From my understanding there will be a new group of trainee’s coming into Morocco in January, MIRHABA (welcome)! I remember one of the most stressful things for me before departure was packing, and I remember that I read a lot of blogs to help with the whole process, so I thought I would offer my 2 cents on packing for Morocco. Please note that this list is for women.
First of all, don’t go all crazy and buy a ton of new clothes because honestly no matter how “great” the quality of clothing, they are all going to become sun bleached, rip, and get holes in them (hand washing isn’t exactly a delicate process for your clothes) that you will then spend your nights trying to “fix”, the result of which will be this uneven mess that in the end you won’t give two shits about. Just accept that all of your clothes, underwear, and shoes will die here. Accept it and move on.
So with that in mind, this is what I recommend bringing:
- A good handful of Hanes T-shirts, just make sure they aren’t too form fitting. You don’t need to look like Jabba the Hutt but you do need to be mindful of the culture. Also you need to remember that sexual harassment can be a problem and a way to significantly deter that is to cover up and wear more loose fitting clothes. I know, I know… in a perfect world it shouldn’t/ wouldn’t matter what you wear because everyone would respect you and no one would harass you…but this world is far from perfect.
- A few button down shirts that you can wear over your t-shirts and are long sleeved but you can roll them up your arms. These are great and I really wish I brought more of them with me instead of giving mine way before I left. The trick to dressing here is LAYERING! I wear my t-shirts in the summer because its so hot, but once it starts cooling off I just throw one of these babies on and boom, I’m good to go. My community is ok with me wearing t-shirts in the summer, but not in the winter. I am expected to cover my arms more in the winter. I have this great one from H&M that is super light material and covers my butt. It has been a life savior because I walk a lot, and while it is winter and cooler, the sun is still pretty brutal and hot. The over-shirt is long enough to cover me, but is still light enough so I don’t feel like I am melting.
- Skirts! I brought a good amount of long flowing skirts, all purchased for a few bucks at the thrift store. I wear them all the time and I’m happy that I brought so many of them with me. I wear skirts more than jeans mainly because I live in the dessert and jeans are way too hot to wear.
- Jeans. Some PCVs hate wearing long skirts and never wear them, which is totally fine. But keep in mind that if you wear jeans you should then probably wear long enough shirts to cover your butt. I brought a few pair of site jeans that are looser fitting, and I always wear them with long shirts. I also recommend you bringing a nice pair of jeans for when you go to the big cities and want to dress up.
- Leggings. If you are planning on wearing skirts, you need to bring multiple pairs of leggings. I cannot stress this enough. You really need to wear leggings under skirts because the wind will often times blow your skirt around. Not to mention chaffing of the thighs (nothing is worse!). All of my leggings are so patched up its really ridiculous….and embarrassing.
- Shirts that cover your butt. Especially if you plan on wearing jeans. If you are tall, like me, it can be really hard to find long enough shirts so I recommend buying some dress’s that goes down to your knees, but instead of wearing it as a dress you just wear it as a shirt, paired with pants. This is also great for when you travel to big cities, or to Europe where you can wear them as regular dress’s rather than shirts.
- A few thermal long sleeves for the winter
- Winter jacket. I brought a wind breaker for fall weather and also a really thick and long winter jacket. I never use the super thick jacket in site because it’s never that cold, but I have used it when I visit friends up north. You won’t know where your final site will be so you kind of have to plan accordingly. This is why layering is so important. Yeah, you may look like that kid from A Christmas Story, you know the scene when the younger brother is going to school and his mom just keeps putting clothes on him and finishes the look with a snow suit that results in him unable to keep his arms down. But hell, he sure looks warm, and you will be too.
- Socks. Bring a few good pairs. But they are also pretty easy to purchase in country at souk.
- Underwear/ bra’s. Bring as much as your heart wants, because no matter how many pairs you bring by the end of your first year you are going to be begging your parents to send you more as your nimble little fingers work tirelessly to patch the holes that are inevitable. It’s kind of a sad day in service when you realize you have to start patching up your underwear. But you gotta do what you gotta do. Ya know? Also if you are thinking you will just buy more in country…good luck with that on your “salary” and also I only see men selling women underwear, not exactly an ideal situation.
