Dubai – the city that has it all!

Summer vacations begin and with that the excitement to plan a vacation with your child. We have a 5 year old son who shares our love for travel. This year we chose to visit Dubai. It’s known to be a child friendly destination and we also have some family there making it worthwhile to visit.

We planned a trip for 10 days so it is not too hectic or rushed. The way we planned our itinerary was to have a mix of activities for our son and us. Dubai seems to have everything and if it does not have it, they seem to be building it. So there were many things to do. Here are the activities that we did in Dubai with our 5 year old son –

1.     Malls

Dubai is known for its malls and they have set it up such that there are many activities to engage even the kids within the mall itself. So we were able to shop, eat in the food courts (which are way better than India) or other specialty restaurants and engage our son in a play zone – all under the same roof. This was a good option during the day time to escape the intense heat. We started our exploration by visiting Underwater Aquarium in Dubai mall. It was particularly fascinating to see the vivid splash of colours and the size and shapes of various under-sea animals. Our son was happy to get clicked with many of them. We also visited the Magic planet in Mall of emirates and Fun city in Ibn Battuta mall for fun games and play zones for our son.

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2.     Global Village

We visited Global Village which was an open area with sections dedicated to different countries where you could taste dishes local to that country and buy items famous there. This place had a lot of street food and we enjoyed sampling it. It was a unique experience though slightly hot with the massive crowd and open air arrangement.

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3.     Lego Land

Dubai is also known for its adventure and theme parks. But the point to keep in mind is that there is a height criterion for most rides. We explored all the parks and scrutinized the criterion for majority of the rides. This narrowed down our options considerably and we finally picked Lego Land theme park where he was allowed on all barring a couple of rides. His passion for Lego made our choice that much easier. Lego Land was great fun – not just for him but us as well. We were allowed to accompany him on the rides and enjoyed the experience. We became a child again seeing our son enjoy.

In particular we loved flying the plane, saving a burning building in our fire truck, dodging water on wave racers and pedalling our way up and down the flying machines. Our son was fascinated to see how the Lego bricks are made and thrilled to get a brick with his name embossed on it. However, he spent maximum time doing what he loves the most – lost in the world of Lego blocks – building his own creations!

4.     Desert safari 

Desert safari was a unique experience for us and our son says it was the most enjoyable part of the trip. He was giggling away as the land cruiser engaged in dune bashing. He enjoyed rolling on the desert sand and chasing the shadows therein. We also got to watch some interesting shows including a belly dancer, a fire eater and a juggler along with authentic middle-eastern dinner. Camel ride was fun for our son.

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5.     Others

We went to the Abu Dhabi Mosque which is a short drive from Dubai. It was an architectural marvel with cool marble flooring and marvelous chandeliers. Like most religious places, one felt at peace in such surrounding.

We visited the landmark buildings of Dubai – Burj khalifa, Burj Al Arab and Atlantis. The musical fountains were a delight to watch and our son watched with awe the water dance. The souks offered a variety of souvenirs, spices, dates to take back home. We soaked in the experience of Dubai city strolling down the souk one evening.

We enjoyed a hearty dinner at Al Qasr hotel where we had to take a boat to reach the restaurant. An evening walk on the Marina was refreshing and nice.  We tried many authentic restaurants offering middle-eastern food and flavors. Pappa roti which offers a coffee flavored bun with your choice of sweet or savory toppings along with coffee is highly recommended. JBR place gave the feel of hanging around boardwalk in USA.

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A few tips that I would give to parents traveling to Dubai are-

o    Acknowledge that it is extremely hot and save yourself from the sun exposure in every way. Ensure you stay hydrated and carry plenty of water with you every time you step out. Also, try to avoid going out in peak sun time (11am to 3pm).

o    There is considerable amount of walking involved everywhere – huge malls, adventure parks etc so wear comfortable shoes and carry a stroller if your child is not used to walking.

o    Carry summer clothes for the trip but also pack a light jacket especially for your child as night time can get fairly cool. Sunglasses and cap are a must in the strong sun rays. Also, clothing is conservative in that part of the world so respect and abide by that.

Overall, Dubai is a fantastic place with lots of fun activities to engage in. We created many wonderful memories there with our son, to cherish forever.

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Author’s Bio:

Prerna Wahi worked in the corporate world for 7 years. In the past few years, she has been a stay-at-home mom. She has been enjoying the new role ever since and likes to write about her personal experiences. Her write-ups are inspired by the two men in her life – one she calls her strength (husband) and the other her weakness (son). Follow her  facebook page.

