UNITED ARAB OF EMIRATES, DUBAI
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Does the flight for Dubai leave in the morning or evening?

There is only one non-stop flight from IAD to Dubai and it leaves around 10:55am (in the morning).

Vacation Envy International (VEI) sometimes will allow departures from JFK.  That flight leaves around 7:50am (in the morning). 

How soon should I arrive at the airport?

At least 3 hours BEFORE departure. You will have the best chance to upgrade or change your seat.

When will I receive my travel documents?

E-Tickets will be emailed to everyone approximately 21 days before departure. With the e-ticket, you will be able to pull up your reservation on emirates.com. Please check and double check the spelling of your name. If you notice your name is spelled wrong, please contact me immediately, and the ticket can be corrected. If you arrive at the airport and notice your name is spelled wrong, you will not be allowed to board and I will not be able to help you. PLEASE VERIFY YOUR NAME IS SPELLED CORRECTLY and matches your passport.

Emirates does not include special characters on its e-tickets. Therefore, if your name is hyphenated on your passport, the hyphen WILL NOT be included on the e-ticket.

You won't be able to make any changes (upgrades) because this is a GROUP reservation. If you try to make changes, you will get an error message that you must contact your travel agent. Emirates will not allow me to make changes.

The land portion of the reservation (hotel/ground transportation/excursions) will NOT be sent out because it is a group reservation under VACATION ENVY INTERNATIONAL. I will have one document that contains everyone's name and unfortunately, I can’t share that with the group.

When traveling internationally, my job requires that I provide the name of the hotel(s). Do you provide that?

Absolutely! The names of the hotels are always provided on the website and booking page. But in the event the hotel changes, VEI will also provide the name of the hotel at least 4 weeks before departure.

What language do they speak in the UAE?

English is the most popular language in the UAE.

What is the currency in the UAE? Should I convert money before the trip?

The currency used is DIRHAMS. Some places will accept US dollars, but I strongly recommend you use DIRHAMS. Converting money is a personal choice, but I recommend you convert your dollars at your bank here in the United States. You will receive the best rates. You must do it a few weeks in advance, because your bank may need time to order the DIRHAMS.

There is a kiosk at the airport where you can convert dollars, but don't do it there! They charge a hefty fee. When you get to the hotel, there will be ATM machines that will give you DIRHAMS. This is the method that VEI recommends when traveling to Dubai. The ATM does charge a small fee, and your bank will also charge a fee to convert the currency.

I recommend downloading a CURRENCY CONVERTER app to your smartphone. It will come in handy while spending money in the UAE.

Does the hotel(s) have WI-FI?

Yes, the hotel has free WI-FI. Instructions on how to connect will be provided at the hotel.

What is the weather like in Dubai?

HOT!! I recommend checking the weather a day or two before departure to see the actual temperatures predicted for our stay in Dubai. Here is a pretty good website to
use: https://www.accuweather.com/en/ae/dubai/323091/march-weather/323091 

Can you use credit and debit cards in the UAE?

Absolutely. If it is a debit card, you will be required to use the credit option. We recommend that you use a credit card while in the UAE and use cash for tipping. Don't forget to notify your bank that you will be traveling during that week.

What is the latest that you can purchase travel insurance?

Depending on the company you use, you may purchase travel insurance up until 48 hours departure, but you would have limited benefits so please contact the travel insurance company and ask plenty of questions about coverage, claims and benefits.

To learn what is covered and its benefits, please contact the travel insurance company of your choice. VEI recommends TravelEx.

https://www.travelexinsurance.com

Visit their website for purchase:
https://www.travelexinsurance.com/travel-insurance/plans/

Although we recommend TravelEx, its best to shop around for the best policy and prices. If you paid for your trip with a credit card, you should also check with you the credit card company to determine if you are covered.

I have a passport book and passport card. Which one do I need?

The passport book. Also, the expiration date must be valid for SIX months AFTER your departure date.

I am signed up for the Global Entry and qualify for the TSA pre-check. Can my Global Entry information be added to my reservation?

Unfortunately, no. With a group trip, everyone's reservation is the same and I am unable to add anything to an individual reservation. During check-in at the airport, you can inform the Emirates representative of your Global Entry status. He/she will provide the appropriate stamps to your boarding pass.

I am traveling with a group of friends, can we get rooms on the same floor or next to each other?

It’s hard to say. Although the hotels will attempt to keep the entire VEI group together by using 1-2 floors, room assignments are based on availability so it is not guaranteed that everyone will be on the same floor. If the hotels are full, it is more difficult to get 33 rooms on 1-3 floors.

Will I be seated next to my roommate/spouse on the plane?

VEI has no control or input when it comes to seat assignments. Emirates Airlines ticketing department handles seat assignments and usually assigns the entire group to one area.

Emirates Airlines’ policy is to charge extra to pick your seat (regular booking). However, 48 hours BEFORE departure, everyone will be allowed to go online, use your check-in information and choose your seat for FREE for the departure flight. You will need to do the same for the return flight.

Can I upgrade my seat for the flight(s)?

