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Sunset at the mosque. Morocco Summer Program.

Packing – All of your questions answered

Salaam!

It’s about time to start that first round of packing. This is when it all starts to feel real! It is less stressful when you consider that there is no “one way” to pack, just as there is no one way to travel. The three of us all have different styles of packing. You know yourself what will make you happiest.

The mantra for our trip is “travel light.” It’s not going to be the “stuff” that makes your trip. In fact, it is very freeing to travel without so much stuff. The culture on our trip will not be one of fashion-sense. We’ll be wearing our clothes repeatedly (and learn how to wash along the way).

THINK LIGHT! You will have to put whatever you bring onto the tops of buses and into the backs of trucks, and you may have to carry your bag for long distances. The lighter you pack, the happier you (and the rest of the group) will be! Pack your bag and then walk around the block three times. Seriously, ask yourself, “can I walk two hours with this on my back in 100 degree weather?” If the honest answer is “no”, then open it up and decide what isn’t necessary. When you’re hiking through the mountains or weaving your way through a crowded city, you’ll be so happy you took our advice.

It is very important that you can fit all of your belongings into one backpack (and a day pack) that you are comfortable carrying on your own! Note: you will not have to fit your daypack into your backpack. When we are carrying all of our things, your backpack will be on your back, your daypack on your front. Additionally, you will be asked to help carry separate group gear bags in partners with your free hands. We will become adept at hauling our world!

GEAR – The most important point here is that you should be comfortable with your gear. Be sure you know how to pack and adjust your backpack, and that you can carry it comfortably when it is full. We have made suggestions of possible companies that make certain items on this list; however, the same product is almost always made by other non-brand-name brands. Comfort is key!

Each participant will get a phone call from one of the instructors over the next couple weeks, to answer any questions you have about the trip, and about packing. If you’d like to ask it sooner, just post a public yak with your question. Below is the GO-TO packing list. There is another general list for Morocco trips that was mailed to you. They are mostly the same, but if there are any discrepancies, use this one.

 

 

REQUIRED EQUIPMENT:

  • PASSPORT.
  • PASSPORT COPIES: Scan your passport–the main passport page (with your photo) and print three hard copies: Two to carry with you to Morocco, and a third to leave at home with your guardians. Pro tip: Email yourself and your guardians a copy of the scans so that you can access them online if necessary.
  • STUDENT ID Having this with you will help us, as there are sites that will give us discounted entrance tickets. This needs to have an expiration date and be valid. If you don’t have a student ID, no worries.
  • A BACKPACK around 45 liters is the best – Just remember that you will be carrying it, and the smaller it is the better. Your shoes (and everything else) need to be able to be packed inside your pack, nothing tied on to the outside.
  • Small, light DAY PACK with straps (15-20 liters). This must be well-made as it will be used daily and may be weighted down with books or gear and water for day hikes. It’s nice if it has a small hip belt to provide a bit of support despite its lightweight material and small packing size.
  • SLEEPING BAG. You need a lightweight sleeping bag for treks and when staying in some hotels. The weather can get chilly during mountain nights, but not freezing so a two-season bag (20 degree) should be adequate.
  • SLEEPING PAD.
  • A COMPRESSION SACKS (stuff sacks) for your clothes to pack down small, re-sealable quart-size ZIPLOCK BAGS to keep liquids separate from other items to prevent leaks and get through airport security. Having your things in stuff sacks or smaller bags within your giant pack will make packing, un-packing, and re-packing a lot easier as well as keep your valuables safe from water and rain.
  • TWO REUSEABLE WATER BOTTLES about 1 liter each (like Nalgenes) – some students recommend one regular water bottle and one pouch-style water bottle that rolls up to save on space and weight. Regardless, make sure the cap-style you choose is not prone to leaking. A pro tip is to wrap some duct tape a few times around the middle section of one of your water bottles for later use. Duct tape is handy in a number of scenarios, and it feels great to be prepared for whatever you encounter: a small tear in your bag, a broken flip-flop, etc
  • Small, lightweight HEADLAMP and extra batteries in a Ziploc bag (or even better, a rechargeable model!). It is great to have a headlamp that has a locking function so that it doesn’t accidentally turn on and run itself out in your pack. Pro tip: Headlamps with a red light option (instead of just white) help reduce bugs at night.
  • WATCH w/ an alarm. Practice setting alarm before the trip to become familiar with your gear.
  • A diary or JOURNAL and pens (that won’t leak/explode in warm weather).
  • SUNGLASSES (Look for sunglasses that protect you from 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB light) with attached cord is helpful to prevent them falling and getting lost during activities.
  • SUNSCREEN, 45+, water-proof/sweat-proof, in a Ziploc bag to protect from explosions. If you have sensitive skin, make sure to bring enough of your preferred brand for the whole trip.
  • CHAPSTICK with sunscreen.
  • GLASSES or CONTACTS and contact solution stored in a Ziploc bag. If you wear contacts make sure you have enough for the entire trip (+ an extra case and enough solution too!), or if you wear glasses primarily bring a backup pair.
  • Small travel size SHAMPOO that will last about one week. You can easily buy more when you run out. Some use Lush bar shampoo which lasts forever, but can be messy to travel with as it takes awhile to dry out after each use. Your choice. Please note: it is possible to buy a variety of toiletries in Morocco but maybe not the exact thing you have at home.
  • Travel size SOAP (or 2). Liquid or bar form, your preference. Bronners makes versatile biodegradable soap that can be used to wash yourself, your hair, and your clothes. Most of the time, our bath water goes straight into streams and oceans. Keep it in a Ziploc bag or container. We suggest enough Biodegradable soap/shampoo to last about 3 weeks, we will use this whenever bathing directly in a river or over the ocean to minimize our impact
  • TOOTHBRUSH, small tube of TOOTHPASTE, and mini DENTAL FLOSS. These are also available in Morocco. There’s no need to bring a tube larger than 1 ounce. Any more takes up unnecessary weight and space.
    Small lightweight HAIRBRUSH or COMB & any necessary hair elastics, headbands or pins
  • A LIGHTWEIGHT QUICK-DRY TOWEL – Some instructors don’t bring a towel at all, but use a quick-dry piece of clothing in their wardrobe to dry off in order to not carry more than necessary. Do what will make you comfortable.
  • TAMPONS are hard to find in Morocco. If you use these please bring a good supply with you. Pads are available in cities, but we recommend that you bring your own starting supply. Pro tip: Look into a menstrual cup e.g. Diva Cup/Moon Cup, as these can be great alternatives and reduce waste as well, which can be awkward to get rid of in a homestay setting. We highly recommend the Diva cup (but you must be comfortable using it prior to the trip). Don’t be shy to ask instructors about them!
  • One travel size DEODORANT that you prefer. Many types can be purchased in Morocco. While wearing deodorant is a personal choice, bathing, hygiene, and cleanliness during homestays is not.
  • H20 PURIFICATION. If possible, please bring something to purify water during our trek. This can be a steripen (which is very easy to use and packs small) or water purification tablets. Whatever you end up buying, please make sure that the tablets or droplets are for purifying about 1-2 liters of water at a time (some tablets are meant for purifying very large amounts of water at once, which makes them quite cumbersome to use).
  • NECESSARY MEDICATIONS, prescription or over the counter, with instructions on its use and dosage (by your doctor if by prescription) bring a full three month supply of any prescription meds. Clear and correct labeling of bottles with prescriptions is important for proper identification when screened at airports during travel. The Instructor Team will carry a comprehensive medical kit with first aid supplies, over the counter medications, and broad spectrum antibiotics, but it’s nice if everyone carries a small personal supply of basic med items such as band aids, alcohol wipes, pepto-bismol, ibuprofen for pain relief and to reduce swelling, anti-nausea tablets for windy roads if you get carsick (non-drowsy!). You can also consider bringing probiotics, which may be hard to find, to promote a happy GI tract, and Pepto-Bismol or a generic. If you are visiting a travel doctor before you leave, consider asking for ciprofloxacin (commonly referred to as cipro) for intense diarrhea, and azithromycin (commonly referred to as a Z-pack) for bronchial infections (and sinus, and diarrhea). Bringing these antibiotics is not required, as we can easily buy them in country, but some students like to have them for future travels. Pro-tip: request for the pharmacy to put your pills in the tiniest bottle possible to not waste space. Keep the cipro and z-pack in tiny bottles because they are the most important while other meds can just be in their individually labeled packets, torn apart so you bring only the amount you need. You should be able to fit your entire personal med kit in a sandwich bag.
  • Bring a 7 DAY PILL CASE/ORGANIZER if you have any daily prescription meds including any anti-malarial meds. This is the kind that has 7 compartments labeled Su M T W Th F Sa.
  • EARPLUGS (2-3 pair of the cheap foam ones are fine) Some of the places that we stay can be quite noisy. Having the ability to zone out when needed regardless of the environment is a great way to stay healthy in body and spirit. They’re also great for air travel. Some instructors also bring a sleeping mask to ensure peaceful rest.
  • GIFTS FOR 2 HOMESTAYS – These can be really small items. Something that maybe is significant from your hometown… also little knick knacks are fun to share with kids in your homestay families/community. For example playing cards, top spinners, etc.
  • SPENDING MONEY & ATM CARD Whatever you will need for souvenirs, snacks, laundry, post cards, & postage. We recommend ~$100, many people spend less. Students can use the ATM or currency exchange upon arrival in Morocco to access local currency. An ATM card is great to have as an emergency backup, just make sure you tell your bank you’re traveling to Morocco.