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Singapore Chronicles

I promised myself that this year I take my kids along in my journey and I am so glad I am being able to slowly bring them on the same page. I want them to experience the world as I believe nothing teaches better than travel and exploration. My elder son has created this entire travelogue on his own, so this one is through his eyes but my words.

But before I go further in my blog, I would like to mention that DO NOT plan to go to Singapore in summers ever!! It’s hot and humid and the sun just made us sick. I googled the time of the year that you should visit Singapore, something I should have done earlier when I planned this holiday. Anyway, mid to end October is just a perfect time to head there.

p.s. Singapore weather is humid and it rains here unpredictably, so packing some foldable umbrellas and waterproof footwear will be a good idea.

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Singapore needs around 4-5 nights to cover the entire city. The good thing is that it’s very well connected with the metro and public transport.Taxis are cheap most places within 15-25 min and fare between 15-20 dollars, of course, it depends on where you are staying. Our stay was at a service apartment in Orchard street which was central.

p.s.There is a Sentosa shuttle which  is for free starts from Vivocity mall and takes you straight to Sentosa Islands. Alternatively, you can also take a cable car from Vivocity into Sentosa.

Without much ado, here is our travel itinerary of Singapore which will help you to plan yours;

Day 1: Singapore Zoo

When you browse for information you will realise that there are multiple options available like  Jungle safari , Night safari and River safari for kids to experience at the zoo. What you may not realise is that they are showing you mostly the same set of animals in different settings, so don’t waste your money trying to do all. Mom had experienced the night safari earlier and this time, she decided that we should try the Jungle safari. While night safari is a unique experience but you don’t get to see many animals in the dark, it is kind of scary and still awesome. There are a variety of shows over there. Watch out! They might choose someone in a show and make you pet a baby python, and when you’re at it, two people bring a huge baby python, and you may wet your pants if they tell you to pet it. There is a place where your kids can play over during the jungle safari. I would say that the River safari is the best way to see all the animals. So choose which one are you going to try.

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Evening: You can head to Clarke Quay, which is an entire with best views of Singapore and bars. While this is not a kiddy destination, kids are allowed and so parents can enjoy a few drinks. There is also a river cruise which you can take there.

p.s. When you travel via Singapore airlines, you get a discount on all entrance tickets to these attractions.

Day 2: Universal Studios

Located on the Sentosa Islands, this can take up your entire day, so best to maximize it with kids. The good thing about Universal studios the rides are not all ‘kiddy’, so you will enjoy them as much as your kids. The transformer 7D ride, the dinosaur water slide ride, and Steven Spielberg’s  special studio effects are worth it. They also have certain shows which happen at fixed times at fixed venues like Waterworld again worth watching. One thing to remember is not to head to this place on a weekend or you will end up in long lines. We went on a really hot Monday at 10 am and still  had lines.

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Day 3: Garden by the bay and Bugis Street

By the third day, we had had enough sun and decided that we will only get out when it is cooler in the day.

Shopping : In the morning mom headed to Bugis street and Orchard street for shopping. Bugis street has some great deals when in comes to clothes, watches, souveniers etc. It is a covered street so you can shop for hours without feeling the heat. Orchard, on the other hand, has high-end brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada etc.

We had a late lunch at 2pm, Orchard street offers some great options. We then headed to Garden by the bay in the evening. It was magnificent, gigantic and lovely. It’s perfect to visit Garden by the bay early evening around fiveish when then the temperature cools down and the lights come up. Apart from beautiful rows and rows of roses, tulips and many unique species of flowers from all over the world in the flower dome, the cloud forest is incredible. You can experience a huge waterfall, sky bridge, stalagmites, caves and feel close to nature.

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Night: We headed to Syed Alwi Road for Indian food( you can find Punjabi to South Indian to everything Indian here) and then after putting us to sleep mom headed to the Marina Bay Sands casino and she had a good time there.

