Many people dream of visiting Dubai, and as someone who did not want to live here but now does (hehe), I can say it totally rocks! There are massive malls, amazing beaches, great food and beautiful mosques. But before you jump on the plane to Dubai International Airport, you need to pack.
Bummer. I am one of those people who is extremely bad at packing. I mostly pack the night before and I forget about 10 things on average every time I travel. I literally have to make a list of what to bring every time I hop on a plane or I would just arrive on the other side of the world without any luggage.
But then when you are super-duper prepared, you pack too much and you get angry stares in the check in queue as you struggle to find your credit card to pay for the excess luggage. And we all know that excess luggage costs A LOT of money, money you could have spent during your trip.
By the way, Dubai has some amazing hotels. You can book your hotel here.
I have made an overview of things you cannot forget when travelling to Dubai!
Protection against the sun
Dubai is a desert city. That’s pretty obvious. The sun shines almost every day and the only months you can expect a downpour or two are January, February and parts of March. But other than that, you will need sun cream to protect your skin.
In winter you will be able to get away with factor 20 – maybe 30 when you have fair skin while in summer you should almost always opt for factor 50, no matter what your skin type is.
I am someone who tans quite quickly and I arrived in Dubai with a factor 30 sun spray while my husband – he is British of Irish descend so he is as white as the inside of a potato, opted for the factor 50. It did not take long for me to burn (I never burn!) and start using his factor 50 protection.
The sun is not something to toy with in Dubai. Although, when visiting in the hot season, you will probably not find yourself outside very much, when you do it is important to use protection and use it often.
We did quite a lot of research and found that P50 works the best. It is a once a day all day protection and even though it says you only need to apply once, I would apply at least twice a day when you are planning on swimming.
Don’t forget to bring some aftersun. In case you get bruned aftersun will soothe your skin and help take away the pain. You will also want to bring a sunhat or a least a cap to protect your head. Sunstroke will literally cut your holiday short!
Clothes to bring to Dubai
As Dubai will be hot, you might be tempted to pack a lot of open tops, short dresses and mini shorts. Although you are perfectly welcome to, I would just as well pack some essentials with long sleeves and legs. In fact: I have written a comprehensive guide on what to wear in Dubai that might be helpful when you have a lot of questions about the Dubai Dress code.
You will obviously want to bring clean underwear, socks, PJ’s and all the other essentials, but you should not forget your swim suit. You can even bring a bikini as long as the bottoms are not a string. There are ample beaches and pools in Dubai you might want to visit.
You also might want to bring a cardigan. And before you will tell me that I’m crazy and that it is way too hot to wear a cardigan, I can tell you that going from 45 degrees to 22 (in like for instance a mall) is a massive difference in temperature and that you might feel a bit chilly. In summer I always carry around something small and warm for when I need to go to someplace airconditioned.
Also bring a nice dress or a great outfit for Brunch. When in Dubai – especially on a Thursday or a Friday, you have to go to Brunch. I have posted a review of my favourite Brunch at Al Dawaar, but there are party brunches as well. Brunch in Dubai is a special occasion where drinks and food are all you can eat/drink for 3 to 5 hours – alcohol included. Ask expats or locals, it is a must do in this wonderful city!
All in all, you will want to take a variety of clothes ranging from beachware to fancy shmancy sexy dresses for brunch!
What shoes to wear in Dubai
I always tell people to take flip flips. They are just very comfy to walk around in and a lot of people are wearing slippers. When wearing slippers, you will need to protect your feet against the sun as burning your feet is very painful!
Other than that, I would definitely bring a pair of comfy shoes like all stars or vans or anything else you will be able to walk 12000 to 15000 steps in – because that is what a day in Dubai Mall will do to you!
When you are looking to also go to a brunch, a club, a ladies’ night or a nice restaurant, I would definitely also take a pair of nice shoes – leather for men and nice flats or heels for women.
What beauty products to pack for Dubai?
Dubai is warm. You will burn, you will sweat, you will curse the sun! I already told you to bring a good sun cream and I mean it. Getting burned is not great – especially when you have a holiday full activity planned.
