Things to Consider when planning a Trip

Things to Consider when you are Travel Planning

If you are planning your first trip away, but you’re not sure where to start, then keep reading. Here are some of the most important things you should think about when planning your first trip.

Trip Duration

The first thing to determine is how long you want your trip to be. Do you only have a week off work, or can you travel for as long as you want? The longer you have then the more flexibility you have on where to go, and this would help you to go further afield rather than more local destinations. If you have enough time you may even be able to go on a multi-destination trip.

Trip Type and Where to Go?

Next, have a think about where you want to go and what kind of trip you want. Do you want a more adventurous trip such a ski holiday, a city break, or maybe a relaxing spa destination?

As well as the type of trip, where do you want to go? Such as somewhere in Europe, a place in Asia, a more well-known destination, or a lesser known spot. Looking online such as on blogs, or even on Instagram, are great ways to find inspiration on where to go for your next trip.

London, UK at sunset
City destination


Once you have an idea of where to go, you should then look at the weather and determine if it’s the best season to visit that destination. For example certain destinations are great to visit in the winter, whilst some destinations are best for the summer, or other times of the year. A good site to look on for weather and temperatures is, where you can search for your destination then click “Annual Averages” on the right.



Some destinations are particularly expensive, such as IcelandSwitzerland etc. This means that you would need a much higher budget to visit and it may take longer to save for your trip. The way I determine whether a destination is affordable to visit is by doing the below:

  • I check the cost of the flight
  • Then I would search on or Airbnb and put in some rough dates to get an idea of accommodation prices
  • Then finally I would check on a site such as Numbeo to get an idea of the cost of living and prices of restaurants and food

Once you have done the above, you should then look at how long you were planning to visit the destination and calculate the basic cost. Of course activities at the destination will add to this basic cost so keep that in mind.

Money and Travel

Package Holiday or Book Independently

Another thing to consider is whether to book a package holiday or book everything independently. There are definitely pros and cons to both types, such as booking independently takes a bit more work, but can provide more reflexibility. Head to Package Holidays vs Booking Independently to read more.

Flight Availability

If you decide to book independently, you should then look at what flights are available. And not just if there are connections, but also how long the flight would be if it’s direct or not, and if the price is within your budget. I always start my search on as I find it really quick to get an idea on what the options are.

View from a plane
View from a plane


Before travelling to a destination you should always look at official sources of information as to whether the location is safe to visit. Such as that the destination isn’t going through civil unrest, war, there’s no viral medical issues or anything else that could be a big safety problem. I recommend looking on reliable sites such as for this kind of information.

As well as big issues it’s also a good idea to research into safety issues if you plan on travelling solo, which is especially important if you are female.


Visa/Entry Rules

Visa and entry requirements are extremely important to check before you travel. You may not need a visa, but instead, you may need a travel pre-authorisation. Such as in Canada they have now had an eTA (electronic travel authorisation), and in the United States they have a ESTA.

You may find that a lot of destinations don’t even require a visa for short stays which is making travel so much easier. Of course, it varies depending on your passport and which country you are from, so always do your research and never take the risk or arriving without checking.

This article has been edited for Chasing Guilders. To read the original article please click here.

To know more about Chasing Guilders click here


15 cheap international destinations for 2020

15 cheap international destinations for 2020

There are lots of ways to save on travel — like using points and miles — but international travel eventually requires money. Money to get there, money to stay there, money to eat … you get the picture. How far can you stretch your cash? It’s important to think about your destination if you’re watching your budget.

In 2019 I visited Italy for one week and Thailand for two weeks and the one thing they had in common was the amount of money I spent. Let me repeat, I spent two weeks in Thailand and just one in Italy and spent the same amount of money, flights included.

With that kind of contrast in mind, we’ve put together a list of 15 destinations where your money will go farthest as a budget traveler.

All of the data below was collected from based on the “budget travel style,” which means low-cost lodging, meals and transportation.

