In this post: What to pack for Hajj : Advice to make hajj more comfortable to avoid the frustration, minimize fatigue and not fall sick!An opportunity to perform Hajj is a blessing but it takes a lot of preparation. In order to make things a little less confusing and frustrating for you, I have compiled a list of Hajj advice and tips from my own personal experience and from people who have been on Hajj before.
I went on Hajj in 2006 but so much has changed since then. You can read my Hajj experience here.
Hajj is now so much easier. The Saudi Government is always striving hard to improve the experience for the Hajjis. From connecting the holy sites with train to improving the security and emergency measures – it is no easy feat managing close to 3 million people in one place. It is exciting yet dangerous!
How to Prepare for Hajj
Before you start preparing for Hajj remember that Hajj is not like going on a vacation to Saudi Arabia! It is more like camping in a desert!
More than 3 million people come for Hajj every year. It is a very dangerous yet exciting situation to be in. There are people from all over the world, speaking multiple languages, following different cultures, young and old, sick and healthy and they are all there for just one purpose alone.
‘Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk’ – O my Lord, here I am at Your service, here I am.
Muslims perform Hajj in the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah because it is the 5th pillar of Islam. They are there to fulfill their faith. Hajj is a once in a lifetime obligation that all Muslims must fulfill if they’ve the means to.
So you have saved up your money to come for Hajj.
You need to prepare yourself mentally first.
Understand that there will be people from all over the world, some very different from you. They have different ways of doing things. Some have less patience due to being less educated or aged. People can have invisible illnesses too. You can’t tell why they are doing what they are doing. Remember that the most important thing that you should pack with you is Sabr – patience.
Just let it go. If someone pushes you, you miss your turn, just let it go. Leave it. Have patience.
Be prepared to walk. You may have booked the best 5 star hajj group but still there are things beyond control that can happen. You will still have to walk. There will be chaffed, achy legs. You will be sweaty, hot and oh-so-tired!
So will every body else be. Everyone is going to be tired.
Take a moment to embrace it all. There is never going to be a chance like this again. You’ve possibly never been around so many people from so many cultures before. Sit down to just observe them. There will be so much to see!
What to expect in Hajj:
When you are prepared and know what expect, it will be easier for you to pack for Hajj and manage yourself. If this is your first time visiting Saudi Arabia, read up on Hajj stories or talk to Hajjis who have been to Hajj before.
Hajj can mean hot, humid, scorching, Summer days and if it is winter, cold fierce nights too! It means, millions of people, HUGE crowds of people from all backgrounds – old and young, sick and healthy, You will need to pack accordingly.
I asked some of my readers for advice and here is what they said:
‘There will be lots of walking. Things will happen and you will have no control over it. There will be lots of waiting too, so be patient. Pack some Sabr!’
‘There will be lots of noise and people talking. Take ear plugs with you so you can minimize the sounds. Helped me sleep in a crowd.’
‘It will be windy and cold in Mudhdalifa at night even though it may be Summer. Take a tent and/or sleeping bags.’
What you need to do before you come to Saudi Arabia:
Hajj Preparation before you come to Saudi Arabia is as important as preparing yourself mentally.
- See your doctor. Take medications for any condition that you may have. Make sure you’re fit. Ask your doctor to prescribe to you medications for common ailments like flu, cold and aches. Make sure those meds are safe to get here. You will have free medical checkups here and medicines too but you need to have some on hand for emergencies. Please read the Ministry of Health’s advice here.
- Make sure to take all your vaccinations. The Saudi Government has a set of obligatory vaccines that you must show when you enter. Check their website to know what you need according to your country. It is for your own safety and to keep others safe. Make sure to take them and have copies of the certificate with you to show the authorities.
- Make multiple copies of your documents. Keep two in your luggage, one with you in your hand bag and one on you. It is better to be prepared.
- Have enough cash to bring. Store them separately in different places.