Because the sun is so harsh in the United Arab Emirates, you will also want to take a great moisturiser with you. I cannot really make a great recommendation on moisturisers as moisturisers are very personal. I know that my skin does not really like the moisturizer my husband uses and his skin absolutely hates mine. Since moisturisers are so important in this dry country – you can literally feel the moisture leave your skin during the day, you can best go with a moisturiser you are comfortable with. I would, however, stay away from moirsturisers containing a lot of paraffin. Although your skin might feel moisturised, that little layer of oil on your skin doesn’t really do anything except dry out your skin even more in the sun.
Another product you might want to invest in is a beauty oil. Oils are very popular here in Dubai, just because of the dry climate. I personally use Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse. I go to a bottle pretty quickly here in Dubai. My skin often feels dry – the other week even, my forehead felt incredibly dry. I soaked it with oil and massaged it in. It felt great and my skin’s thirst was visibly quenched.
Another product you literally cannot forget is a good cleanser. The air in Dubai is full of little dust particles. If you come in winter and are visiting on one of the few days it rains, you will see how the rain brings down massive mounts of desert dust. People wearing lenses might also experience dry eyes (take enough lens solution and maybe even an eye bath!) because of this.
For your skin, however, it means that you will want to cleanse consistently at the end of the day. Not only will you be sweaty and dusty, you will also want to cleanse away the city’s pollution. As there is very little wind the pollution just stays in the air. As you will be sweating all day your face will be full of pollution particles – even though you might not see them.
As for a great cleanser I can recommend Merumaya Melting Cleansing Balm as it is luscious and soothes the skin. It leaves your skin feel soft and moisturised. It might be hard on the eyes though. I now use the comforting gel cleanser by Your Good Skin. It is not the best, but it is cheap and does the trick. It leaves your skin feel mositurised, but definitely not as luscious as the Merumaya one. But as the cleanser for Your Good Skin is cheap and available in Dubai, it is my only choice at the moment.
You will also need to keep your hair from drying out. This is not a joke. The sun and the chlorine from the pool react with the dryness of the air to dry out your hair. When I went back to Belgium over Christmas people literally reacted to my hair being fizzy and dry. I constantly had knots and my hair lost its shine because of the sun. You can obviously bring a good shampoo and a good conditioner and mask, but I would also have a look at Moroccan Oil. A lot of people in this region use oils in their hair to keep their hair shiny and healthy. There are many beauty parlors that will put oils in your hair for you to let them soak overnight. The result is absolutely amazing! My hair looked like I just came from an expensive hairdresser. I now have a small flask of Moroccan Oil I use in my hair once a week overnight.
As for makeup try to keep your make up to a minimum during the day. Don’t go wearing thick foundations as you will sweat like a pig. Start your morning with cleansing, then use some oil on your face and end with putting on moisturizer and ultimately top off with the SPF 50. Your skin will thank you later! I normally never have breakouts but when I wear foundation during Dubai Summer I am sure to get a face full of nasty zits.
Beauty products are expensive in Dubai. Even in shops like Boots and Sephora you will pay about 20% more for the same products you can find at home or on the internet. This is one of the reasons why I always put in massive skincare and make up orders when going to Europe of the UK. Best bring your own products form home or buy them in duty free as you will pay a premium in Dubai.
Essential medication to take to Dubai
Travelling to Dubai is not as dangerous for your gut as travelling to – let’s say Nepal or Thailand. The chance you will spend a day on the toilet is pretty small, but I would definitely bring some anti diarrhea pills anyway. In Dubai people eat a lot of Indian and Pakistani food and when this does not agree with your stomach you might have a night of trouble ahead.
Also pack a few strips of paracetamol. Paracetamol sold here is Panadol. It is a branded painkiller and thus it might be more expensive than at home – I know that 2 strips of paracetamol in the UK are about 30P – here it is closer to £4.
You do not need any jabs or any special medication against diseases you do not find at home.
If you need to take prescription drugs to Dubai you might want to check on this website first whether you can bring them into the country. You might need to get an e-approval from the government first as there can be hefty fines on bringing in prescription medicine into the UK.