1. Poland

Krakow, Poland. (Photo by Maria Sward/Getty Images)
Krakow, Poland. (Photo by Maria Sward/Getty Images)

I’ve selfishly pinned Poland in the number-one spot because this is a destination I can’t recommend enough. The people, the food, the stunning architecture — Poland should be on everyone’s list of places to visit. It’s especially great for a budget-friendly vacation because the exchange rate is one dollar to 3.81 Polish złoty (as of Jan. 7, 2020), which is a whole lot of bang for your buck.

Average hotel price: $16/night for one person

Average meal cost: $6/day

Average intercity transportation: $9

2. Budapest

Budapest, Hungary.(Photo by Tanatat pongphibool/Getty Images)

Budapest, Hungary.(Photo by Tanatat pongphibool/Getty Images)

Another personal favorite — I’m not alone on this — is Budapest. Ask anyone whose been to Hungary and they’ll agree: The capital city is a must-visit. There’s plenty to see and do between the Buda and Pest sides; just make sure you pack your walking shoes. In fact, you’re interested in learning more about the difference between Buda and Pest, I’d highly recommend a free walking tour. Pro tip: To fully take in the beauty of Budapest, grab a bottle of cheap (but delicious) Hungarian wine, head down to the Danube River and watch the sun set behind the city.

Average hotel price: $15/night for one person

Average meal cost: $7/day

Average intercity transportation: $8

3. Thailand

Krabi, Thailand. (Photo by Peerapas Mahamongkolsawas/Getty Images)
Krabi, Thailand. (Photo by Peerapas Mahamongkolsawas/Getty Images)

Thailand is known for being super-affordable and that remains the case in 2020. Whether you’re a backpacker, a family or a couple — there’s something for everyone to love here. You can spend the day island-hopping, get a five-star massage for dirt cheap or take a class in Thai cooking, and those are just a few of the affordable activities available to you. If you need any more convincing, my most expensive meal was a beachfront, three-course meal with drinks for a mere $17. On average, we spent about $6 a day on food.

Average hotel price: $25/night for one person

Average meal cost: $6/day

Average intercity transportation: $12

4. Canada

Quebec City, Canada.(Photo by DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images)
Quebec City, Canada. (Photo by DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images)

Canada isn’t the most affordable country on this list, but it is the closest to the U.S. which makes it automatically more affordable for American travelers. The current exchange rate is also in favor of the U.S. dollar (USD) at 1:1.30, which makes it even more appealing. Consider visiting the Province of Quebec, one of the more affordable regions. This is good news as it’s home to two amazing cities — Montréal and Quebec City. Both cities will have you wondering whether you’re in Canada or France.

Average hotel price: $34/night for one person

Average meal cost: $14/day

Average intercity transportation: $44

5. Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia. (Callum Hyland Photography/Getty Images)
Dubrovnik, Croatia. (Callum Hyland Photography/Getty Images)

You’ve probably seen a lot of Croatia on your Instagram lately and there’s good reason — it’s super-affordable at 1 USD to 6.70 HRK. If you have been thinking about visiting Italy or Greece, Croatia could be a more affordable and still beautiful alternative.

Average hotel price: $16/night for one person

Average meal cost: $9/day

Average intercity transportation: $8

6. Vietnam

Ha Long City, Vietnam. (Photo by ElOjoTorpe/Getty Images)
Ha Long City, Vietnam. (Photo by ElOjoTorpe/Getty Images)

Looking to indulge in amazing food and culture? Look no further than Vietnam. This Southeast Asian country is a fan favorite of budget travelers as U.S. dollars can go far here. Not to mention that the Vietnamese people are friendly and welcoming.

Average hotel price: $8/night for one person

Average meal cost: $4/day

Average intercity transportation: $7

7. Uruguay

La Paloma City, Uruguay (Photo by ElOjoTorpe/Getty Images)
La Paloma City, Uruguay. (Photo by ElOjoTorpe/Getty Images)

If you’re a beach lover, you may want to put Uruguay on your radar. This South American country along the Atlantic Ocean is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. If you want to bask in the sun, summer runs from November through February in South America. Pro tip: Rent a car on arrival in the capital of Montevideo and drive along the coast to take in the laid-back Uruguayan way of life.

