside. The architecture in the city is some of the most beautiful work I’ve seen. We end the tour at the tanneries. I’m catching onto a theme here. We are shown the tannery and then led into a massive leather store. We aren’t pressured to buy anything though there is always someone there to tell you how great an item is once you get remotely close to it. I’m tempted to buy a floor poof but just can not justify the use of real leather and decide to pass.
2:30 p.m. – We drive back to our riad and say goodbye and tip Husain and Adil. We accomplished so much in the day and would have never been able to do it without their help. I highly recommend hiring a guide as I’m not sure we ever would have been able to find our way around without one. It was well worth the money. $15
3:00 p.m. – We didn’t want to make Adil stop for lunch on the tour since he cannot eat or drink due to Ramadan so we decide to head back to Café Clock since it’s close and we know the way. We get the falafel again, I get the burger and T. gets a Veggie B’stilla. $11.63
5:00 p.m. – We head back to the hotel and stop at a stand to pick up water and snacks for our desert trek. We know it will be hot and heard that there can be long stretches between meals and I don’t want to be getting #hangry in the middle of the desert. We get three-liter bottles of water, cookies, breakfast bars and two things of Pringles. #notmoroccan. $7.34
8:00 p.m. – We are headed to dinner. The restaurant, the Ruined Garden, nicely offers escort services but they don’t show, so we brave the streets ourselves. The restaurant is like a garden oasis inside and the food is delicious. We share maduka which is like a fried potato pancake and both get the Kefta tagine which is like meatballs in tomato sauce with eggs. It’s our last night in Fes so we splurge on dessert and share an espresso chocolate mousse and a saffron cream which are both amazing. We get lost getting back to the riad a few times but we do some backtracking and are able to make it! $24.70
Daily Total: $223.67
7:45 a.m. – We are headed for our desert tour so we have an early start. We sadly don’t get a rooftop breakfast again and I am heartbroken. We meet our tour just a few blocks from our riad. We booked through Sahara Desert Tours and meet our driver Ismail who will be showing us around for three days. We then meet our fellow tour companions, J. And K., a couple from Canada, and O., who is from Laos. After packing into the truck we hit the road.
8:00 a.m. – It’s about a nine-hour drive to the desert. Along the way we stop at many places including the mountain village Ifran, known as “the Switzerland of Morocco.” It’s the weirdest place as it’s all these Swiss-looking chalets in the middle of Morocco. We just get out of the car, walk around for five minutes and get back in. We then stop in a cedar forest to see the Barbary apes which are quite adorable. We pull over to the side of the road where you are able to buy fruit to feed them but I’m not very into having a wild ape jump on my body so I pass. We travel through the Tizi Ntalghamt pass and the Ziz Gorge. The scenery is breathtaking and we stop along the way to take pics of the gorgeous views.
12:30 p.m. – We stop in a small town for lunch. I’m not feeling super hungry and decide to be extra American and order a pizza. We enjoy our lunch in the garden behind the restaurant and get to know one another. $7.50
2:00 p.m. – We continue on to the Ziz Valley where we stop for snacks. It’s now like a billion degrees so I opt for a cold water and a frozen Twix bar. We continue on to Merzoiga which is where we will leave for our overnight in the desert. We have time to kill before sunset so our driver takes us to this fossil museum. It feels a little like a middle school field trip but the museum worker is really enthusiastic and finds all the fossils hilarious for some reason and he can’t stop giggling so that makes the tour pretty fun. $0.70
5:00 p.m. – It’s getting close to sundown so we finally head to the spot where we will be entering the desert. There are beautiful yellow orange sand dunes in all directions and it’s absolutely breathtaking. We get set up on our camels and start the journey. Ethical and humane tourism is very important to me so I made sure to do research into making sure the camels on the trek were treated appropriately. I know there’s no guarantee but I feel comfortable that these camels are treated well. Our Berber guide (the native Moroccan people of the desert region) gets us loaded up and off we go. We all quickly realize how sore we will be tomorrow but luckily the views distract from the pain growing in my thighs.
7:00 p.m. – We arrive at camp where we are greeted with mint tea and some delicious cookies. We are showed to our tents which end up being much more glamorous and include a toilet and shower with running hot water #glamping. We’re informed that dinner will be served at 9:00 p.m. We settle in and sit outside our tent taking in the views as we wait for dinner.
