Traveling with a baby can be stressful no matter you’re going. Luckily, you can find many professional services in Dubai to make your trip with a baby much more enjoyable.
As former full-time travelers, the one question we would also get asked when we told people we were pregnant is; "So will you now have to stop traveling?" Honestly, it's a question that at first seemed ridiculous to us -- after all, we we've traveled so much, to so many places, that we pretty much felt like we were ready for anything. However, after a few months of being new parents, we found ourselves a little worried, and a little excited about taking our first trip with our new son Axel.
About a month after taking Axel home from the hospital, we took him to the American Embassy in Amsterdam and applied for his passport. And a few days after his passport arrived in the mail, we were on a plane headed for our first trip as a family of 3 to the United Arab Emirates, with stops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I was so nervous to travel with our son for the first time, yet I can’t exactly pinpoint what I was nervous about. It’s like my normal everyday worries were drastically intensified (will we run out of milk, will Axel get sick, will he hate his nanny, etc. etc. etc.) But the truth is, I knew these things could happen no matter where we were, so I figured why not go travel and share some great experiences with him.
Looking back now, there was absolutely nothing to be nervous about. We found that traveling with a baby, especially in the United Arab Emirates, can be a pretty hassle free experience. In fact, I have never felt so safe, cared for and special in a city - from the moment we got off the airplane to to minute we got back on.
It Starts at the Airport
Both of the two main airports in the United Arab Emirates; Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport are both very baby friendly. The major airlines like Emirates and Etihad have "family only" lines for check-in and you will be treated like VIPs as you make your way through the airport. Anytime we saw a member from the airport staff, they would escort us through lines and always asked if they could help us. Talk about being spoiled on our first trip!
Also, scattered though out both airports you'll find strollers you can use for free. If you have an infant, however, you will be out of luck as the strollers are only meant for children that can sit up on their own, meaning generally children older than a year old. Baby care rooms are also everywhere, so you can always find a clean environment to change those diapers, breast feed, or just care for your baby.
Finally, keep in mind that if you are traveling with an infant you will most likely have to call the airline to book your tickets -- that's because the airlines we flew on during our trip (British Airways, Emirates, and Etihad, all have special seats reserved for parents that are equipped with a baby bassinet. Even though we literally flown hundreds of flights in the past several years we had no idea these bassinets existed -- but it turned out to be a life saver for us, as it gave us a safe and comfortable place to put Axel that allowed him to sleep during our 6 hour flight from Amsterdam to Dubai.
Leave the Baby Stuff at Home
Before we left, I had done a lot of research about services available in Dubai. It turns out we could rent anything we needed for Axel, from this website called Hire4Baby. From a crib and changing table to carseats and strollers, anything we ordered could be delivered to our hotel and then picked up as we checked out. Although we ended up not needing to rent anything, (the hotels we stayed at we're able to provide us with a crib, and we brought our own stroller with us) I'm keeping them in mind for next time.
Hire a Nanny For a Day (or Night) Out
Getting out and about, to spend some quality time with one another is a priority for us, especially when we travel. So we knew that we wanted to hire a nanny to watch Axel so we could have some alone time. When a friend recommened Malaak baby care, I dove in and did my research. The company -- which offers all types of nanny services from newborn to toddlers and courses from sleep training to breastfeeding -- seemed like the perfect fit for us.
After a few email exchanges and a quick call with one of the managers, Malaak paired us with a wonderful nanny who would be able to come to our hotel room and watch Axel. I sent them a schedule of the days and times we'd like the nanny to come, and they ensured that the same nanny would come every time. On the first meeting, our nanny came to the hotel and brought a handful of goodies for us to welcome us to the family :) She came in, washed her hands and immediately went to Axel. She was so kind and sweet, yet very professional towards us and Axel.
Throughout the night, we would get picture updates of Axel via WhatsApp, and this small act made us feel totally at ease. On her last visit, we admit that we were a bit disappointed to say goodbye, but were so thankful to have a trustworthy service to depend on. I know that hiring a nanny can be a bit nerve racking for parents, especially when you're in a foreign country, so if you have any questions at all, feel free to email me :)
Exploring the United Arab Emirates with a Baby
When we went to the United Arab Emirates, Axel was only 3 months old, so we didn't really have to worry about specific child friendly activities. His world pretty much revolved around eating and sleeping every 3 hours :) So to keep him entertained and comfortable (it’s hot in the UAE pretty much all year round) we practiced swimming a lot. Every hotel we stayed at to had a pool, so we would take Axel for dips to cool off and get him used to the water. We would also do our best to stay in air conditioning as often as possible, so that meant several trips to the Dubai Mall (which is definitely worth a visit, even if you’re not into shopping).
If you'd like to experience a more cultural side of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi is just a short 2 hour drive from Dubai -- making it an easy day trip. In fact, you can hire a private car to drive you there for around $75 USD. We spent several days in Abu Dhabi and found many fun things to do with Axel, including visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi.