Featured Traveler: Arnie, from Chicago

With such a winning smile and fun, friendly disposition, we came away from Zoom Morocco with many great pictures of Arnie. In addition to being photogenic, you couldn’t ask for a better traveler, and his sense of humor was appreciated by all he met. Arnie stopped by Zoom Vacation headquarters to reminisce about Zoom Morocco.

Zoom: What made you decide to take this trip to Morocco with Zoom Vacations.

Arnie: I wanted to do more world traveling, so I began looking to see if I could find a gay travel group. I did extensive research (Google!) and came across Zoom Vacations, which piqued my interest. Then I started asking people if they’d heard of Zoom, and a friend told me he had taken a trip with them and definitely recommended it. That was enough for me, so I was up to try it. Covid restrictions interrupted the original timing, but Bryan and Joel did a great job navigating the changing environment and we finally got there!

Zoom: How was this trip different, coming as part of a group instead of on your own?

Arnie: I’ve planned my own trips in the past, which is great if you have specific interests and want full autonomy; it also requires a lot of time to research, plan and put together logistics. This time, I was interested in exploring Morocco, and also in meeting some new people who also enjoyed traveling to new places and expanding their horizons. You quickly find that people who enjoy traveling have lots of their own travel experiences and stories to share, which is interesting and can be even further enticing.

Zoom: How were the hotels along the way? Any highlights?

Arnie: All accommodations were very nice. I’d have to say the riads in Fez and in Marrakech really stood out. They were like gems … I’m not sure how I would have found them to book on my own. They were definitely a treat.

Zoom: Speaking of highlights, what were your top highlights of the tour?

Arnie: The evening in the Sahara was that highlight for me. It’s wild to get in an ATV, turn off the road into the sand, and then keep going. Then we arrived at a lovely campsite. Camel rides, watching the sunset then the moonrise, sand surfing … that was amazing. And the softest red sand that stays with you long after you leave, metaphorically and literally.

Zoom: Did Morocco live up to your expectations? How was it different than you expected?

Arnie: We must have been one of the earlier tour groups following the Covid closures, because as we walked through Chefchaouen, more than one local called out, “the tourists are back!” Like anywhere else, one or two places may have been short-staffed. But it was Morocco! We saw a lot of the country. The blue city of Chefchaouen was beautiful. The open market in Marrakesh was high energy and fun. I’m really glad I went.

Zoom: Did you make new friends on the trip, and do you think you will stay in touch with them?

Arnie: I actually met up with others from the trip last night, and we’ve talked about getting a mini-reunion together in the fall. Zoom did a great job creating a Whatsapp group to help with communication during the trip, and there’s also still some ongoing sharing on that platform, which is fun.

Zoom: Did any Covid restrictions dampen the experience of the tour? Did you feel safe in this regard throughout the trip?

Arnie: Covid vaccines and testing were required to fly into the country, so there was some comfort that everyone in our tour group was in the same boat. In addition, the rates of infection in Morocco were very low relative to the US at the time. I don’t recall any restrictions other than needing to wear a mask to go through an exhibit or two, which to me seemed a bit easier than daily life, so it didn’t dampen anything at all.

Zoom: Were the hotels, restaurants, and locals we met gay-friendly?

Arnie: It sure seemed so. People were very welcoming and I’m not aware of anyone having any issues.

Zoom: Would you take another trip with Zoom Vacations, and would you recommend it to people you know?

Arnie: Yes to both questions. The group was a good size, and Zoom was very attentive, checking in several times to make sure everything was going well. You could tell they wanted us to feel verywell taken-care-of.

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