Although I have been travelling all around Europe in the last couple years I have never quite made it across the borders of the continent. When it was official that we’d be off to Dubai in March, my initial feeling were excitement and a small amount of panic. What do I pack? What am I going to wear? How am I going to prepare for the craziness of the UAE?
Holiday preparations have always been amongst the things I thoroughly enjoy as I get to project my inner excitement onto something actually useful for the trip.
Step 1 – Collecting Information
Dubai is a place of extremes and full of rules Europeans in particular aren’t necessarily aware of when they travel there for the first time. When I go abroad, it is important to me topay respect to the culture, even if it differs from my own. This is why I already started digging into Dubai’s
customs and traditions back in February because I wanted to have enough time to gather information about my destination.
In terms of culture I can obviously only cite sources I used to increase my knowledge about Dubai at this point as I don’t have any personal experience of my own, After my trip I will be sharing an in depth travel report containing all things you need to know when travelling to the UAE. In order to prepare myself I took a look at various websites, blogs and travel sites to read about other people’s experiences and figured they were rather diverse – Dubai really must be a place looking different to everyone.
Dubai has a rather well developed public transport system including metro, boats, taxis and busses. Most important to me as a tourist was informing myself about the most efficient way of getting around Dubai. Taxis seem to be one of the most popular ways of transport as you travel big distances within the city. I figured that it’s best to combine metro, busses and taxis to get around. Taxis are insanely cheap in comparison to the average price you pay for a ride in Europe.
The best thing about Dubai taxis is that you don’t pay per minute but per driven kilometre, which hugely affects the price. One kilometre is charged with 1.60 Dirham which are approximately 40 cents. With this taxi calculator you can calculate the approximate price of your ride, divided into day and night tarifs.
For tourists the best option to get around via metro or busses is to either buy a red or silver NOL card. These cards can be purchased at ticket counters and ticket machines at several metro stations. Whereas the red ticket can only be used for ten rides until it needs to be topped up, the silver card is valid for five years, costs 25 AED (6 Euro) and can be topped up with the amount of money you like. More information about the NOL card is available here.
A useful app for using public transport is „Wojhati“ which is the Citymapper of the UAE. It provides you with all the transport information you need and also offers a route planner and a map so you don’t get lost.
Step 2 – Booking Dubai Sights Beforehand
Even when you haven’t been to the UAE, you’ll probably have heard of the amount of impressive buildings you can visit when you’re there. I am usually not one to pre-plan an entire holiday as I love a certain feeling of spontaneity but in Dubai it is definitely recommendable to book things in advance. Get Your Guide offers incredible tours that you can book beforehand such as going up the Burj Khalifa and a camel ride in the desert. Especially around famous sights such as the Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the Burj Khalifa it makes sense to arrange your visit in advance.
Step 3 – Packing Your Suitcase
Bear in mind that Dubai is an emirate in the desert, meaning that temperatures can rise to up to 40 degrees in summer. The temperature and the original culture Dubai is embedded in defined the choices I made when packing my suitcase.
In the last couple years, Dubai has turned into an arabic tourist hotspot. Even though Dubai used to be rather conservative, rules for tourists have become less strict in the last couple years, I still think it’s important to appreciate and respect other people’s culture which is why I chose to mainly pack long skirts and dresses. They also protect you from the sun, so it’s a double win.
We are going to visit the mosque in Abu Dhabi where you’re required to cover your body. You can borrow long scarves to throw over but as I don’t want to queue for something that’s been worn by others multiple times, I additionally packed long patterned trousers that reach down to the floor.
One of the most important things when you’re travelling by plane is undoubtedly your hand luggage. Depending on the length and time of the flight I pack different things into my cabin bag, This time we’re travelling through the night so I packed things useful for a night flight. Below you can find a list of all the things I put into my hand luggage to Dubai, which is a six hour flight.
- Small tooth paste and tooth brush
- My contact lens care products and my glasses
- Charger and powerbank
- Books (currently reading „Gut gegen Nordwind“ by Daniel Glattauer)
- Cozy jumper and fluffy socks
- Makeup wipes
- Eye mask
- Neck pillow
- Snacks (fresh fruit, cereal bars and some sweets)
- Refillable water bottle (because keeping hydrated on the plane is important)
- Adapters to charge your electronic devices abroad
My advice is to always pack things you know make you feel comfortable. A plane can be a stressful environment for some so it is importan to listen to your body’s needs and ensure you’re starting into your holiday relaxed and prepared
Step 4 – Insurance
In Austria, the ÖAMTC offers an amazing insurance that keeps you save all around the world and does not only include medical care in emergencies but also insures your luggage if it goes lost. Obviously, the ultimate goal is to not need any of the offers at all but for worldwide travels it is always good to be on the safe side. The insurance is provided by the European travel insurance and costs 84 Euros for a whole year, which is amazing when you travel to different continents more than just once a year.
Step 5 – Off to Dubai
Now all you have to do is enjoy the UAE and embrace the fascinating world that was created on the grounds of Dubai.