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Packing Guidance for Morocco

This guidance is designed to describe appropriate clothing, the cultural context where you will be living and working, and the professional expectations of your workplace.

As you decide what to bring, keep in mind there is a 100-pound weight limit on checked baggage.

In general, most items you will need are available in country and locally acquired items are often the best at helping you integrate into your community. However, locally available items may not be the brands, quality, prices, or sizes you are used to. Bringing some key items from home might make your transition to service more comfortable.

This guidance has been compiled by Peace Corps staff and Volunteers and is based on their experience. Use this information as an informal guide as you make your own packing list, bearing in mind that each experience is individual. There is no perfect packing list!

This packing guidance is designed to help you think through different categories of items and consider what you might want to bring, considering work expectations, cultural considerations, and your own personal preferences.

Morocco is in northern Africa, along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. The country typically has a cold winter and a very hot summer, especially in the interior lands bounded to the south and southwest by the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara.

The country's fall and spring seasons are shorter. From November to March, the rainy season lasts, and from late May to late September, is the summer season.

Summer heat is reduced by the shore breeze near the coast. The average temperature in coastal areas ranges between 64- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. The average dry heat in the interior lands is 105 °F.

All Trainees coming to Morocco should be ready for both chilly winters and sweltering summers, as well as some seasons of mild temperature. Depending on where you are and the season, the temperature varies from one area to another. The central areas, the southeast, the south, and the Atlas Mountains typically experience summer heat waves that can exceed 110 °F but some of these areas tend to be cooler in winter.

Peace Corps Morocco provides the following items:

On the first day of your arrival in Morocco, the post will give you cash for your walk around. All money transfers will be done electronically, but because your bank accounts will not be ready by the date of your arrival, Peace Corps will make the first cash transaction for your personal use on your first day in the country. When you complete your Pre-Service Training and begin your transition to your service, you will be given a settling in allowance (money to purchase furniture and equipment for your home, such as a bed, mattress, oven, stove, kitchen utensils, pillows, sheets, blankets, and so on) and will begin receiving your living allowance. For the duration of your PST and for the first month of service, you will be required to live with a host family. The Peace Corps pays your host family allowance.

A medical kit containing all necessary basic medication, as well as a mosquito net and funds for female hygiene products, will be provided by the medical team.

To use during your stay in Morocco, the safety and security team will provide you with a fire extinguisher, a gas detector, and a Carbon monoxide detector that you will find in your medical kit. Kindly note that you will keep those three items with you during your stay with the host family during PST, then take them with you to your final sites. Do not install the carbon monoxide detector and the gas detector until you move to you independent housing in your final site. You can request a new fire extinguisher when those expire or are used and new batteries for the carbon monoxide detector. The fire extinguisher is used only once. Once you open and use it, please let Safety and Security know so they can provide you with a new one.

You will be able to request books from the Peace Corps Morocco's Information Resource Center through a post designated Point of Contact. The center has a wide range of resources, including leisure books, reading materials for youth development work, and other materials.

In addition to your walking and living allowances, smart phones, flash drives, and others, the administration team will provide money for people who purchase bicycles for work with helmets. This supply is constrained by the need for the bicycle to perform work.

Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take:

  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Explosives
  • Radio transmitters (shortwave radios are permitted)
  • Drones
  • Automobiles or motorcycles
  • Flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers
  • Valuables such as precious jewelry or family heirlooms

Drugs

Do not bring any drug that has not been authorized by the Peace Corps for medical purposes without prior consultation with Office of Health Services Pre-Service. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Illicit drugs, including marijuana and related products such as CBD and herbal substances such as kratom, are prohibited during Peace Corps service, even if they are legal in your home of residence. If you use, possess, or distribute illicit drugs, you will be administratively separated from service.

Below is guidance on clothing expectations and cultural norms for work as well as leisure and recreation.

Work clothing

In Morocco, many people pay attention to how they and other dress, and they take pride in their appearance. A lot of assumptions and impressions can be formed based on how a person is perceived through their clothing. Sometimes the local culture may restrict clothing items to men or women. Some clothes cannot be worn by women depending on where they are, and vice versa.

