Moroccans are extremely family oriented, and children are an important and very visible part of Moroccan society. Traveling with your small children will undoubtedly attract more attention (in a good way) and may very well turn your holiday into something memorable, as shopkeepers wave you into their stores, waiters offer you free cups of tea, and local guides invite you home to meet their family. As with most Arabic cultures, children generally stay up later then those in the West, playing unsupervised and being sent on errands.
On a practical level, there are a few challenges that will be faced in Morocco when traveling with babies or small children. Baby-changing facilities are nonexistent, and while disposable diapers are available in the supermarket chains and some pharmacies, you'll be lucky to find them outside of the cities and larger towns. Other specific items such as special foods and sunscreen are also best brought from home. Heating up formula should never be a problem, as cafes -- and boiling water -- are found everywhere, as is long-life milk. My suggestion is to look for the national supermarket chains Acima and Marjane. These French-owned supermarkets are like any in the Western world and are good places to stock up on supplies for your children. I've mentioned them in the relevant "Shopping" sections throughout the book.
Most hotels allow children 11 and under to sleep in their parent's room. Children 1 and under (and sometimes up to 6) are usually free. Children 11 and under are usually charged half price. However, you should definitely inquire as to the size of the room before handing over any money. Quite often the hotel will be leaving you to your own devices when it comes to sleeping configurations; what's in the room is all that you'll get. Sometimes it's worth considering the expense of a larger suite or asking for two cheaper interconnecting rooms. Some maisons d'hôte don't accept children, as the thin, echoing walls and thin, narrow staircases aren't exactly child friendly. Many mid- to top-range hotels and maisons d'hôte will gladly organize a babysitter for you, although specific English-speaking babysitters may need to be organized well in advance.
Traveling by public transport with children can be both challenging and rewarding. On buses and in grands taxis, children small enough to share your seat or sit on your lap can usually travel for free. If not, you will probably be charged full fare. Train travel is a great way to get around and obviously allows little ones to move around a lot more. Children 3 and under travel free, while those 11 and under are charged half fare. While most international car-rental firms proclaim to offer baby or child seats, you'll be best to make sure of this in advance.
Take note of my words regarding the summertime heat, remembering that children are more susceptible to dehydration and heat stroke, as well as the most common ailment befalling most tourists in Morocco -- traveler's diarrhea.
U.K. travel company Panorama (tel. 0871/664-7984; www.panoramaholidays.co.uk) has packages for families to Agadir, Essaouira, Marrakech, and Ouarzazate. Families Worldwide (tel. 0845/051-4567; www.familiesworldwide.co.uk) is also based in the U.K. and offers specialist family tours to Morocco with itineraries that include hiking and camel trekking, as well as a general sightseeing tour. Abercrombie & Kent offers a "Moroccan Adventure" tour that is geared toward families, and includes a mixed offering of hands-on adventures and child-friendly activities.
Tip: If your child is big enough to play football (soccer in the U.S.), bring along a ball. It's the national game of Morocco and is played on any bare patch of ground (including medina alleyways) at any time of the day and half the night. Your child will be "king for a day" once the local kids see the ball.
Recommended family-travel websites include Family Travel Forum (www.familytravelforum.com), a comprehensive site that offers customized trip planning; Family Travel Network (www.familytravelnetwork.com), an online magazine providing travel tips; and TravelWithYourKids.com, a comprehensive site written by parents for parents offering sound advice for long-distance and international travel with children.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.