How To Budget for A Staycation in the UAE

While getting vaccinated for Covid-19 has opened many doors back up again, many of us are still rightfully against the idea of wandering too far away from home. After trying to stay safe for so long, the thought of a long flight abroad from which you might not be able to return home on time (due to last minute flight cancellations), doesn’t set a great vacation mood.

However, you can’t let this summer pass without some well-deserved relaxation. So, if you decide to stay in the UAE this summer, here is how you can budget for it. The best part about it is that you get to enjoy your time without purging your savings; your wallet will thank you for it!

Calculate what you are willing to spare

The first step to budgeting for any treat starts with calculating your monthly expenses and figuring out what you can safely spare. Even though you are staying in the UAE, it is a holiday, and you will be spending more money than you would regularly, but that doesn’t mean that you have to set aside an extravagant amount. The idea is to calculate a budget and stick to it, so you don’t go over-board.

This step will also help you make your following decisions, such as whether you want to book a room at a hotel or an Airbnb. It’ll also serve as a guide for when you’re planning the activities.

Researching and finding the best deals

Researching is the next important bit that will help you enjoy your holiday. Start researching as early as you can to find the best offers. While accommodation costs the most and should be the primary focus of your deal-hunting, do not forget the budget and whether it will be enough to cover the entertainment/ activities, food, and hotel stay. You might want to consider either increasing the budget or letting go of some expensive activities. You can also stay at home instead of the hotel experience but it all depends on the budget that you set and the experience that you would like to have this summer.

If you don’t know where to start looking for deals, your credit card likely has a bunch of offers for you to make use of whether it’s hotel, entertainment/ activities, or food offers. The key point is that you should do a thorough research before setting the plan. In addition, be sure to read the terms and conditions of the offers as some offers exclude weekends, public holidays etc. So, make sure you read the T&Cs to avoid last minute surprises.

Planning and final decisions

Once you’ve researched and found the available options, you can pick what fits your budget the best. Whether that’s heading to a hotel or simply coming home each night while you explore the UAE; the previous steps will help you figure out what’s perfect for you.

After figuring out your hotel situation, you can start planning for activities with the remaining budget. Living in the UAE is advantageous as you can never run out of things to do here. From skydiving to butterfly gardens, numerous activities are at your doorstep. This is also the perfect time to try to step out of your comfort zone by trying new adventures. Summer activities include checking out local markets, renting a yacht or a beach villa, going to waterparks either in Dubai, Sharjah or Abu Dhabi; there are so many things you can do this summer so what are you waiting for?

Disclaimer: if you do plan on having a staycation in Abu Dhabi, remember to take the PCR test before. You will need a negative test result for you to be able to enter Abu Dhabi.


This could be your opportunity to try new restaurants. Remember to factor in the meals that you’re going to order in your budget. Do you plan to have breakfast included in your hotel reservation or do you want to have breakfast in a different restaurant every day? You must include everything in your plan to ensure you stick to the budget and avoid exceeding it.

Add up the total cost

Once you have made all your decisions and have a concrete list of activities, factor this into your budget. Make sure to add some money for unforeseen costs such as impulse purchases or emergencies. As an extra step, you can divide the staycation spending limit into a daily budget to give yourself more control as well as to spread the spending out evenly.

Compare this amount to what you were originally willing to spend on your staycation with the final number that you got after calculating all expenses. Figure out if you’re willing to pay this much or not and whether it suits your financial appetite. Don’t fret if the anticipated costs are higher than your budget; all you need to do is go back to researching to find better deals or tweak your plans a little. You can even save up over time until you have the desired amount.

If your anticipated costs are less or equal to the amount you budgeted, then you are set and ready to enjoy your holiday!

*If you already own a Citi Mastercard Credit Card, you can click here and look at the available offers.

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Ghazia Bhojani is a young, aspiring writer based in Dubai. Her writing covers a range of topics including the arts, mental health and lifestyle.

This article is intended to provide general information about finance and investments and does not replace or should be taken as professional financial advice. The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article except information on Citibank N.A. – UAE products referenced herein.
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