Are you traveling for business or pleasure?
Is the cost not an issue or are you traveling on a budget?
These are just but some of the issues a traveler may consider before embarking on a journey.
My Dubai travel group and I were traveling for pleasure and on a budget.
There was of course some preparations and considerations taken into account behind the scenes before finally hoping on a plane to our vacation destination.
Here are some of them.
First and foremost, out with the myth that you have to be rich to travel.
There is so much information out in the wide world web on ways one can travel more with ‘less’ money. You just have to be creative.
And yes! You can visit Dubai on a budget. How we did it? Through saving!
The idea to visit Dubai was floated around last year among my peers and it sparked an interest on a number of us. Number one on the list of concerns for most of us was how we were going to fund the trip.
It all boiled down to saving!saving!saving! Personally I began setting aside some money monthly in a locked savings account specifically for this trip.
It is undeniable that saving can be tricky. When embarking on a journey to save for whatever purpose, ‘backsliding’ happens to the best of us. So how did we emerge ‘victorious’? Two words…….WhatsApp Group.
We created a WhatsApp group where we motivated each other to keep the savings flame burning, from time to time, and to avoid the temptations to use the money elsewhere. Guess what? It worked.
I strongly recommend putting down a plan on how to raise your funds and sticking to it early enough before your chosen travel date, so that you are ready in good time financially.
Remember to budget something for shopping too. Shopping can also be on a budget in Dubai. For instance in one of the Day to Day Supermarkets, everything at the clothing and shoes section costs 10.50 dirham. You can definitely get some good purchases from there. I know I did.
To use or not to use a travel agency?
I mean, the idea of having someone else do all the ‘hard’ work while you get to enjoy the fun part is appealing, right?
It is however really up to you on whether you choose to make each and every arrangement of your travel or you choose to have a travel agency do it for you.
People have divergent views about travel agencies from experience, information or misinformation.
If you have read Mombasa Go-Kart you know that my playground in terms of visiting places was school and back home. So on my debut vacation trip out of the country I preferred to let the experts give me offers, and I gave my acceptance to the ‘best’ offer available.
My travel buddies and I took our time to do research on travel agencies both online and through word of mouth from people we know who had actually used the travel agencies we zeroed in. We got quotations from ‘shortlisted candidates’ and then we made our choice, based on quality and cost. Thereafter, the agency took over the preparation.
Disclaimer. When using a travel agency, note that you are dealing with human beings and thus there is a possibility of there being some hitches. Therefore the research on which travel agency to use is really important to minimize on this possibility.
If you are however the hands-on type and want to do all the planning yourself, go right ahead. Your vacation, your rules.
But if you are a first timer like I was, I strongly recommend you go the travel agency way to make your experience less stressful.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
You may want to take into account the weather in Dubai when choosing your travel period.
As it as been seen time and again, the weather can be a determinant on whether or not Dubai will be crowded with tourists.
The weather in Dubai has time and again been described as having two seasons, summer and winter. Noting that Dubai is a desert, what this actually means is that temperatures are lower during winter (not actual winter with snow) and are higher during summer. Dubai has higher turnout of tourists during the winter season which is between November and March as compared to the summer season.
Expect the hotel prices to be higher when the demand is high during the ‘winter’ season.
If you are however not a crowds person and you also want to cash in on discounted cost on the hotels without necessarily experiencing the highest temperatures of Dubai, you can travel during the shoulder months of April and May, which is when summer is just starting.
Another aspect you can take into consideration to determine when to travel to Dubai is the Dubai events calendar. You may arrange for your visit to Dubai to coincide with an event of your choice. Such events include the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Food Festival, and Dubai Summer Surprises.
There are several reasons why one would choose to fly with one airline over the others. On our part, we considered the arrival airport, flying time, and air ticket cost.
With the options we were presented with in the quotations by the travel agencies, what we noticed is that you have the option of either flying to Dubai International Airport or Sharjah Airport. We were booked in a hotel apartment in Deira so flying to Sharjah Airport would mean a longer shuttle ride.
Therefore, for us we felt it was important to note the airport distance from where we would be residing during our stay in Dubai, as we did not want to waste valuable time in airport transfers. So airlines flying to Dubai International Airport were preferred.
If you are flying from Nairobi, Kenya you have the option of either taking a direct or a connecting flight.
It is noteworthy that there are various connecting flights that pass through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi Kenya that will end up in Dubai as one of their destinations. What this means is you will pass through a number of countries’ airports, probably have to wait for some hours before taking off again, thus more time spent before you reach your destination. Again, waste of precious time.
We preferred direct flights from Nairobi to Dubai, which take approximately 5 hours to destination.
The cost of the air ticket can also be one of the things to take into account.
Look out for promotions that airlines have from time to time for reduced air ticket cost, to ensure you spend less. Anything to cut on costs.
The beauty of having a travel agency, they keep an eye out for you for such promotions.
TRAVEL IN A GROUP
If you prefer solo traveling, there is nothing wrong with that.
I am simply here to tell you from my experience that traveling in a group has its perks too. For one, the trip is more interesting due to the various personalities, and also you can cost share. This really proved helpful as we managed to afford staying in a 5 star hotel apartment at Deira, but still within our budgets.
Also you can cost share on cab/taxi costs, and thus easily get around in style inexpensively.
How big should the group be? That is entirely up to you trippers. As for us, we traveled as a group of 5 in this trip, and I loved every bit of it.
Knowing what to wear helps in minimizing your luggage, as we learnt the hard way. Leave the ‘maybe clothes’ and pack only the essentials.
Note that you may have to adhere to a dress code in some selected places, such as some clubs, mosques, and the more traditional areas populated with the locals. It is therefore advisable to find out before hand if the places you intend to visit have a dress code to avoid embarrassment and being turned away.
Generally however the dress code is actually mostly relaxed in Dubai. Most of what is acceptable in Kenya as appropriate dressing passes as appropriate in most touristic areas in Dubai.
Another way you can reduce your luggage if you plan to shop for your personal clothes, is to opt to carry less clothes, and wear the clothes that you will buy once in Dubai. One of my group members on this trip to Dubai just went with the clothes he had on and bought everything he wore during our stay in Dubai. So coming back to Kenya he only had shopping luggage unlike us who had much more due to the luggage we went with to Dubai. This may be extreme, but if it works for you, you may opt for it.
While on the dress code topic, note to wear comfortable clothes and shoes when flying as you are going to spend some hours in the plane. You may want to pack a pair socks and gloves just in case the AC on board proves to be too much, which was my case.
I hope this was helpful trippers! Safe journey!
Also read : Dubai Series: A Trip to Dubai