Hi friends! Wow! It’s been a minute since I’ve posted anything to my blog. The last few months have been kind of crazy with this huge family vacation and finding out we are pregnant with baby #2! I hope to get back to posting more regularly on Instagram and my blog now that I am through the first trimester and feeling more like myself. Thanks for sticking with me during this crazy time! Anyhow, this trip was so much fun because my hubby actually had off work the whole time and his parents were able to go with us too! It was so nice to be with family and cross a few more things off our bucket list. I wanted to hurry and get a travel guide together before I forget everything since we saw so much over the 2 weeks we were gone.
One of the biggest questions I get asked is why did you go to Dubai? And I have 2 answers to that. My husband has always wanted to visit Cape Town, that’s been his top choice for the past few years. Unfortunately it is SOOOO far away from the US so Dubai is a big layover hub. Since we were laying over there anyway we decided to spend a few days there to break up our trip and do some exploring. Plus Dubai has always been on our bucket list as well so it worked out perfectly!
Just a few things about Dubai if you decide to go here one day. It can get VERY hot. I recommend researching a lot about the weather before you plan your trip. We went in early October and it was hot but definitely bearable. I was so sad that the Miracle Gardens doesn’t open until November so I didn’t get to see that this trip. Also their weekends fall on Friday and Saturday, which is like our Saturday and Sunday, so if you plan on purchasing tickets to anything keep in mind that these days will be busier and could be more expensive too. The last thing I wanted to mention is about PDA. This is really frowned upon in Dubai so try to refrain from PDA as well as holding hands to be respectful of the culture. It’s always best to brush up on the culture a little bit before you visit a new country.
HOW TO PLAN YOUR TRIP:
Since my husband’s parents were traveling with us and they live in Florida, we decided to fly into Tampa a day early to spend with family and the next day we all drove to Ft. Lauderdale and flew from there to Dubai direct which was a 14 hour flight. We flew at night so it would be easier on our toddler and so we could all get some rest on the plane. We flew with Emirates and they were top notch! We still had no leg room but the food was pretty decent and there were TV’s in the back of every chair which was very nice. We did buy Olivia a seat so we could have a little more room to stretch out. I recommend just keeping an eye out for sales on the website and jumping on it when you see a good price. Also try to be a little flexible on your travel days based off the price of the tickets so you can get a better deal. We also decided to get a rental car in Dubai since we were traveling with a toddler and it would be way too hard to get around with Uber. We booked our rental car through Avis and picked the car up right at the airport. It was very convenient especially traveling with so many people and so much luggage. If you do decide to get a car and drive yourself make sure you download Google Maps before you go to help you get around. The iPhone maps were not working for us. Also make sure you allow plenty of extra time to get where you are going because it is a little bit confusing to drive and there is a good chance you will get lost HAHA!
WHERE TO STAY:
I mentioned many times before on my blog how we are huge fans of Marriott. We love how Marriotts are all over the world and they always seem to be in really good locations too. For this trip we stayed at the JW Marriott Marquis which was a 5 star resort. This hotel was so gorgeous and everything was so fancy. They do offer free valet which is nice if you decide to get a car. They are also one of the few hotels to serve alcohol in the city so the hotel gets very crowded in the evening. We had a beautiful ocean view room on the 48th floor and it was amazing to watch the sunset with the floor to ceiling windows.
THINGS TO DO:
Burg Khalifa- This is a must see when going to Dubai. The Burg Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and offers such a breathtaking view of the city! There are 2 different observation decks that you can go to. We chose to go to the 125th floor which cost around $37 USD. You can choose to go all the way up to the 148th floor, which also gives you access to visit the 125th floor, but it will cost you about $100 USD. Since it was 4 adults traveling with us we decided to just do the 125th floor which was plenty high enough for us. We’ve been in buildings in Shanghai over 100 floors as well so we didn’t feel the need to pay all the extra money to go up a few more floors. If you have never been up that high though you may want to do the top just for the experience! I highly recommend purchasing tickets online in advance since some of the popular time spots can sell out and I believe the cost is a little more expensive at the door. You will have to check your stroller if you bring one but we did get the VIP treatment going through the lines with a baby so they were very accommodating
Desert Tour- I highly recommend doing a desert tour if you can. I was a little hesitant to do this myself because of traveling with a toddler and being pregnant. I was nervous about being so far away and out in the dessert in the high heat, but honestly it was one of our favorite parts of the trip and I’m so glad I went! We booked a tour right in the lobby of our hotel. You had the option for an early morning tour until about noon, or an evening tour that went from about 3pm-9pm. We chose to do the evening tour because you also got a traditional dinner and belly dancing included. Since it was 4 adults and 1 baby we had our own private car. We requested a car seat but I did not feel comfortable with the one that was provided so we opted to use our own. The package you book will typically include dune rides but since I was pregnant they would not let me or the baby do this. We opted do do an animal safari instead so our family could stay together the whole time. Olivia loved seeing all the birds and wildlife living in the dessert. We still got to ride all through the dessert, take a bunch of pics and watch the sunset, we just went at a much slower pace. After this you are taken to a huge camp where there are camel rides, henna tattoos, lots of traditional food and belly dancing. It was such a fun evening! Since I was pregnant I was not able to ride on the camel but my husband took Olivia and she had so much fun!
Check out the Beaches- There are lots of beautiful beaches in Dubai! One of the first days we were there we had a nice relaxing beach day right by the Burg Al Arab. The water was so warm and the sand was so soft! The Burg Al Arab is one of the fanciest and most expensive hotels in the world. It is absolutely beautiful and an icon of Dubai. I wasn’t sure how girls would be dressed at the pools and beaches in Dubai so I wanted to make sure I had a cute one piece that did not show a lot of cleavage but was also stylish and cute. THIS one was perfect! And there were a lot of girls at the beach wearing bikinis. Dubai is a lot more conservative with the way women dress so I tried to be very respectful of the culture while I was there.
Dubai Mall- There are several really nice malls in Dubai but this one was by far our favorite. We went here a bunch of times actually for dinner and there were so many good options to choose from. There were some American favorites too if you have any picky eaters. We opted for Cheesecake Factory one night. There is a huge aquarium right in the middle of the mall. It was truly amazing to see! One of the days we planned on doing the aquarium but once we got there we realized that basically the whole aquarium can be seen from the mall so there was no need to pay to walk through. Olivia loved seeing all the fish and there were sharks and sting rays too! The mall also has a huge ice rink so if you are into ice skating you could do that here too. The mall is connected to the Burg Khalifa as well and outside by the water is a ton of nice restaurants to choose from. Also every 30 minutes after sunset there is a beautiful fountain show that is a must see! The mall does get SUPER crowded at night so if you are going with little ones I highly recommend going to dinner a little early or you could be waiting for quite a while.
There is so much more to do than we had time for! Dubai is magical and just as fun if you are traveling with little ones! Just try to make the trip fun for the kids too and everyone will be happy. I will be doing a post soon all about traveling so far with a toddler. Some things have changed since my last post about traveling with kids so I want to share more about what worked for us. Thank you so much for reading!