Average hotel price: $13/night for one person

Average meal cost: $8/day

Average intercity transportation: $14

8. Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria. (Photo by FLAMINIA PELAZZI/Getty Images)
Sofia, Bulgaria. (Photo by FLAMINIA PELAZZI/Getty Images)

Whether you’re exploring the mountains or the coastline of the Black Sea, Bulgaria will take your breath away. This hidden gem in southeastern Europe only saw about 9.3 million tourists in 2018 compared to France’s 93.2 million — making Bulgaria the perfect place to take the road less traveled, for less.

Average hotel price: $11/night for one person

Average meal cost: $5/day

Average intercity transportation: $7

9. Slovenia

Lake Bled, Slovenia. (tunart/Getty Images)

As if the picture above isn’t convincing enough, you will be happy to hear that getting views like this doesn’t have to drain your bank account. Slovenia uses the Euro — which doesn’t convert favorably from the dollar — but costs are considerably cheaper here than in more popular European destinations like France or Italy.

Average hotel price: $20/night for one person

Average meal cost: $9/day

Average intercity transportation: $17

10. Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro. (Photo by tunart/Getty Images)
Kotor, Montenegro. (Photo by tunart/Getty Images)

My only question is, why haven’t visited Montenegro? It has sweeping views of beautiful mountains, hence its name, which translates from Italian as “Black Mountains.” If beaches are more your speed, Montenegro has a whopping 117 along its 183 miles of coastline. So whether you’re a mountain person or beach person, Montenegro has the right view for you.

Average hotel price: $11/night for one person

Average meal cost: $9/day

Average intercity transportation: $13

11. Albania

Krujë, Albania. Photo by Westend61/Getty Images.
Krujë, Albania. (Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

Can you imagine visiting a UNESCO World Heritage site without a crowd? Well, it’s possible in Albania. The country is home to four different sites ranging from archeological ruins dating to prehistoric times to an ancient beech forest. Like its neighbors in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Greece, Albania has amazing mountain and seaside views.

Average hotel price: $8/night for one person

Average meal cost: $6/day

Average intercity transportation: $3

12. Georgia

Tanatat pongphibool ,thailand/Getty Ima
Tbilisi, Georgia. (Photo by Tanatat pongphibool/Getty Images)

Georgia is actually one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Archaeologists trace its roots in alcoholic creativity all the way back to 6,000 BC. However, the Georgian process for making wine was and remains much different from the rest if the world. Instead of barreling the grapes for fermentation, Georgians use clay pots that are buried underground for three to six months. The process makes for a unique taste that you’ll definitely want to try.

Average hotel price: $2/night for one person

Average meal cost: $2/day

Average intercity transportation: $2

13. Ecuador

Guayaquil, Ecuador. (Photo by Jesse Kraft / EyeEm / Getty Images)

Guayaquil, Ecuador. (Photo by Jesse Kraft / EyeEm / Getty Images)

Looking to add some variety to your next trip? Consider Ecuador. The South American country has a lot to offer — colorful cities, Amazon rainforest, the Andes Mountains and even the Galapagos Islands. Although the latter are a more expensive excursion, Ecuador is a great destination for budget travelers looking for a range of things to do.

Average hotel price: $6/night for one person

Average meal cost: $5/day

Average intercity transportation: $10

14. Australia

Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Edward Pizzarello/The Points Guy)
The Opera House in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Edward Pizzarello/The Points Guy)

The current exchange rate is a favorable 1 USD to 1.46 AUD, making the Land Down Under a prime prospect for budget travelers in 2020. That is, if you’re able to score an affordable airfare via cash or points and miles. Once that’s out of the way, Australia can be surprisingly friendly to American budget travelers.

Average hotel price: $22/night for one person

Average meal cost: $11/day

Average intercity transportation: $37

15. New Zealand

New Zealand
Deepwater Basin, Milford Sound, in the South Island, New Zealand. (Photo by Southern Landscapes/Getty Images)

New Zealand is another place that’s a bit difficult to get to, but once they are there, budget travelers can make their way through the country easily. It’s no Thailand when it comes to value, but the current exchange rate is in favor of the USD at 1:1.51 NZD.

