Traveling through a foreign country is a great experience to share with your kids. It is a great opportunity to see how big the world really is, and also how small it can feel at the same time. Your kids will continue to remind you of their adventures for months to come and look back fondly on the pictures you took of them doing something amazing.
Anytime you travel to a new place, being prepared can be the difference between a smooth trip and a stressful one. Here are a few tips to make that smooth trip more likely:
1. Bring a carrier or a stroller
A good stroller or baby carrier is a must for younger kids. In cities where the primary (and sometimes only) mode of transportation is walking, it is important to be prepared. Take Fes for instance; it is one of the largest non-vehicular cities in the world. Awesome? Yes. Some intense walking? Absolutely. A carrier or a stroller will make this a much more pleasant experience.
Older kids that are too big to carry will benefit from comfortable shoes and some stops along the way to rest their legs if they aren’t used to walking for long distances. Leave the flip-flops for the pool and get a good pair of tennis shoes for the trip. It definitely took our kids some getting used to when we moved here. Depending on what home looks like, this may not be an issue at all, but worth mentioning if you come from someplace that does more driving than walking.
For those traveling with kids in a wheelchair, consider hiring a wheelchair pusher for the more intense walking or unstable terrain days such as Fes and Volubilis. They are cost effective and highly worth it for the places with more challenging terrain.
2. Bring the sunscreen
The sun here is intense at times, which is wonderful on a chilly winter day, and definitely needs to be factored in during the warmer months. There are a few water parks – if you travel during the summer – and many hotels have nice swimming pools. There is a extensive coast line with ample beaches all along the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In short – sunscreen is a must. Given the cost of purchasing sunscreen here, it is definitely worth grabbing your favorite brand back home to bring with you.
3. Look behind door number 2…or 3…or 5…
For the inevitable potty stops, you are bound to encounter a few different types of toilets. Squatty potties are very common in Morocco. Most of the places you stop along the major tourist routes in Morocco will have at least a few “Western toilets”. But inevitably your child will open a bathroom door at some point during their trip to Morocco and has a face that registers the fear of “What do I do with that?”. When this occurs, know that the likelihood is behind door number 2, is a toilet that looks a bit more familiar! For those used to life in the United States – bathrooms are referred to in the European side of things as “WC”.
Also, changing tables – outside of the Western companies that have made it to Morocco – are not a common occurrence. This is slowly changing as updates are made around the country but it is still a less common item to find in Morocco.
Morocco is not, generally, well known for always having enough soap in their bathrooms. As such, I always carry hand sanitizer in my purse. You never know when it will come in handy otherwise anyhow because, well, kids.
Lastly, not all bathrooms are accessible in Morocco so make sure that you look for the “wheelchair icon”. We continue to work with gas stations and restaurants around the country to increase accessibility. If you are traveling with us, your driver will know where to find the accessible bathrooms all around Morocco.
4. Motorcycles, Coke donkeys and push carts oh my!
When you visit Morocco, you will be entering into a mixed world of old and new, traditional and modern. So while you are entering into a mystical world of ancient cultures, it is important that you – and your kids – are aware of the sounds around you while you explore. Our kids have been trained that when you hear a motorcycle rev, you need to go to the outside of the “street”. Generally, people are respectful and wait until you are out of the way but sometimes people attempt to go far too fast inside the medina walls and it is important to keep a good eye – and a firm hold – on a kiddo’s hand to make sure that they remain safe on the busy streets. This is particularly true in Marrakech where there are a crazy amount of motorcycles. So it is really important to keep track of your kids when you hear the sound of motorcycles.
While you are walking in the medinas, you also will hear things like “balak” or “andak”. This is a way of saying “heads up!” or “watch out!” as people pushing carts are trying to pass. When you hear these words, just step to the side to keep from getting bumped by a push cart!
These “hacks” are particularly true for the wheelchair user. Whether it is you or your child that is in a wheelchair, it is important to be aware of your (or their) location while on the narrow streets of the medinas. Wheelchairs, generally, take up additional space and it is important to protect the wheelchair as people – or mules carrying coke bottles – pass. One major benefit is the hospitality and concern of the local people. Almost always, Moroccans are excellent hosts and go out of their way to be hospitable and helpful.
5. Have your kids barter for goods in your place
This is a little bit of a joke but also quite true! If your kids can ask for a (still reasonable) price for some type of a good – especially using Arabic words or French words – the local people love it. They get a good laugh and perhaps will negotiate back a bit with your kids. Overall, it is very likely that you’ll get a fair price just because your kids are cute!
Bartering can be a fun experience for kids to learn and the goal is not just getting something cheap but that everyone comes out a winner. They get a fair price for their work and you get something that you’ll love. Kids just can help make that happen for both parties in a good way!
6. Don’t forget to bring a camera that will keep up!
If your kids are anything like ours, they don’t pose well. Instead of 1, 2, 3….great picture!; it tends to be 1, 2, 3….seriously?!? Thankfully, gone are the days of slow digital cameras. Make sure that you bring a good camera if you have one – which may just mean that you bring your 12 megapixel smart phone that now seems to be the standard. You will find an endless amount of photo opportunities across this gorgeous country. Whether you are a professional photographer, a novice or nearly always have your finger over the lens, you are bound to grab some excellent shots that will be great for a photo book to remember your time in Morocco together.
Bring Your Kids to Morocco
The moral of the story here is bring your kids to Morocco. They will LOVE it.
World’s largest sandbox? Check.
Beaches to play in the waves? Check.
Incredible mountains to throw snowballs at their parents? Check.
Morocco’s got it all! Check it out – you’ll be shocked at just how much you can experience while traveling – including traveling in a wheelchair – to Morocco.