Who says you have to choose between family and friends on your vacation?
Pick the right destination and you, yes you, can have it all!
Want proof? I spent two weeks in Dubai.
The trip came at the tail end of almost 8 months of traveling the world with my husband and two sons. That's a lot of "put the toilet seat down! " and "does no one else smell that?"
I needed girl time.
But with four months to go before I could separate from my family, how to work it in?
I've been to the Emirate three times before and knew that if there was anywhere I could find a way to split my personality (mom/woman) this was the spot.
Here's how you can make the most of a trip to the Emirate whether you're going with the girls or hanging with the fam or both.
Girls Gone Dubai
Nosh: Sure, you can find everything from Pappa Johns to our own Tim Hortons here but if you really want to get a girls' night going start with drinks at the 360 degrees bar before popping into Reem Al Bawadi for dinner. You can snack on the Lebanese cuisine or give the Shisha (tobacco water pipe) a try. (Any or all of the above will provide plenty of laughs, a sampling of how the locals do it and the guarantee that you won't go home hungry.
Have Fun: Take on the city with a friendly guide and driver that know the Emirate like the back of their hand. Having the folks from Knight tours on our side meant we could wander in and out of the spice souq stalls or shop the world's biggest malls never wondering how we'd get those packages back to the hotel. And if it's adventure you seek, they've got that too. Nothing says good times like grown women on the sand dunes with only a boogie board to get them to the bottom.
Relax: Whether your perfect day means a deep tissue rubdown or simply a soak and steam, the spas across Dubai have got it. We tried out the Spa at Park Hyatt and the Ritz Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre. I had trouble remembering my name when they were over. That good.
Family Friendly Dubai
Frolic: Between the water coaster rides that mean you'll never have to stop being wet to the food concession spots throughout the park, the kids can spend a full day at Wild Wadi. Up the adrenaline factor at Atlantis where tamer splash pools are balanced out with a sky high sheer "leap of faith" drop. Warning: They will make you do it too.
Educate: Sign up for the cultural breakfast at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and both you and the kids will gain some insight into Muslim culture and traditions. Your hosts are lively and there likely isn't any question they haven't heard yet.
Explore: Whether it's dining overlooking the world's largest musical fountain, making your way to the top of the Burj Khalifa, taking a dune bashing tour of the dessert or just riding the Jetsons-like metro, the creativity of this emirate will make just walking the streets an adventure.
Keys to making the trip work:
- Book an Emirates flight: I've only ever flown Emirates Dubai and each time I've been impressed with the offerings. (Full disclosure: One of those times was in the first class cabin on the A380 with access to the shower spa. Hard not to fall in love after that. But the other great thing is that Emirates will arrange your entry Visa for you. That alone is worth its weight in gold.
- Check the weather: Yes this is the desert but nights are cool and some days can be too. Make sure you've got a sweater along and a scarf is a great addition if you're planning on getting out on the dunes.
- Work out the logistics before leaving home: This is a city that is still changing all the time. If you want to be sure of what's new and what's open do a little research before leaving home. The Dubai Tourism website is a great place to start.www.dubaitourism.ae