Average hotel price: $23/night for one person

Average meal cost: $9/day

Average intercity transportation: $21

This article has been edited for Chasing Guilders. To read the original article please click here.

To know more about Chasing Guilders click here


Top 10 ways to experience Dubai on a budget

With five-star hotels dominating the skyline and shopping driving the headlines, Dubai is a playground for the rich and famous. However, a sprinkling of local knowledge opens up plenty of budget-friendly experiences. Many of them can be found on either side of the Creek, in Bur Dubai and Deira, where the original small trading port of Dubai began. Want free drinks, almost-free boat rides and the best views right across town? Here’s how.

Gourmet grub for next to nothing

Dubai’s melting pot culture means every cuisine in the world is represented here, with budget versions – if you know where to look. Ravi in Al Satwa is a local legend, which serves huge bowls of Pakistani curry and tea-tray size naan breads for between Dhs30-40. For traditional Levant street food, like the shawarma (chicken wrap with tahini), head to Zaroob ( or Zaatar Z Weit ( for budget belly-busters.

The Metro, a cheap alternative to getting around Dubai. Image by Fabio Achilli / CC BY 2.0

Forget taxis and plump for the Metro instead. Dubai’s two-line driverless trains offer some of the cheapest public transport trips in the world. Buy a Nol card and top it up (, from Dhs1.8 for a short hop to Dhs5.8 for a longer trip (it’s shut Friday morning and after midnight). You can even go VIP and travel Gold Class, which has free Wi-fi. This is Dubai after all.

On your bike

Dubai’s recently invested in a couple of rental bike schemes. Either on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Boulevard (which encircles Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall) or along the Dubai Marina promenade, you can rent sturdy bikes from Dhs15 for 30 minutes ( In the last few years Dubai’s become increasingly pedestrian-friendly with cafes, restaurants and so on popping up along what would previously have been barren streets. Take in some of the city’s best views from the saddle, from the neon lights of Dubai Marina at night, to the neck-aching sight of Burj Khalifa.

Drinks are on Dubai

Dubai’s infamous expensive bars do throw a thirsty traveller a bone or two in the shape of weekly ladies’ or gents’ nights, where a selection of drinks are free. Almost every bar in the city will have a ladies’ night (often a Tuesday or Wednesday); gents’ nights are a little rarer but they do exist. For a view over the Dubai Marina and the beach, try Maya at Le Royal Meridien on a Sunday or for a busy girlie night out, there’s perennial downtown favourite Left Bank on Wednesdays.

Old-fashioned retail therapy

Spice shopping in the traditional souks, Dubai. Image by Elroy Serrao / CC BY-SA 2.0

Dubai Mall might be the biggest in the world, but it’s pretty pricey. Head to the Creek to shop like it was 100 years ago in the traditional souks. Buy gold, frankincense, or spices such as saffron and cinnamon on the Deira side, while over on the Bur Dubai bank, snap up pashminas and Arabian style slippers. Remember to haggle hard for a bargain. Take an abra (a small Arabic boat) to get across the Creek for Dhs1.

See inside a mosque

Step inside Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai’s largest, for a free tour. Image by Paul Hart / CC BY 2.0

Jumeirah Mosque is the city’s largest mosque. Daily tours (except Fridays) take place at 10am for free, run by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. The tours run for 75 minutes and visitors are encouraged to ask any questions they might have about Islam and Emirati culture. There are some lovely cafes nearby. Modest dress (ie covering knees and shoulders) is required inside the mosque.

Life’s a beach

Jumeirah Beach is full of amenities for families, but won’t leave your wallet empty. Image by David Jones / CC BY 2.0

Dubai has over 40km of golden sand coastline but much of it has been land-grabbed by five-star hotels that charge an expensive daily rate for access. Jumeirah Beach Park is a family-style, life-guarded public park with a beach that has sunloungers, umbrellas and roving ice cream sellers, as well as shady, grassy areas, photogenic palm trees and a small fast food café. It costs Dhs5 per person for entry.

