Dubai Dreams: Our first holiday as a family of four?

IT’S fair to say that me and Stew love nothing more than travelling. After uni we headed off for a year around the world, visiting some of the most amazing places and having crazy adventures together. We passed driving tests in the Cook Islands, slept under the stars in the Australian outback and waved at the king of Thailand at his birthday parade in Bangkok.

When we got back, the wanderlust set in again, but saving for a house and wedding meant we had to keep our sights a bit closer to home … and the quest to visit every capital city in Europe began!

Within a year of getting married, we welcomed Santi into our world, and of course that put a stop to our travels … or not! Before he was even born we had our first family holiday picked out – an amazing Baltic cruise – and if we hadn’t taken so long to name him, we would probably have booked before we even left the hospital.

And now, as we’re about to meet our second little one, we’re already getting itchy feet and trying to decide where our first adventure as a family of four should take us. Should we stay in the UK? Jump on a ferry and head to France for a couple of weeks? Or should we be bold and visit the United Arab Emirates?!

Dubai might seem like a brave choice for a holiday with a toddler and a newborn. Then again, I don’t think many parents would take their one-year-old to Russia on their first trip abroad – but that’s the fun of travelling! And Dubai really does have something to offer everyone.

Russia with a one-year-old
Russia with a one-year-old

Santi is a ridiculously busy two-year-old, and to be honest he is the main person we have to consider when looking for a holiday. He’s the one who will need the most entertaining, and despite having the air of a city of wealth suited to luxury travellers, we would be spoilt for choice when keeping a toddler busy in Dubai.

Two places I would absolutely love to take him are the Aquaventure water park and Dubai Aquarium … although there are so many activities on offer it looks like we could stay for months without running out of things to do.

Such an apt tee for our little explorer
Such an apt tee for our little explorer


Since he was three months old, we’ve tried to take Santi swimming as often as we can. He absolutely loves the water, and the little swimming pool on the ship was a highlight of our cruise last year. When we go to the pool he shrieks with laughter in the waves, splashes his way around the lazy river and throws himself down the slides with no fear. Imagine his little face lighting up if he saw the Splashers area at the water park! Slides, climbing frames, water cannons … I don’t think we’d ever get him out of there! I always thought the water park was aimed primarily at older children or even adults, but after seeing the Splashers section it would definitely be at the top of our list of places to go to in Dubai.

So happy in the water
So happy in the water

Dubai Aquarium:

The aquarium just looks magical, and would be the perfect place to shelter from the sun when we need to cool down. The closest we’ve come to something like this – and it’s far from it in reality – is being able to watch the penguins underwater at Folly Farm. Even that really captures Santi’s attention – he talks about how he could see them swimming past him for days after. Seeing tropical fish and sharks swimming overhead would give him enough stories to delay bedtime for months after we get home! I can imagine the baby would be captivated by the bright colours, and Stew, who was hooked on snorkeling when we went travelling, would also love it – a definite winner for a family day out.

Captivated by the penguins
Captivated by the penguins

Kite Beach: 

Living by the sea, we’d obviously have to spend at least half a day at Kite Beach to see how the Dubai coast compares with South Wales … I’d imagine it’s pretty similar, no? Santi loves playing on the sand, and it would be so nice for us all to paddle together in the sea without our feet turning blue in the cold! Our new little one would be a couple of months old by the time we went – how amazing would the sensory experience be of watching kites fly overhead while feeling the sand on his or her tiny hands and feet? And think of the cute little beach outfits … I’m mentally packing little sun hats and rompers (and gallons of sun cream) as I type!

Imagine the beach with no coat and hat!
Imagine the beach with no coat and hat!

A bit of me time:

I know it’s supposed to be a family holiday, but after nine months of giving up my body to pregnancy, I’m going to factor in a bit of me time here. You can’t possibly go to Dubai without experiencing one of the city’s hundreds of spas … and Stew can cope with two children for a couple of hours, I’m sure. So, book me in at a Turkish hammam please. I won’t be too greedy and go for a 24 carat gold facial – a scrub and massage will do for this tired mama! Oh, and maybe a bit of quiet window shopping at the mall … did I say a couple of hours? Stew will be fine without me for the day…

Travelling is really special to me, and the thought of our first holiday as a family of four fills me with so much excitement. In one fortnight away last year we made so many memories together – Santi toddling around a different city almost every day, picking up new words faster than I could ever imagine, and adding so much more to the holiday than if it was just the two of us.

