Tips for Planning a Trip to Morocco with Kids

If you’ve followed my past Morocco posts on Twitter or read Morocco Family Adventure on Mother of All Trips, you know our experience in this North African country was tremendous. International trips that include multiple stops in remote locations, however, require meticulous planning. Add kids, and there’s a new layer of vulnerability and complexity to consider. There are things we (parents) did while traveling solo that we would never do with our precious offspring along.

Family Riding Camels in Sahara Desert Morocco
Camel trek in the Erg Chebbi dunes

For example, on our last trip to Morocco (pre-kids), a flight cancellation resulted in a snap decision to say “yes” when an airline representative — who never asked our name — put us in a random diesel Mercedes with a driver who spoke not a word of English for a 4-hour drive to Fez that began at 1 in the morning. We took turns staying awake to “watch the road” and thought for sure we’d end up on CNN the next day. We had no phone. Nobody knew where we were or who we were with … A travel “don’t” for sure.

Ait Ben Haddou Morocco
UNESCO-protected Ait Ben Haddou

Tips for Planning a Trip to Morocco with Kids

Tour Operator Beauty Pageant

The moral of this tale is that in places that are utterly foreign in every way where you don’t speak the language, it’s essential to have “known” local resources in place, particularly for logistics-intensive short trips (versus extended travel where you have the luxury of time to figure things out). The exception is if you are just heading to a single urban destination like Marrakech, where you can rely on a well-run hotel to manage transfers and hire guides.

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Woman Getting Henna Tattoo Morocco
Just for Mom. My “Berber Tattoo” courtesy of our guide’s wife

Given that Morocco is one of the world’s hot destinations right now, I found a somewhat surprising lack of credible content around family travel. I found an even slimmer list of tour operators who cater to families in a meaningful and high-quality way. This is not to say that there’s not a long list of people offering tours through Morocco — there is. Once I looked under the hood, the list shrank rapidly.

I interviewed operators who marketed themselves as kid-friendly, but after one discussion it was clear they had no clue. I spoke to local operators who were qualified, but the planning communication was too challenging. We didn’t want a group trip, which eliminated other possibilities. And finally, gone are the days where an operator can rely on “black box” resources and pricing — i.e. they don’t tell you exactly what you are doing or how they arrived at price points that seem inflated; they just stay “trust us.” My answer to that is, quite simply, NO.

Boy and Father in Sahara Desert
Nothing usual about this family travel experience

Kensington Tours

I discovered Kensington Tours 18 days before our departure. I was down the road with a few other operators, but the team at Kensington captured my attention as they scrambled to put together an itinerary to meet our needs. Last-minute planning requires extra effort, but they didn’t hesitate to tackle every request. Yes, I’m a blogger, and yes, they wanted to work with me; however, this was more than that. Other operators made excuses when I asked them to do the impossible and make the 20-hour trip to the desert kid-friendly — not Kensington Tours.

Our planner, Aurelie Gilles, worked tirelessly to structure the trip in a way that would be appealing for an 8-year-old. Moreover, she had experienced everything she recommended: hotels, excursions, drives — all of it. I can’t tell you how disconcerting it is to find that your trip planner tries to sell you on something they don’t really know about (the crime is not saying so at the front end).

Four days prior to our departure, we were still fiddling and confirming components of the trip. I work on media rates for hotel stays and at this point, it was simply too complicated to figure out pricing. Rather than throwing up their hands and quoting me list pricing for accommodations or asking me to do that legwork, Kensington Tours decided to host the bulk of my tour. This was an unexpected treat, to put it mildly, but it’s important to note that I decided to work with Kensington Tours before they told me they would be hosting so much of the trip. Here’s why:

Why I Selected Kensington Tours for our Morocco Family Holiday

These takeaways are specific to my trip, but at a high level, these are considerations for any tour operator beauty pageant. (See Dana’s tips for planning a trip with a tour operator for insight related to her Costa Rica family vacation).

US/Canada Office. It’s much easier to plan a trip with native English speakers. UK-based operators are an option, but as an American parent, there’s comfort in working with a team that plans trips for many American families, as they understand general bits about our needs and expectations. Americans don’t get six weeks of holiday per year — we’re picky!

Knowledge. An operator must have extensive firsthand knowledge about their destination. They’ll be outsourcing guides and drivers from local operators, but that is not an excuse for not having tried and tested anything and everything they recommend.

Flexibility. Many tour operators work with inflexible itineraries, meaning you must opt for a pre-selected list of hotels and services. This is one of Kensington Tours’ huge differentiators. Every item on your itinerary is flexible and interchangeable. This approach is ideal for those of us who are independent travelers at heart and are used to 100% customization.

Price. Kensington Tours is not the least expensive tour operator by any stretch, as they specialize in upscale and luxury tours. That said, since their clients have the ability to swap in different accommodations, there is the ability to bring down pricing accordingly. You pay a premium for what’s important — best-in-class drivers and guides — and balance this with value-oriented accommodations.

Credibility. I had never used Kensington Tours, nor did I have a direct reference (with more time I would have asked for this). Their media page is full of press from the world’s most coveted travel journals, including Travel and Leisure and National Geographic Traveler. They’ve won awards, not just secured article placement. Yes, their PR team has done a good job, but this kind of recognition means there is real quality behind the operation. Of course, I didn’t know that I’d love my trip so much until after the fact, so this didn’t play into my decision. But it can affect yours!

