I'm off to Morocco in a few days on a creative writing retreat with 'Magical Journeys' Claire Steele. We are staying in the Villa Maroc in Essaouira, which strangely and coincidentally was the same amazing hotel that I stayed in on my last visit 17 years ago to celebrate my 40th. Claire regularly takes her writers here so she is a good person to consult on what it's like now, however, there are still a few basic rules and tips for this kind of holiday.
1. No bare flesh - for some continents reveal as little as possible, you will thank me if you follow this, as the unwanted attention can be quite a pain in the posterior. This is for Africa and India particularly. It's ok to sunbathe in the proper areas, like your hotel or resort, but if you are intending to walk the city streets then you need to get covered.
So my clothes are long, loose trousers, mostly linen, and very thin cotton t-shirts which can be layered up with a long sleeve blouse. Scarves are very handy to have in your bag as an additional instant cover up. Please remember not to bare too much as it is disrespectful to the culture. I have one pair of cotton pantaloon trousers from Holy Cow Home that look like a skirt, they have an elastic waistband and be dressed up or down. My pink leather journal is also from Holy Cow Home, essential for this writing trip!
2. Natural fabrics, try and stick to fine cotton and linen, when shopping on line I saw some lovely sheer tops but they were rayon and I think this could be counter productive to wear synthetics.
I find that the best t-shirts for layering are American Vintage, this label is simply brilliant and they have taken the basics to a new level of luxury. I get mine from Amelie Fashion in Berkhamsted who also sell '7 For All Mankind' Jeans.
|leather backpack Agnes B, Jacket Zara, Night Dress from Mistress Of Linen, fine lace wool scarf knitted by me.|
3. Sensible handbag which you can wear across your body or on your back. I have this great leather rucksack from Agnes B as it's the best way for me to carry my very heavy camera. You can fit a lot in this type of bag and it is considered a handbag by the airlines.
I use the outside pockets for daily essentials like hand sanitiser, insect repellent and lip balm.
|American Vintage extra fine cotton t-shirts|
4. Travel in something more substantial than shorts and heels, going from the UK to Africa you will experience quite a change of temperature so layer and layer for the outgoing trip. I wear stretchy jeans and the ones from '7 For All Mankind' are my favourites, they do a thin coated cotton that looks like leather but is light as a feather, and a super stretch pair that look like suede, you hardly feel as if you are wearing them. I think these are a bit dressier than blue denim, also lighter in weight, smart and fashionable. If you are sitting in cramped conditions on a plane or car you want something with a bit of give and stretch too. In black these can work for an evening outfit when the temperature drop and dressed up if you treat yourself to a posh hotel cocktail.
I'm teaming these up with lots of other black layers for the journey, a t-shirt, a blouse and an embroidered jacket (from Zara), the layers can get peeled off as the climate gets warmer and worn in any combination. I found this pure silk blouse from M&S which has an open back with a tie, ideal for letting the heat escape while looking classy.
Wear very comfortable shoes, lightweight trainers are ideal for pounding the long walks on airport corridors with all your bags. Im adding gel insoles to mine to give extra bounce.
|pearls and lace wash bag from Van Asch Sweden Silk blouse with back opening from Marks & Spencer|
5. Decant your toiletries. I got a pack of empty bottles from Boots and labelled with a sharpie, so I only carry as much shampoo and conditioner as I need, these can be quite heavy items. I've also just had an Olaplex treatment done on my hair which means it will he a lot easier to wash and style as the Olaplex is a mega conditioner for colour treated hair, it makes the hair soft, shiny and more manageable, good to do if you are in the sun as it will protect your hair.
A few days before I leave I work out what is the minimum amount of make-up I can cope with, I ditch the usual array of brushes and stick to a palette of colours with a sponge applier from Lily Lolo. My foundation is a mineral one with high spf of 30, another essential. Please remember to put these in your checked-in bags as you can't take liquids through security without a lot of hassle.
Think about all eventualities - food poisoning, sun burn, insect bites etc. For a country like Morocco take Imodium, insect repellent, dioralite for re-hydration and sun screen.
My latest 'all round handy product' is Moringa Oil, you can use this for just about anything and there's 10% off before the end of March.
