Refusing to settle for less: As a woman in my 40s, my Morocco adventure changed everything

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I’ve always dreamt of going to Morocco, so I booked the Flash Pack trip nine months before I actually went in September. As a teenager, I traveled to Italy alone and I lived in Spain for over a year, so it’s in my nature to avoid anything too touristy. I want to be with locals and experience the real, authentic soul of a place. I feel Flash Pack really offers that. 

I was overwhelmed by the amount of personality that went into our adventure. Ismail, our Pack Leader and guide, introduced us to all the local spots and knew people everywhere we went. At one point, we went to a saffron farm in Taliouine. After we’d looked around, the family that ran it made us lunch. We had this incredible home-cooking experience being able to join locals for lunch and share stories over mint tea. Moroccans are so hospitable; they want to bring you into their lives and their homes. 

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Riding camels in the desert was another bucket list moment

As a huge food lover, I really enjoyed the backstreet food tour of Marrakech. I believe that you need to eat with your mouth, not your eyes – and to not allow yourself to be put off by something that might not appear appetising at first. It’s good to try everything, whether that’s fresh olives or platefuls of snails in the Medina, which is so intoxicating as an experience. It makes you immediately fall in love with Marrakech. You feel like you’re part of this ancient world, with all this culture and commerce that seeps through to your soul. 

Riding camels in the Sahara desert was another bucket list moment for me. It was so special on so many levels, followed by live music around a bonfire, looking up at the stars. It’s a very spiritual part of the world. I also got to go horse riding along the beach in the port town of Essaouira. I was able to gallop – it was pure freedom.

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I found best friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life

The biggest highlight of Morocco for me, though – and I think my fellow travelers would agree – was our group dynamic. It felt like our pack was special. We all just hit it off immediately. It helped that we were all professionals at a similar age and phase of life. We could have great conversations, and we were all interested in exploring the culture and magic of the places we visited, rather than partying.

I still talk to everyone two or three times a week, and we’re planning a trip together next year, possibly to Greece. I found best friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life, including Ismail. He was really funny and knowledgeable; he became a true friend. 

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Life isn’t all about the day-to-day grind

My time in Morocco was life-changing. I was so sad when I returned home to Portland, Oregon, I looked into renting an Airbnb for a month and working remotely in Marrakech. Me and one of the girls I hit it off with on the trip have also been daydreaming about setting up a winery there. I even thought about selling my house and started researching companies that offer global roles (I currently work as an events operator for a tech start-up). I’m already mulling over my next getaway, too – possibly to India or Argentina

The whole experience made me realise that I don’t want slave away in the confines of the average American work routine. In my 30s, I was very much focussed on finding stability through my job and getting a mortgage. But had I known this kind of trip existed, with really great group dynamics and authentic local experiences, I would have booked so many more before now. 

Life isn’t all about the day-to-day grind, and – as a woman in my 40s – I don’t necessarily need to fall into a mould of trying to find a husband or have kids. I can be an independent traveler without needing someone to travel with. 

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It connected me with other people who are breaking the mould

Now, I’m determined to be more open and seize all the opportunities I can. We have these stereotypes in life that are constantly projected on us; from working hard in a stable job to settling down with a family. But the Moroccan adventure connected me with other people who are breaking the mould. It was so validating to discover other female solo travelers like me, who live for experiences and adventure. 

As someone who is open to dating, it even changed what I expect from a future partner. Before, I bought into the idea that maybe I’d have to lower my expectations and settle, or find someone who could be a breadwinner. But now I want a partner who will come to the table as an equal, who is well traveled and who respects my independence. If the men of Portland don’t fit that bill, I refuse to settle for less.

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Morocco changed where I want to be in life

If I’ve learnt anything from my Moroccan escape, it’s to not let fear drive you. To make the most of the moment and not let life get in the way. If you’re thinking of traveling the world, buy the ticket and go – you’ll be a better person for it. Morocco changed who I am and where I want to be in life. I’m so glad I’ve found out now how I want to spend the next 40 years of it. 

Flashpacker, Nolina Bergman, lives in Portland, Oregon and traveled with Flash Pack to Morocco

Got a story or adventure that could inspire a solo traveler like you? Tag @flashpack on social or email [email protected] to be featured.

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