- Get a Saudi phone card. Bring an unlocked phone with you (preferably one without a camera as you won’t be allowed camera phones in Masjid al Nabwii). Get a phone number once you arrive here in Saudi Arabia. There are many operators here: STC (the official Saudi Telecom service), Mobily and Zain. You will get a number when you buy a mobile card and it helps stay connected back home and for emergencies.
How many bags do you need for Hajj:
This will depend on how long you plan to stay in Saudi Arabia. You may need at least three bags for the Hajj days.
- A hand carry or backpack to carry all your personal items including your sleeping bag and pillow.
- A neck bag or fanny pack for your documents money and essentials.
- A suitcase or trolley with a good lock that has the rest of your stuff.
Depending on whether you are a man or woman, young or old you may need to pack something like this:
A neck bag: This will contain a copy of your documents, your ID card/ passport, some money, important numbers and emergency contact number.
A fanny pack or hip bag or shoulder bag. This will carry additional money, tasbeeh, Quran , some snacks, a diary with important phone numbers, your mobile phone, tissues, a small snack pack or chocolate/biscuit, a small polythene bag for slippers.
A backpack: Which will carry your sleeping bag travel pillow, travel mat/musalla, toiletries. Two sets of clothes, one extra ihram, an extra pair of slippers, toiletries , snacks, juices, vanity kit with sewing thread and needle, safety pins, hair clips, a button or two, nail clippers, a small scissors. Detergent, sunglasses
Foldable chair: It is a good idea to carry a small foldable chair while walking. Helps you just sit down and rest. You can get this very easily in Makkah (from the souq in fronton Haram) for SAR 10 or SAR15.
What should you pack for Mina?
You will stay in Mina for 5 days (including the day you arrive). You need to pack light and smart. It is a bit like how you’d pack when going camping!
Pack light very light with the bare essentials only. A backpack with the most essential things like ihram, daily clothes, meds and toiletries, some snacks and your dua books is all you need. You can add a good quality sleeping bag along with it and a travel pillow for comfort. Some people like to add light weight tents too for the night stay in Mudhdalifa. (it can get very windy and cold!)
Example of things you need:
- 2-3 sets of clothes, and underclothes for non ihram days.
- An extra pair of ihram, hijab and light colored abaya (if you wear an abaya).
- An extra pair of shoes or slippers.
- Your toiletries (unscented are better)
- Dua books, Tasbeeh, Quran and a journal (if you like to record your thoughts).
- Some tissues or wet wipes.
- A fanny pack with your documents and extra copies of it. (One in your bag and one on you.)
- A passport bag around your neck to hold your identity and papers.
- First aid or essential meds: panadol/ibuprofen, antihistamine, a balm for muscle aches like Voltaren/ Moov/ Algesil , Diclofenac for pains and sprains, antiseptic for cuts and bruises , a pack of band aids, anti embolism stockings to prevent swelling. Any medicine you may need for your condition like hypertension, hypothyroidism or diabetes. (remember your ice packs and ice bag for your diabetic medications!)
What kind of shoes to wear in Hajj:
Wearing comfortable footwear is very important. Don’t wear anything new as it may pinch you. Wear it out a few times before deciding if it is right. Some people prefer slippers/ sandals that have a little heel. Decide what you’re the most comfortable in. Remember that the heat here is unlike anywhere you may have experienced. You will be walking long distances. Make sure the footwear you choose is suitable for the weather and roads here. Slippers, slip sandals like crocs, open toed walking shoes, thick beach slippers are best.
What kind of clothes are comfortable for women to wear during Hajj :
Loose, light colored, cotton material is best. Not leggings or denim but think yoga pants and pajama pants. Maxi dresses, flared bottoms and jilbabs are best.
If you wear an abaya make sure it is lightweight and light colored material.
How to keep cool during Hajj
People get sick due to the heat here. In fact, it is one of the most common reasons of deaths during Hajj unfortunately. Therefore it is very important that you know how to keep cool.
If you have little children, it is even more important that you take precautions before hand.
- Use mist fans, hand held fans, caps, hats, umbrellas, small towels that you can wet. Drink lots of juices and water. Better to have ice packs to place in water bottles.
