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Packing List for Morocco

Hello VMS students,

I am writing to share the suggested packing list for our program in Morocco. I understand that Sara shared this with you when she visited VMS recently and Shino and I wanted to make sure you have a copy here on the Yak board.

NOTE: One new item! In addition to a general journal or notebook, please also bring a small notebook to jot down Arabic vocab words.

Please review this list carefully and let us know if you have any questions!

Best,

Cara & Shino

 

ALL STUDENTS

  • BACKPACK We recommend 45 liters or smaller in size. You’ll be happiest if you can fit all your belongings in just one backpack. Your small daypack will be used for carrying around essential items, not for extra storage of clothes. Consider getting a backpack with a detachable daypack. This way you can carry both on your back at the same time during long hauls from. Keep in mind that you may need to carry your bag for some distance, so don’t overpack!
  • DAY PACK Small, light, nylon bag with straps – a small school book-bag or another type of small backpack. This is what you’ll take with you when walking around the city. A satchel type bag will also work. It should be big enough to hold a water bottle, a headlamp or flashlight, some food, a camera, a hat, and a book or journal. Try out your daypack to see if it is large enough for all your essentials but not too bulky that it would be uncomfortable when moving around. Again, consider getting a backpack with a detachable day pack. If this is not possible, look for one that can collapse well and pack into your bag.
  • STUFF SACKS We suggest bringing a few stuff sacks to separate clothes, food, toiletries, and everything else will bring order to your pack. These will most certainly make your life simpler.
  • SLEEPING BAG You need a lightweight sleeping bag on the Morocco program. You will use it in most accommodations to help stay warm, as it does get chilly – especially inside cement buildings with little or no heat.
  • PERSONAL ITEMS
  • WATER BOTTLE A 1 liter plastic water bottle. Nalgene bottles, Kleen Kanteens, or other sturdy bottles are great, and can be picked up at any backpacking store.
  • SUNGLASSES Bring one pair that offers GOOD protection. The sun is bright in Morocco and you will want excellent eye protection.
  • TOILETRIES Bring a full supply of the bare necessities you need for grooming yourself including deodorant and hair conditioner, which are not readily available in Morocco. Products such as shampoo and soap are available throughout the country, so packing light and restocking if needed is often a good way to reduce the amount of toiletries you carry. We ask you to leave behind large quantities of toiletries, hair care products, makeup, etc. Women, please bring tampons/pads. Ensure you have several hair ties if your hair is long, as the ones in Morocco are not as strong.
  • SECURITY WALLET / BELT You’ll want to keep your passport, traveler’s checks and other valuables in a secure wallet or belt that’s well attached to your body. We prefer the cloth ones to nylon because they are cooler against the skin in humid weather. Generally, waist belts offer more security than the sort that goes around the neck. Eagle Creek makes good products.
  • JOURNAL/NOTEBOOK/PEN You must bring something that you can write in. Should be compact, but have room enough to record your daily thoughts. You should also come with several pens so as not to have to borrow from other students.
  • SEPARATE NOTEBOOK FOR ARABIC Please bring a separate small notebook to job Arabic vocab words in.
  • TOWEL Preferably quick-dry and compact, e.g. MSR PackTowel. Towels are available for purchase in large Moroccan cities, but are often bulky and take a long time to dry.
  • HAT The sun in Morocco is strong, so a brimmed hat will be needed.
  • FLASHLIGHT/HEADLAMP Everyone will need their own small light source and past students have preferred having a headlamp over flashlight.
  • CAMERA See Note on Electronics In addition to your camera, bring a good case as just a small amount of sand can jam your camera.
  • SUN SCREEN – SPF 30+ (water/sweat proof). Although it will be winter and on the cool side, the sun is intense in Morocco and faces, necks, and toes can burn easily!
  • LIP BALM with SUNSCREEN
  • PURELL (hand-sanitizing gel) 1-2 small bottles, or anti-bacterial hand wipes. In addition, we recommend bringing a bar of handsoap (more can be bought in Morocco) and a small carrying container or zip lock bag.
  • MEDICATIONS Any personal prescription medications that you regularly take as well as printed information on side effects and contraindications. We also recommend a cycle of Ciprofloxacin or another broad-based antibiotic. Keep all prescriptions in original bottles/packages (do not take out and put in plastic bags to save space). Consult with a travel doctor for recommendations and a prescription.
  • GLASSES & CONTACTS Please bring an extra pair of glasses. If you wear contacts, it is a good idea to bring a one extra pair of glasses and extra contacts. Saline solution is difficult to find in Morocco, so if you choose to bring contacts bring an adequate supply of solution. Also, it is helpful to have a compact mirror for taking your contacts in and out in rural areas. Note: Morocco is an extremely dusty country, and contacts may be uncomfortable to wear. If your eyes are sensitive, consider wearing glasses.
  • ALARM CLOCK Small travel clock with an alarm, or a watch with an alarm. We recommend testing your alarm to make sure it can wake you up independently.
  • WATCH You will need a simple watch in order to be able to meet up with the group or keep track of time during group activities.
  • ZIPLOCK BAGS A number of bags of small and large sizes. Also consider bringing one large garbage-size bag – to waterproof your bag in a heavy downpour, especially if you do not have a backpack cover.
  • POCKET KNIFE, SPOON, and FORK Something simple will do, but you will be glad to have utensils.
  • GIFTS A few simple things to present to people who help make our program special. Picture books of home and inflatable globes are great. Other gift ideas: perfumes, nail polish, playing cards, travel games, cassettes of American music and head scarves (an especially great gift for women who cover their heads).  Students can discuss other appropriate gifts when their instructors call to introduce themselves in early June.
  • LONELY PLANET GUIDEBOOK and MOROCCAN ARABIC PHRASEBOOK
  • SWEATSHIRT/WARM JACKET/HAT/GLOVES/SCARF It will be winter in Morocco with temperatures which range the 40s to the 70s depending on time of day and location in the country. While Morocco is not ‘cold’ as we might be used to, trust us when we say that you will get cold. Buildings in Morocco are almost all unheated and once you get cold it can be quite hard to warm up. We recommend bringing things that you can layer as needed– warm base layer, sweatshirt, relatively warm jacket (e.g. lightweight down jacket), hat, gloves, scarf, etc.
  • RAINCOAT There are usually a few rainy days during the time of year we will be visiting Morocco so a raincoat may come in handy.
  • SOCKS Depending on how often you will wear sandals vs. tennis shoes bring several pairs.
  • UNDERWEAR (4 pairs)
  • CHACOS/TEVAS/FLIP FLOPS Depending on weather, you may feel comfortable wearing sandals, although we suspect closed toed shoes will be more appropriate for the weather. That being said, you will want to have a pair of sandals for showering.
  • TENNIS SHOES/WALKING SHOES Bring a pair of closed toed shoes that are comfortable walking around in all day and on poorly paved roads. We may also go for a short day-hike so ensure you have a pair of shoes that work for many different environments.
  • SLEEP WEAR Bring something such as pajama pants and a t-shirt to sleep in. We will often stay in guesthouses and Moroccan homes, and it will be appropriate to sleep in with both a top and bottom. Don’t bring shorts or tank tops to sleep in. Keep in mind that you may get cold at night without heat, so your pajamas should be warm.
  • 2 PASSPORT PHOTOCOPIES Please photocopy the information/picture page of your passport and bring two copies with you.

