Did you know that Dubai is one of the top 5 most visited cities in the world – up there with London and Paris? It’s easy to see why as it offers plenty for visitors to see and do.
As a travel destination that values modern living, luxury and wealth with roots still deeply tied to conservative Middle Eastern ways, knowing what to pack for Dubai can seem a bit challenging and uncertain.
After you’ve gone through all this helpful material, tackling your Dubai packing essentials will be a breeze. Get ready to experience some world-class shopping, unforgettable desert camel rides and upscale beach lounging – and be prepared to fork over some money!
Ok then, let’s get to it!
The Ultimate Dubai Packing List
Welcome to our Dubai survival guide – where you can lay your doubts to rest! Read on to find your top 22-needs packing list, tips on what to wear in Dubai that is fashionable and culturally accepted, a close look at Dubai’s seasonal weather conditions and how to pack for them.
You’ll also find packing recommendations specifically for women and men, and tips for what not to pack for Dubai.
The Backpack and Luggage: Nomatic Travel Bag
Before you even take on the task of figuring out what to pack for Dubai, you’ll need an amazing backpack to pack it all into. For all types of travelers and destinations, our number one recommendation is the Nomatic Travel Bag.
The Nomatic travel bag covers every detail to make backpacking travel the best experience. Because of its smart design, it manages to provide loads of packing space in a convenient, carry-on size package! Its handy built-in pockets make plenty of room for all the necessities on your what to pack for Dubai checklist – you’ll find separate compartments for important items like shoes, water bottle, electronics, underwear and socks. As an added bonus, there’s also an RFID-safe and cord management pocket.
You have a choice between backpack or duffel bag carry, and extra carrying comfort for your back thanks to its innovative strap system and detachable sternum strap. And its black, waterproof material is every bit sleek and modern as it is durable and tough. There is a reason why most Broke Backpacker staff swear by this backpack.
Alternative Luggage: AER Travel Pack 2
Our number two selection for an epic travel backpack is the AER Travel Pack 2. Like the Nomatic Travel Bag, this AER backpack is fully featured, big enough to hold an extended weekend of clothing, and tough enough to last years of travel abuse. Most trips to Dubai are a few days long so this bag should carry all you need.
I have taken the AER Travel Pack 2 on multiple trips and since then it has risen has in the ranks of my go-to travel backpacks.
Check out our AER Travel Pack 2 review to learn more.
A Suitcase: Nomatic Carry-On Pro
Backpacks not your thing? That’s ok, in fact carrying a backpack in Dubai will only increase your chances of being hassled at the airport. Our friends at Nomatic are back again with a great alternative to their badass Travel Bag; the Nomatic Carry-On Pro.
This suitcase is ultra-durable, sleek, and comes with a handy tech compartment for transporting your laptop and other electronic bits. Nomatic has been an industry leader when it comes to travel gear and that reputation is reflected in the quality build design and functionality of the Carry-On Pro suitcase.
Check out our Nomatic Carry-On Pro review to learn more about this epic suitcase.
Packing For Dubai: Personal Gear
There are a couple of things to bear in mind when packing for Dubai. Firstly, it is HOT all year round. Secondly, it is a conservative Arab country and so you need to dress “modestly” – legs and shoulders should be covered for both men and women. Therefore, deciding what to wear in Dubai can be a bit of a headache if you all you own are shorts and vests!
So, bring some light, “modest” clothes and try to dress at least a bit smartly. Other than that, these items are great additions for things to bring to Dubai.
Good Shoes – Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero
Visitors to Dubai have a tendency to underestimate the amount of walking that is part of the day to day Dubai experience. Shuffling between sites and bars, checking out the tall buildings, and exploring the deserts outside of the city all make the miles on your feet add up.
I admit that most shoes that are also good for hiking are not the most attractive pieces of footwear. But they are some of the most comfortable and deliver good ankle support for a long day of walking about town. I mean, your body is already going to be suffering enough from all those shawarmas!
Plus, the dunes outside of Dubai offer excellent day trip opportunities, so packing a pair of hiking shoes gives you the option (and eliminates excuses) to go head for the hills when the city becomes too much.
Check out the women’s Salomon X Ultra 3 Low Aero.
Dubai is indeed a very conservative city and you really do not want to be walking around in your swimwear However, there are plenty of hotel pools, jacuzzi’s and insta worthy sports where bathing is permitted. You will be the disappointed guy or girl in the corner if you forget to pack swimwear while everyone else is in the water. Or you might get drunk, lose your inhibitions, and jump in naked with the risk of getting arrested and flogged.
Don’t get arrested for being naked. Instead, just pack whatever it is that makes you feel comfortable in the pool.
Travel Insurance From World Nomads
Ok, you can’t pack travel insurance in your backpack, but you can take out a cheap policy to insure yourself against theft, flight cancellations, accidents, etc.
Dubai is a pretty safe city as law and order is harshly enforced. However it is also very expensive and if you do run into trouble and need to see a Doctor or visit a hospital then you can expect a very hefty bill. Just in case the worst happens it is worth spending the bucks to get some travel insurance.
We use either World Nomads or SafetyWing. You’ll be happy you did if the time comes to use it.
