I am considering a visit in February with my 12 year old son, just him and I, a single woman. I see that the State Department recently upgraded the travel advisory rating to a 2 for possible terrorism. Should I be worried about that or about traveling alone with my son? Anything else I should consider?
You don't mention where in Morocco you plan to visit, so this will be a very general answer. We were in Morocco last year and felt very safe, but I was with my other half who is an adult male. After a few days on our own, we joined a group and had a local guide for the remainder of our visit.
As a woman, you may attract more attention than you wish, but I did not find the attention to be threatening. We did have one woman in our group who tagged along with me and my other half because she couldn't walk five feet without being the center of a lot of male attention. Even she didn't find this threatening the way we might in the West. It was just persistent and overwhelming. You will find less of this if you have a local guide or driver.
I never felt unsafe in any of the places which we visited. Our local guide did mention that certain border areas could be dangerous, but we never went near any of those.
I have also read that there are pickpockets in certain cities, but this seems to be a common travel warning for almost any country. As in any new place, always exercise the same precautions you would in any large city and stay aware of your surroundings.
My biggest piece of advice would be to make sure that you and your driver agree on a price before you climb into a taxi. This will save you from any unpleasant surprises when you reach your destination. My second suggestion would be to visit the medina in Fes. It's truly a unique experience. Oh - and pack for all weathers. We saw snow in March while crossing the Atlas Mountains.
Hope you have a wonderful trip!
I think the fact that you're aware of current US Dept. of State warnings for areas you're considering traveling to suggests you're already on the right track - you're making it a point to be informed and aware, and even came here to seek out more information.
I always like to keep things in perspective with matters like this, and the simple fact of the matter is I quite often feel a great deal safer abroad than at home not only with regard to terrorism, but when it comes to more statistically likely things like traffic accidents, crime, gun violence, natural disasters, and even random accidents around the home!
If you were to visit the UK Foreign Office's travel warnings website you'd see this about the US:
Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the USA. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should monitor media reports and be vigilant at all times.
I'd doubt many of us think twice about terrorism before stepping outside our homes in the US, despite one of our closest allies and their sophisticated and robust security apparatus telling their own citizens "terrorists are very likely to carry out attacks" here. Likewise, many of us eagerly look forward to future trips to the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and many other Western European countries having the same current (Level 2) warning as Morocco.
None of this is meant to dismiss the fact that unfortunately, in this day and age, terrorism is a fact of life. However, the odds of it ever impacting us - anywhere, be it here or abroad - are quite slim. The odds look even more slim when compared to the risk involved in things we do every day - walk up and down stairs, drive our cars on roadways, walk down the sidewalk, and so on. So I'd suggest you have every reason to feel comfortable and safe, and can further increase those comfort and safety levels by continuing to be informed, aware, and smart. Stay aware of surroundings, make smart decisions, give yourself access to useful and relevant information, and you are on the right track! Hire guides if it makes you feel more comfortable, take note of where emergency exits are when stepping in to buildings, basic common sense things like that.
Anecdotally, I lived in North Africa as a teenager for a few years and never felt unsafe - while terrorist attacks occurred somewhat regularly where I was living at the time, the odds of actually being directly impacted by them were still incredibly low. All the while, petty crime and street crime was almost entirely nonexistent.
Lastly, kudos to you for traveling, and traveling with your son! You're opening him up to the world, and opening up the world to him! That's a priceless gift for someone at that age and will serve him well through life!
@1885bd—are you a man or a woman? You aptly put terrorism in perspective but didn’t mention anything about her being a female alone with her son. Any points to share?
@Bets - I'm a male. I didn't address that part because I felt aquamarinesteph had pretty much said anything I would have - catcalls, stares, but unlikely to be anything beyond that. This isn't to dismiss just how uncomfortable those kinds of things can make a woman feel and how inappropriate that kind of behavior really is, but the likelihood of any of that progressing to actual physical contact or threats would probably be extremely low.
The State Dept. gives most of western Europe the same level 2 threat warning for the same reason of possible terrorism.
The State Dept. gives most of western Europe the same level 2 threat
warning for the same reason of possible terrorism.
Western European countries rated Level 2 include the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Denmark.