*Note on ELECTRONICS: Anything electronic or requiring electricity should be battery operated. If you are bringing a digital camera with a rechargeable battery, know that when we do have access to electricity, the French 220V plugs are used throughout Morocco (two round prongs).

CLOTHING

Ideal clothing for the Morocco Program does not show dirt, is conservative, and dries easily. Bring things you don’t mind beating up. In Morocco, there is a lot of emphasis put on dressing well if you have the means to, and some Moroccans can be insulted by seeing foreigners wearing dirty or torn clothing. Keep in mind that you do not need to purchase expensive outdoor clothing, some of the most comfortable students have purchased appropriate clothing at their local thrift stores.  Past students have said “pack more normal clothing and you really don’t need to bring all of the extreme trekking stuff.”

Dressing in a way that is culturally appropriate will go a long way in gaining the respect of local people and opening doors for you. In consideration for the traditions of Muslim culture, we require that all students bring clothing that covers the majority of their skin (this is especially important for female students). Though in some urban areas you will see Moroccans dressed in a more western fashion and throughout the country you will see foreigners dressed in revealing clothing, we will always err on the conservative side in order to show respect to the local culture. While this may seem hard at first, we guarantee the benefits of showing respect to our hosts will outweigh the deficits! Students, both male and female, MUST bring appropriate clothing.

