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Dubai is a weird and wonderful place; it’s a huge buzzing metropolis by the sea that sprawls out into the middle of the desert. This concoction of different aspects makes for a unique holiday experience, and it also makes for a fresh challenge in packing. The modern traveller has to face increasingly stringent baggage weight limits, and this presents a challenge in itself, but with this guide you’ll have a nice complete and compact suitcase for your trip.
Let’s start with a couple of basics that you should think about, wherever you’re going. Think to yourself ‘Do you need this?’ and ‘Will you use this?’ when packing. This is absolutely essential for a decent travelling experience, and it makes for an efficient use of precious luggage space. So bear that in mind.
The first thing to say when thinking about Dubai is that, when going in the summer, is that it’s hot. As a result you are going to need a few things. Sunscreen is essential, the sun beats down virtually all year round in Dubai and you will need some protection. Another essential is a decent hat. You could just use a baseball cap although these tend to get quite hot and sweaty. A safe bet is a bucket hat (sometimes known as a fishing hat) which is a great choice because it provides good cover from the sun for your face and the back of your neck too. They’re also usually made of cotton, so they breathe easily. If you can pull off the look of a Panama hat they’re very breathable too.
Whatever hat you choose to take, a good tip is to take a white or light coloured hat. Lighter colours reflect the heat from the sun’s rays, whereas darker ones absorb them, so you will stay extra cool. This applies to clothes too, so some nice light shorts and shirts are a good option when you’re going to the beach. Also, don’t take too many clothes. Depending on how long you’re going this amount will vary. But if you’ve got a good 4 or 5 t-shirts, a few dress shirts for going to dinner in the evening and a couple of pairs of shorts you can quite easily get things cleaned in Dubai and a lot of hotels will offer a laundry service. One pair of trousers should be plenty. There’s no delicate way to say this, but as a very hot place it is beneficial to take a good amount of socks and underpants for when you’ve been walking around for a long time!
Odds are, most of the time you will be chilling out on the beach or by the pool – so you’re going to need some swimwear. Boardshorts are great because you can throw a shirt on and walk around town should the mood strike and depending on what the design is they will look like regular shorts. Here’s a tip, take two pairs. You will probably end up going swimming every day, most hotels there have pools, and it’s a decent idea to let one pair dry out properly (or maybe even get them cleaned) and alternating each time you go swimming.
A quick word on footwear – sandals or flip-flops and trainers are the best options. Perhaps if you’re a bit of an outdoorsman keen on some desert trekking a pair of good walking boots is advisable, but if you’re going in the summer like I did then you’d be mad to do so. If you are planning to go to a very fancy restaurant, just take some light leather shoes or some plain or dark coloured low-key trainers.
A lot of people like to take their gadgets with them during their holidays – and wisely so for the entertainment factor and for relaxing around the pool with some music. They can be cumbersome though, you don’t need a computer as internet access is common in hotels, or can be achieved in one of Dubai’s many internet cafes for a few dirhams. In any case smartphones nowadays will give you a good amount of internet access. If you’re a reader, and most people are on holiday, then take a unique or unusual book or two. Contemporary books are generally a more relaxing and easier read on holiday, and they can make your flights a lot more enjoyable.
Toiletries are good to pack, especially as you don’t know in advance what your hotel might have – but bear in mind that all your favourite products will be widely available in Dubai’s many malls and supermarkets, so don’t go crazy. Some shaving foam, a razor and some anti-perspirant will be useful but also shower gel and shampoo might be a good thing to bring too. You don’t need to bring much as everything you need is widely available – although to save a bit of money it might be wise, though most items will be of a reasonable price.
So there you have the man’s packing guide for those travelling to Dubai. If you’re bringing the wife or girlfriend, not that you should consider them part of your packing, then this little guide for women might de-stress you both when it comes to getting ready to go. Just make sure you keep your documents, passport and tickets safely stored away in your hotel and you will be well prepared for all Dubai has to offer.