9:00 p.m. – Dinner is served! We get a beautiful three course meal including a traditional Moroccan chicken soup, a Moroccan salad and roast chicken with eggplant finished up with watermelon. After dinner we are treated to some traditional Berber music and learn how to play some of the drums. We wanted to see the stars but shockingly it starts to rain so we head back to our tent and call it a night.
Daily Total: $8.20
5:00 a.m. – We wake up to see the sunrise but it’s too cloudy. It’s still cool to be up so early when the sky still has a purple hue and the desert is actually quite chilly. We enjoy another great Moroccan breakfast and pack up to head back to town. As I don’t think I’ll ever be able to sit again after that camel ride we all opt to take the 4×4 back. We arrive back to town where our driver meets us and we start our journey for day two!
9:00 a.m. – We are headed for the Rissani, Tinghir, and Todra gorges today – the highest, narrowest gorges in Morocco. We do a bit of driving and then stop in a local market to look around. It is actually the market our guide would go to as a small boy so it’s neat to have him walk us around. We get a quick lesson on Moroccan spices from a local vendor then get back in the car.
11:00 a.m. – We stop at the next place where we can try on traditional Moroccan clothes and take a picture but me and T. pass. Again, it’s just a chance for them to sell you more stuff so I prefer to wander around the store and not get sucked into the sales pitch. We all get ice cream except T. and everyone piles back in the car. $3.10
12:30 p.m. – We stop for lunch. The restaurant is a little sketch and literally has chicken and roosters begging for food. I decide to skip lunch as we just had a snack and nothing looks too appetizing.
3:00 p.m. – We then start our drive into the Dades Valley and stop at the Todra Gorge which we get to walk through on foot. All around are towering rock formations and below is a small river that runs through the Gorge. We take our shoes off and wade into the cool river. We then meet a local man who went to school in Pennsylvania and happens to be a rug dealer and he invites us to his store. I’m ready to buy a rug and after the scarf incident in Fes I’m ready to haggle. They take us on this weird walk through the middle of a valley and then we end up behind some buildings and after a few turns end up inside the rug store (praise be!). We go through the tradition of mint tea and they explain the styles of rugs and their origins. J. and K. are buying a rug too and they quickly separate us all. I’m into the Berber style rugs and they pull out a few until I find one I love. He starts out the negation at $3,100 and I get him down to $700 and a promise to send him a picture of the rug in my apartment. It was actually a lot of fun now that I know what I’m doing and I feel like I got a good deal. (I’m sure someone in the comments will say I got ripped off but please don’t lol). He wraps it up and I tip the man who wrapped it ($2.06) and we all head out with our rugs. $702.06
5:00 p.m. – We then head back into the Dades Valley, where there are these amazing sand castles and rock formations known as “monkey toes.” It’s so different here as everything is not built up so we just pull over to the side of the road. We are able to climb out onto the rocks to get closer to the “Monkey Toes” but there’s no clear path so I decide to pass. After watching T. slide down the mountain and almost plummet to her death, I’ve clearly made the correct choice.
6:00 p.m. – We take some pics and then head to our hotel, Tifawen Kasbah, for the night. The rooms are pretty amazing and we have a balcony with a view of the valley below. Dinner is included in our stay and it’s actually pretty good. We did have to pay for drinks and since J. and K. got it the night before I pick it up tonight. We all head off to bed since we were up so early. $3.10
Daily Total: $708.26
7:30 a.m. – We’re ready for the final leg of our journey. We eat breakfast and enjoy the beautiful view from our hotel one last time. Everyone is in the car by 8:00 a.m. and we’re ready to hit the road.
9:00 a.m. – We enter the Rose Valley and we stop at a co-op to see how rose products are made. This is pretty much just a tourist stop where a young woman shows us two machines and then applies some rose-smelling lotion to our hands. We look in the shop but no one buys anything which is good as I’m not looking to spend the next few hours in a rose-smelling car.
10:00 a.m. – We then continue on to Ouarzazate which is known for being a famous location for movie filming. We drive through the town until we arrive at a studio set. You have to pay to go inside the set though so we just look through the gate. We then drive to the village of Ait Ben Haddou which was used in Game of Thrones and Gladiator. We hike to the top of the hill for views of the village down below. The hike is pretty hard in the sun and we weave through small alleys and passageways in the village to get to the top. There are lots of tourists and it’s pretty crowded but the views are amazing and totally worth hiking up a billion stairs. It truly does feel like we are in a movie set.
