Making the most of your Hajj & Umrah trip
7 Tips for the Best Trip Ever
Ask yourself some basic questions. What can you expect in the airport? What can you take with you that an absolute must? What can you leave behind that you can purchase while there? Are you ready to interact with other cultures that may see things different than you? How will you deal with stress and fatigue. All these general questions will help you set goals for yourself.
2. Write down your goals
What do you hope to accomplish while you’re there? Why are you going? What do you want to achieve? What are your hopes? Do you have specific dua that you want to make? Special people you want to pray for? Place you want to visit? Writing out your goals will help you realize exactly what they are and how you can plan to achieve them. Having them prepared beforehand will help you stay on track once you’re there.
3. Create a schedule
Going for Umra, you’re probably going to be there for at least a week, if not longer. A daily schedule will help you gain a sense of normalcy and make the most of your Umra and Ziyarah. What times are prayers? How long do you need to get from the hotel to the Holy Mosques? When in the day will you take time for personal Ibada? Reading Quran? Visiting holy sites? Relaxing? Self-care? You don’t need project management software for this, but a basic schedule will help you figure out how to make the most of your time. This will make your Umra and Ziyarah that much more enjoyable and productive.
4. Communicate with your group
If you’re traveling with others, take time to talk your travel companions about your plans. Do you want to spend alone? Be sure to make this clear. Maybe they want to do the same things as you, and you can do them together. Maybe they’ll be doing different things. For example, if they want to buy a jilbab, and you need one but don’t have time, you can ask them to get it for you and return the favor. Clear communication will help you help each other. Getting your expectations out in the open will help prevent misunderstanding or conflict later.
5. Prepare for the change of scenery
Most people don’t realize it, but Makka and Medina aren’t in the scorching hot desert. Makka is located in an arid, mountainous, region. Medina is surrounding by mountains, but much of it is sitting over volcanic rock. What does that mean for you? Well, it might be hot in the day, but in the evenings it can get quite cold. You don’t need to dress for a snowstorm, but you should have some thermal underwear or sweaters available.
Prepare for crowds. Many of us – unless we frequent large sporting events – aren’t really ready for the massive crowds. If you’re not used to being in crowds, large, fluid, and sometimes pushy crowds, you’ll need to mentally prepare for the symptoms. Breathlessness, nausea, shaking & sweating are all symptoms. If you find yourself in this situation, remember that your health is most important. If you can step away, do so. If you can’t, breathing deeply and making dhikr can help you cope until things clear up.
Another consequence of crowds is losing people you are walking with. Be sure to decide on a meeting place if you get separated. One thing that is great about both Holy Mosques in Makka and Medina is that there are large signs with names and door numbers on each entrance and exit. If you are traveling with small children or the elderly and someone gets lost, all you have to do is speak to one of the guards or boy scouts stationed at the doors, who will promptly assist you in finding your loved one.
6. Be ready for the physical demands of Umrah and Hajj
While make Umra you’ll have to do a lot of walking. Thats 7 times around the Ka’ba in a crowd, 7 times back and forth between Safa and Marwa, and walking back and forth to the hotel, restaurants, etc. Make sure that you have quality footwear that is comfortable and functional, and if you’re not used to walking now, start going out for about 30 minutes a day between now and your trip. If you have a loved one in need of a wheelchair, they are provided free of charge by the Two Holy Mosques. You simply need to bring ID and check one out. You can even hire someone to assist you in pushing the wheelchair during Umrah.
In addition to all the walking, during Tarawih you’ll be standing for around 2 hours, bowing, prostrating, and sitting. Make sure you get mobile and stretch a bit. Understand your limitations and plan for any hiccups. For example, if you or a loved one can’t stand for long periods of time you can sit in a chair and pray. Luckily, the Two Holy Mosques provides chairs inside the mosques for you to use for free. Simply look for them around the shoe-racks , pick on up, and use it while there.
7. Preparing spiritually
Realize that your entire trip is an act of worship. This isn’t just a vacation or normal trip. You’re visiting the house of Allah. You’re praying over the same ground that God’s messenger walked on. You’re visiting the places that the Companions of God’s messenger lived and worshiped. Make your trip transformative. Spend your time in worship, remembrance, and contemplation.