My mum has to be the least travel enthusiastic person I know. Especially when it comes to air travel. I don't particularly think it's a phobia, it's just a case of zero interest. She’d over-rationalise in her head whether she really has to go. She's definitely one of those people who would not understand how these 9 female travel enthusiasts just pack up their bags and (solo) travel! And when she does eventually have to make a trip, the number of people at the airport constantly surprises her, and you'd be sure to hear the question "where are they all going?”
You're probably thinking she's really old. No - she's just in her 50s. Like isn't that prime time to travel the world? And please do not mention the words stop-over to her. As long as there's a straight flight, that’s her preferred option. Recently when she was coming over to visit, I suggested a stop over at Dubai. Understandably that's double the flight time, but it would have given her an opportunity to explore Dubai. But you guessed right, she wouldn't hear of it.
LOS (Lagos) ---> LHR (London Heathrow) it had to be.
So yes, my mum has surprisingly not been to Dubai. I say surprisingly not because it's a must see destination, but because for Nigerians in Nigeria, it's usually one of the first places they choose to explore. Or have a destination wedding. Or a honeymoon. Understandably so, as it's just 6 hours away, visa is relatively easy with a green passport and you’re almost always likely to find cheap flights to Dubai directly. Plus no matter what your vibe is, there's often something for you.
I'm pretty sure she's not alone though. I feel like a number of our parents are like that. I know my friends get asked funny questions when they insist on travelling. It's the reason why many of us didn't quite catch the travel bug on time, and so view travel in a more laid back way, shying away from the adrenaline packed activities very common in Dubai like sky diving, hot air balloons, kayaking etc. Even in my dreams, I cannot even imagine my mum doing these. (To be honest, I'm a bit unsure of those myself).
But not being an adrenaline junkie doesn't mean some destinations are off our list. So, in a bid to convince my mum and other travellers like her, here are activities they could actually do and enjoy in Dubai!
1. Shopping in the Malls
Dubai is a shoppers’ paradise. Even if they have no plans to spend one Dirham, the attractiveness of the malls alone is sure to leave them excited. The most popular malls are the Mall of the Emirates and the Dubai Mall. Asides pure shopping, these malls boast of other activities. The Mall of the Emirates has a family theme park, indoor ski resort and the Ski Dubai. Dubai Mall also boasts of one of the world's largest aquariums and aquatic zoos - Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. So that’s kind of 2-in-1 experience - particularly handy if they’ve got other more enthusiastic family members / friends on the trip.
2. Street / Open Air Shopping
The typical Nigerian mother loves open market shopping and of course price haggling! From Jewellery to Textiles, to Perfumes to Spices. And Dubai has dedicated arenas called Souks which mean shopping markets. So there's the Gold, Spice, Textile and Perfume souks most of which are in Deira and a short walk from one another. So this is an activity that can be enjoyed as well.
3. The Beach
I know they're not likely to jet ski, or para-sail or snorkel. But what's a holiday without a beach? And they may not wear bikinis either. But just chilling by the beach, taking in the air and relaxing is definitely good enough to clear their head and worth the ticket money. The Jumeriah and Marina beaches are top beaches to consider. The Jumeriah Beach Residence (JBR) Walk also has a great local scenery, coffee shops, and restaurants for a lovely evening walk. Totally enjoyed the walk during my birthday gateway to Dubai last year.
4. City / Bus Tours
Tours are a great way to actually enjoy any city. So many people think they're a rip off, but you'd agree with me that there's often loads of easy-going people (particularly couples) on bus tours looking so cute and snapping photos excitedly. I love the flexibility of being able to hop on and off, have a tour guide, and basically just enjoy the company with others.
5. Dubai Miracle Garden
I first saw photos of the Dubai Miracle garden from a pre-wedding shoot. No surprises, as it was apparently launched on valentine’s day in 2013. It’s the world's largest natural flower garden featuring over 109 million flowers! In 2015 it opened the Dubai Butterfly Garden, the world’s largest and butterfly garden and sanctuary for over 15,000 butterflies from 26 species! I hear it’s amazing and such a contrast to the otherwise desert nature of Dubai. The garden is however closed from June to September due to high temperatures not conducive for flower viewing.
6. See the World's Tallest Building
At 828 metres, the Burj Khalifa has been the world’s tallest since 2008! It’s an incredible piece of architecture and totally worth seeing - if for nothing else, people like my mum can tell their grand kids that they were once at the worlds tallest building.
Finally, I’d include the safari experience as a +1. My friend’s mum did it and was literally calling on God to spare her life during the entire trip. Thankfully He did! But other people's mums have been so chilled about it. I'm not such an adrenaline junkie myself, but I didn't think it was bad at all! So you'd never know until you try.
Asides all of this, I think Dubai is one of those places to simply just visit for the experience. For a city that was relatively a desert and empty some years ago - it's become such a major tourist attraction. Inspiring to say the least. Plus it's probably culturally different to what many people encounter everyday, so there's also some cultural exposure as well.
I'm going to send this post to my mum now and let you guys know if I've managed to convince her to at least consider! (Fingers crossed).
What are your parents’ disposition to travel, and vacations? If they've been to Dubai, what did they get up to, and how was the experience? And are you more of a laid back traveller or more "hey! bring on the adrenaline!"
pS: This post is in collaboration with TravelStart.