One of my dearest friends is off to Hajj with her husband -in shaa Allah! My husband and I had the opportunity to perform Hajj a few years ago, alhamdulillah. I share below the tips I gave her based on my personal experience…

13 Hajj Tips

1. Memorise or write down important numbers for family members. If you lose your phone etc, you can let at least one person know back home that you’re safe and they can update everyone else.

2. Saudi Sim Cards
If you’re travelling with your spouse, buy a Saudi SIM card each when you reach there and note down your numbers on paper to keep on your person and in suitcase too. If you get separated and need to contact each other but you can’t use your phone, you can ask someone else to make the call for you.

3. Emergency Stash
I kept a piece of paper with my husband’s Saudi number, my sister’s number in Uk and emergency cash in a small zip lock bag and had it pinned to the inside of my clothes. I had heard stories of pick pockets and bag snatchers but alhamdulillah it never happened to me or anyone I knew on Hajj. But better to be safe than sorry

4. Carry a bottle water for both drinking & Wudu. Sometimes you may not have time or opportunity to get to the prayer facilities on time so be prepared to make wudu anywhere and…

5. Carry a lightweight prayer mat for the above reason. And if you’re praying in the open next to someone who doesn’t have a prayer mat, turn it horizontally so both of you can kneel and perform sujood on it. Imagine the rewards from Allah and the bond you make with your fellow sister beside you!

6. Buy a tiny umbrella here (UK) for shade. I only saw long umbrellas available there or small ones which you wear on your head with elastic band 😂- not joking!

7. Toilet paper is not available unless you’re in a hotel room. I have one hilarious story about it but it’s only reserved for my close friends! So take some rolls of toilet paper or wipes etc in your suitcase and carry some tissues with you.

8. Someone told me during my Hajj that they took a single sized duvet cover to act as their sleeping bag in case they were sleeping in the open in mina. I slept in a separate ladies area that was cordoned off but the odd man did come peeking to summon his wife out. I had loose trousers on under my jilbab so I was covered but thought the duvet cover was a good idea.

9. Take boiled sweets to help quench your thirst (because u don’t want to carry a gallon of water around!).

10. Keep 1 riyal notes to hand out in charity.

11. The time between asr & magrib in Arafat felt longer than I expected, I ran out of things to say & ask of Allah. I wish I had made a bullet pointed list to prompt me. So please learn from my mistake: make a list of what u want to say and a list of the duas people ask u to make for them.

12. Take a notebook & pen to keep with your things or create notes on your phone…to make diary entries each day of what you saw & how u felt (if you like keeping records of special moments). I found my diary recently and sat down to read some entries. I was so happy I kept a diary because I’d forgotten many of my experiences. A lot happened at Hajj in between the rituals which was personal to me and worth recalling or sharing with others.

13. Do you have FLAT FEET?… Take your insoles and wear them inside your socks but make sure the socks have those grippy stuff on the sole…as the mosque tiles can be slippery with socks. And better to take shoes and sandals you’re used to walking in, rather than new ones that feel comfy now but may not be great after a few hours.

~ Written by Rabia Bashir who performed Hajj in 2014 and is speaking from personal experience
~Images taken from our new book Two Pigeons on a Pilgrimage: A Hajj Story, illustrated by Aisha Dean