Spain, Portugal & Morocco
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-766-2645. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Verify your passport: In order to enter Morocco, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after the date of re-entry. There is no visa required for U.S. or Canadian citizens
- Join the Facebook group: Join your private Facebook group now! It’s how you can meet other travelers and see announcements from your Tour Director. Call us at 800-766-2645 if you’re having trouble joining.
- Request a roommate:: Double check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Personalize your trip: Travel Insurance is not available for purchase on tour, and the price of Optional Excursions increases after departure. We suggest logging in to your Online Account now to add these items.
- Call your bank: Let your bank and credit card company know of your travel plans so you can withdraw cash and use your debit/credit cards abroad. Otherwise, you risk your account being blocked.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Morocco. However, we recommend you consult your physician or local travel clinic at lease 60 days prior to departure for the latest updates and entry requirements. See more tips for staying healthy in Morocco:
- Try to only drink bottled water; avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth or showering
- Temperatures in Morocco can often exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit – hydrate and use sunscreen!
- Certain medications (both over-the-counter and prescription) are banned in foreign countries. Consult your physician at least four weeks prior to departure to make sure any drugs you want to bring with you are legal.
- If you have any dietary restrictions, let your Tour Director know ahead of time
Pack Like a Pro
Your airline ticket includes one checked bag (typically 27" x 21" x 14") but note that years of customer feedback tells us that the lighter you pack, the better. Double check the luggage size requirements on your airline’s website, but we recommend traveling with one small backpack or purse, and a smaller carry-on suitcase (22” x 14” x 9”) or bag; You may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot, and remember that you’ll have the opportunity to do laundry throughout the trip. See more packing tips below that will help you become an international, carry-on-suitcase, jetsetter:
- 1 lightweight jacket
- Comfortable walking shoes or sandals to keep cool during city sightseeing
- Closed-toed shoes for activities in the desert
- 1-2 pairs jeans or loose, lightweight pants
- 3-4 shirts / t-shirts / sweaters
- 1 nicer outfit for Farewell Dinner or a night out
- Bathing suit
- Sunglasses and sunscreen. Pro Tip: Bring two travel-size sunscreens in your carry-on
- Underwear and socks
- Toiletries, medicine
- 1 reusable water bottle
- Phone or camera
- Debit / Credit cards and cash
- A power adapter – type “C” or “E”, or a staff favorite is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com)
Note: Pack lightweight, loose-fitting clothing you can easily layer to accommodate high and varying temperatures. Modest dress is generally preferred for women in Morocco, but all travelers are required to cover their knees and shoulders in sacred places like mosques or other religious sites. And, sun protection is important! Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and maybe a hat to protect your face from the hot Moroccan sun.
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. You can check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
- If your flight is cancelled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancellations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time
- If you slept in and missed your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
Note: All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.
Arriving in Madrid
If you booked flights with EF Ultimate Break, your transfer to and from the hotel to the airport is included. Note that you’re responsible for going through customs, gathering your luggage, and leaving the arrivals hall on your own. Your Tour Director will tell you where to meet them or another EF representative in the airport.
Meet Your Tour Director and Fellow Travelers
Your Tour Director will also tell you best way to communicate with them during the trip; they will be with your group from start to finish so if there is anything you need, connect with them. Concerned about international cellular data and staying in touch with your group? Check out “Phones and Electronics” further down in this guide.
Use your Phone, Internet, and Electronics
We recommend you get an international data plan from your cell phone provider. The most common options are the Travel Pass with Verizon, or purchasing a personal hot spot with your carrier. Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars; but it isn’t always as strong as Wi-Fi in the US. For your cell phone and any other electronics you bring abroad, you will also need a converter/adapter.
Note: Spain operates on a 230V supply voltage and uses type C or F plugs. Morocco operates on 220 volts and uses type C or E plugs with two small, round pins. Or, a staff favorite adapter is the “Targus World Power Travel Adapter” ($20, Amazon.com) which is compatible to all countries.
On The Ground
Money and Tipping
Cash and most well-known credit/debit cards are widely accepted in Europe, and ATMs are everywhere. Tipping is not customary in Europe, but many locals leave 1-2 Euro or pounds for exceptional service.
The currency of Morocco is the dirham (MAD or dh), and it is a closed currency. This means that you can only exchange your USD to the local currency once you arrive in Morocco. You cannot exchange to this currency in the United States, so we recommend exchanging your dollars to dirhams at a Bureau de Change in the airport upon arrival, at a local Morocco bank, or in most hotels. You should also bring a debit/credit card with you, which you can use to withdraw cash at local banks if needed. However, note that cash is preferred in Morocco. Tipping is not customary, but many locals just leave 1-2dh, for exceptional service for guides or taxi drivers, and 3-5dh in restaurants.
Budget $80- $100 per day for meals, shopping, and free time activities. For your Tour Director, we recommend tipping $68-$102 at the end of the trip if you feel inclined.
- Spain: Euro (€)
- Morocco: Dirham (MAD or dh)
- Portugal: Euro (€)
Note: Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
Getting from A to B
Transfers between locatins are via private motorcoach or ferry, and they can take anywhere between 2-8 hours with stops in-between. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in most major cities where necessary. Transportation in cities that offer no pass may require more walking. Prepare to walk between 4-8 miles per day, especially when sightseeing.
When you cross the border between Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, you’ll be required to present your passport. Your Tour Director will explain this process further when you’re on the ground.