Tips for planning a family vacation with a tour operator

Tried and tested advice from an expert mom >

Relevant Links:

Meander through Tangier, Morocco

5 Outrageous Things to Do in Morocco with Teens

La Sultana Marrakech: Sleep Inside a Luxurious UNESCO World Heritage Site

Family-friendly sustainable tourism in Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains

A cultural gift over lunch on a family tour of Morocco

Editor’s Note: Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy.

Start a Discussion

  • Hello. We are a family of 5 with kids who will be 18, 12 and 12 when we travel to Morocco next December for the Christmas holiday. We are from Chicago and since it will be a long trip there and home, we do not want to spend too much time driving. I usually make all of the arrangements for our vacations, but am a little overwhelmed and could use your assistance. Would someone from ciaobambino be able to help me? You have always been such a great resource for our trips!

    • Hi Danielle, thank you so much for using our site for travel plans! We’d be more than happy to help. A Family Travel Advisor will get in touch via email and discuss our vacation planning service. Happy travels!

  • We too found Kensington expensive for our family trip in Dec 2018. We are a family of six from Isla Mujeres, Mexico (kids ranging in age from 14 to 7), and rely on ciaobambino for research for all our family trips. Can you recommend another Morocco operator?

    • Hi Scott, we’re so glad to hear that you use Ciao Bambino for your travel research! We can absolutely recommend another operator – I’ll have a Family Travel Advisor reach out in email. Thank you and happy travels!

  • Hello
    I was wondering if you had any other tour operators you suggest in Morocco?
    We have 5 children ages 2-12 and would like to book a trip that is fun for them.

  • Hello, I am traveling with my family (husband and 2 kids ages 7 &5)to Morocco in August for 10 day. We are having some challenges planning the trip/tour as we are thinking 3-4 days in Marrakech. Also a desert and/or beach stay.What is your take?Thank you in advance .

    • Hi there! Thanks for using our site. I’ll have a Family Travel Advisor reach out in email to talk with you about our trip planning service and how we can help with your Morocco plans. Happy travels!

  • Hello. My wife and I are travelling with three children 2,6,7. We will meet a friend in Marrakech and she has 10 days. My thought is 2 or 3 nights in Marrakech to visit and warm the children to the culture change. Is there another area maybe 2 or 3 hours away that the children and our friend would enjoy for another 5 days ? Maybe heading to the coast for beaches? Thoughts? Thank you.

    • Hi Mark, thanks for reaching out! We’ll have a Family Travel Advisor specializing in Morocco contact you via email to chat about how our service can help with your trip. Happy travels!

  • When you did the search for tour operators, were there any others you were considering? Kensington is a bit out of our price range. We tried to plan ourselves and are having a very hard time due to the transportation times and inability to book overnight trains online. Any mid-range kid friendly (2 year old) options? We have our flights already and nothing else. We fly into Tangier on the 17th of November and leave on the 27th of November. Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Rita – Thanks for using Ciao Bambino! Morocco is definitely one of those destinations where working with a tour operator can be a huge benefit. One of our Family Vacation Advisors will reach out in email to talk more about the various options and how we can help. Happy planning!

  • I am going to Morocco in mid April for four days—Marrakech. My husband, daughter (5 year old) and myself are interested in the Atlas Mountains and Agfay desert as well as exploring the cultural sites. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Victoria, We love an itinerary that includes Marrakech and the Atlas … we also loved Ouarzazate, and if you are OK with a very long drive, you can get to the sand dunes, which are amazing. To answer you other question, we don’t have a ground partner with an itinerary less than what Kensington offers to recommend that we’ve used, but you may want to check with the tourist board for ideas. Happy travels!

  • Kensington tours in Morraco start at $2600 per person and only go up from there. That’s a pretty pricy starting point that doesn’t include airfare.

    • Hi Laura – Sorry I missed this message when you first posted it. Their tours are all-inclusive and customized, so there is a variety of pricing, but I’d say that is probably a realistic average for them as they do luxury travel. We have some other suppliers we like to use for Morocco as well if you want us our help crafting an itinerary. Let me know and I’ll have someone follow up. Best, -Amie

      • Hi Amie,
        Regarding this question/answer from a year ago — we are wanting to go to Morocco for 2 weeks this coming June 2018. Per your advice, we’ve consulted with Kensington and the prices are pretty expensive given that children are included and there seems to be no accounting for that. In the answer to Laura you said you could give “some other suppliers”. Please, I’d love to know of any other tour companies that you would recommend. Also what are your very favorite places/cities in Morocco. We’re traveling with two daughter ages 15 and 10.

  • I’m sorry but where are the “tips” for travelling with children in Morocco?
    Other than hiring Kensington Tours was there even a single bit if advice?
    Sincerely disappointed,

    • Hi Charlotte, Thanks for sharing your thoughts here … And yes, my biggest piece of advice for traveling to Morocco (assuming you want to do a multi-city journey) is to select a reliable Tour Operator like a Kensington Tours, as they impact so much of the experience. I provided insight into what I looked for in my selection process – and these attributes can be used for any Tour Operator search. If you have a specific question, don’t hesitate to ask. Happy to provide additional info where I can. Best, -Amie

    • Did you end up taking your 2.5 year old? What advice do you have ? What did you do while there? I am having a difficult time finding reviews from people taking actually toddlers (many reviews are families with infants- but toddlers are a different ballgame;-)) .

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