Day 4: Legoland Malaysia and Premium Outlet Mall

Why go to Malaysia while in Singapore? Because it’s one hour and a half ride to Malaysia and it takes about 15-20 minutes to pass both the immigrations.  You will need a Malaysian visa for this, but you can get one on arrival. The Legoland Malaysia is located in Johar Bahru. There is nothing to do in Johar Bahru except Legoland and the Premium Outlet Mall so go there while you are in Singapore. It takes the whole day to cover Legoland. I recommend the technic workshop as the best thing to keep little minds interested, it was my favourite thing to do.  The dragon roller coaster is the best ride over there. The Premium Outlet Mall is a good half an hour drive away, so plan your day accordingly. The premium outlet mall has brands like Prada, Gucci, Michael Kors, Coach etc at 50% discount and more. These are genuine products and you can get a good deal. My parents just went crazy there.

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Night: We headed to Syed Alwi Road for Indian food( you can find Punjabi to South Indian to everything Indian here) and then after putting us to sleep mom headed to the Marina Bay Sands casino and she had a good time there.

Day 4: Legoland Malaysia and Premium Outlet Mall

Why go to Malaysia while in Singapore? Because it’s one hour and a half ride to Malaysia and it takes about 15-20 minutes to pass both the immigrations.  You will need a Malaysian visa for this, but you can get one on arrival. The Legoland Malaysia is located in Johar Bahru. There is nothing to do in Johar Bahru except Legoland and the Premium Outlet Mall so go there while you are in Singapore. It takes the whole day to cover Legoland. I recommend the technic workshop as the best thing to keep little minds interested, it was my favourite thing to do.  The dragon roller coaster is the best ride over there. The Premium Outlet Mall is a good half an hour drive away, so plan your day accordingly. The premium outlet mall has brands like Prada, Gucci, Michael Kors, Coach etc at 50% discount and more. These are genuine products and you can get a good deal. My parents just went crazy there.

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Author’s Bio:

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Prerna is a popular mommy blogger, follow her at MaaOfAllBlogs. Eeshan is Prerna’s 10 years old son. Eeshan also has a blog of his own, you can check it out EeshansBlogOfHappiness

My Road Trip with Atlas

I recently moved from Los Angles California to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. I drove across the US with my  car packed full of my belongings and my toddler in the backseat. We turned a 44 hour drive into a three week trip, stopping along at lots of incredible places.

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The places that we stopped at along the way were places I had been wanting to go for a really long time, so this was sort of like a dream trip being able to do them all in such a short amount of time. Atlas, my three year old is a really great travel companion who goes with the flow. I usually take him on trips that wouldn’t necessarily be considered “family vacations”. In all honesty, often times he’s having a blast playing with rocks on the ground, while I am staring at the sunset, at places like the Grand Canyon.

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I think kids can have fun anywhere they go. Atlas has been to over fifteen states in the past year and we are going to three different countries in the next three months. I feel that the best learning comes from experiences like these and I want my children to spend more time in nature than I did when I was a kid. There is so much more appreciation already with him, at such a young age.He stops to smell flowers; even though they may not smell, he still says things like, “Mom, this smells incredible!” He also often points out how “beautiful” the sky looks.

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We started this trip in the beginning of June and drove in my Volkswagon Jetta. The back seat folds down, so we slept in the car most nights, whether at a campsite or at Walmart.

We went to the Trona Pinnacles, Valley of Fire, Lake Mead, Antelope Canyon, The Grand Canyon,Monument Valley, Maroon Bells, Lone Rock Beach and Rocky Mountain National Park. We saw almost every sunrise and sunset; it was quite a magical experience.

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Author
Corrine Rice, travels with her son and is an active Instagrammer as Nomadic Mom

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Let it Snow!

In the summer holidays of 2015 we took Vivaan to Kashmir for a family holiday. He was super excited by the idea of seeing snow. Towards the end of our flight before landing we could see mountains covered in snow. It was such a fascinating sight for Vivaan.

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He was super excited to further learn that we were staying in a Houseboat. His questions never seemed to end on how can a boat be a house? His experience of travelling to the Houseboat in a Shikara and seeing the Houseboat from inside with his own eyes answered all his questions. He was simply thrilled by the whole experience.
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To add more thrill to his experience he visited places full of snow such as Sonmarg, Pahalgam and Gulmarg of course. In fact, he thoroughly enjoyed playing in the snow. He did horse riding, sledging and other rides of the snow. The Gulmarg cable car was another unique and memorable experience for him.
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Up on the mountains, he went inside the snow thrice, while walking and playing. He also tried making a Snowman. 🙂 Apart from all the fun he was very interested in knowing the lifestyle of people living there. Their dresses and style of wearing long pherans, their work and most importantly how they beat the cold with the small heaters that they carry along to keep them warm.
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Vivaan also understood the reason of why so many army men were seen around. He also clicked pictures with them. The weather din’t deter him from enjoying the snow.He loved his visit in the snow and we will be going back for sure!
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Author
Payal Bhaskaran, Content Head at Candy Cane Club

