Trista Morocco
Ker & Downey Travel Designer Trista Gage shares why Morocco is a destination worth considering for young, curious minds.  


As told to Rina Chandarana   

Arriving in a new destination after a long journey can be a little discombobulating. On our first morning, my 12-year-old daughter Nadine and I wake up early because of the nearby mosque’s before dawn prayer. Since the adhan isn’t heard back home, we’re quickly reminded that we’re in Morocco.    

Morocco seemingly couldn’t wait to welcome us with its rich blend of faiths, cultures, and traditions.   

Culture Through Food

It becomes immediately apparent that Morocco will fill both our hearts and our stomachs.  

During a day trip from Marrakesh to the Atlas Mountains we meet a Berber family who teaches us how to prepare a fragrant blend of meat, vegetables, and spices in an earthenware pot called tagine, along with fresh bread and warm cups of mint tea. The experience feels authentic, giving us a closer glimpse at village life in this remote place.  

A giant ladle dips into a giant vat of steaming hot soup in Marrakesh's Medina. The seller hands me a bowl with olive oil drizzled on top. We chat with the local people on their lunch breaks as we eat the super delicious soup and sip traditional tea—both as warm and welcoming as the Moroccan people. 

And at Essaouira's marché aux poissons, or fish market, the local fish mongers haggle with customers over the latest catch of salmon pink prawns, shiny eels, spiky sea urchins, and sardines with scales glimmering in the warm seaside light. There is an incredible array of captivating creatures pulled from the blue-green depths, all readily available for us to pick and choose what we want cooked on the spot for lunch. 

Food is almost always a concern for traveling parents, but Morocco is surprisingly easy for children’s appetites. Both couscous and tagine are fairly simple meals that are paired with grilled chicken or other meat. It is also acceptable to request raisins and figs (common in Moroccan cuisine) to be removed for more picky eaters. Even vegetarians have ample options here.  

Morocco Travel Mother Daughter Trip Ker Downey

Bringing Morocco to Life

It is easy to get lost in Morocco's labyrinthine-like cities without an expert guide. Fez’s medina is a narrow patchwork of lanes, but our guide helps us navigate the narrow maze of lanes where my daughter searches for little trinkets to take back home, leaving me with no option but to buy another bag for all these Moroccan mementos created by talented artisans.  

Our guides bring travel alive for Nadine, distilling cultural and historic information down into bite size nuggets and stories, further immersing our family into Morocco’s fascinating cultural fabric.  

But it's a two-way street: Our guide also appreciates Nadine and her insights into his home country. I can tell that he enjoys going out of his way to get to know her interests and engage with her. The locals value her all-in attitude and her willingness to learn about their customs and traditions. 

Making Furry Friends

Nadine seems to find animals no matter where we are in the country.  

In the desert town of Skoura she hears about a tortoise strolling the premises but is disappointed she hasn’t spotted the hard-shelled fellow yet. Overhearing her dismay, our wonderful guide Mohammed briefly disappears, returning with the tiny tortoise, to my daughter’s delight.   

Even on the long and dusty drive from Fez to the spellbinding Sahara Desert, we encounter a group of camels. Before we set out on our camel ride through the sweeping sands, Nadine proceeds to excitedly name the funny creatures. 

And in Essaouira, stray cats eagerly sit below the carts in hopes of a tasty meal slipping down to the wet stones. A precious black-and-white kitten crawls onto Nadine’s foot, immediately earning a place in my daughter’s animal-loving heart.  

When we bid farewell to Morocco several days later, I am almost tempted to check Nadine’s bag for the cuddly creature.  


Morocco Travel Ker Downey Samuel C Unsplash

Road Trips and Relaxation

“Are we there yet?” is a phrase I thankfully don't hear much of from Nadine during our sometimes very long journeys across Morocco. With limited domestic flights, the only way to get from place to place is by car, sometimes on road trips as long as eight hours. To banish the boredom, Nadine downloads stories to listen to in the car.   

With the long distances, it once again helps having a guide in Morocco. They allow us to visit several places to break up the lengthy car journeys. One memorable stop is at the ancient wells where we learn how water (a scarce resource) was collected long ago.    

Fortunately, these road trips are also combined with plenty of immersion and relaxation. At a beautifully restored kasbah and spa in Skoura, we find just that. Nadine is happy to hang out in the hotel swimming pool, and we parents are thrilled to be pampered in the hammam. We only wish we carved out more time for picnicking under the palms. Though we find contentment in lingering over casual breakfasts and lunches served in the garden inhabited by some more adorable kittens.  

Since returning home, Nadine remembers our time in Morocco fondly—our camel ride in the desert, our fun sidecar tour through Marrakesh, our many pottery and cooking experiences, her henna tattoo, and, of course, the families and guides we connected with along the way. As a parent, I feel Morocco offered the opportunity to immerse my daughter in a place so different from home where we could learn about different cultures, try delicious cuisine, and learn about Moroccan customs. Travel offers a new and humble perspective of the world. My hope is to give this to our daughter whenever we travel together. 

Sahara Desert Camp Morocco

Kid's Travel Tips in Morocco 

  • The more time you have in Morocco, the better. Eight days is good, but two weeks will give you a more varied experience. 
  • Skip trying to see every Moroccan city, opting for either Marrakesh, Essaouira, and Skoura or Rabat, Fez, and Tangiers.   
  • Stay an extra night in the desert to really get a chance to relax before heading off again on your journey. 
Pro Tip: Bring activities to entertain kids during long drives like drawing pads since Morocco is such a colorful place to capture with crayons.  


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