Only nine involved fatalities — a total of people. These deaths might initially seem to you like large figures — or make the nearly fatalities in the last week between MH17 and the TransAsia tragedy and hopefully not more sound enormous — but you are missing crucial context: there were around 32m airline departures in , according to the figures from the International Civil Aviation Organization.
That means that fewer than one flight in , had an accident, and only one in 3,, was fatal. So, if flying probably won't kill you, what actually might? Bear with me here. There are one to three bear-related deaths per year in the US. For one, the fear of dying in a plane crash might actually kill you. Eventually Americans returned to the skies — but not all of them, tragically, were alive to do so, because driving long distances is much more dangerous than flying — indeed, because the increased road use may have led to more accidents.
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- United States.
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As far as transportation is concerned, by far the riskiest way to go anywhere is to take a motorcycle. Mile-for-mile which is not an entirely fair comparison, as we generally fly further than we bike , motorcycling is more than 3, times more deadly than flying. Travelling in a car or truck is about times more deadly than flying. Travelling by train can end up a little less grisly — it's only twice as deadly, mile-for-mile, as flying.
Whichever way you slice the figures 1, people were killed in the US in knife-related homicides in , you're probably not going to die in a plane crash — as the saying goes, lightning tends not to strike twice though it did cause 23 US deaths in and an estimated 6,, worldwide. But you are , tragically, going to die. Last year, around 55m people died worldwide, which means that, globally, 7. This would have meant making a lot of compromises and inevitably spending more time in the bus than out on adventures - something you can only tolerate if you're travelling long-term.
However, the convenience of such a tour is often outweighed by your inability to be spontaneous, the need to always rush to the next place and the inevitable presence of somebody in the group who you don't like! It also means A LOT of time stuck in your bus covering over 1, kms in a short space of time. Renting a car meant we could plan our own route you can read it here , take the time to stop off where and when we pleased, head off the beaten track and get to know Morocco in a much more intimate way over a longer period of time.
So, give us your best guesstimate for our combined car rental, insurance and fuel costs for our 1, km round-trip across 6 days. That cost however doesn't factor in the stress and frustration associated with actually renting a car in Morocco. Spending the night trawling through Trip Advisor reviews of car rental companies available at Marrakech airport left us feeling very very very fearful.
Aside from any linguistic barriers, there appeared to be so many things that could and would go wrong. People had turned up to find no car available, or that their pre-selected shiny vehicle was actually a rust bucket on its last legs. There was confusion and concern over insurance coverage. Intentional omissions when recording damage so that further charges could be made when the car was returned. Deposits unreturned for no apparent reason. Paperwork in a language they couldn't understand. And this wasn't just at one company - each one in the city had no shortage of travellers advising that they wouldn't recommend them to anyone after their experience.
We decided to book via Auto Europe , a UK-based aggregator which brings together all the various local rental options in a destination and provides a secure booking platform. It had the cheapest offers we could find online, but our main reason for choosing them was so that we would have greater certainty over our insurance coverage in the event that something went badly wrong - we didn't want to depend on something purchased at the rental desk on the day and only understood via our interpretation of French and Arabic.
Picking up our car from the local company highlighted that the paranoia of previous visitors was not misplaced - we had a beaten and scratched automatic, when we had supposedly ordered a relatively new manual. However, the research of the previous night meant we came prepared for scams and tricks, and we requested each scratch and cigarette burn on the fabric to be forensically detailed on the paperwork and insisted that we be allowed to take a video of the car's condition.
It may have felt like overkill at the time, and didn't exactly allow us to strike up a friendly relationship with the dealer, but we are so happy we did it.
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When returning the car nearly a week later, the attendant remembered us but still tried out a few tricks - thankfully reading about the unfortunate experience of others meant we were able to anticipate and deal with these issues. We wouldn't recommend driving in Morocco to anyone who isn't a reasonably confident, reasonably experienced driver. There are no shortage of challenges and obstacles on the roads more on that later! Oh, and remember, they drive on the right hand side of the road over here! If it's your first time driving on the wrong side we're British, we drive on the correct side, deal with it then you will get used to it quite quickly, but just go slowly and keep your wits about you those first couple of days.
And more donkeys and a paaaaartridge in a pear tree! These are all obstacles we encountered on the roads of Morocco. So, yeah, pay attention and keep your eyes peeled - it is hectic out there. We all love the idea of complete spontaneity but, as everyone knows, half of it is made up for Instagram or only available to people who are travelling for a decent amount of time. The reality is that if you have your flight back home in less than a week's time and plan on making it to the desert, then there really isn't time to drop all your plans and go where the wind takes you.