No. Again, with group travel, everything is the same and upgrades are not offered. When checking in at the airport, you can ask the Emirates rep about upgrades and pay at the counter with a credit card. UPDATE: 48 hours before departure, you can call Emirates and inquire about upgrades. Sometimes they offer First Class seats for $1000. Several times clients have been able to upgrade their seats by calling Emirates and paying over the phone.

I have medications that I must take with me. Is there a special process?

I recommend putting your medication in your purse or carry-on luggage. You need not make an announcement about prescription medication while going through Security.

I have dietary restrictions and requirements. What meal choices does Emirates offer?

Emirates does not offer any pork or pork products in meals. They do offer one vegetarian choice for the breakfast and dinner meal. If you have some gluten-free preferences, I suggest bringing food you can eat because I did not see gluten free options on the menu.

Do I need anything special to plug in my phone charger/hair dryer/shaver, etc?

Yes. Here is a link where you can purchase the adapter from Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Tmvel- Travel-Adapter-TYPE-Plug/dp/B01MSD25S0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1519595304&sr=8- 3&keywords=uae+plug+adapter

If you have multiple devices, I recommend purchasing two adapters, the cost is $5-$10 each. You can google: UAE PLUG ADAPTER. It is strongly recommended that your purchase one or two of these converters. It is very frustrating to arrive at the hotel and you r can’t plug up your cell phone or iPad.

Are there mosquitos in the desert or at the BBQ Dinner.

I’ve done this excursion three times, and was never bitten by a mosquito.

What is the BBQ dinner like?

Its buffet style. It will include bread, fish, beef dishes, rice, pasta dishes, salad, vegetables, and some desserts. Seconds are allowed!

Will I have time to explore on my own?

Yes. A day-to-day trip itinerary will be provided 3-4 weeks before departure so you can plan your days and make the most out of your trip.

Once we land in Dubai, what do I do?

Follow the signs that say BAGGAGE CLAIM. The signs will be in English. Before you get to the baggage claim area, everyone is required to go through CUSTOMS. You will be required to show your PASSPORT and there you will receive your United Arab of Emirates STAMP!!!

Immediately after leaving UAE Customs, you will follow the signs marked "BAGGAGE CLAIM". Once you enter the baggage claim area, find which "belt" will have our luggage. Once you've gotten your luggage, you will walk through the doors marked EXIT/NO RE-ENTRY. Our tour guides will be standing to the left waving signs with my company LOGO. They will then lead us to our tour bus. Before the bus departs, we will do a 'roll call" to ensure we are not leaving anyone behind. NOTE: If for some reason you can't make the trip, please email or text your travel specialist! This way, we will not be looking for you at the baggage claim.

Do not stop to convert money at the Currency Exchange kiosk, they have very high conversion fees. If you decide to stop at the Duty Free store to buy alcohol, you must be quick. The bus is allowed to sit for a limited amount of time and we do not want to leave anyone behind.. Do not buy souvenirs at the airport. There are better places to purchase those types of items. Once we board the bus, the Tour Company will conduct a count to ensure we are not leaving anyone behind. If you are having trouble at the baggage claim area, please let someone know so that we will not assume that you just did not show up for the trip. Once you leave the baggage claim area and walk through those doors, you will NOT be allowed to reenter. If there is a problem, please let the tour guide know. They can help you.

Can bottles of alcohol be purchased in Dubai?

It is very difficult to purchase bottles of alcohol in Dubai. You have to purchase it at the Duty Free store located in the baggage claim area. Be quick, the bus will be waiting for everyone to arrive before heading to the hotel.

What is the dress code in Dubai for women?

Women, can wear pretty much what you want, shorts, mini skirts/dresses, tank tops, spaghetti straps, crop and halter tops. However, the UAE is a conservative country, so it is best to be respectful. While in public, please refrain from wearing anything that allows your butt checks to be seen, anything see through or sheer, tops that show a LOT of cleavage. If someone says something to you regarding your clothing, please be respectful, say thank you, and make the adjustment.

When going to the club, anything goes! When at the beach or at the pool, bikinis are allowed, but going topless and wearing a thong bottom is a big NO-NO! When walking from your room, through the hotel to get to the beach or pool, women – you MUST wear a COVER-UP. Again, being respectful is best. If you are in doubt, just cover-up!

What is the dress code for visiting the mosque?

During my last visit, I noticed the rules are starting to be a little more lenient. For men, you must wear long sleeves and long pants. For women, you must cover everything but your face, neck, hands and feet. Your hair should be covered. These strict rules are enforced while on the grounds and inside the mosque. If you want to purchase the Muslim dress for women, there are tons of places to purchase while in Dubai for very reasonable prices – as low as $20. Or, you can wear your own clothes as long as you meet the requirements listed above.

Is it true you can’t find pork in Dubai?

Pretty much! There will be no pork products on the flights to/from Dubai. Most hotels don’t serve pork and only restaurants that have a license to serve pork. When dining out or at your hotel, it is ok to ask if they serve pork.

Do all the restaurants serve alcohol?