So here's my legs to demonstrate two things - one is that I use Moringa Oil on all my dry skin and tattoos, it brings the ink out beautifully as my legs get very dry. (The second point is to show why I'm wearing long trousers, I have the feeling that the tattoos might get too much attention).
If you haven't heard of this oil, well it's got so many uses, for dry skin, hair and scalp, it is said to have anti-ageing properties as well as antiseptic properties which can treat insect bites, sun burn, skin infections and can be used on children. My skin is very glowing and soft after just a few weeks of using it.
Denise at Wikaniko says the following about getting your Moringa Oil at a reduced price ; there are links for purchase and information
This link to be used to direct your readers to the oil: http://denisebedson.wikaniko.com/?redirect=/moringa-oil-100ml.html
Also if they use the code: MOR10 - this will give them 10% off of their purchase (valid until the end of March).
This link can be used to see how our Moringa is grown on our plantation in Spain: http://denisebedson.wikaniko.com/?redirect=/all-moringa-products/cheap-moringa.html
This link can be used to go to the page with all our Moringa products on: http://denisebedson.wikaniko.com/?redirect=/all-moringa-products.html
|pantaloon cotton trousers and pink journal from Holy Cow Home. 7 For All Mankind and J Brand Cargo pants from Amelia Fashion Berkhamsted.|
6. Sandals. I read one travel blog which suggested wearing jelly shoes (in a ballet pump style). Sorry, but this sounds like one big sweaty fest to me, there is only one shoe for me when it comes to heat and walking - the Birkenstock. It's only when I wear these that my feet don't swell up like Frodo's feet and stay cool. The thicker sole is non slip and the lip around the edge prevents dirt and dust flying under your feet.
7. Sunglasses/Transitions. If, like me you wear glasses or even if you only wear reading glasses, then I suggest you invest in a pair of bi-focals (or vari-focals) which transition to sunglasses as soon as they are exposed to light. I never have to bother changing glasses over, I wear them all the time and it stops the hassle of constantly changing your glasses over.
8. Suitcase on Wheels. Backpacks are all very good for the young and strong but for us ladies of a certain age, get a decent soft case with wheels, I say soft because for a short trip you can pull the straps in to slim it down and for longer stays, let it expand to accommodate all the things you bought on holiday. Mine is from Eastpack.
9. Sensible Nightdress. I find that most places you go you end up running into hotel staff in your nightie, so it's probably best not to have a see-through one. Mine is a heavy linen antique French smock, which although it's quite thick is remarkably cool. You may end up on the roof or a balcony in your nightdress or pj's so keep them sensible, mine could pass as a dress in it's own right.
10. Don't take what you may buy when you get there. This might sound odd but here's an example. On this trip I have researched that I might be able to get some ethiopian jewellery, I generally like ethnic jewellery so I'm not going to wear any or take any as I think I will be buying some in the Essaouira souk.
I suggest you research what an area specialises in and check what prices you should be paying for things. There's no point in buying something for the same price as you would have paid on e-bay, you need to be getting it cheaper at source.
If you are worried about how much you want to carry then stick to items like jewellery and textiles, unbreakable, small and light.
If you haven't travelled for a few years you may find that there is quite a difference in security at airports, please allow lots of extra time for queues, you will probably have to take your shoes off to go through the metal detector, (so avoid something with lots of laces) and don't carry any liquids. You are not allowed to take your bottle of water or recently purchased drink through with you.
Items like travel plug adaptors (for recharging), ear plugs, luggage labels, can all be bought at the airport, just allow enough time before your flight.
Here's my list of recommended retreat holidays for you to consider;
Magical Journeys - creative writing with Claire https://www.facebook.com/magicalwritingjourneys/
Hill View Moments - with Natasha, generally these are yarn, wool, knitting, crochet and weaving related trips. Currently booking for Portugal https://www.facebook.com/HillViewMoments/?ref=py_c
Lush Getaways - the full on French experience, food, cooking, shopping, wine, relaxation, cocktails, yoga, all in a 17century manor house. Next one is September https://www.lush-getaways.com/
I am expecting to be able to offer you a discount on the Lush Getaway retreat in September, more about that soon, but do please check out the beautiful property and be sure to book soon.
Safe Journeys everyone x