Having an idea of what you will be doing each day helps immensely.
Hajj is a spiritual journey made by Muslims who travel to Saudi Arabia for 2-4 weeks. It is usually made once in a lifetime, and it’s difficult to get an idea of what you might need to take because you’ve never done it before! During Hajj, you don’t just stay in one place.
Every couple of days, you keep moving. You move from hotels to old apartments to tents to sleeping under the stars out in the open. Then back to tents then apartments and finally a hotel, if your duration of stay is over two weeks.
This, in a way, symbolizes that life is a journey. We’re constantly moving, and our lives in this world are only temporary.
So, what are you supposed to pack for such a journey?
First, find a group that is recommended to you by others, and that you know is organized. This is everything during Hajj. An organized group saves you from stressing out about other things and focusing on the real goal when you get there, which is worship.
This type of group could also give you information on what they will provide for you during Hajj, and it will save you from taking extra things that you don’t need.
Also, you will need a lot of knowledge beforehand. Don’t go into Hajj thinking you will be guided every step of the way. There are around 120 people per group and only two leaders.
Although they are there to help, having an idea of what you will be doing each day helps immensely.
Now, on to the list of things to take:
My husband and I took one large suitcase with us. We were not going there for shopping, so we took the minimal amount of items. For gifts, we only got some prayer beads for direct family members and some dates.
– You will need a backpack for this journey. Make sure it is comfortable with thick, cushioned straps, and a medium size. As you get ready to board your flight to Saudi Arabia, keep your backpack with you rather than checking it in. The last thing you need is losing all your essentials!
There is a chance of buses breaking down during journeys, resulting in walking a few miles with your bag, so make sure it is not too heavy or big in size. Some people brought rolling luggage but you’ll need to remember that the streets aren’t smooth and there are also a lot of stairs, so backpacks are the best option.
– Comfortable walking shoes are a must. We always heard that we have to walk a lot during Hajj but only realized how much after we got there.
Tawaf and sa`i were easy for us Alhamdulillah. But just to give you an idea, to find a taxi from the Mina tents, you will need to walk around 1.5 hours. Our walk to Jamarat was also 1.5 hours in the heat, and then we had to come back as well same distance (the group website said it will be 45 minutes, so be prepared to walk more than expected!).
Practice walking for over an hour nonstop before leaving for Hajj. Make sure to buy them at least a month in advance and break into them before the journey.
– Finally, I got a neck pillow for the bus journeys, tent, and sleeping in Muzdalifah out in the open. I kept it in a drawstring bag which I attached to the strap of my backpack so that I don’t have to carry it around.
– Also, you will need two other bags apart from the backpack. One will be a small, cross-body messenger bag for the airport and during travel in general. You will need to take this during your visits to both Al-Masjid Al-Haram (in Makkah) and Al-Masjid An-Nabawi (in Madinah) as well.
Cross-body is important so that it cannot be easily snatched like a shoulder bag, and it is also more confortable. In here, keep some cash, phone, solar power charger, snacks for energy, notebook and pen in which you have noted down addresses of where you’re staying and directions, prayer books and sunglasses.
On the main day of Hajj, you will be away from your tents and your belongings for an entire 24 hours. You will spend the entire day in `Arafat and entire night in Muzdalifah. For this you will need a medium sized bag, because there really isn’t any space in both places for anything bigger.
I didn’t want to have to take a whole different bag just for this one day, so I found a foldable bag online that worked perfectly for this occasion. It unfolds to a backpack that is ideal for a day trip. Keep an extra pair of clothes in this bag apart from other necessities.
– Men will need a money belt to wear under their ihrams.
– A document folder is essential to keep all your paperwork together in one place and safe from getting dirty. There are number of things you’ll need to keep in here:
Passport copies – at least 3 passport sized photos
Credit/Debit Card copies
Hajj notes printouts
Proof of having taken the proper vaccines
Marriage Certificate copies if traveling with spouse
A Will is highly recommended and should be given to family members before leaving.
Finally, communication. It is absolutely necessary to get phones for all members of the family going. First of all, men and women stay in separate places throughout the stay and phones are the best way to get in touch. In a lot of cases in our group, only the husbands had phones and not the wives.
The husbands would be standing outside the women’s area, knocking loudly on doors, yelling out names. It was very disturbing for other people trying to worship or rest.
We got an extremely basic phone and used it every day.
I also took my smartphone. I had left my two-year old son with my parents and just needed to see him on Skype and through pictures. It definitely made me feel at ease. There is Wi-Fi in very limited pl
In hotels they are reliable but outside that it’s hit or miss. If by chance it got connected, I was able to receive my son’s latest pictures and it comforted me knowing he’s having (way too much) fun!
I hope this post was helpful to you!