When I was 20, I created a “30 Things To Do Before I Turn 30” and promptly lost it. whomp whomp I found it again this November and decided to cross a few things off before May.
At the top of the list was travel – Egypt, Morocco, Greece, the Scottish Highlands, Salem, MA… Though I couldn’t make all of those happen in 6 months, I booked a trip to Morocco! As you read this, I am in Marrakech.
If you’re anything like me, you like to do a bit of preparation before any major trips. I thought I’d share what I did to prepare, in case it is helpful for anyone else.
Booking the trip
This was the easiest part, surprisingly. I had been fascinated by the National Geographic Journeys for a while now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try one out. They have two main levels of travel – casual and premium. Casual has more relaxed travel (read – no 5 star hotels!) while premium is a more luxury experience.
Since I am headed to Morocco for the sights, not for the hotels, I booked a casual journey. This is the exact journey I’m taking. It includes all hotels, some meals and all in country travel.
That just left booking my flights and securing travel insurance. I opted to have the National Geographic tour operators book my flights, since that would ensure an airport transfer to the hotel. Could I have saved a bit of money booking it myself? Probably. However, the rates were comparable to what I found on my own and the ease made the extra few dollars an easy choice.
I prefer to go into a trip having read something about the area. It means I have something to “remember” as I am on a tour and I’ve found I get less overwhelmed by all the new sights and sounds when I have some idea of what to expect. The added benefit is that I can enjoy more of what is around me since I’m not on sensory overload!
For this trip I read two memoirs about buying and renovating houses in Morocco. It’s important to note that both of these are outsiders representations of Morocco, not someone who is from the area. I attempted to find a Moroccan’s story, but couldn’t find any that would arrive in time.
The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah
A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke
Packing for this trip was the most stressful part — by far! The tour company requested that we bring only a backpack and a small daypack. Having successfully traveled to Paris and London last spring in a carry-on made this slightly less nerve-wracking but I wasn’t sure the size difference between my Away carry-on and a backpack.
I started looking for a backpack around Christmas. I wanted one that zipped open completely, like a suitcase. My second requirement was that it came with many pockets to separate different items I wanted to bring.
Ultimately I went with the TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible. I like that it has straps that fold into a pocket on the back, so that I can check it on the way back if I need to. It is also expandable, giving lots of room for souvenirs.
Next up was figuring out my daypack. Though I probably could’ve gotten by with one of the oversized purses I have, I wanted a crossbody bag that allowed for more organization. After reading hundreds of reviews, I went with the Lug Ranger bag. Lest you think I am buying too much just for this trip, I hope to use both bags for many trips to come!
The other items
With my bags in hand, it was time to start actually packing. There were a few essentials suggested by the travel company:
I also wanted to be sure I had my personal essentials – a book, shampoo bar, concealer, digestive enzymes, headphones, my iPad, and hand cream. Given the recent outbreak, I made up another Thieves roller so that I could up my immunity.
Then I started laying out my clothing. I wanted to be sure that all of the items could be worn more than once and that they all could be mixed and matched with each other.
- Olive maxi tshirt dress
- Black tshirt dress
- Navy comfy jumpsuit
- French terry pants
- Yoga pants
- Tshirts (olive, navy, black, white)
- Creme pashmina