12:00 p.m. – After more driving we make it to our lunch restaurant high in the Atlas Mountains. We enjoy more, you guessed it, tagine. After lunch Ismail asks if we want to stop at an Argan Oil co-op but we’re all pretty tired so we just push on to Marrakech. The roads out of the Atlas Mountains are some of the most frightening twists and turns but thanks to the amazing driver we make it our alive. $12.90
3:00 p.m. – We get dropped off at a parking area near our riad and a wonderful lady comes and picks us up along with two men and a cart to carry our bags. After a few twists and turns we arrive and tip the men, it isn’t much as we weren’t prepared to tip them and didn’t have many small bills on us. We are staying at Riad Up and it is absolutely gorgeous and even has a small pool in the center courtyard. We settle into our room and relax. $2.06
8:00 p.m. – As we got to Marrakesh late and aren’t brave enough to wander out alone we decide to eat in the riad. We share a few salads and some chicken tagine, finished with poached pears for dessert. $22.64
Daily Total: $37.60
8:30 a.m. – Another Moroccan breakfast for the books. Same breads, different rooftop. Our guide for the day, Nabila, then picks us up. We booked through Viator and it includes lunch (accounted for in pre-trip expenses). She proceeds to inform us that our guide had an emergency and she is here but her English isn’t very good. We say we don’t mind at all and she speaks Spanish which we both took in high school and college so we figure we can make it work.
9:00 a.m. – Nabila takes us all over the city, including the Jewish synagogue where we learn even more about the history of the Jewish people in Morocco. We then make our way to the Bahia Palace. Admission is included and we are able to go inside. Nabila gives us a tour while we are in there, explaining the history of the Palace and the purpose of all the rooms which are all very beautifully decorated. We then head to the Koutoubia mosque which is hard to miss as its tower stands above most of Marrakesh. Again, we cannot enter but enjoy looking around the outside and surrounding grounds. We then head into the souks to do some browsing. T. buys a few things but nothing piques my interest.
1:00 p.m. – After a bunch of walking we’re ready for lunch. We prepaid as part of the tour and enjoy a Moroccan salad, chicken tagine and traditional Moroccan cookies and mint tea for dessert. We then head back out to see the main square and walk through some more souks before ending our tour at the royal gardens.
3:00 p.m. – Nabila is kind enough to walk us back to our riad and we give her a tip ($15.50). We drop off our stuff and decide to go back out and do some gift shopping. I find a scarf for my mom and this time get a much better deal ($10.33) and also find a large yarn bowl that I’d been eyeing for my coffee table ($15.50). After managing to find our way around and back to our riad, I stop and grab a water along the way ($0.62). We get back and hang out by the pool until dinner. $41.95
8:00 p.m. – We have a reservation at Naranj. It got great reviews on TripAdvisor and J. and K. actually went there and recommended it. It’s a Lebanese twist on Moroccan food and we share a Moroccan Mezzo platter then I get the beef Shawarma for my meal while T. gets an eggplant dish. Per usual, we split a bottle of sparkling water. Everything is delicious and we leave feeling very full. $22.73
Daily Total: $64.68
9:45 a.m. – We had nothing planned for our last day in Morocco so we decided to do something slow and signed up for a cooking class through La Maison Arabe Hotel. We meet at the hotel and are then driven to their cooking school which is on the outskirts of town. $62.40
10:30 a.m. – The cooking class is a pretty cool experience. We learn about the basics of Moroccan cooking including the spices used and the method of cooking with the tagine pot. We then get to watch someone make bread in an outdoor oven and learn the process for making mint tea. We then get to eat some of the bread and it’s the most delicious thing ever.
11:30 a.m. – We start cooking! We make cookies and a custard as a class, then each get to make our own chicken tagine, eggplant and tomato dish, and tomato and roasted pepper salad. We get to eat outside in the garden and enjoy our meal. Before we leave they gift us with our own tagine pot and recipe cards for every dish we made! Now I just have to figure out how to fit the tagine in my already overflowing suitcase.
