I was already planning my return trip to Morocco before actually setting foot in the country. It was just a feeling I had mostly because I’ve always wanted to explore the region in depth, and partly because I knew I needed more than a week there.
But this getaway couldn’t come soon enough. Both my husband and I needed to disconnect a bit from our daily hustle in Stockholm plus we have Moroccan friends in Casablanca so we packed up our 11-month old baby and headed south to Marrakech and Casablanca.
I did a bit of research beforehand…from negotiating tips to moving around with taxis without getting shamelessly ripped off, but one common thread that kept coming up was how much Marrakech was going to assault my senses. While it certainly has its own flair which I enjoyed, anyone who has ever been to Lagos (Nigeria) knows what a pure assault on the senses is – both good and bad. Let alone grew up there.
At least we were able to navigate the souks (markets) without hopping over running gutters.
You can probably survive without the tips below. After all, how do locals live their everyday lives? So these are just provided for your comfort really. Especially if your goal is to relax like we did.
Take baby’s stroller if you’ve got one
Go ahead and pack it with you. I personally use the Stokke PramPack for both my stroller and baby carseat. While Marrakech does have a few cobblestones, it’s not the baby-concussion-inducing type of cobblestones you’ll find all over Europe while pushing around a stroller. Our stroller is backwards facing which also protects her from the constant beehive of activity – motorcycles whizzing by, horse-drawn carriages with gawking tourists, and wooden carts pulled by donkeys that frankly need a break. We’ve also got a baby carrier which we use during airport transits and transfers.
Skip traditional riads for now
They’re intricately and gorgeously decorated with tiles, stones, marble, sharp edges, slippery surfaces, and everything else that can possibly crack your baby’s skull by mistake. Especially if your baby is walking. Ours was already scrambling along steadily by 11-months but wobbly feet meant she was trotting around like a drunkard and was always running a few inches out of our grip. We did stay at a nice baby-friendly hotel (Les Jardins de la Medina) right in the Kasbah quarter of the medina and it was a riad on tranquil drugs complete with a magnificent outdoor garden which all the balconies looked on to. Will share photos on a post dedicated to this place.
Forget three square meals a day
It just won’t happen with a baby. By the time 5-6pm rolls around, you’re already thinking about your baby’s own nightly routines – baths, baby dinner, sleep time. So do your restaurant splurging during the day for lunch. Because once dinner rolls around, you’ll probably have passed out by 8pm.
Hire a guide to show you around the souks first
Most hotels and riads can organize one and relatively cheaply too. I personally love to set off and explore on my own, but the one thing I didn’t want was to get so helplessly lost with a baby in tow. So we got a guide to show us around including shortcuts as well as give us quick tips on what to do/not do. Then we set off on our own afterwards.
Enjoy the food
Tagines with delicious fall-off-the-bone lamb and chicken. Feather light couscous that melts in your mouth. Chewy Moroccan pancakes. Go ahead and let your baby dig in with reckless abandon (well, skip honey products and nuts before 1 year old).
If you and/or your baby are picky eaters, pack your own food.
People will kiss your baby
I’m certainly not the finicky kind and I’m open to people interacting and connecting with my child (within reason of course). It’s extremely important for her at this young age to start seeing a sea of different faces and cultures. If you have a baby, he/she will be ripped out of your arms, carried, swung around, tossed into the air, and played with by everyone from hotel staff to market vendors. If you are the finicky kind, make sure you pack extra wet wipes and antibacterial lotion because you will need them.
Shell out the dirhams
You should be willing to shell out a few extra dirhams for peace of mind. Whether it’s arranging an airport transfer beforehand if arriving in the evening or at night. Or paying a local guide to show you around, Marrakech can be quite stressful and so much so when you’re dragging a baby along with you.
After suffering heatstroke in Egypt that scared me, I’ve always been paranoid when traveling through hot climates and always carry water – bottled water – with me. Even here in Stockholm, My husband and I usually have a bottle with us everywhere we go. Make sure you have at least one bottle with you and give baby constant sips to prevent dehydration. It may seem like a no brainer, but chances are if you’re not constantly drinking yourself, you’ll probably forget to give baby a few sips every now and then.
If you’ve already been traveling with your infant, you already know that you will not see and do half of what you’ve set out to do. Be realistic with your itinerary. So we didn’t get to visit all the restaurants I received as recommendations. While I explored Djemaa El-Fna during the day, I didn’t go back out at night to photograph its energy which pained me greatly as a photographer.
The key to successfully traveling with an infant is flexibility and just going with the flow. Mine has already been to nine countries before her first birthday and we have a few more in the works (God willing).
I’m already looking forward to going back to Morocco and exploring the outskirts including the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara, Fes, berber villages, and Essaouira.