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Seven travel planning secrets for a successful last-minute trip to Abu Dhabi

Want to know how to reserve both the accommodation and destination for your trip?

One of the most popular pieces of advice in smart travel planning is to start the process as early as possible. But what if you don’t have the luxury of time?

The hard truth is that you don’t always get a lot of time to plan for a trip. Sometimes, you’re given short notice that you’re headed somewhere with your family or you’ve simply decided to go at the last minute.

Either way, you will need to follow a different set of tips and tricks to ensure a hassle-free trip. Lucky for you, this article compiles seven travel planning secrets that could make preparing your last-minute Abu Dhabi vacation more efficient:

1. Be flexible on dates and destinations
Seeing as you haven’t been able to book ahead, it is normal to find fewer dates and destinations available on the day of your vacation. Because of this, you must remain flexible when choosing a date and destination for your trip.

For hotels and other accommodations, dates already full are blocked off in their booking calendar. Some experiences, particularly Yas Theme Parks, have this functionality as well.

Want to know how to reserve both the accommodation and destination for your trip?

Yas Island offers Stay and Play packages that come with complimentary access to one or more of the three world-renowned theme parks on the island:

  • Yas Waterworld Abu Dhabi
  • Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
  • Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

Yas Theme Parks also allow free date changes through the Yas Concierge. Some packages, like the 3 Day All 3 Parks bundle, are valid for up to six months from the issuance date, with all park entry days to be used up within a 14-day calendar period.

2. Time your trip right
Although you may not have all the dates available to choose from, chances are you’ll still have several good options, especially if your trip happens to be scheduled during low or non-peak season.

As much as possible, try to schedule your trip during the middle of the week. Since most people would be working, you’ll have a better chance to reserve a room or experience during these days.

Plus, some hotels have lower weekday rates, particularly during Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

3. Seek best-value offers
Just because you’re going on a last-minute trip doesn’t mean you should give up on making the most out of your money. There are many other ways you can save money besides paying less.

One example is to arrive early at your destination.

By being there before the theme park gates swing open, you get the advantage of being first in line in some of the most in-demand rides and attractions. You also get to choose which experiences to try first and use your day to the fullest.

Pro Tip: Head to the back of the theme park where the crowds are thinner first, moving towards the closest ones to the gate as you go along.

Of course, there are still ways you can reduce the cost of certain aspects of the trip, like seeking out bundled packages and limited offers. Below are some examples of what you’ll find at Yas Island:

  • Group Discounts: Some theme parks have discounted packages for groups visiting the place together. For example, Ferrari World has the Family and Friends Offer that reduces the Single-Day ticket costs by 25 per cent for groups of no less than four people for tickets purchased online. This brings the ticket price from AED 295 to AED 221.25 per person.
  • Hotel and Park Bundles: Stay and Play packages don’t just reserve two things at once; these also allow you to save money. By booking one-, two-, or three-day Stay and Play packages, you save anywhere between 20 and 50 per cent of what you would’ve spent when you book hotel and parks separately.
  • Two for One: Besides group packages, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi two for one tickets or add-on experiences are also available. This applies to guests booking via the Entertainer app.

4. Research thoroughly
Use what time you have to prepare for the trip to research your destination thoroughly. Besides reviews and ticket prices, you also need to learn about the regulations and policies currently implemented.

Look for the visa and vaccination requirements if you’re from another country. Even those who are transiting through Abu Dhabi need to get a visa.

Some nationalities can take advantage of visa-on-arrival in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are also different types of visas applicable for varying lengths and purposes of stay.

Don’t forget to check the rules and regulations in the destinations themselves. In Yas Island, for example, theme park guests follow strict precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes:

  • Wearing of face masks within the premises.
  • Reduced capacity for restaurants, rides, and experiences.
  • Thermal screening and hand sanitation.
  • Contactless payments and social distancing.
  • ALHOSN UAE green pass or negative PCR test requirement for all guests 16 years old and above.

5. Set a realistic budget
Three things take up the biggest chunk of your travel budget: airfare, accommodation, and experiences. However, these aren’t the only ones that make up your total travel costs.

There’s also your day-to-day transportation, food, and other stuff outside what your theme park ticket can get you. Make sure you take all of these into consideration and create a budget for your trip.

While there are plenty of taxis in Abu Dhabi, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t go overboard in your transportation expenses. That means you may need to learn how to get around the city via public transport.

If you’re not comfortable with this, especially if it’s your first time in the city, you can always book airport transfer services beforehand. Some destinations, like Yas Island, also have their own free shuttle service that brings guests in and around the place.

If you’re not careful, your food expenses can get too high in Abu Dhabi. To avoid this, make sure you research restaurants before your trip.

If you live in another UAE city, try to pack snacks for the trip. This not only saves you a couple of dirhams but also ensures that you don’t go hungry during your trip. Granola bars and trail mixes are always excellent to have, especially when you’re going on an extended trip.

6. Draft your vacation
Did you know you can draft your vacation using Google Maps?

Print out a copy of the map of Abu Dhabi. Then, mark your destinations from the airport to the best theme parks and other places you wish to go.

Doing this gives you a better perspective of where you ought to be, and the amount of time you can spend there. You can also adjust your trip details when you need to.

Having the final version of your vacation map also allows you to look back and check how far along you already are in your itinerary. This also helps manage your expectations for the trip.

7. Book online
Almost everything about a trip can be booked online, from plane tickets and hotel accommodation to experiences and destinations. Some establishments even offer lower rates than if you purchase tickets at the gate or make a walk-in room booking.

Plus, having your reservations available online makes them easier to access when needed.

Last-minute trip fun
Although planning is ideal, there may be occasions when you won’t be able to plan your trip ahead. 

Even then, you can still have fun with the right mindset and help by applying the travel planning secrets listed here.