Enjoy a spot of park life

You could be forgiven for thinking that Dubai is all skyscrapers and six lane highways. Hidden away opposite Business Bay is Al Safa Park, built at a time when two-storey villas were all that could be seen from here. This landscaped park is home to plenty of free barbeque pits, families with their entire kitchen decamp here every weekend. It costs Dhs3 to enter and is also home to a weekly flea market and its own community centre-café, The Archive (, that promotes Middle Eastern culture.

Get a dose of contemporary culture

The Dubai International Finance Centre’s galleries have free monthly art nights. Image by Nabil Abbas / CC BY-SA 2.0

Yes, there’s more to Dubai than shopping! The city is a hub for Middle Eastern artists working over a number of disciplines. For edgier galleries, head to Al Serkal Avenue in Al Quoz (, a cul de sac of creativity in an industrial neighbourhood. For more classic exhibitions, Dubai International Finance Centre’s (DIFC) clutch of galleries have free monthly art nights, where the city’s hipsters mingle (

Get a free history lesson at Dubai Museum

Explore the Dubai Museum in Al Fahadi Fort, the oldest building in Dubai, for free. Image by Fabio Achilli / CC BY 2.0

Life in Dubai was wildly different 50 years ago. The city has grown from a small pearl diving and trading community based around the Creek to what you see today in only just over 40 years. Discover what Dubai was like for the Bedouins and Emiratis at the Dubai Museum in the Al Fahidi Fort for free. It won’t win any awards for modernity but it’s an interesting portrayal of a way of life that’s changed beyond recognition.


Top tips for travelling during Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak! The Islamic holy month of Ramadan runs from the end of June to the end of July this year – and if you’re planning on travelling to a Muslim-majority region during this time, you’re in for an utterly fascinating experience. In many places, including the UAE, Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia and Egypt, daily life changes dramatically this month, giving visitors a chance to see a whole new side to these regions.

1. Know the basics

Ramadan is a lunar month dedicated to sawm, or fasting, one of the five pillars of Islam. From sun-up to sun-down, the faithful abstain from food, drink, tobacco and sex to concentrate on spiritual renewal. After sunset, there’s a euphoric iftar (sunset meal that breaks the fast), followed by a very late-night suhoor (the pre-dawn meal). Yet Ramadan isn’t all daytime discipline and nightly parties: it’s a time of generosity and zakat, or charity, another of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting isn’t easy, so everyone slows down during the day – but you’ll also notice people going out of their way to extend small kindnesses.

2. Plan ahead

Like any holiday, Ramadan affects business as usual and this definitely isn’t the best time to attempt a whistle-stop sightseeing marathon. Many venues operate with limited hours and staff, so try to book accommodation, transport and tours before you arrive. Plan your daytime meals in advance – international hotels will often carry on serving food, as will a limited number of restaurants (you’ll probably need to reserve a table). Packed lunches are also a good option, although you’ll need to make sure you have somewhere private to eat them. Always bring a bottle of water with you when you’re out and about, but be careful about where you swig from it. Finally, remember that alcohol will not be widely available, even in the evenings.

3. Shift your schedule

It’s all about the nightly festivities during Ramadan. Traditions vary from region to region, but everyone breaks fast with iftar at sundown, then there’s often a long night ahead of socialising with family and friends, followed by the late suhoor meal. In Morocco, streets come alive with light displays, music and offers of sweets at every intersection. While life pretty much goes on as usual in Turkey during Ramadan (or Ramazan as it’s known here), look out for the iftar tents where people flock to break their fasts; these are often subsidised by the local municipality, offering cheap or free food and covering parks and pavements with tables. In the Gulf states, the often very glamorous Ramadan Tents are popular places to spend the night snacking, smoking shisha and playing games. Wherever you are, non-Muslims are almost always welcome to join iftar or hang out in the tents until the small hours.

4. Know the local law and customs

Check the laws of the country you’re travelling in before you arrive, as some places are much stricter than others about public observance of the fast. Non-Muslims aren’t expected to keep the fast themselves – according to tradition, even Muslim travellers are exempt. But at best, eating or drinking in front of people who are probably fasting is bad form, and at worst you can find yourself slapped with a hefty fine. It’s a good idea to dress more conservatively than you would normally, too.