Note: Bring a great book with you to pass the time on transfer days. Try bringing a novel that’s based in somewhere you’re visiting! We recommend The Sacred Night, The Last Storytellers, or A House in Fez
Optimize Your Free Time
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time. Optionals on this tour include (prices increase on tour):
- Palacio Real & Rooftop Drinks: $35
- Moroccan Dinner & Music Show: $85
- Moroccan Cooking Class: $60
Local Customs and Culture
Morocco is well-known as the “gateway to Africa”, and it lives up to its name. As you prepare to spend time in a new continent, country, and culture, prepare yourself for ancient cities, mouth-watering cuisine, and other-worldly architecture. Read on to learn more about Moroccan and Muslim culture and see specific tips to help you make the most of your trip.
- Remember you are subject to the laws of the country where you travel. In some countries, consensual same-sex sexual activity, public gathering, or dissemination of pro-LGBTI material may be illegal. Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Morocco.
- Morocco is a Muslim country; 99% of its population identifies as Sunni Muslim, but religious minorities are widely respected
- Cities like Marrakesh and Fez are more relaxed with clothing, but Morocco is a conservative and religious country so you should be mindful of covering more “private” body parts on this trip
- Any gesture you make in Morocco should be done with your right hand. The left hand is considered impure and is saved for bathroom duties and cleaning chores
- Note that if you are not Muslim you are not allowed to enter most mosques in Morocco. You should also be wary of taking photos or peering through windows of mosques
- While walking around the markets in Marrakesh, young locals might approach you and offer their services as a tour guide. We encourage you to decline these offers, because often they will lead you to their family’s shop and expect you to pay for the tour services or make a purchase
- Moroccans are extremely friendly and hospitable. It’s common to converse with locals and be offered a cup of hot mint tea or couscous
- Be considerate when taking photos of locals, and know that some people, especially women, might not want their photo taken at all, or will ask for a payment in return for the photo. Also note that taking photos of royal palaces, guards, and police is off-limits. When in doubt, just ask the person if you can take a photo of them
- In Morocco, it’s common to have to pay a few dirhams to use a public restroom, and know that not all restrooms are equipped with toilet paper. When in Morocco!
- Haggling is part of the culture, especially in the souks markets in Marrakesh. Be prepared for a lot of back-and-forth when purchasing an item, especially if you don’t want to pay 4x too much! A rule of thumb is to start bargaining at 1/3 of the price you’re initially quoted. Give it a try!
Women in Morocco
Gender roles are more defined in Morocco than in other European or Western countries. Because of conservative practices, religion, and a more traditional society, women are expected to dress more modestly, and adhere to certain behaviors. Read on for a few additional tips if you are a woman traveling to Morocco:
- Local Moroccan women are expected to dress modestly, especially in rural areas. In larger cities like Marrakesh and Fez, it’s more relaxed. Visitors aren’t expected to dress like Moroccans, but showing respect for the local culture goes a long way
- If you have blonde hair, you may get more attention from locals. Blonde isn’t a common hair color in Morocco, so be prepared for looks or questions
- As a woman, it’s very common to be catcalled in Morocco. Years of feedback and advice tell us that it’s best to ignore the calls and keep walking forward
Wine and Dine
You’ll sample a variety of local dishes on your trip, but read on for tips when dining in Morocco, and delicacies you must try in every city.
- A favorite local pastime is people-watching in a street café with a coffee or mint tea. This is also the perfect way to kick back, reflect on your travels so far, and get excited for what’s to come!
- Expect to be seated on a floor mat around a knee-high table, or on couches around a large round table when dining
- Expect more food to be offered to you once you stop eating. If you are completely full, simply pat your stomach and shake your head while saying La, shukrran (“No, thank you”).
- B’ssara: This is a cheap, local soup of dried broad beans with olive oil, cumin, and fresh bread
- Tagine: A tagine is the clay cooking pot that serves a variety of dishes. Try a chicken or kefta tagine; You’ll find it at roadside cafes, restaurants, and homes! And of course, served with bread
- Couscous: We know you’ve heard of this one. Couscous is a fine wheat pasta rolled by hand. Usually it’s steamed and served over a stew of meat and veggies, garnished with a raisin preserve or buttermilk
- Zaalouk: Zaalouk is one of many Moroccan vegetable salads. It’s is a smoked aubergine dip seasoned with garlic, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Best served with… you guessed it… BREAD.
- Mint Tea: Mint tea is THE drink of Morocco. It’s usually sweetened with sugar from a sugar cone, and poured into a tea glass from a tall height in order create the famous froth
- Bread: If you’re on a no-carb diet, we have bad news. Moroccan khobz (bread) is typically served at every meal, and you may even see families baking their dough at communal wood-fired ovens around town
- Olives: Morocco is the 5th largest producer of olive oil in the world, and you may get a small bowl of spiced olives before every meal, or find olives in almost every dish!
Note: Vegetarian options will likely be available but let your Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions ahead of time so they can plan accordingly.
Health and Safety
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. But, it’s equally important for you to maintain your health and safety while abroad. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, drink plenty of water, get sleep when you can, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Again, Remember you are subject to the laws of the country where you travel. In some countries, consensual same-sex sexual activity, public gathering, or dissemination of pro-LGBTI material may be illegal. Consensual same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Morocco.
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation like a licensed taxi, and always have cash on hand.
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.