 

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT:

  • A BACKPACK COVER: Waterproof slip to fit over your backpack is important. HEFTY trash bags (to layer both the inside and outside of your bag) can work equally well.
  • Small ALBUM of pictures of family and friends including pictures of your house and school. Pictures are great for starting conversations, using in English lessons, or just to ward off homesickness. Consider bringing extra copies to give away as gifts to homestays. Avoid pictures showing immodest clothing such as short skirts/shorts or bikinis as they are not culturally appropriate.
  • CAMERA and memory cards. Bring some extra heavy-duty Ziploc bags as they pack easily and can keep your camera and other valuables dry in a pinch. Some instructors and students choose to go camera-free to better live in the moment and prioritize relationship-building and experiencing moments over ‘capturing’ them. Others love to be the group photographer and feel the camera is a part of their artistic expression. An awesome choice is to bring a Polaroid to be able to give away photos to those you create relations with. Students often set up a photo-share post-trip so that everyone has mementos, regardless of their tech choices on program. You choose what feels best for you. We will cover how to respectfully and safely carry and use cameras once in-country.
  • GAMES, or something to do as a group- you will have many moments together as a group, it is nice to have games (ideas are cards, Uno, Set, Bang, banana grams, dice).
  • Travel-sized HAND SANITIZER. Though nothing beats good old soap and water to get rid of germs, when in a pinch, hand sanitizer can be useful.
  • LEATHERMAN MULTITOOL or POCKET KNIFE. This can be handy for cutting up fruit, etc, the trick is to remember to keep it in your checked baggage during our frequent flying.
  • SECURITY WALLET/MONEYBELT: Instructors will collect and carry student passports, but some students still prefer to carry their money/valuables in a moneybelt. This is not required, so do what makes you most comfortable. If you choose to bring one, look for cloth options over nylon because they are cooler against the skin in humid weather. Eagle Creek makes many. This is where you should have your student ID, emergency info card, cash, atm card, and photocopy of your passport. This should be comfortable and accessible enough to use on a daily basis.
  • Small CARABINERS to clip items like water bottles to your backpack so they don’t fall out.
    Reusable utensils. While a spork or reusable straw can definitely come in handy, it is by no means necessary.
  • EXTRA DUFFLE BAG. Some students bring a small (packable) duffle bag that fits inside their larger backpack. This can be good if you plan on buying souvenirs and want an extra bag to fly them home with you.
  • PHRASE BOOK. Of course you can bring one if you wish, but please note that we will provide a language book for each of you when you arrive to Morocco. This is what you will be learning from during Darija lessons, but is also small enough (and an excellent resource) that it can also act as a phrase book.
  • ELECTROLYTE PACKETS Bring a personal supply of Emergen-C, Airborne or alternative electrolyte packets. These will be important to replenish our bodies in the heat of Morocco and fend off sickness.

 

CLOTHING:

When it comes to clothing, keep it simple! You don’t need a lot, and if you find you’re lacking something, inexpensive clothing in Morocco is available. Please make sure that any clothing you bring is CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE. This means mostly wearing long pants/capris and short sleeve or long sleeved shirts. For women, t-shirts are appropriate in most places. As a good rule of thumb, if you’re questioning whether a piece of clothing is appropriate, it probably isn’t.

Sleeveless shirts are not appropriate for anyone. It can sometimes be frustrating to try and find clothes that meet the specifications below in the US, but you’ll be very happy you followed them. Also, students in the past have said that they wished they brought more comfortable urban clothing as we do spend quite a bit of time in cities (for example, not just wearing hiking pants every single day). Jeans are totally okay. Just note – they are usually are a bit heavier and take longer to dry in the sun.

If you bring yoga pants, please bring the loose-fitting kind; no leggings/jeggings. When it comes to shirts, no deep V-necks or loose-hanging, wide cut necklines. Make sure that bras do not show through shirts (transparency can be an issue with lightweight fabrics), that your shirt is long enough to cover your midriff, and that bras also aren’t revealed through the armhole.