- Sit in a shade as much as you can.
- For Jamarah or stone pelting, go in the evenings when there is less crowd and cool.
- Cooperate with the security personnel. They will guide you if there is crowd.
- Discuss your zones for the train with your group leader. Don’t just wander around. Many people get lost this way.
- Take the juice, laban or cold drinks that you are handed out. Store it in your bag. You can drink and discard as you move. It really helps to save your energy levels.
How to prepare for the bathroom situation in Mudhalifa:
After leaving Arafat, the Hajjis leave for Mudhdalifa to stay for the night. Generally it is after Asr that the busses are allowed to move. The traffic will be deadlock. There will be massive crowd and every one will be sleeping on the ground under the open sky that night. There are enough bathrooms but they will be very crowded.
Remember that there will be people from all walks of life and some very old and weak people there. There will be very long queues but some people will try to cut through. Try to be kind. Have patience. It doesn’t mean that if someone is being harsh you should be too. Practice your forgiveness and tolerance then. Think of it as doing it for the sake of God. A few things you can do are:
- Go to the bathroom before everyone does.
- Wake up a bit early much before fair (although you will be very very tired).
- Go to the bathroom before you leave from Arafat if possible.
- Try to limit you water intake after you leave for Mudhdalifa. Due to all the walking you may feel more need than necessary.
- Don’t make it your right, give up, let it go if someone cuts in front of you in the queue.
How to avoid the heat and crowd in Mina.
- Don’t stand or sit in the paths.
- Try to stay in a shade at all times.
- Go for pelting the Jamarah at night when it is cooler.
- Before hand, discuss with your group leader what the route is. Don’t be shy to ask questions to clear your doubts.
How to avoid the heat in Arafat.
The biggest problem everyone encounters in Arafat during Hajj is that people tend to get lost. You only have to be there for sometime but getting there in all that crowd takes lots of time. Phone lines may be down or busy so before hand, make a plan as to what you will do if you’re lost.
Try to stick together. Don’t stay behind from your group. Pray while you walk, when you reach your tent, pray.
Food is provided by the Saudi Govt. on Arafat day. Don’t fuss about it.
Make sure your hand tag and identification is not lost. You may have been given a smart card that is used for train travel. Don’t lose it! That’s the only way you can get on the train (or else you will have to walk! They are very strict about it). Many people lose their tags in Arafat and next day in Mina.
How to avoid falling sick during hajj:
- Take wipes, hand sanitizers and face masks. Wear your face mask at all times. As one of my readers said: Learn to live in your face mask!
- Don’t eat anything without washing.
- Don’t share your water bottles or towels.
- Wait your turn.
- Don’t purposely force yourself into the crowded zones. There are security personnel everywhere and they are there to guide you. Cooperate with them.
- Drink lots of water. Drink vitamin C and juices. If you need you can add some Gatorade to the water.
- Eat fruits and yoghurt or drink laban.
- Go to the bathroom before the crowd. Be regular.
- Take your medications on time. Don’t take things lightly. If you have a condition like high blood pressure, thyroid or diabetes, it is very important that you take your medications on time.
How to manage yourself with crowded bathrooms:
Bathrooms in Makkah, Mina, Arafat and Mudhdalifa and even when you go to Madinah will be crowded. It is a good idea to practice these tips everywhere.
- There may be wet, slippery dirty, water logged floors so watch your step and hold your clothes high.
- Keep all your belongings safe. Carry a bag with all your needs like shampoo and toiletries.
- Some sisters recommend carrying a large hook on which you can hang your clothes. Just hang it on your door for your abaya and bag. Remove and take with you when leaving.
- Carry a rubber band to tie your clothes so that they don’t soil.
- Wear slippers with a little heel to keep out of water.
- Take all your toiletries in a small plastic zipper bag or small disposable bottles.
I hope these tips help you understand what to pack for Hajj. Let me know if you have been on Hajj and have something to share. I pray you have a good, comfortable, spiritual and enlightening Hajj experience. May Allah accept your Hajj. Ameen.