Solo travel isn’t necessarily my preference but I’m familiar with it. Many of my friends are married or have children and can’t drop everything to head off on an adventure with me. And I’m not in a situation whereby I have travel buddies all over the world – although I’m working on it.
As I’m self-employed – I run my own speech therapy practice in the US city of Boston – I also have the pressure of making holiday time count as every day away is a day I don’t earn money. So a holiday has to be worth it. For me, that means being active. A beach getaway is my worst nightmare. So, I opted to join Flash Pack’s Morocco Highlights trip as it sounded fun and intriguing.
I’ve followed the company on Instagram for several years before I actually signed up for the trip. I’d just turned 40 and was in the mood for a change. The idea of a curated adventure with nice hotels and a readymade group of travellers really appealed. I didn’t go on it with any set expectations but the experience actually blew my mind.
Morocco was more than anything I could have imagined
It was my first time visiting Africa and I had no idea what to expect. At a minimum, I figured it was going to be an interesting place. But from start to finish, it was more than I could have imagined and was full of experiences I would never have tried alone.
When I’m travelling solo, I generally arrive in a new city and take a free walking tour to see the headline sights. It would never occur to me to jump into a vintage sidecar as we did on the second day of our adventure in Marrakech. On paper, that sounded slightly kitsch to me. In reality, it was wonderful and a really fun way to see the city. Our guide shared stories as we stopped off en route at hidden gardens and street food stalls.
The next day, we headed into the Atlas Mountains, stopping at Saida Berber House for a cooking lesson along the way. Saida herself was such an inspiring woman. She welcomed us into her home and taught us all about her culture and Berber village life. I felt so fortunate for the opportunity to meet her.
I loved glamping in the Moroccan desert
Later, we arrived at Domaine de la Roseraie, a remote hotel surrounded by rose gardens, snow-capped mountains and an alpine stream. There were birds everywhere, and the entire place was beautifully taken care of. It was the proverbial needle in a haystack – I’d never have discovered it on my own.
Similarly, I loved the winery we stopped off at in the Argan Valley, close to the coastal city of Essaouira. Our group of 15 gathered around a table beneath a willow tree for a feast of grilled vegetables and meat skewers, along with unlimited wine. It was the perfect lunch.
I also really enjoyed glamping in the Moroccan desert. We began by riding across the ancient, dune-covered landscape on 4X4s, before saddling up for a sunset camel ride. Later, we were served wine in an infinity pool, part of a Berber camp setup in the middle of the desert. I’m not an overly emotional person but, at some point, I found myself looking around thinking, “Don’t cry. Hold it together.” The whole thing was wild and extraordinary, like something out of a dream.
Friendships you make when you travel are particularly unique
I don’t know if we just lucked out but our group was wonderful, too. Everyone got along. We had an absolute blast together. Myself and three other women were up til 2am every night, laughing and having fun. We connected so well and there’s already been talk of us travelling together again. It could not have worked out any better.
I think there’s something about the friendships you make when you travel that is particularly unique. Maybe it’s about meeting people who have a similar zest for life in a location that’s new and exciting. I found myself trying things I’d never do back home, like going topless in an all-female hammam (which is just the way it’s done in Morocco) or learning to surf for the first time with everyone cheering me on.
It was also incredible to have every part of the adventure organised for us. At home in Boston I wear a lot of hats, from speech therapist to clinician to coach, I’m every part of my business. And I’m currently retraining as an accent modification specialist, too. Outside of work, I look after my dog and my elderly father.
The trip was perfectly geared to chime with someone my age
I think many people in their 30s and 40s are in a similar situation, being stretched quite thin. So to be able to go to Morocco and not think of anything – other than if I fancied another wine or hammam – felt so liberating. It was like I suddenly had access to this wealth of unused mental resources, which is probably why I was able to stay up so late every night.
A large part of this freedom was also down to our guide Hicham who referred to himself as “the Godfather” on our WhatsApp group. He went above and beyond to ensure the trip ran smoothly. He was always laughing and in good spirits, and he knew his home country so well. He even gave my roommate and I a short tour of Essaouira on his own time one evening. I thought he was terrific, knowledgeable, capable and caring.
I really feel the Morocco trip was perfectly geared to chime with someone my age. The hotels were lovely, the transport was smooth and we had our own tour guide and driver. I was left in awe and gratitude of all the experiences I had. Since returning, I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time scouting out my next escape. I don’t know where I’m headed to yet, but I do that Morocco will be hard to beat.
Jennifer Abramson is a speech therapist from Boston who travelled with Flash Pack to Morocco.
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Images: courtesy of Jennifer Abramson and Flash Pack