Many restaurants do not serve alcohol – again, it is okay to ask before being seated.
Most hotel bars and room service provide alcohol. VEI will not use a “DRY” hotel – one that does not sell alcohol.

What time is check in/check out?

At most hotels, check in begins at 2pm. Because our flight gets in early (around 8am), usually you will arrive at the hotel around 10am. If breakfast is still being served, you will be allowed to partake in the breakfast buffet.

The hotel staff will store everyone’s luggage in a secure area. You will be advised as to what time to come back to the hotel to retrieve your room key and luggage. You will then be free to roam around. There is plenty to see. The hotel staff will bring your luggage to your room, once you've received your room assignment.

Check out is 12 noon. Sometimes, a late check out is included in your vacation package. If it is not included, a late check out of 6pm can be PRE-PURCHASED prior to the trip. The cost is usually 50% of the nightly rate. VEI will offer a late check out purchase to everyone prior to the final due date for payment.

How many bags can I take? Is there a baggage fee?

Either one or two free checked bags are allowed. You will find out the exact number at the time you receive you e-ticket. You can also have one carry-on in addition to your purse. Bags weighing more than 50 lbs will incur a fee of $110+ (keep that in mind when you are shopping in Dubai)

Why do I have to provide my passport for hotel check-in?

For security purposes, hotels in other countries are required to scan your passport. Your passport should be returned to your when you receive your hotel card key.

Do I need a credit card to check in at the hotel?

No. With group trips, all taxes and fees are covered in the package price. You will need to provide a credit card at the front desk if you plan to charge anything to your room such as room service or services obtain in the hotel bar. If you made charges to the room, the hotel staff will use the credit card information on the last day.

Is Dubai/Abu Dhabi safe at night for women?

It is very safe for women while in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

What are the bedding options at the hotels?

Unlike in the United States, a double room in the UAE is two TWIN beds. The other option is a KING size bed.

My partner and I are in a same sex-relationship. Can we have KING size bed?

Vacation Envy does not judge – at all! However, the UAE is a conservative country. It is perfectly ok to assign or ladies (or two men) to a room. However, if hotel personnel determines two males or two females are requesting a KING size bed, this could draw unnecessary attention. It is recommended that I arrange for two twin beds. What happens behind closed doors is your business.

What is the Sand Dune like?

Land Cruiser will arrive at the hotel at 3pm. Everyone will be required to break down into groups of 5 people. There will be a 50 minute ride to the desert. We will stop at a store where you can purchase souvenirs’ and a scarf to protect your hair from the sand (in case the wind starts blowing). After that, the Sand Dune ride begins. The Land Cruiser will drive up and down the sand dunes. It can be a little scary, sort of like a roller coaster ride because the car will speed up, make sharp turns and it gets bumpy. These are skilled drivers and the ride is safe.

If you want to skip the Sand Dune ride, here is what I can do: Before we leave the hotel, I will ask if 1 or 2 of the Land Cruiser can take a few people directly to the Camel Ride and BBQ Dinner. This is not a normal procedure but something I will try to arrange for my clients.

After the Sand Dune ride, the drivers will stop and allow everyone to get out and watch the sun set. Amazing! Don’t forget to take pictures during the sunset. From there, you will get back into the Land Cruisers and proceed to the campsite where the Camel Rides and BBQ dinner is held. You will also have the opportunities to get henna designs (there is no fee, but please TIP the talented ladies). You can also purchase Hookah to enjoy during dinner and the show! And the hookah there is stronger than it is in the US.

NOTE: There are weight restrictions with the Camel Rides. I don’t know what the maximum weight is because the men who handle the camels will decide who is NOT allowed to ride. FCTV or the tour guides have no control over this. I am mentioning this because with each group trip, I’ve seen some of my clients get denied the ability to ride because of their size. There is nothing I can do about this….the men are protective of their camels and they make the decision. If you are denied, please be respectful of their decision.

Will the Travel Agent or Travel Specialist accompany the group for all tours and excursions?

While in Dubai, VEI will be visiting other hotels and tours in preparation for future trips. So you may not see me or my assistant much while in Dubai.

To ensure all your special needs are met and to answer all your Dubai related questions, there will be one English speaking tour guides per bus. They will assist you with all things Dubai. They will also stay at the hotel with the group and you will usually see them hanging around the lobby. If you need them during your stay, please stop at the front desk, and they will locate the tour guides for you. The tour guides are extremely knowledgeable and are happy to help. This is the company I use to arrange all of our excursions and ground transportation. They are also the Dubai specialists I email when I have questions regarding the UAE.

If you appreciate their assistance and expertise and consider it a job well done, I encourage you to tip them at the end of the trip.

What time will we depart for the Dubai International Airport on the last day?

At approximately 10pm (depends on the location of the hotel), the bus will depart for the airport. It’s important to arrive at least 3 hours before departure. Please be on time for the return bus ride to the airport. The bus will leave ON TIME.

It’s important to note, that after checking in at the Emirates counter and going through security, everyone has to go DOWNSTAIRS for the departure flight. There, you will go through security again. Everything will be scanned, including food. So, please keep that in mind if you decide to walk through the airport. Allow extra time to go through security a second time.