I was lucky enough to have family adventures as a child, heading off on the plane with my parents and older brother, and those annual trips abroad are something I’ll never forget. Even if Santi and his little brother or sister will be too small to remember our Dubai dream holiday, the memories will be something Stew and I treasure forever.

Our next holiday will be as a family of four
Our next holiday will be as a family of four

*This post is my entry into the Tots100 and Dubai Tourism Dubai Dreams blogger competition to win a family holiday of a lifetime. And if I win, you could too! Tots100 and Dubai Tourism will be reading all the comments on the winning blog entry, and the person who writes their favourite will also win a holiday! So what are you waiting for? Share your Dubai Dreams below for a chance to win!








14 thoughts on “Dubai Dreams: Our first holiday as a family of four?

  1. Well you have convinced me that you are worthy travellers. I am very envious of some of the adventures you have already had.
    I agree though, you have to make as many memories as possible with your children, no matter what their age.
    For my family the perfect trip to Dubai would involve lots of variety – and Dubai can deliver!
    We would love to visit a water park, have a dolphin encounter and visit the aquarium and underwater zoo. Maybe the turtle rehabilitation project too!
    Take a safari into the desert, watch the sunset and have a BBQ and watch traditional belly dancers under a starry sky.
    Shop in a Souk, enjoy the local cuisine and discover one of the amazing play centres, like Mattel Play World, or IMG studios, coming in August.
    I could go on and on… every time I write this list it changes.
    Most of all I would just enjoy spending time with my family, in a culture and society that adores children. And I’m pretty sure my family and I would adore Dubai right back!

  2. What a place for your first family holiday for four! Dubai can be whatever you want it to be so you will have so much to do and it’s easy to get out of the August heat with all the air-conditioned indoor attractions. Good luck 🙂

  3. Zoe says:

    Wow the Dubai fountain looks absolutely amazing! I would love to go to Dubai just to see that yet there is so much more all in one place – it is almost too hard to imagine so I will have to go there to find out for myself ? The beautiful beach beckons me, incredible concerts and entertainment, retail heaven and then relax and unwind by trying out traditional spa therapies at the hammam! The food in Dubai looks divine and I bet it is delicious. My husband would love the adventure sports, golf courses and falconry. There is something here for everyone. Dubai is my dream destination.

  4. It would be an amazing family holiday. We haven’t been with the children before but would really love to as there is something for everyone. Also Dubai is a place where it seems anything is possible and I love that. I’d also really love a photo of my children watching the sunset over the desert.

    Good luck with your entry x

  5. I love how much you embrace travelling with children. I was always so scared to travel too far with my girls when they were toddlers. Your sense of adventure is admirable and I don’t think I could do it ….. although I could definitely do the holiday to Dubai.

  6. Oh wow! A holiday in Dubai would be amazing! YES PLEASE! Ok so i’ve just trawled the Visit Dubai site to plan what I really want to do…. definitely Dolphin Bay for the kids and Atmosphere restaurant at the top of the Burj Khalifa! That would be without the kids…Mummy and Daddy time…! 😀 Fingers crossed lovely girl! Santi will love the beaches!

  7. Rebecca Beesley says:

    The foodie side of things would really appeal to us in Dubai…Al Mahara restaurant would be a must for us as a foodie family who has had so many foodie adventures including Noma and meeting Mary Berry, this would be the ultimate icing on the cake. Dubai seems to have the perfect recipe for a family holiday…A good spoonful of food, culture and history, a big scoop of fun, family and adventure, a drizzle of adrenalin, a large cup of architecture and a sprinkling of magic to make the perfect family holiday!

  8. The Hammam sounds amazing – I’ve got a 6 year old and a two year old in tow, so going to the toilet on my own is still an uncommon treat; being steamed, exfoliated, massaged and pampered is a whole new level! Sadly, I don’t think I’d get time off, so the best way for me to relax with my small ones would be at the Aquaventure water park – though I’d have to get some time at Dolphin Bay too while we were there.