A School Day during Holi-Day

 

To resonate my ethos of ‘how much kids learn during travel’ just with their mum, and to exemplify her as the best teacher,  I wanted to showcase how a typical day is almost like a school day this time on our vacation.
We flew to the breathtakingly beautiful atolls of Maldives. Mostly his curious mind posed queries about marine animals and everyday life on these remote islands. It was only until I starting researching to answer these , I realized how I was teaching him 5 subjects just like his regular school day consists of 5 classes!
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1.Geography
After boarding our flight , we conventionally  pulled out the airline magazine and towards the end of it we stumbled upon a map. I showed him the exact location of Mumbai and where in the Indian Ocean was Maldives. He learnt about the capital city Male and saw what the country flag looks like. We also discussed nearest cities such as Colombo, Lakshwadeep and Kanyakumari.
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2.Math
He wanted to know how long we would take to reach there and what is the duration of the flight. There were many numbers and concepts thrown at him such as 2 hour layover between flights  , 20 minutes sea plane transfer and time difference of 30 minutes between India and Maldives. Later on, during the holiday when we were at a cooking session with him and his foreign friends , he flaunted his newly acquired subtracting skills that as we had five cakes but since two kids din’t turn up for the session we only get to decorate three cakes!
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3.Language
During our holiday he picked up many new words such as archipelago, lagoon ,reef and such.He learnt the meanings of such words which will in turn make him use them in future with ease.The new words brought about a confidence in him to ask anyone the meaning of any new word he comes across during the holiday even if it was as simple as ‘famished’.
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4.Science 
There were so many science lessons right from the biology of the whale sharks including their anatomy and size , to how a sea plane evolved as an alternate mode of transport , the reasons why a snorkel mask can make you look inside the water and the physics of how the spectacle of fly boarding works! Phew 
He got a chance to view the coffee manufacturing in progress and all its stages from roasting , grinding , extraction to filtration which turn coffee beans
to coffee! Industrial science to moral science he had lessons in them all!
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5. Art
We had a big doodle maker perched in the room throughout the trip. He loved to draw what he saw everyday right from fish to corals to clouds. Additionally , he had to tie a wish on the Tree of Wishes and since he couldn’t write his wish he decided to draw a rocket to indicate he wished to be an astronaut!
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He learnt so many subjects in one holiday and so does every child!Not only has he learnt , but in answering his how’s and why’s I have myself learnt many new things! 
Author Bio:
Prachi Kagzi is the founder of Little Passports India and mother to a 4 year old.
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From ‘my’ point of view

sv2My granny wanted to see Kanyakumari, so my dad took us there and you know what

interested me to go that place? That place is the meeting point of 2 seas and an ocean.

Till date, I was thinking that sea and ocean are the same just like the beach we see in

Chennai. But they are so different, water colours are different, and ocean has lot more

water than a sea. I got really scared to see that much water at a single point and the

waves are coming in three different directions also. But had lot of fun observing the

waves and the boats from my hotel room. Went on a boat ride too and that was too

rough a boat ride, I didn’t get a chance to meet the driver nor see the steering wheel. I

got so disappointed by that ride and started crying too (look at me in the photo

crying for the same), as I wanted to drive the boat like how I did in the river Godavari.

My dad told me that, since the seas are rough, the boat man uncle will not allow small

children like me to drive the boat. I got very angry and asked me who that small kid here

is? I am a big boy of 4 years now and he can’t say just that right.

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We had a gala of time, seeing the sun rising and setting in the waters. I took lot of

pictures and videos of the same. But had a doubt as to how come Hanuman could jump

so high to catch the rising sun? Though he is my best buddy, I am not able to jump

more than a cot high. My mommy says that I need to eat a lot to gain Hanuman’s

energy levels. Any idea, how much should I eat?

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I also met my dancing friend Michael Jackson in a wax museum at Kanyakumari. His

guitar was kept near the wall and I wanted to get it home along with me, but the guards

there didn’t allow me. When he is not playing guitar anymore, MJ can gift that to me

right, I don’t understand why he didn’t do it. Anyways, I got my own guitar now. I also

met Captain Hook there. He is a very funny guy.