Sun God Sunglasses
A reliable pair of sunglasses is undoubtedly one of your Dubai packing essentials. Our favorites are SunGod Sunglasses because they deliver on quality and style.
They’re built tough with triple-layer scratch-resistant lenses and trademarked Adventure-proof Frame Material. You can also customize them with your choice of lense and frame colors to reflect your own style. Plus they’re covered by SunGod’s lifetime guarantee of free repair. Check our in-depth review here.
Suncream: Thinksport Safe SPF 50+
By now, all of us are as pasty as the driven snow from sheltering in place for the last six months. Am I right? This means we are even more vulnerable than usual to the sun’s fierce rays. Packing sunscreen for Dubai may seem like a no brainer, but you would be amazed how many sun-burned cocktail-toting people you see wandering around.
Thinksport Safe SPF 50+ sunscreen gives folks strong sun protection in a non-oily formula that’s free of gluten, paraben, phthalates and biologically harmful chemicals.
Another backpacker/traveler favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Historically, I have been the guy who has my stuff all over the bathroom, so getting one of these things really changed the toiletry game for me. Plus they are not too expensive either. A no-brainer essential.
Your Passport or Other Government ID
So what to bring to Dubai then? Well a passport for one! You will need a passport to enter Dubai and the UAE. You may also be asked to produce when changing money and asked for ID when buying alcohol.
We also suggest bringing along a few photocopies and keeping them with you at all times.
One of the best investments you can make is a worldwide travel adapter that will work anywhere! The one featured here is tough, reliable and a solid buy – Don’t leave home without one.GET IT HERE
A Hat – Patagonia Fitz Roy Trucker
As you should know by now, the sun in Dubai is strong and you will undoubtedly be spending a lot of time outside. Having a hat on your Dubai packing list is a good way to ensure your face is protected from the sun throughout the day.
Patagonia makes great hats. I have probably bought three or four of these over the last five years. Simple. Practical. Comfortable. That is what you are after.
Travel First Aid Kit
You don’t need to tote around half a pharmacy, but a well-stocked first aid kit should be in all our backpacks. Stuff happens on the road and it’s inconvenient and embarrassing when you can’t manage small situations like a cut finger or hangover migraine.
You can tuck this lifesaver away in a forgotten pocket – and it’ll be there when you need it.
Tip: Add a few bits and pieces to the first aid kit after you purchase it, like extra headache medicine, any personal meds you need (like allergy pills), whatever you take to calm your stomach and a few more plasters.
Learn More: Best Travel First Aid Kits
Let’s face it; for the foreseeable future, COVID 19 risk is just going to be a part of travel. How do we do our best to mitigate the risk while still traveling and experience life’s pleasures? Pack the right PPE gear.
Dubai is a dream environment for a pathogen like COVID to spread. It’s a fairly small space holding a LOT of people with loads of packed high rises churning AC all day.
It is absolutely essential that you pack the following items for your trip to Dubai as this is one place you do NOT want to risk non-conformity with rules.
Money Belt – By Active Roots
Whilst Dubai is not particularly dangerous at all, crime can still happen and tourists are sometimes targeted.
Therefore it is always a good idea to use a money belt to hide your cash just in case something does go wrong.
Waterbottle – Hydroflask Vacuum Bottle 32 oz.
Packing a reusable water bottle is probably the best thing you can personally do to combat single-use plastic bottle use whilst traveling. There is simply zero need to buy plastic water bottles. Whilst we don’t recommend drinking tap water in Dubai, there are plenty of fountains and coolers to fill up from or you can buy a big 5l litre bottle and fill your flask from it.
We love the Hydroflask Vacum Bottle for its quality and because it keeps cold water cold for many hours and vice versa for hot beverages. This bottle is the ideal water bottle to get not just for your Dubai trip but for daily use. Please don’t be that person buying plastic water bottles. We are all judging you…especially mother earth.
If you go with the Hydroflask, you’ll probably never need to buy another waterbottle again.
The Basic Stuff To Pack For Dubai
On top of the essential items listed above, here is an additional suggested checklist of what to pack for a trip to Dubai:
- 1-2 pairs of comfortable pants/jeans
- 1-2 pairs of shorts (summer/late spring)
- A few pairs of socks
- (Sexy) underwear x 2/3
- Ladies: a few dresses, pants, outfits, or desired lady apparel for a night on the town.
- Dudes: A few collard shirts or something half-way decent for a night on the town.
- Smartphone with a good camera for photos if you are not bringing an actual camera
- Portable power bank for charging your phone on the go
- Phone charger
- Amazon Kindle for reading by the pool
- Copy of your passport just in case
- Cash (not too much, there are ATM machines everywhere
- Packable Towel
Final Thoughts on What to Pack for Dubai
There it is, fellow travelers! Your thorough Dubai survival guide packed with a top-22 needs packing list, a detailed look at what to wear in Dubai, specifics on seasonal weather conditions and how to pack accordingly, and what NOT to pack for Dubai to save yourself some trouble!
Now that that’s all settled, you can tackle your Dubai travel preparations confidently and stress-free. Remember – just pack smart to stay safe, comfortable and culturally respectful.
So, get to it! Your next adventure in the glorious land of Dubai is calling your name!
Also – don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favorite travel insurance provider.
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