CLOTHING FOR MEN:

  • SHIRTS (3-4 TOTAL)
    • T-SHIRTS (1-2)—Should not be white (gets dirty too easily) and in fair shape. Though long-sleeved shirts are more appropriate, men will be allowed to wear t-shirts.
    • LONG SLEEVED SHIRTS (1-2) Something long-sleeved that will keep you warm and will dry quickly (either of synthetic materials, or light-weave cotton). You do not have to get something fancy at an outdoor clothing store — even a lightweight short sleeve button-down shirt will do.  The key is to have something you can wash out at night and have dry by the next day.
  • PANTS (2-3) While you can bring jeans, keep in mind that these will take a long time to dry and there are no dryers available on the program. Your pants should be durable and lightweight, and, if possible, dark in color to reduce the amount of dirt that shows. Many students like to travel in trekking pants and others prefer regular pants, bring whatever is most comfortable to you. Do not bring wide-leg pants that might drag on the ground.

CLOTHING FOR WOMEN:

The general rule we suggest is to be covered with loose clothing from below the elbow to your ankles. Wearing appropriate clothing is more constraining for women, but also more essential! Dressing conservatively will cut down on harassment. Note: we ask you to err on the conservative side when choosing clothing and if you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact an instructor with specific questions.

  • SHIRTS (3-4 TOTAL)
    • T-SHIRT (1-2) – In urban environments it is generally appropriate for females to wear a t-shirt. Your instructors will let you know if this is not the case while on the program.
    • LONG-SLEEVED SHIRTS (2-4) We recommend something that is long-sleeved (preferably to your wrists, but at least below the elbow) that will keep you warm and will also dry quickly (either of synthetic materials, or light-weave cotton). You do not have to get something fancy at an outdoor clothing store – even a lightweight short sleeve button-down shirt will do. All of your shirts should be loose, have no V-necks or scoop necks, not show your upper back or bra straps, and cover your stomach and lower back (if you raise your arms and skin shows, this is too short). It is preferable for shirts to go 5+ inches below your waist. DO NOT BRING: shirts that are low cut, short-sleeved, tight, transparent, or show your stomach.
  • TANK TOP (1) These can be useful for wearing under button down shirts, but will not be worn alone.
  • PANTS (2-3) While you can bring jeans, keep in mind that these will take a long time to dry and there are no dryers available on the program. Your pants should be durable, lightweight, loose, and, if possible, dark in color to avoid showing dirt. Many students like to travel in trekking pants and others prefer regular pants, bring whatever is most comfortable to you. Your pants should reach your ankles. Do not bring capris, skinny jeans, or any particularly tight pants, shorts, or wide-leg pants that might drag on the ground. Leggings can’t be worn unless under a dress that goes to at least calf-length.
  • LONG SKIRT/DRESSES (0-1) Skirts or long dresses can be a comfortable choice for Morocco. Skirts, like pants, should preferably come to your ankles (just below the knee is not acceptable, but something that is slightly above the ankles can work in some locations). Skirts should be loose, and (important note!) not transparent or see through in any way. If you bring long dresses, make sure you have a shirt or light sweater to wear on top to cover any low-cut or sleeveless styles.
  • SCARVES/BANDANA (1-2) In Morocco non-Muslim women are in no way expected to wear a head scarf (hijaab), but any sort of scarf can be useful to keep dust out of hair, to cover your neck/chest area, and will be used if we are able to visit a religious site.

OPTIONAL

We include these items to give you an idea of some extras that might come in handy; however, they truly are optional. All items that we believe are necessary for this course have been included above. Many of these suggestions come from past students. If you have questions regarding the necessity of a particular item please contact us.

  • EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS not a bad idea to have a few extra pictures with you..
  • GOOD BOOK(S) – Bring one to trade!
  • LAUNDRY BAG
  • CAUSUAL SNEAKERS
  • VITAMINS or EMERGEN C
  • PLAYING CARDS / DICE / TRAVEL GAMES
  • BACKPACK COVER Waterproof slip to fit over backpack or rain poncho that covers backpack.
  • DUCT TAPE Wrap some around your water bottle, and pull it off as you need it.
  • OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS Bring a SMALL supply of whatever you use at home and some Pepto-Bismol tablets for bellyaches. We stock our med-kit with just about everything, but if you are especially prone to motion sickness, headaches, or menstrual cramps, it is still a good idea to bring some of your own.
  • EAR PLUGS These can often come in extremely handy to secure a good night sleep!
  • PERSONAL PHOTOS Some students prefer to bring photos of their family and hometown to share with host families. Please keep in mind that the photos should be appropriate to show to host families with no one wearing skimpy clothing or unmarried boys and girls showing displays of affection.

THINGS TO LEAVE AT HOME

* SLEEVELESS SHIRTS, SHORTS, CROPPED TOPS AND MINI SKIRTS

* CELL PHONES, IPODS or other MP3 players, CD PLAYERS, DVD PLAYERS, ELECTRONIC GAMES

* ITEMS WHICH HAVE LARGE MONETARY OR SENTIMENTAL VALUE