5. Get in the Ramadan swing

This month is traditionally a time of great hospitality and generosity, so go ahead and accept Ramadan sweets or invitations to feasts, parties and family gatherings. You can always return the favour with gift boxes of food or by practising zakat, and giving to a local charity. It might take a while for your body clock to adapt to the local rhythms of quiet days and staying up all night, but you’ll have a far more pleasant and interesting experience if you go with the flow. Twitter can help you stay on top of Ramadan timings this year. If you tweet pan-Arab news network @AlArabiya with the hashtag #iftar followed by the hashtagged name of your city (ie #Dubai), you’ll get an instant reply with your local iftar time.


Taste of Dubai: the city’s best Emirati eats

While Dubai has plenty of intriguing cuisines on offer, from Pakistani and Peruvian to Ethiopian and Iranian, it’s always been a little trickier to find authentic UAE fare in the city.

Traditionally, these dishes have just been served in homes or at major celebrations, but that’s finally starting to change as a decent selection of Emirati restaurants crop up across town.

So what exactly is Emirati cuisine? Hearty meat dishes born in the desert and seafood from the Arabian Gulf usually served with flatbread and rice. Bezar, a blend of roasted and ground spices including coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon, is added to practically everything, while centuries-old trading partners such as Iran and India have also left their mark on the cuisine. Many of the newer restaurants aren’t just sticking to a traditional menu though: camel sliders and chicken tikka-stuffed bread are just a couple of the unexpected Emirati-fusion treats on offer. Here’s where to get your fill.

Contemporary cooking at Aseelah

With dishes like date-stuffed chicken roulade and juicy camel sliders, Aseelah at Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek serves up the city’s most adventurous and accomplished take on local cuisine. Old-school favourites are not forgotten; chef Uwe Micheel has spent years visiting Emirati families to master recipes like prawns marinated in bezar and aseeda bobar (pumpkin pudding). This stylish spot is the only Emirati restaurant that serves booze, with creative cocktails and a well-priced wine list.

Authentic flavours at Al Fanar

Al Fanar is a kitsch, fun spot, with food and décor harking back to the pre-oil days. Don’t let the Festival City Mall location put you off; designed like an old courtyard house, the restaurant is hugely atmospheric (just ignore the dodgy waxworks). First-timers are encouraged to try chicken machboos (a bezar-spiced rice dish) and tender naghar mashwi (grilled squid). There’s a second branch at Town Centre Jumeriah.

Home-style cooking at Al Tawasol

Locals have been flocking to the family-run Al Tawasol in Deira for food-like-Grandma-used-to-make since 1999. Take a seat on a corner of carpet in the main dining area or in one of the private tented majlis, then scoop up succulent lamb machboos and spicy salona (curry) with your hands. Al Tawasol also does a mean mandi, a Yemeni dish that’s been adopted across the Arabian Peninsula: meat slow-cooked in a tandoor and served over aromatic rice.

Camel milk treats at The Majlis

With intricate mashrabiya and a blue-tiled fountain, The Majlis ( at Dubai Mall specialises in coffee, cakes, shakes and ice cream made from camel milk. A staple of the Bedouin diet until the mid-20th century, it’s lower in fat, and higher in vitamins and minerals, than the cow equivalent. Try a camelccino made with the café’s own blend of Ethiopian beans, paired with a pistachio-glazed éclair made with – you guessed it – camel milk.

Trendy-meets-traditional at Seven Sands

Spread over two floors at The Beach at JBR, Seven Sands ( features sleek Arabesque interiors and a breezy terrace overlooking the sea. Blending traditional with trendy, the menu is full of Emirati classics, but you’ll also see dishes from the wider region such as velvety hummus and crumbly kibbeh. Dishes to try? Sambousas – similar to Indian samosas but given a bezar spice twist – and prawn fouga flavoured with bezar, saffron and dry limes.

Creative khameer at Logma

Located in trendy BoxPark, Logma ( is a hip eatery with modern interiors – think funky camel motifs and hanging kerosene lamps – and casual, contemporary Emirati fare. It’s a top spot for lunch with soft khameer flatbread stuffed with fillings such as chicken tikka, or smothered in more traditional cream cheese and dibs. Order with a side of Logma’s famous fries seasoned with Khaleeji spices.