1:30 p.m. – We get dropped off at the hotel and make our way back to the main square where we know how to get back to our riad from. Along the way we do some final souvenir shopping and I pick up some ceramic bowls as gifts ($12.40). We then make our way back to the hotel where we do some swimming in the pool. It’s hot so I buy a bottle of water from the hotel ($2.07). I go up onto the roof to enjoy the sun and work on my non-existent tan. $14.47
8:00 p.m. – We decide to go to a cute restaurant around the corner from our hotel called Black Chich, a mix of Moroccan and Senegalese food. I get a falafel platter and T. gets chicken.
10:00 p.m. – We get back to the riad and I spend the next hour attempting to shove all my stuff into one backpack so I just have two carry-on items (backpack and rug). I get it all to fit but the bag is pretty big. I’m usually against checking a bag especially when I have a connecting flight but I’m worried about the bag being too large for carry-on size or fitting in the overhead. I end up taking my smaller backpack and my rug as my carry-on and will check my larger backpack.
Daily Total: $76.87
5:00 a.m. – We leave early for the airport as our flight is at 8:00 a.m. Our riad books us a taxi which drops us off at the airport. We get through security and customs pretty quick and head to the Priority Pass lounge where we get free breakfast. We head to our flight and board on-time for our flight to Amsterdam. $7.71
2:00 p.m. – We land in Amsterdam and make the transfer through the airport. I have 20 euros left and don’t feel like it makes sense to exchange it back so I decide to buy some treats for everyone in my office. I pick up some chocolate and many boxes of stroopwafels. We then make our way to the KLM lounge where we proceed to gorge ourselves on all of the non-tagine foods. We have about three hours to kill until we board. $18.92
6:00 p.m. – Time to board our flight! We gambled on seats in the back again as the flight was pretty open a week ago, but seems it got all booked up and we end up with someone next to us. I spend the flight watching movies and trying to not sleep in an attempt to get back on US time.
7:30 p.m. – We land back in the US. Make our way through security and customs and say our goodbyes. It’s raining and I’m carrying a giant rug so I opt for an Uber home. I lug my rug up to my third floor walk-up, order Mexican food, and eventually pass out. $40.99
Daily Total: $67.62
How did you prepare for this trip?
I’m a big fan of Google for any trip. I usually use Trip Advisor along with Travel blogs/Youtube videos from the city I’m going to. I like to use them for accommodation recommendations, travel recommendations, food etc.
Did you use credit card points/miles to pay for parts of this trip?
No, I didn’t use any points or miles.
Do you have credit card debt as a result of booking this vacation? If so, how much?
No, everything was paid off.
When did you book your flights? Do you think you got a good deal?
We booked the flights in January. They honestly could have been cheaper but we were set on a certain time to go based on our schedules so were fairly stuck with what was available those weeks. Also, as a Delta Platinum Member, I try to book SkyTeam whenever it’s not too much more than other flights as then we get lounge access, free checked bags etc. which cuts down costs.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
I cannot recommend the Sahara Desert trek highly enough. It was such a surreal experience being in the middle of the Sahara Desert and the entire trip allow you to see so much of the country from the mountains to the desert which you just aren’t able to experience in the bigger cities
Is there a tourist trap you wish you had avoided?
It’s not necessarily a tourist trap but I highly recommend doing some reading about haggling in Morocco. I was a little caught off guard the first time and did not want to insult the person with a low offer. However, after some reading, I learned they traditionally start very high with the expectation you will do a lot of haggling. Something I read recommended starting at 30% of their initial offer which really helped put it all into perspective. Overall, everyone is very nice about the haggling and usually there is lots of joking. I was told I was “worse than a Berber woman” many times due to my tough haggling skills.
What advice would you give someone who is traveling to the same location?
So I know everyone’s experience is different but I would just want to let people know to not be afraid. There are many blogs that talk about how they were harassed, followed by people on the streets, that the haggling was aggressive but we didn’t find that was the case. Again, I do not want to discredit anyone’s story or experience but we found everyone to be so nice and kind and did not feel unsafe at all during the trip. I do think like any country you need to be aware of your surroundings.
Where were you located in the specific city and would you recommend staying in that part of town?
I think in general I would recommend staying inside the medinas for each town. It’s easier in many cases to navigate on foot vs taking taxis places. I’d also recommend staying close to main roads as it was harder to find our riads that were a few twist and turns down side streets.
Do you feel like you were there for the right length of time? Would you have come home sooner or stayed longer given the chance?
Ten days honestly felt like the right amount of time, we for sure could have spent more time in each city but we were really able to see the main sites in each city while getting to see a lot of the country.
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