The train journey is as memorable as it would always be and the TTE uncle had

answered lot many questions to me in the Egmore station at Chennai. I could also see

how a line man uncle would work in the Kanyakumari station. All that in a different story

later on.

Author’s Bio:

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Suhasini is mother to a 4 year old and writes a blog on her musings.Inspired , she will be a writing a series of blogs for us. Like her writing? Read her children’s book, too!

Scared to travel with a baby: Time for some Inspiration

 

I am married to the man who is a craver for holidays. And travelling together has been a bliss.

 To deep sea diving in Koh Phangan.From river rafting in Zanskar, Ladhak.We did it our way,together.

We have actually been there and done that. So after I got pregnant life came to a halt. We weren’t sure if this was the beginning or the end of a new phase. Because around us,literally no one travelled with kids. So all the plans we made also revolved around how soon could we leave him and explore the world again.

It came as a not so pleasant surprise when absolutely everyone just refused to take care of my bundle of joy while I fly away to peace and tranquillity.

So as the say beggar’s are not choosers.We took our 4 month old son for his first holiday. We didn’t dare something far off. Just to a picturesque mountain clad Barog(Himachal Pradesh) India. With a group of friends. It was indeed the icebreaker.

We dared to take a leap of faith when he turned 6 months. Travelling from Ludhiana to Chandigarh- 2 hours. Waiting at the airport  another -2 hours.Flight to Mumbai 2 hours again. Connecting flight to Goa and taxi to the hotel. All together 8 odd hours of travelling. Everyone questioned us. Are you taking him? Of course we are. ( Did we have an option).

neha3Mark my words, the only man who had a blast in Goa was my son. Be it Brittos or Thalassa. He made sure every girl hits on him. Me and his dad were paranoid most of the time. Rubbing those mosquito repellents, boiling water for food in the right vessel,too much exposure to sun. We wanted to keep any kind of discomfort at bay.But the little man was oblivious to our antics.

Next 16 months comprised of such 5 more domestic trips. You read that right. We are a crazy couple. And with every flight we took our faith in our baby strengthened. He was a born traveller.

Of course there were momentary hiccups like pooping in the flight, throwing up at the best  gourmet restaurants, ear pressure while landings and take off’s. But babies are fighters. They glide smoothly through them all. Its we as parents who create a scene.

Then came the big daddy, in a lapse of sanity we planned another trip. To travel to two countries with our little buddy. He was just over 18 months. Passports, Visas, travel insurance, hotel bookings all done. And yet everyone asked, Is he still going along?

Isn’t that obvious said my confident husband. Whenever I had an anxious moment he would say,don’t you trust me.

With Travel hours just a little more than 11 hours we reached our first destination Singapore.

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That’s when my son taught us that a time lap of 3 hours is also a time lap. First days travelling, plus that lap was a tinny Winny tough on him. Post that his motto,when in Rome do as the Romans do. He was ready to rock and roll.

Singapore is a place that has excellent options for kids, be it food, activities, fun parks. Every nook and corner is baby ready. Places where both parents and kids can have a ball. And cherry on the cake, the people. The amount of compassion they have for people travelling with kids is commendable.

Planning a trip to Singapore, do it now

Safety measures at Sentosa are fabulous, our baby did Ludge with us. He is now a certified Ludge driver too.

Our smart move was to stay at Sentosa for two days. So we were never in a hurry to go back to Singapore mainland . From 8 in the morning to 8 at night party was on.

5 fabulous days at Singapore and we moved to Bali. Beaches, martinis, crabs. It’s live life king size in Bali, Indonesia.

Our trip was brilliantly planned with two days at Hard rock, Kuta. Then moving on to a private pool villa in Seminyak. With a day well spent at Ubud, be it the monkey forest or coffee plantations, its a power house of everything nature has to give.

The pools at both the places were to die for. We were unsure as to what we would do with a baby at a pool villa, but he sure knows what luxury is and enjoys it too.

Not to forget the freshly prepared icecreams. We commited the cardinal Sin, gluttony, or rather they made us do so. You just cant ever have enough.Coming back was a little sad. But also came an assurance that travelling with your baby anywhere in the world is indeed a blessing. Specially because you dont have to worry as to how well is he without you back home and as its said, best teaching is through travelling. My prayer for my son, Let world be your oyster.

Author’s Bio:

Neha Verma is a mother to a toddler and a travel enthusiast.Read her blog here.

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