Morocco is very hot in the summer. In general, you want lightweight, wrinkle-free, breathable, quick-dry, sun-protective fabrics that are not too dark (attracts sun and mosquitoes), not too light (shows dirt easily and may be more see-through), and very modest. This is the goal, do the best you can…

  • One pair of hiking/running shoes. The best option is a light, low top, hiking or running shoe that can double as a street shoe. (These must be able to fit inside your pack). You do not need high top hiking boots. Make sure you wear them in BEFORE the trip so they shape to your foot. Trying out new shoes on a course is a sure way to get nasty blisters.
  • One pair of walking SANDALS like Jambu, Chacos, Tevas, Keens, etc. (again, these should fit inside your pack). Please note: people either love or hate sandals like these. They are great all-around footwear providing protection and comfort. If you love them, awesome! If you do not want sport sandals you can use almost any other comfortable sandal, as long as you can walk long distances in them and they don’t give you blisters. They should have buckles and straps (preferably with a back strap across your heel). There is no need to spend a lot of $$ if you don’t think you will wear them. Same thing though, please wear them around prior to the course to make sure they feel good.
  • A pair of inexpensive FLIP FLOPS is convenient and appropriate for homestays and time in rural communities.. this is optional.
  • HAT that blocks the sun.
  • Lightweight RAIN JACKET breathable material that packs down small, or a plastic poncho that you can drape over yourself and your bag.
  • Three to four presentable/polite T-SHIRTS. Keep in mind you will receive a Dragon’s t-shirt that can count as one of these, and more shirts can be purchased inexpensively along the way if necessary. Lightweight breathable wicking shirts (can be found at REI, but also at athletic wear shops and Uniqlo and Old Navy) help dry sweat and dry more quickly when we are hand-washing on the road, but cotton is often most comfortable. It’s important that these are NOT low-cut, and that bras are never visible. Tank tops are never appropriate. Make sure that at least 1 of your four shirts (including the Dragons T) can be used for: hiking, everyday wear, sleeping.
  • One outfit that is a bit more formal (for more formal guest speakers, homestay parties, etc.). This outfit should be long pants/long ankle length skirt/shirt (that is not a hiking shirt).
  • One or two pairs of lightweight QUICK-DRY PANTS. Note: these do not have to be expensive zip-offs (which are good but sometimes pricey), just make sure the pants are comfortable and can dry out quickly. These are great for hiking.
  • One bathing suit.
  • WARM LAYERS: Even though most of Morocco is hot in the summer, we will be spending hiking in the mountains too. Be sure to bring one WARM FLEECE PULLOVER or JACKET that packs down relatively small (an ultra-light down jacket is a great answer).
  • 6 to 8 changes of comfortable UNDERWEAR (should not be visible in any cases). Cotton is more breathable than synthetic material and thus helps prevent rashes in the humid environment. High-tech quick dry underwear would also be acceptable.
  • 1-2 SPORTS BRAS and 1-2 regular BRAS (if applicable). Should not be visible through clothing. Some people will prefer to only have sports bras, in that case, bring 3-4.

SOCKS: 2-3 pairs. One of these should be hiking socks. These can be ankle socks, tall enough to not slide down when hiking, but don’t need to be the full-on long hiking socks.
 

ALL STUDENTS – DO NOT BRING:

  • Your cell phone. PLEASE DO NOT BRING YOUR CELLPHONE.
  • More than 2 books (if everyone brings 2, we will have many to share); Kindle Paperwhite or Nook Glowlight are acceptable)
  • Any sort of electronic entertainment (Beyond what is specified in our electronics policy)
  • Swimsuits or bikinis. For a swimsuit you will always wear your board shorts (or capris) and a shirt that you bring.
  • Low-cut shirts or tight fitting clothes.
  • Low-riding pants that show boxers.
  • Full size cotton towels; they are too heavy and bulky, they won’t dry well and will end up moldy.
  • More than one pair of shoes, one pair of sturdy sandals, water shoes (if not sandals), one pair of flip-flops. Please remember that your shoes must fit inside your backpack.
  • Anything made of leather that you don’t want ruined
  • Items that have large monetary or sentimental value/Anything you don’t want ruined or lost.

 

We hope this is helpful. Please post packing-related questions to the Yak Board, and we’ll answer them as quickly as possible!

Warmly,
Your I-team (instructor team).