- Hoodies/ cardigans. – awesome for your house and for when you go outside to throw on over your t-shirt.
- Diva Cup. Resistance is futile. With the Turkish it’s just so much easier than the other products and you don’t have to worry about what the kids are touching when they go through your trash. And they will go through your trash. If you’re not into that, just bring it in case you will want to use it later on in service. They are not that expensive. I would say that almost every women PCV here uses one, and those who didn’t bring one with them had one sent.
- Lotion! Dear God, I am so ashy here there is never enough lotion. Yes you can buy lotion here, but its not very good stuff and very expensive. SO if you have a brand you really like and won’t be able to live without, bring it. Bring a lot of it.
- Foot cream. Seriously your feet are about to get nasty with cracks on the heels no matter where your site is. So bring some good foot cream to sooth those babies.
- Contact solution. You can buy some in the big cities but it’s really expensive and not that good quality. I’ve had some sent to me, but it’s a risk because I don’t think you’re supposed to mail liquids. Oops.
- Contacts. Bring enough for 2 years. PC will not give you any.
- DEODIRENT – Bring it. Seriously.
- Floss. PC gives you floss that feels like it will rip your teeth out. I actually use it to sew because it’s a lot stronger then thread.
- Makeup. Just bring some for when you are in a big city are want to go out or when you go to Europe or someplace and you want to feel a little bit more put together rather than look homeless.
- Hair ties. I am very particular about mine so I brought a bunch and I’m happy I did.
- Perfume. I only wear it on special occasions but it’s really nice to have around. It’ll help keep you sane and feel like a women after months of feeling gross.
- Nightquill/Dayquill/ musinex – PC will give you a standard medicine box, but it won’t have these medications in it. I’m really happy I brought a ton of them with me.
- Hiking backpack. A MUST! You are going to travel A LOT around this country and you will need a good hiking backpack. I’m talking a legit hiking backpack that can take a beating. I encourage you to find one with a sleeping bag compartment.
- Sleeping bag. A MUST! Again, you are going to travel a lot, you need one of these. Get one that is light weight and comes in a compress bag. No matter where you are, if you have a sleeping bag you’re going to be 10x more comfortable than if you didn’t. Also you can use it as comforter for the winter.
- Regular backpack. I have this awesome Eddie Bauer and it’s by far the best investment I made before coming to Morocco. It’s very comfortable and can hold a lot and the straps are sturdy so it doesn’t feel like it’s going to break at any moment. Not only is it great for country, it’s great for when you travel overseas because I can use it as a carry-on. Seriously, best thing ever. Remember, strong straps are key for your backpack.
- Hiking hooks. I’m actually not sure what they are really called but I brought a few with me and they are great because I can hook them up to my backpack and attach things to it. And they are only a few bucks.
- Shoes. Teva’s or Chaco’s are a must. Teva’s and cool sunglass’s are basically a staple in every PCV attire. Flip flops for your house and showering, especially when you are in a hotel. A nice pair of shoes for when you want to party wouldn’t hurt either.
Ok, that is all I can think of right now. Keep in mind when you are packing your clothes that less really is more. At the end of the day you will end up wearing the same clothes over and over again because doing your laundry by hand is THE WORST. If you have anything, like an article of clothing that you really like and you wear it all the time, like a hoodie then you should bring that too because chances are you will wear it a lot here at least in your house if not in public.
Also I should mention that my list is based off of my experience here, and I live in a village in the dessert. All of the new people will be YD volunteers so I’m assuming that the most rural of you will be placed in at least souk towns and cities, rather than full on villages.
Don’t worry about packing too much, you can always ask your family to send you some stuff once you get to your final site.
OH, and don’t forget to check out all the PCV discounts available to you, an addition don’t be afraid to buy your outdoor gear stuff online where it is usually much cheaper, just make sure you do a lot of research before your purchase it.