There are also many restrictions on what a Moroccan man or woman can wear; it is not culturally acceptable for Moroccan men to wear earrings, piercings, or heavy bracelets and necklaces. Moroccan men usually wear a watch, a wedding ring (if applicable), glasses, and a hidden necklace. Tattoos are stigmatized especially in the conservative sites and generally inappropriate for both genders, it is advised that volunteers coming to Morocco cover their tattoos when at work and in site to avoid any unwanted attention. Ponytails are culturally inappropriate for men as well.

In some institutions, it is appropriate for women to dress traditionally (Djellaba). Moroccan women also wear suits, collared shirts, pants, skirts, scarves, long dresses, and tops that cover their shoulders, upper arms, waist, and lower back to work. Even when sitting, dresses and skirts should cover the knees. Some sites are more conservative and ankle length dresses is preferred.

Cultural events

Traditional clothing that Moroccans or volunteers can wear are available in Morocco and can be purchase at a lower price than the US.

  • Typically, women wear traditional clothing (Djellaba and Qaftan).
  • For men, they either dress traditionally (Djellaba) or in suits. Suits take up a lot of room in your suitcase and are occasionally not the most cost-effective option; a good pants-and-shirt outfit will do.

Shorts and tracksuits are typically worn by children and students rather than adults and are not appropriate in professional settings. Short skirts, tops that expose the stomach or lower back, low-rise pants, backless dresses, tank tops, and spaghetti-strap tops are also culturally inappropriate. Women can wear pants, though many women in rural and professional settings prefer to wear long skirts or dresses.

Laundry

During pre-service training

Trainees are expected to do their own laundry while staying with host families. They can request detergent to wash their clothes (a tutoring video on how to hand wash your clothes can be found on the PC Morocco PST LearningSpace course). Some host families have washing machines and offer to do the laundry for trainees. It is considered impolite to have someone else wash your underwear and socks. When sorting out their laundry, trainees should be considerate of what to give host families.

New clothes fade over time, and it may be impossible for you to buy new items every time you are invited to a party or work. You can attend events and work with them as long as they are clean, tidy, and not worn out or torn.

During service

Once volunteers have moved into their own apartment at the final sites, they can do their own laundry and, if possible, dry their clothes on the roof. It is critical to consider what items can be washed with bleach (refer to the LearningSpace video).

Leisure and recreational clothing

Volunteers typically engage in a of range activities in Morocco. They also participate in youth center activities, given the nature of the program (Youth Development). Sometimes those activities are physical; walking, climbing, soccer and other sports activities. Appropriate clothing for such events includes sneakers, tracksuits, long shorts, T-shirts, sunglasses, water bottles and hats.

A lot of male youth hang out at coffee shops. A practice for Volunteers to connect with communities and integrate is to spend time with those youth watching especially soccer games. It is appropriate for all volunteers to be in casual dress at cafes.

With the family: When with the host family, Volunteers can dress all casually as long as the lower parts of the body are covered below the knees, and the top parts clothing items cover the chest (please see above).

The dress include:

  • For men: Jeans, track suits, tennis shoes, sandals, shorts below the knees, t-shirt.
  • For women: loose jeans (not tight), long skirts, pajamas, long sleeves t-shirt, etc. Please do not wear ten tops, leggings, transparent or tights clothes.

There are a lot of shoe options available in Morocco; however, it may be more difficult to find wide sized shoes at times for men and women (10 and above). You will be able to buy good shoes locally at the local weekly markets or at the stores. You also have both new and used shoe stores options. But you need to make sure you have packed at least for the first six months of your stay.

You will be doing a lot of work on community-based training. You will have to meet with many official partners and authorities and attend ceremonies such as your swearing-in. Therefore, when attending events or meeting high-ranking officials, be sure to bring professional shoes.

The nature of your job as a Youth Development Specialist requires a lot of physical activity. It is recommended that you bring at least one pair of sturdy sneakers for your daily activities at the youth center. Please make sure to bring warm boots in winter.

You can bring sandals or flip-flops for daily activities. The use of plastic sandals at home is common among families. Bring a pair of flip flops specifically for bathroom use. Bathroom shoes should not be worn outside or around the house. You can also get them at an affordable price on your community-based training site.

