ONE. If you can, go in the spring. The bougainvillea will be blooming, and you'll be right in that sweet spot to catch sun on a terrace while avoiding sweaty crowds.
TWO. Look at the weather averages for the time of year you plan to visit, then add one or two items that will prepare you for temperatures both below and above those that are suggested. Temperatures can range widely depending on day-night and where you are in the country. For instance, the desert can be very hot during the day but it will cool dramatically at night.
THREE. Pack some conservative clothing. In the larger, more touristy city of Marrakech, you may not need to think much about what you're wearing, but planning on a little more coverage will serve you well for visits to any smaller towns. You'll avoid unwanted attention by skipping the crop tops and daisy dukes.
FOUR. And on that note... don't just go to Marrakech. Very likely, you'll fly into Casablanca. From there you'll have the option to head north up toward Fes, Tangier, or Chefchaouen, or south toward Marrakech, a string of laid-back coastal towns, and the Sahara.
FIVE. Do prioritize what you want to see. Morocco's topography is diverse, and there are so many beautiful placcs to visit that it might be tempting to opt for a blitz approach and do a day in each. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and cheated. It would be far better to pick two or three cities and spend several days in each one to slow down and soak in the rich, sensory experiences.
SIX. Stay in reputable guest houses. Many old riads or dars - traditional multistory dwellings that include either a garden or interior courtyard - have been turned into beautiful guest houses. Staying in one of these gives you a priceless experience of Moroccan architecture and hospitality, yet remains intimate enough for interaction with hosts, who can provide valuable local advice.
SEVEN. In a smaller city or with certain shop vendors, your payment options may be limited to cash, whether you're purchasing a souvenir or simply buying lunch. This can be further complicated by the the scarcity of ATM machines. Plan ahead and bring plenty of cash to get you through.
EIGHT. In the souk - the marketplace where artisanal goods are sold -- the prices are not fixed. Be prepared to haggle. If you pay the price first quoted to you, it's likely that you're paying too much. This is a huge topic, so we'll cover more on how to successfully navigate a souk in a later post.
*BONUS: Don't get into a taxi if the meter isn't visible or if the driver isn't willing to start the meter. He may try to take you for a longer ride than necessary!
Photos: Chris Isham