(© Aussies In Morocco Tours™)
If it’s your first time travelling in Morocco, you might notice some different practices to back home – especially when it comes to money matters. Perhaps someone is holding out their hand for a tip when you didn’t ask for their help, or maybe you’re unsure about how much is the polite amount to tip after you’ve enjoyed a meal at a cafe or restaurant.
Here are some of our tips on how to navigate these kind of daily interactions with ease as you travel around this fascinating new country.
Should I tip?
The short answer is: most of the time, yes.
In Morocco, when anyone does something for you – big or small – they’ll expect payment. As a developing country many Moroccans live below the poverty line, so it’s no surprise that tipping is a common practice.
What they do for you could be as small and impromptu as a snake charmer posing for your photo in Djemaa el Fna, or a child helping you negotiate stepping stones over a stream at Ait-Ben-Haddou. It may be more of an official service, such as the porter who carries your bags in from the car park to the front door of your hotel in the medina, or the person who gives you a scrub-down in the hammam (they’ve earned it!).
Either way, we suggest always carrying plenty of smaller notes and coins with you, so you have change handy for tipping. Be sure to keep any large wads of notes in a separate section of your wallet, so you can pull out coins without exposing its contents. In terms of how much to tip, it really depends on how much change you have handy and how happy you are with the service.
Having said that, upon booking with Aussies In Morocco Tours™ we provide a laminated wallet-size list of recommended tip amounts for various situations. A few extra pointers:
- Porters or baggage handlers: you might want to tip a bit more for heavy or multiple items.
- Waiters in restaurant or cafe: 10 per cent for good service (but check that the service charge isn’t already included in the bill).
- Giving your driver a daily tip (and specifying any adjustment upwards is a result of something additional that he did for you that day) rather than simply tipping at the end of the tour, will probably incentivise him to strive to go above and beyond for you, daily.
Many Australian tour businesses operating in Morocco organise a kitty for tips at the beginning of any group tour and one person, usually the accompanying tour organiser, is responsible for paying all tips. This is a practice that is not without its appeal. However most of the tours with Aussies In Morocco Tours™ are private tours, that is to say, you and any companions see Morocco with a driver and without us in the car with you. Also, even with our group tours where Cara might be with you, we give you more room to explore on your own than some tours and that means you will likely be doing things on your own at times, like going out for dinner and obviously Aussies In Morocco Tours™ will not be present to pay tips. It is just something that we Australians have to get used to doing whilst in Morocco.
A final piece of advice: we don’t recommend giving money to street kids unless they’re selling something that you’d like to purchase, such as a packet of Kleenex. We’re not heartless; it’s because if you give to one you’ll soon be surrounded by many more, and unless you’ve got as much change as a bank teller you’ll likely have some sad little ones feeling left out.
How do I bargain?
Bargaining is a way of life in Morocco – for locals and tourists.
While there are some goods and services that are fixed price (such as items in supermarkets or pharmacies or the cost of a meal in a restaurant), for products that are unlabelled or sold in a market store in the souk, get ready to bargain!
This includes items such as rugs and textiles, clothing, leather goods, art, perfumes, spices, jewellery, metalwork (such as lanterns), woodwork (like boxes, picture frames), fossils and anything else that’s a traditional Moroccan handicraft or souvenir.
For anything over 100 dirhams (around 10 euros, or $A15), you’ll be welcome (and even expected) to bargain for it. For anything less than this amount, bargaining is frowned upon – for example a child selling you a piece of fruit or packet of tissues on the street. In this case, it’s also good to remember that euros are of no use to them, so be sure to give dirhams.
As a general rule, if you start at one-third of the initial asking price and work your way up to 50 per cent, this is a good strategy. If you end up paying 50 per cent or less of the initial price, that’s a good deal – but try not to pay more than 75 per cent of the initial asking price, especially for big-ticket items like rugs and art.
When bargaining, try and avoid pulling out wads of cash or letting them glimpse how much you have in your wallet – a rookie mistake! If you are shopping with a friend, you can sometimes get a “special deal for two” or more items, so don’t be afraid to ask.
And remember, if the vendor isn’t budging and you’re on a tight budget, it’s ok to politely move on. There are probably a dozen stores nearby that sell the same or a very similar product and are potentially more flexible on price.
Read more: Shopping in Morocco
Are commissions normal?
In Morocco, it’s common practice for guides and drivers to accept a small payment or kick-back from shops and restaurants for bringing paying customers to their door.
Again, this type of practice is understandable when wages are so low compared to the west. Commissions here and there, as well as tips, help supplement their wages and provide them with a little more to take home to their families.
You probably won’t see it happening, and it won’t add on any extra to the price of the goods or service you’re receiving. So it doesn’t really affect you directly, besides the fact that your driver or guide might take you to a specific shop or stop at a particular restaurant where they have this pre-existing relationship. This is something we like to be upfront about as a reality of life in Morocco. Chosen lunch spots are a common discussion point for travellers returning from Morocco and you can learn more about this here.
If you would like to do something a bit different for lunch (or in fact, any activity) to what is being proposed, you only need mention it, preferably the night before. Then the driver can adjust the arrangements, if possible, such as the time of departure and the route, or whatever may be required (provided that they are only minor deviations from the tour that you have booked), in order to achieve your objective. Remember our blog post here about slowing down and asking to take your Moroccan adventure up to gold medal standard. We think that the more specific you can be about what you want to do for lunch or otherwise, probably the less disappointed you will feel with the driver’s interpretation of your request. So have a think about this and communicate, perhaps even negotiate with your driver a little on it. Maybe also you could adjust his tip a little upwards for the extra effort these alternative arrangements would require, in lieu of him getting his usual commissions and as we said earlier, pay him a daily tip rather than simply at the end of the journey. Just a thought. Don’t worry, as we said earlier, you’ll soon get used to this different way of commerce, like we did.
One final thing
In case you are wondering, Aussies In Morocco Tours™ has no control over wages paid in Morocco and it would be stepping on people’s toes for us to try to assert it. However, we are looking at implementing some kind of incentive system for our people in Morocco to encourage the best service possible for our clients above and beyond what clients of others receive. Once in place, we will inform our clients of the details, as appropriate and at the right time. It will probably be based on the extent to which drivers facilitate a gold medal experience as we outline here.
Ready for your first Morocco experience? Check out our Aussies in Morocco Tours™ Essential Tours. These 4, 7 and 10-day tours are the perfect introduction to Morocco for first-timers and include must-see spots like the Sahara desert and Atlas Mountains. We also offer bespoke tour options for larger groups, special interests and requests. Find out more here.
Updated November 2020