    I’d alos love to check out the souks as they would be a great way to explore the senses! The gold souk looks amazing, but I think my favourite would be the spice souk – the colours and smells would blow me away!

    I’d love a desert safari, but my youngest is still too wee, so I’d probably check out the turtle sanctuary – I think he’d be slack-jawed with awe. Amazingly, the sanctuary is free, just like the Dubai fountain – that’s one water show I could never miss!

  9. Dubai has been at the top of my bucket list for many years now and reading you post has made me want to visit so much more!

    Souks, skyscrapers, sand and sea, Dubai really has something for all the family and the possibility of visiting this incredible city is making me super excited.

    I’d love the opportunity to win our perfect family holiday in Dubai; a holiday for the four of us, that combines unlimited opportunities for fun and adventure. We’d be able to

    escape the ‘day to day’, making memories and recharging our batteries. And it would give us the chance to simply spend our days together as a family, enjoying each other’s company before Jack starts school in September.

    There are so many amazing adventures we’d like to experience, but our top 3 would have to be:

    1// A day of aquatic fun at Atlantis’ Aquaventure Waterpark to cool off in the Dubai heat. Aquaventure caters for all the family with its record-breaking rides and slides for thrill seekers and the Splashers’ Children’s Play Area, which is a haven for little ones with water cannons, slides and climbing frames.

    2 // A once-in-a-lifetime experience at Dolphin Bay. As there’s no age limit, we could enjoy this amazing experience as a family and I can only imagine the joy on the children’s faces when they get up close to these amazing creatures!

    3 // Experience the heady heights of Burj Khalifa. We couldn’t visit Dubai without venturing up the tallest building in the World, and although I’m afraid of heights, I’d still feel compelled to visit the observation deck on the 144th floor. As long as I don’t stand too close to the edge, nor look vertically down, I think I’d actually enjoy it.

    I’m now off to spend the day daydreaming about Dubai and all it has to offer…

    Best of luck with your entry! X

  10. Nia hopson says:

    We visited Dubai when our sons were 3 and 5 and it’s a holiday my youngest still talks about over a year on. We spent a week there and it was out of this world. It was first class in every way possible and we had the most amazing time. Everyone was so friendly and there was so much to see and too, too much almost as there was not enough time to fit everything in. Dune bashing, camel riding, sand surfing, aquariums, water parks the list was endless. It is so family orientated and I found travelling and holidaying there was a piece of cake.
    Dubai will not disappoint.

  11. It would definitely be an incredible place for you to experience your first holiday as a family of 4!! We’ve never been to Dubai and I am literally amazed at how much there is for families to see and do. I’m so impressed. We’d love to do a lot of the things you’ve mentioned in your post plus a visit to the souks (the writer in me is dying to get in there and absorb the atmosphere and the Instagrammer in me can just imagine the vibrancy of the colours) as well as a visit to the turtle rehabilitation centre for my daughter who wants to be a marine biologist when she grows up. But really, the list could just go on and on couldn’t it? I’m fairly confident that if we were lucky enough to go we’d fall head over heels and probably never want to leave again! I also like your thinking with a couple of hours of ‘you’ time…I’d have to get that booked in as well if we were able to go. Good luck with your entry 🙂

  12. I know that same struggle of saving for a house and so on too….well not for a wedding since the Mr hasn’t got round to putting a ring on it yet ha. But maybe if I won him a holiday to Dubai he might! But anyway my Dubai dreams would be to swim with dolphins and visit Atlantis. They are right at the top of my list and I would also love some chilled out days on the beach. Although saying that, having an almost 3 year old means a day out on the beach isn’t usually as chilled out! It is however so much fun building sandcastles and splashing in the water! I can’t even begin to imagine just how amazing a holiday to Dubai would be!

  13. Oh what a lovely post, so full of passion for travel and I think it would be an incredible experience. I always think about the hundreds of photos I take on a holiday but actually when they are little and too young to remember it all, it’s the photos you can pour over in years to come that keep the memory of that special holiday alive. Love that yours is a water baby too, we call Ollie a merman as he is underwater more than he is above! Good luck with your entry, it would be a pleasure to read about your holiday in Dubai xx

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