Al Arabi Travel Agency

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10 Road Trips To Do Before You Die


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Packing lightly and efficiently… how is it done?

On Twitter recently, I caught a discussion about the best way to pack light so I thought it’d make an interesting little blog post to discuss some ideas and tips about the best way to go about it.

I love flying business class. It was a fantastic experience… the one time I actually flew in the cabin. As you’ve probably guessed, I do pretty much all of my travel in economy class and, thus, my baggage allowance usually sits around the 20-23kg mark. I used to constantly arrive at the airport in a sweaty state of fear that my suitcase would weigh too much and I’d be charged for excess baggage so I recently decided that enough was enough. Pack light, take only what I need and (hopefully) become a far more efficient traveller.

Furthermore, as I detailed in THIS POST, I’ll be backpacking around Italy in September. Isn’t it funny how the thought of carrying your entire luggage on your back (for pretty much 2 weeks straight) will frighten you into carrying less? I’m also going to include some community tips from Twitter.

Let’s begin!

  • Write a checklist. I find this really helps you sit and think about exactly what you need. In my experience, packing without a checklist caused you to pack far too much.
  • Plan your packing by day. This doesn’t work quite as well if you’re going on a long trip but, if you’re going for less than a week, plan your outfit for each day in advance and just pack what you need per day.
  • The packing vs rolling debate. Personally, I swear by rolling my tshirts and trousers whilst other people fold them. I roll mine very, very tightly and I find that I can fit more in a suitcase this way but it may well depend on the materials/tailoring of individual garments.
  • Stuff socks inside shoes. I can’t stress this one enough.. space inside shoes is just wasted space; use it! This tip endorsed by @SimonPThurston!
  • Pack underwear last. As the smallest garments in your case, pack your underwear right at the end. This was, you can use underwear/socks to ‘plug’ any small gaps that might be left over.
  • Toiletries tend to take up a lot of space. I try to collect sample sized deodorants, shower gels, shampoos etc. from the promotional stands that are put up in the malls and then keep them in a cupboard until my next trip. They’re usually about the right size for a 2 weeks trip and they take up far less space than the full sized toiletries you’d buy in the supermarket.
  • A follow up to the previous point – are you staying in hotels for your whole trip? Why not find out what toiletries they provide and pack accordingly?
  • Lots of opinions about toiletries. @papalurchdxb suggests ‘take no toiletries with you and buy at location’.
  • Pack according to the climate you expect. If you’re visiting Miami in summer, you’ll hardly need a winter jacket.
  • Via @SurenaSays on Twitter – ‘Buy a luggage weighing scale, it’s made (packing) much less stressful for me’
  • Via @chuiee – ‘For a holiday, carry a pair or two of jeans and a lot of tshirts. Re-use jeans’ She also says that you should ‘add a newspaper inside of pressed clothes while folding them to prevent it from having fold marks or creases’
  • From @ClaireRDXB – ‘Only take a carry on suitcase’
  • We’ve also had a tip about colour coordinating your outfits. @missmaxine says ‘I pick a colour, then stick to it. Makes it lighter and easier as everything then matches i.e. black and grey, or white etc.’

 So there we go – tips for packing efficiently. Many thanks to our Twitter contributions and please do keep the suggestions coming in by comment! 

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Summer on a slight shoestring

Summer is now upon us in the UAE and holiday planning has reached fever pitch. Whilst the traditional expat summer holiday revolves around going back ‘home’ for a couple of months, there’s an increasing amount of us who work for most of the summer with a couple of weeks holiday. I documented my summer holiday plan in a previous blog post but, today, let’s talk about cheaper, easier getaways from the UAE that are great options for a 3-10 day holiday.

In the UAE, we’re in a fairly unique position in that we’ve got a great range of holiday options never far away . We’re only really far away from the Americas, Australasia and the very Far East but there’s a whole host of options that are pretty much right on our doorstep. Today, let’s take a brief look at a few of them so you can make a fantastic summer holiday decision.

I’m also going to write some expected costs for each destination. For the sake of clarity and easy comparison, I’ve based it on a one week holiday in the middle of July and I’ve used flexible dates to try and find the lowest prices. Rough flight prices are per person. Hotel costs are based on 2 adults sharing 1 room for 7 days (unless otherwise specified).

Disclaimer: prices shown in this blog post are NOT quotes, only rough guides.

Sri Lanka

The Indian Ocean island is a firm favourite for the UAE expat. It’s cheap to get to, cheap to find accommodation and there’s an incredible range of activities. Sri Lanka has a vastly rich history and, now that the civil war has drawn to a conclusion, almost the entire island has opened up to tourists. There’s beaches, nature reserves, culture, history and so much more.

Colombo is a fairly decent base but Sri Lanka really sells itself on some great day trips. You can visit Kandy to see the world famous Temple of the Tooth, visit turtle sanctuaries, elephant orphanages and a whole host of other activities.

Flight costs? AED1,125 – AED1,550

Hotels? AED1,320 – AED5,200 (Colombo), AED2,100 – AED5,000 (Bentota)



Another much-loved summer getaway for the UAE expat. Service to the country has been boosted by Emirates now flying direct to Phuket, however, the whole country remains extremely popular with visitors from the UAE. A location with cheap accommodation and entertainment, it’s a great place for families to visit whilst not breaking the bank.

Flight costs (Bangkok)? AED1,967 (with a stopover), AED2,700+ (direct)

Hotels? AED1,000 – AED5,000



Lebanon’s capital is cosmopolitan, vibrant and exciting. A fantastic getaway for groups of friends, the infectious nature of the city has always attracted GCC-based visitors. The city is full of interesting nightlife, great beach clubs and a wide range of events making it a fantastic destination to visit for the weekend.

Beirut retains a real outdoor café culture leading it to it sometimes being referred to as the ‘Paris of the Middle East’. Make sure to try to visit Pigeon Rocks, Jeita Grotto and the National Museum of Beirut.

Flight costs? AED1,300 – AED1,700

Hotels? AED1,320 – AED7,700



One of our neighbouring countries, Oman is renowned for its hospitality and natural beauty. Muscat is driving distance and there are a whole heap of flights going to Salalah these days.

Try to see plenty of the local architecture, wadis and natural heritage areas.

Flight costs? From AED1,000 (to Salalah)

Hotels? From AED2,700 (Salalah), AED1,800 – AED5,000 (Muscat)


UAE (the ‘staycation’!)

There are some fantastic holiday options in the UAE and hotels tend to drop their prices due to a lull in traffic over the summer; why not explore the UAE this summer? Ras al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi and Fujeirah are both great options and have some really reasonably priced hotels.

For me, Ras al Khaimah tends to be my favourite little UAE getaway. My wife and I particularly love the Hilton Ras al Khaimah Resort & Spa where prices generally start at around AED700 per night but advance rates can be had for as low as AED450 (plus 10% tax).

A great summer staycation in Abu Dhabi can be had at Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara. They have a fabulous ‘Big Weekend Special’ which runs until December. Prices start from AED1,200(plus taxes) per night for two people but this includes the room, Friday brunch (with free flowing French sparkling grape, hop-based beverages and soft drinks) and a daily buffet breakfast. I visited them for this package in May and can highly recommend it.

Hotels? Upwards of AED300 per night. There’s a huge range of pricing so do some enquiring!


If you need assistance with summer holiday booking – call us! Our service is second to none and you’ll always work with the same consultant in order to really get to know what you like. Call us today on 04 343 3929!