Dubai Airport and how the difficult parts of travelling fade quickly from my memory

En route to Dubai

Before our Europe trip this year, I’d managed to get a bit nervous about the first week which involved travelling on my own with a three-year-old: a long-haul flight from Australia to Europe with an overnight stop in Dubai, a couple of nights in Vienna, a couple of trains to Trnava in Slovakia and then a couple of buses back to a flight to Switzerland before we finally caught up with my husband. I allowed myself a few nightmares about juggling all our luggage, having a cranky toddler in the middle of an airport or worst of all losing his teddy bear.

Of course, we had a magical time in Trnava and my son loved the rubbish trucks of Vienna and by the time we became a full family of three in Switzerland I was so happy to be travelling again that I told everyone who asked that the week had gone entirely smoothly.

Which it had, more or less. But when I looked through my travel diary again and saw some of the photos I’d taken, I started to vaguely remember that there were certainly less smooth moments. One of the trickiest was early on: we arrived in Dubai in the middle of the night (only evidenced by the darkness – the temperature felt like it should be midday!) and needed to find a shuttle bus to our hotel for a 10-hour stay.

We were being put up by Emirates as part of their Dubai Connect program for when flights don’t connect soon enough (incidentally, a great service – hotel and meals for free), but they weren’t able to tell me which hotel we’d be going to until I reached the airport, so I hadn’t found out anything about it. All I knew is I’d need to pick up some vouchers at a desk in Dubai Airport.

Have you been to Dubai Airport? It’s enormous! Have you been there with a three-year-old in the middle of the night? It’s … memorable! I asked several staff about the whereabouts of the connection desk I needed, and was sent to three different places before it was the right one. Coupons in hand, we ventured outside where the hotel shuttle buses departed and started asking about ours. All these people who worked at the airport had never heard the name of our hotel. Which of course meant they couldn’t give us many tips on the shuttle bus. They all tried hard to help, and a particularly nice man even called the hotel for me to ask but the connection was bad and the airport so noisy and neither of us managed to get any sense out of the hotel receptionist who answered.

Someone was finally able to put us in the right place to get the right shuttle bus, and the rest of our stopover went just fine. In fact, I’ve decided that whenever possible in the future I’ll include that kind of stopover on the way to Europe – it was so delightful to have a rest in a real bed and have a shower before getting back on the plane. But looking back, I now remember that for half an hour or so I was thinking the whole trip was starting out disastrously and my son and I were never going to make it to the hotel and … you know, the world was going to end. It didn’t, Dubai was great, the rest of our trip was great (but of course, not without its hiccups – I just struggle to remember them), and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Waiting in Dubai for our plane to Vienna

I’m generally a positive person in everyday life, too, but I think when I’m travelling it’s amplified – I’m good at ignoring anything that goes wrong, or turning it into a story to remember instead – and all the wonderful experiences are what remain in my memory.

What about you? When you look back on your trips, can you remember the bad parts, or have they all melded into funny stories and all you see is the great bits?


  1. Good to read your Trip to Dubai, and your travelling experience at the airport! Funny how we look back on our travels, and look for the good parts of the journey!!
    We have many tales of what has happened so far, and we turn the experience into stories that I hope our kids will tell our grandkids one day 🙂

    • Oh Lisa, I’m sure they will! My parents took us travelling a lot, but on a huge trip when I was 9, and my three-year-old loves to hear the stories about that trip! What a great goal you have there.

  2. Have I ever been to Dubai Airport in the middle of the night with a three-year old? Funny you should ask that – yes I have! Though I think Chiara might have only been two. I was also sans husband and I just remember following the crowd and coming across the voucher desk that way and pretty much following the crowd to the shuttle bus. The tricky part for me was being shown to my room by the porter who then stood there waiting for a tip – and of course I had no local currency.

    As you said, it all worked out in the end and makes a good story. Great seeing you last week btw and meeting the men in your life for the first time 🙂

    Alli XX.

    • I was supposed to tip the hotel guy in Dubai? Oh no!!!! And he was so lovely because he picked us from the back of the queue and rushed us through since Mr3 was obviously so tired! Oh well, next time … Yes super-fantastic to see you guys last week!! xx

  3. We have done stopovers in Dubai. If you are on your own again Emirates have a service called Maharaba where you pay a bit extra $80-100 USD and someone meets you from the plane and takes you through all the steps and puts you on your bus – to us it was worth it as we got fast-tracked through immigration which otherwise would have taken 2-3 hours with 2 tired kids… A bit of extra cash but the sort of money we were glad to have spent when we looked at the huge immigration queue!

    • Ooh, I needed this tip a month ago!! I think I’ve got the hang of Dubai now after a second stopover but it would have been quite lovely on that first night – but then again, I may not have got a blog post out of it then! x

  4. Good to know all of these tips about Dubai, because from now on it will be the stopover to Europe from Perth.

    • I must do another post about our Dubai experiences Sami – I really did feel it was more than worthwhile to stop there (and made a great difference to our jet lag too).

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