Cultural meals at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

For a crash course in both Emirati cuisine and culture, visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in a renovated wind-tower house in the historic Al Fahidi district. Dishes such as chicken machboos and lip-smackingly sweet luqaimat (donuts) drizzled in dibs (date syrup) are served while sitting cross-legged on carpets and cushions on the floor. Hosted by young Emirati volunteers, visitors are encouraged to ask questions about local culture, with no topic off-limits.

Comfort food at Al Barza

Below a kandora shop on Jumeirah Beach Road, a block back from the beach and 500 metres north of Mercato Mall, Al Barza features sandy interiors with dark latticework and an outdoor terrace. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, feel-good favourites include balaleet (scrambled eggs with cardamom-scented vermicelli noodles) and creamy harees (wheat porridge with shredded lamb). More adventurous diners can try tahtah malleh, a salt-cured fish and rice dish that is something of an acquired taste.



Dubai’s hippest, hottest hotel coming soon


Top 10 things to know before visiting Dubai

Dubai is one of the most visited destinations in the world and home to a number of record-breakers, from the world’s tallest tower to the busiest international airport on the planet. Yet for all the city’s accolades, there are still plenty of misconceptions about the glitzy Gulf emirate. Here are 10 things you’ll want to know before you arrive.

1.You don’t have to be a millionaire

It’s regularly named one of the world’s most expensive cities, but you can enjoy Dubai on a budget. As the city gears up to host Expo 2020, millennial-friendly mid-market hotel chains such as Rove and Hilton Garden Inn are booming. Metered taxis are cheap by international standards, and you can ride the metro for as little as Dh3. The city is brimming with cheap eats too, especially around Al Muraqqabat Road and Al Rigga Road in Deira.

2.There is culture

Contrary to popular stereotypes, there’s more to Dubai than shopping and skyscrapers. Look beyond the bling, and you’ll discover a rich cultural heritage that blends Bedouin, Arab and Islamic traditions. For a quick history lesson, visit the Etihad Museum and Dubai Museum and then head to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Cultural Understandingfor a no-holds-barred Q&A session on Emirati culture. Meanwhile, explore the burgeoning contemporary art scene at Alserkal Avenue and catch a performance at the dhow-shaped Dubai Opera.

3.Dubai is not Dry

Think you can’t get a drink? Alcohol is available in licensed bars and restaurants, which are generally attached to hotels (although exceptions include some high-end eateries in Dubai International Financial Centreand City Walk). Most bars have happy hours – Nola has one of the best– and the legal drinking age is 21, so take your photo ID. Ladies’ night, usually on Tuesdays, means women can enjoy free drinks, while all-you-can-eat-and-drink Friday brunches are a Dubai institution.

4.Dubai’s a top spot for foodies

With Michelin tipped to launch a guide to Dubai in the near future, dining out in the city has never tasted so good. Dubai’s multicultural mix means you can feast on everything from budget-friendly ethnic eatsand traditional Emirati cuisine to French fine-dining and molecular gastronomy. Hip homegrown eateries like The Sum of Us and Salt are leading the shift away from international chains, while Frying Pan Adventures offers fantastic foodie tours of old Dubai.

5.Skip the burkini

Dubai is a cosmopolitan city, with expats making up almost 85% of the population. There’s no need to cover your hair; shorts and t-shirts are fine in many places, and you can wear a bikini at the beach or by the pool. It’s a glamorous city too, so dress to impress at brunch and out clubbing. In the malls, mosques and souqs, you should respect local Islamic culture by dressing modestly, which means shoulders and knees covered.

6.It’s incredibly forward-looking

Forget notions of a city fuelled solely by black gold; Dubai has successfully diversified its economy away from oil to become a thriving hub for transport, trade, finance and tourism. What’s more, the government is working with high-tech companies to develop self-driving cars, flying drone taxis and 3D organ printing. One of the most exciting partnerships is with Hyperloop One, which is developing a supersonic transport system that could link Dubai with Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes.

