Christmas in Dubai


GO ASK JOAN:From meeting halfway for Christmas to stopping off on the way home from Nashville, J OAN SCALESanswers your travel questions

Meeting up at Christmas

Our 23-year-old son has just gone to work in Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) on a two-year work contract. He is the first of our four children to emigrate.

He has asked if we would meet him halfway for Christmas – there are five of us in Ireland, all over 18. It may be easier for him to travel two-thirds of the way and us one third.

I have looked on the internet but am finding it very challenging to come up with a plan. Funding is limited and I want to be near a Catholic church for Christmas. We can go anytime from the evening of the 22nd December and must return for work on January 9th.

HOC, Clare

Anywhere over Christmas is always expensive. Looking at the atlas and thinking about places that might work for your trip, the Gulf States spring to mind. There is a direct flight from Ireland to Abu Dhabi with Etihad which will cost about €1,100 each return with taxes. You son could fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Dubai or Abu Dhabi for about €700.

For practical purposes, Dubai would be the best option – it is only 40 minutes from Abu Dhabi airport and there is a better selection of accommodation to rent, as a result of the building boom in the past five years. I have seen apartments to rent for about €1,000 per week that would accommodate the whole family. There is a Catholic church in Dubai (

I looked at the Red Sea in Egypt as an option too, but there are no Catholic churches, just Greek Orthodox and Coptic. If you were to consider the Red Sea, there is a flight on December 22nd, and a week will cost from €800-€1,200 each, including flights and accommodation, with

Another option is to consider a European city such as Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Prague, Budapest or Rome where the cost of flights from Ireland will not be prohibitive and you can rent accommodation quite reasonably at this time of the year. Ho Chi Minh City has good air access into Europe, with direct flights to Frankfurt and Paris.

Munich in the summer

Any advice on how to rent a flat in Munich for the summer on a budget. We are a family of two adults and two children, aged 14 and nine.

CI, Dublin

Booking early is always a good idea for getting a good price. The website has a nice selection of places in Munich for rent from owners. The key to keeping costs down is to find a centrally-located apartment, or one very close to transport links. You would be looking at paying about €70-€140 per night for a good location.

Wicklow Way with dogs

We have friends in Scotland who plan to walk the Wicklow Way. They would be keen to bring two dogs with them and wonder about accommodation along the route that accepts pets.

VB, Dublin

It is hard to locate accommodation that takes pets, but I have found a few in and around the Wicklow Way. Have a look at which provides bed and breakfast accommodation. Also the website,, has a list of accommodation in the towns and villages adjacent to the walk. You would have to contact each one individually to find pet-friendly properties.

The Brooklodge Hotel in Macreddin ( has four downstairs rooms where they welcome owners with small dogs. Larger dogs have to stay in one of the stables (obviously one without a horse). During the summer or on busy weekends when Brook Hall is open, there are downstairs rooms also, and some of these have secure dog houses attached to them.

The alternative is to rent a self-catering house or cottage, which allows pets. There are quite a few choices in Wicklow, see

Long way home from Nashville

My husband and I are thinking of travelling to Nashville next April/May. We would like to go there from Cork or Shannon direct, but maybe stopover in New York or Chicago on the return leg. Could you advise on how to go about this?

FA, Cork

There are no transatlantic flights from Cork. You can fly from Shannon to a variety of US gateway cities, such as Atlanta, New York and Boston. By next year, there may be other flights too.

Stopping over in New York or Chicago would be possible and you would be looking at prices in the range of €870 to €920 including taxes. Both Delta Airlines (

and Continental ( fly out of Shannon and have options on their websites to make multicity bookings. This is the best value way to get to the cities you want to visit.

You may also like to look at the following websites for planning your stays:, and