You should bring a three-month supply of any prescription and/or over the counter medications you use that are authorized/approved by the Peace Corps.

Note: Prior to service, Peace Corps supplies all volunteers with a medical kit containing basic, over-the-counter medications, as well as multivitamins.

See a detailed list of items included in the medical kit.

The medical unit will replenish prescriptions after the initial three-month training.

If you wear eyeglasses, bring two pairs (of the current prescription) with you. Contact lens use will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

See additional guidance from the Office of Medical Services.

Additional guidance for Peace Corps Morocco:

Contact lenses use during the service is strongly discouraged due to high likelihood of serious eye infections as the optimal hygiene level overseas is difficult to obtain. Volunteers need pre-service clearance from OMS to wear contact lenses while overseas.

Volunteers in Morocco work in conditions of bright light – please bring your sunglasses with you. Peace Corps only supplies sunglasses when recommended by an ophthalmologist for a specific medical condition.

For female hygiene products pads and tampons are locally available but these items may not be the brands or quality you’re used with. If you have a product you prefer, we recommend packing with you 3-months’ supply. Health unit also provides menstrual cups, we can provide sanitary pads during the orientation week. During the service allowance of $10/month is provided to cover the cost of locally purchased female hygiene products.

In addition, for those with textured hair types, certain products are scarce outside of major cities. Important to bring hair products needed for your hair for at least the first 3 months until you can travel and find them in major cities.

Health unit provides multivitamins to the Volunteers. We don’t provide other food supplements unless prescribed by a medical provider and approved by the OMS. If there is a supplement you use regularly, please discuss it with your pre-service nurse and if approved we recommend bringing the supplies with you. Ordering medication/supplements via post (Amazon, package from friends/family) may be stopped by customs and require excessive administrative burden and high fees.

Peace Corps Morocco will contact all invitees to inquire about device ownership. Volunteers who have brought their computers in the past have found it very helpful. When Invitees arrive in the country, the post will provide a basic smart cell phone and a SIM card. Upon arrival, the entire communication plan will be explained. Furthermore, if a volunteer does not already have a computer to bring, PC Morocco will make arrangements.

If you bring your own smart phone, please make sure it is unlocked from its carrier.

Mobile phones, computers, Bluetooth speakers, external hard drives, flash drives and other electronics are all available in the country. The quality may vary depending on the store and where you may buy them. However, we recommend that volunteers purchase their advanced electronics (computers, smart phones) power bank/portable charger for travel out of site/ hiking from one of the stores located throughout the major cities in the country. Volunteers can obtain smaller devices such as flash drives and Bluetooth speakers from local stores.

Every town in which volunteers live has electricity. Unplanned power outages happen on occasion, but only for technical reasons and usually on weekends. At a power capacity of 220 V, the plug types are E and F.

Based on your interests and personal preferences there may be additional items you will want to consider bringing with you. Below is a description of the common activities Volunteers engage in and what different Volunteers have said they enjoy having that might be more difficult to find in-country. Note: these items are not required or even recommended, but they might be nice to have.

Gifts

Gift giving in Morocco is a great way to show your appreciation for the people you live with. Some of you may be thinking of a present for your host family. It is recommended to bring something symbolic. Keychains, trinkets, or small and symbolic things. It is recommended that a gift be shared at the end of the stay so as not to set expectations for the future.

Music

Many volunteers who play instruments find comfort and connection in bringing their instruments. If you are considering bringing musical instruments, please refrain from bringing expensive items. Instruments are also available in Morocco.

Personal items

Showing off photos of your home and family is a great way to connect with new communities and business partners. However, please keep in mind that most of the sites we work at are considered conservative and it is best to filter the images we select to share with our host families and community members. Avoid photos of alcohol, people on the beach, or showing affection.

Projectors

Some Volunteers are getting portable projectors, which are typically more affordable in the U.S., and using that at home and in workplaces to show movies.

Note on packing

Please think about packing all your PST luggage in one suitcase and all your service luggage in a different bag. Your service bag will be taken from you and will be kept in the Peace Corps office until the conclusion of your PST, and then will be shipped straight to your final location.