7.The weekend is Friday and Saturday

Most people have Friday off work, when Muslims gather for congregational prayers. Dubai Metro services start at 10am on Fridays, and businesses are traditionally closed for a few hours in the afternoon, although many now remain open throughout the day. If you’re looking to party, the busiest nights of the week are Thursdays and Fridays, while malls are also packed with shoppers until midnight.

8.Dubai wants to rival Orlando

Florida’s theme-park capital faces a new challenger, with four major theme parks opened in Dubai in 2016. They include IMG Worlds of Adventure, the world’s largest indoor theme park with dedicated Marvel and Cartoon Network zones, and the Hollywood-inspired Motiongate, with rides based on blockbusters such as Madagascar and Ghostbusters. Slated to open in late 2019, Six Flags Dubai is set to have the largest rollercoaster on the planet.

9.It’s probably safer than your home city

Despite unrest in the region, the UAE is the second safest country in the world, according to the World Economic Forum. Dubai is very safe compared with other large cities across the globe, and street crime is rare. It’s safe to take taxis at night, and walking around on your own is fine in most areas. The biggest dangers are reckless driving and crossing the street, with many motorists ignoring pedestrian crossings.

10.There’s a new super-tall tower in town

Dubai is a city that loves a superlative. Not content with the world’s tallest tower, the 828m Burj Khalifa, the emirate is building another epic skyscraper. Located at Dubai Creek Harbour, The Tower will stand at 928m when completed in 2020 and house a 360-degree observation platform, along with a hotel, restaurants and vertical gardens. It’s got competition for the ‘world’s tallest’ title though, with Saudi Arabia’s kilometre-high Jeddah Tower also set to open in 2020.

4 Essentials to Wring Results From Your Content Marketing Budget

Are you confident that your content marketing budget for 2016 is sufficient for your needs?

Or maybe this is the better question: do you even have a content marketing budget? In many companies, content marketing simply gets rolled up into the general marketing budget. This means that even if there are funds available, it may be hard to justify larger spends, request a budget increase or accurately calculate ROI specifically for content marketing.

In larger organizations, CMOs are more likely to have a dedicated budget for content marketing. According to recent research from the CMO Club, marketing budgets are on the rise in 2016, and content marketing is the primary area where this increase is being spent.

Because we’re seeing this increased investment in content marketing (which incidentally, the Content Marketing Institute confirms), I thought it would be helpful to provide a primer on how to plan your content marketing budget for 2016 and beyond. Following are four strategies or considerations to keep in mind.

1. Consider budgeting by customer journey rather than by channel.
Perhaps the most common approach to budgeting for content marketing is to break costs down by the three primary marketing channels: owned, earned and paid. Allocating funds to each channel tends to make the most sense and may appear to be the simplest way to break down costs.

However, organizations are increasingly moving away from this model (which I’ll outline in more detail below) in favor of budgeting according to the entire customer journey. According to the CMO Club, CMOs are finding it more effective to allocate costs in this manner: “[T]oday’s CMO is much more focused on investing across the entire customer journey from discovery to advocacy – with an understanding that journeys have changed dramatically.”

So, what does this mean in terms of hard numbers? On average, marketing budgets are being allocated as follows: buying stage (21 percent), discovery stage (20 percent), learning stage (16 percent), trying stage (16 percent), advocate stage (14 percent) and use (13 percent).

Related: 6 Content Marketing Tips for Non-Sexy Industries

CMO research: marketing is a buyer journey not a destination

The customer journey model you’re using doesn’t have to look exactly like this. However, it should be differentiated from a simplistic buying cycle (e.g., awareness, consideration, purchase) which doesn’t take into account the post-purchase stage.

It should also be noted that you shouldn’t be afraid to change direction mid-year, and pivot, especially when using a new budgeting model. According the the CMO Club, many CMOS are seeing the benefits of shifting focus as they see the success or failure of different strategies: “Marketers are testing the waters by experimenting across tactics and buyer stages. In a sense, they are initially putting bets on every horse at the start of the race, but leveraging agile approaches to reallocate resources to the leading “horses” mid-race and increasing their chance to win the day.”