How to survive a long lay over in Dubai!

As I have not hit luxury status when travelling as of yet. My number one goal is to make my holidays as cheap as possible without it being illegal!! This unfortunately involves a certain level of inconvenience at times.

Thus our 11 hour lay over in Dubai. We got a good deal on flights which gave us two options either spend 11 hours in Dubai airport or arrive in Cairo, Egypt at 12:30AM. As we were doing a tour, part of it included transfers from the airport. We figured that forcing someone to fetch us at that time of the night wouldn’t be a great start to the tour!

Leave the airport you crazy person is of course the first thing that comes to mind! Unfortunately we need a transit visa which costs around $60 (R700). Something we only found out after booking flights was that airlines don’t give out free transit visas and hotel bookings just willy-nilly anymore! Your flight has to be the best time available and not bought on a special to qualify. As there was a much earlier flight leaving to Cairo and we did get ridiculously cheap flights we stood no chance!

Did we consider paying the cost of the transit visa? Yes of course, what type of travellers would we be if we didn’t want to get another country under the belt but then our lay over was from 20:30PM to 07:30AM so there was a high chance of not seeing all the important sights. Thus we decided to put the money to better use in Egypt.

I thought what better time than then to figure out how to kill time when you are stuck with a long lay over in Dubai.

So what we had to work with were 3 gates A, B and C! A and B are the busy gates and gate C is potentially the gate they forgot they have because the airport is so massive. Besides for one or two napping passengers you only see staff there and of course Costa coffee!  Below are a few of the cheap things I discovered to do!

1. Take a shower?

Every third bathroom has about 3 showers in them for people that need to refresh and came prepared for a quick shower! I don’t know maybe rinse your hair or something. They are for free which is pretty awesome! The airport is filled with tons of clean bathrooms! So you can forget about long lines that kill time unfortunately!


2. Connect to wifi!

Let’s be real internet makes everything better! There is unlimited WiFi everywhere in the airport! Which made it possible for me to listen to 8tracks (online music streaming site).  Get all my social media in before our holiday which normally includes little to no phone time (unless you the roaming type).

3. Charger points for all!

Nothing lasts forever so tons of charging points to help with all the free internet. Again there are multiple all over the airport so no lines here either!


4. Grab some food!

No jokes, Dubai is not cheap and we all know this but then you get there and realise that it is seriously not cheap at all! Cheapest meal we could find that didn’t come out a vending machine was Burger King. The only other take away option we had was MacDs so it didn’t take too long to find the cheapest option. Two medium meals set us back 62AED (R250). Yes you heard me right, for a take away meal. It was dam delicious though so that made it hurt a little less. Clearly the country has a fetish for Irish pubs because if you feel like splurging you can head on over to O’Brians or Mcgettigan’s. If you are a Costa coffee fan you have come to the right place. I think we broke a world record for the most Costa coffees seen in one day.


The vending machines are pretty awesome as well  for all types of snacks and cheap coffee for 3AED (R12). There is even a red bull vending machine to keep things going.


5. Zen Gardens

They have 2 of these one in gate A and one in gate B. I am not going to promote them as your one stop serendipity spot but they are nice to chill in or take a nice picture.


So I know none of these things seem like anything to write home about but that’s what you can do for free. If you have got the cash and come from a country that has a stronger currency than Dubai, fantastic. The airport has a pool and fully equipped gym which you can access for a small fee (guess that explains what the showers are for). There is a hotel and all the main airlines have lounges. Lounges normally get you free food, somewhere comfy to sleep and celebrity status! Then of course like all airports there are tons of shops for pretty much anything and everything. We talking nuts, toys, 22C gold! You name it they got it.


Unfortunately 11 hours in Dubai or any airport really is pretty difficult to sell but we survived it and it was honestly not too bad! We were so high on excitement to visit Egypt that it flew by so quickly! It is all part of the adventure and sometimes 11 hours spent in an airport is better than 11 hours spent regretting not taking that trip! I look forward to many more airport lay overs, airport sleeper chairs and over priced take away meals!

The travel Bug 🙂




8 thoughts on “How to survive a long lay over in Dubai!

  1. Expat Panda

    Wow I can’t believe you didn’t qualify for the free visa and hotel accommodation package sponsored by emirates. I had that in 2012 and it was AMAZING. But glad you made it out alive after 11 hours in the airport!

    1. The TravelBug Post author

      I agree with you absolutely! People save to go on holiday to have a good time! So when you on a holiday you need to spend the money you worked so hard to save up to! For everyone what they classify as import is different for me I like museums, seeing heritage sights and lots of exploring so I can easily splurge on it! Food though is lost on me I’m not big on different foods so spending tons of money on fancy food I will most probably not enjoy for me is pointless! I fully believe you can personalise your holiday to be budget friendly but still be amazing!

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