Before setting out, we did quite a lot of research to come up with what we felt was not only a perfect route, but also a manageable one. We had a rough idea of which area we'd be sleeping in each night and a clear idea of the sights or places we wanted to see along the way - if you don't do this, trust us when we say you'll inevitably end up chasing shadows and miles and missing out on some great things later on in your route.
We had one scare up in the mountains when we thought we had only about 30km left in the tank - but that was more of our own fault rather than due to a scarcity of petrol stations. The country is in fact very well-stocked, with filling stations in even some of the most isolated parts for example the one just outside the Sahara desert in Merzouga. When you pull up to the pumps, there will always be an attendant who will promptly arrive. As I always have lots of paranoia about putting in the wrong type of fuel, note that the word in French for petrol is 'sans plomb' and diesel is 'gazole'.
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As ever, follow the golden rule of never having less than half a tank at any point on the road trip if you can help it. At the stations, we always gave a couple of dirham to the attendant we're not sure if anyone else does this in Morocco, but these guys didn't seem to mind. A taxi driver in Marrakech said we should get a diesel car because it's always so much cheaper at the filling stations than petrol - and he was absolutely right.
However, renting a diesel car was a lot more expensive up-front so we opted to go ahead with the most economical petrol car we could find. The cheapest prices were always at the company stations which starts with a Z Andrew never enjoys driving in cities, but he discovered about 7 new swear words whilst dealing with Moroccan traffic in the metropolises. Take, for example, a two-lane motorway.
You can imagine just how fun that becomes when you're pulling up to an un-signposted roundabout? We recommend you try to keep your driving time in cities to an absolute minimum - they will present one of the most frustrating and stressful aspects of the whole road trip experience. On your road trip, unless you speak Arabic or Berber, then French is likely to be your best bet.
We are actually pleasantly surprised at how well and how widely English was spoken in certain remote areas, but French was always our first go-to language with police, petrol pump attendants and hostel owners. Now, the use of the car horn is a pretty common practice in Morocco and, from our experience it appears that each honk has a special meaning which may not ever be very obvious to you. It might mean 'thanks for letting me pass fellow driver' one moment to 'get the hell out of my way you bloody idiot'.
I'm sure some people in cities just honk for the sake of honking and to make the time pass. Also, did you know that the best way to solve a traffic jam is to honk non-stop? However, as with our driving on Scotland's epic North Coast route and its single-track mountain roads with ridiculous blind hairpin bends, I tended to honk to let anyone coming round the corner know that I was also coming around the corner and that it would probably be a good idea if we both slowed down and, you know, went to the proper side of the road.
At least, that's I hope they thought I was telling them - as explained, the secret language of the car honk has several meanings and dialects in Morocco. We actually didn't have any bumps, scrapes or accidents over the seven days - something we consider to be a minor miracle. To be honest, we were both really concerned that an accident of some scale was inevitable on this road trip.
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For any future Morocco road trippers, our main piece of advice is that, although it can be tempting to hit the road like a local and throw all your good habits out the window, the best approach is to be the cautious driver on the road. If you're not sure of what's around the bend, honk that horn. If playing 'chicken' on single track roads, be the person who gives way.
If you're not confident about entering a roundabout, wait until you are and drown out the blaring horns behind you. Now, I write this having not always completely followed my advice because, in Morocco, sometimes you have to adopt some local practices to get by and navigate your way around the city traffic but, as a rule of thumb, be the sensible driver in each situation and you will hopefully avoid any major issues. On our first evening, we were taking a back road to reach our hotel outside Ait Ben Haddou. A late departure from the rental firm, a few too many stops to take photos and underestimating the quality of a back road route meant that darkness had fallen and we still had a couple of hours driving ahead through winding mountain roads.
Dogs would cross out of nowhere. A cyclist with no light would veer into our vision. The worst 'near miss' however was coming down the mountain pass and seeing several boulders right in front of us, scattered across the road. Although it may be unavoidable due to underestimated distances see point 14 or uncontrollable delays, try your best to avoid leaving too much driving until after nightfall. If there is heavy rain and you're on mountain roads and darkness is falling, then please don't take the risk and just stay in the next place you pull up at.
As will no doubt be obvious by now, there are some curious driving habits in Morocco. Some of the most perplexing and deeply engrained are:.
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