More as a random bit of trivia than anything else, but some of the micro countries just get lumped in with others by the State Department - they don't distinguish between them for sake of travel advisories. Travel advisories for France apply to Monaco (and so Monaco is Level 2); San Marino and Vatican City get classified under Italy's advisory status (so are also each Level 2); Liechtenstein is grouped with Switzerland (so is Level 1). Then you also get Level 2 classifications for non-terrorism factors - Serbia (albeit not Western Europe) is currently Level 2 because of shootings and car bombings affiliated with organized crime rather than terrorism.
But the points we're each making still apply - we travel to these places, feel safe in them, exercise the appropriate amount of caution and stay informed and aware, and have each repeatedly found ourselves entirely safe and comfortable in places that have these Level 2 warnings and much of the continent is Level 1! While not dismissing advisories entirely, we can look at them in context. So it is indeed time to travel!
What do you feel was the "poorly considered statement just thrown out"?
Not to derail the thread further but I think how one classifies "Western" vs. "Eastern" comes down to whether you're using it as a geographical term, or more of a political one. The Cold War definition really just gave two options - if you were behind the Iron Curtain, you were Eastern with most everyone else Western (of course, then what of countries like Turkey or Greece who were separated from other NATO states by Eastern Bloc states, the unaligned neutral states, etc). Then what of Southern Europe? Or Scandinavia or Northern Europe? Someone from Prague might consider themselves to be part of Central Europe, not Eastern. The CIA's classification of "Western Europe" would give the vast majority of Western European countries a Level 2.
Most everything in this forum is going to be about subjective opinion, and people are often seeking out input from others based on past experience rather than just binary options. I gather it's entirely reasonable, when a OP mentions a travel advisory about a non-European country due to possible terrorism threats, to point out its threat level is no different from that of many other countries we eagerly consider visiting and don't often think of as inherently dangerous (including our own countries).
East or West, I guess it is a distraction from the thread. I just hate incorrect or misleading generalities.
BUT, more to the point is that any advice that makes a generalized statement or leaves a generalized impression that a single monther with her 12 old child in Morocco has the same safety environment as though they were walking along a typical road in Western Europe is, in my opinion, at best reckless. When it comes from RS, it is more than a subjective opinion; it is informed information; boadering on fact.
Melana, as I am not an expert, all I can say is what I would do. First, I think you and your son can have an incrediably safe and fun time in Morocco. But until I heard differently from an expert source, and given a child is involved, I would:
- Hire a guide if possible
- Be extremely respectful in demeanor and dress
- Walk away from anything that makes you feel the tiniest bit uncomfortable or cautious.
- Not wander out after dark without a guide
- Never be confrontational under any circumstance
Over kill? Maybe.
Would I do it? Maybe with my son when he was 16. Would I like his mother and him to do it without me. Maybe if my son were 20.
As for "I felt perfectly safe" My kids feel perfectly safe playing in the street. Not much to go on there.
This is a very well thought out article about travel in Morocco. Covers specific issues and specific circumstances and groups: https://www.journeybeyondtravel.com/morocco/safety and even makes some comparisons to Western Europe...
You may be interested in a slightly different perspective provided by the Canadian government. Check the "Safety & Security" section on the this website - https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/morocco .
Check the other sections also, especially "Health". Be sure your vaccinations are up-to-date and that you have good travel medical insurance. According to the website, public hospitals in Morocco are not up to the same standards as we have in North America.
Ken, the tourists that post here know more than any government, and they feel perfectly safe. Probably safer than the do in the US
James E., I was simply providing the link as an additional source of information. It never hurts to have different points-of-view. Information on the government websites is obtained from Embassy staff in the different countries. Since they live there full time, I wouldn't discount the information they provide.
Ken, I was being sarcastic. Generally when someone posts a government site there are one or two posts that follow stating that they know more than the government. They generally include a statement that goes something like, I was there last week and I felt safer than I do in the US. To which I respond, the people in the bus that blew up were feeling safe too. There are a few here that go bonkers with any discussion of risk.
You are correct, read everything you can. Then with a little informed common sense I bet you can have a fun and safe visit.
Sorry about that. I'm not always able to recognize things like sarcasm on the forum. I definitely agree with the points you mentioned about some travellers not willing to acknowledge good advice, especially about safety issues in some locations. The other item that seems to be ignored by the "I know better" crowd relates to health. Two good examples from this area are a traveller who went to Africa and didn't take the anti-malarial med's that she had with her..... guess what happened. The other example is two young travellers who didn't bother getting health insurance for their multi country trip..... one was killed and the other seriously injured and hospitalized in a foreign hospital, to the tune of hundred of thousands of dollars.