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HAJJ - BRUTALLY HONEST TIPS & WHAT TO PACK LIST! Part I of II.

hajj shopping guide

A new Hajj season is upon us! Alhamdullilah we were blessed to make our Hajj in 2015. That was the same year of the stampede and the crane collapse, so needless to say it was an intense Hajj! I don't know what it was about that year's Hajj, but there was definitely many unexpected, both good and bad, moments.

The one thing that is for sure about hajj is when you start asking people what to pack or for more detailed experiences everyone forgets the details! Basically you know it's an amazingly beautiful experience, yet crowded, hot, and everyone gets that terrible hajj cough afterwards.

So we searched online for what to pack for hajj and thankfully, I came across two life saving blogs: Simply in Control who has a three part packing series: Part One (The Basics), Two (Personal Belongings) and Three (Healthcare and Religious Items) and Chai with Sahar: A Billion (or so) Hajj Tips and Tricks Part One and Two. All their suggestions are so helpful and I like to think of my post as a supplement to theirs! 

If you expect and plan for the discomfort it will make your Hajj that much of a better spiritual experience!  In this post I want to share my experience and additional products and tips! Please share and sign up to the email list for more posts like this!

Brutally Honest Hajj Tips 

The Hajj Rites

1. We went with a well known and experienced hajj group. Some Hajj groups stick together throughout all parts, but ours did not. Do research before-hand and create a plan with your spouse (or other traveling friends) on when you'll do every part of your Hajj including the Umrah, and order of the Hajj rites and stick to that!  Your group will have an itinerary laid out for you. But there is (generally) room for flexibility. You can decide the most convenient times to do tawaf, sa'ee, jamarat, etc.  And even though your spouse and you are sleeping in separate rooms and tents it is easier to meet and complete all the Hajj rites together. 

2. Expect that roommates/group members will be confused about the next steps and/or do things differently. That was my mistake, I listened to others instead of doing things the way I had planned originally, which added unnecessary confusion! (I'm not saying to be mean, but a polite "Oh, I'm comfortable doing it this way" should suffice). 

3. Have a crazy long duaa list, write them down, and make them over and over again. Alhamdulillah a few things I made duaa for were already answered, so don't neglect the power of the Hajj duaa! I asked for very specific things as well and things for others too!

hajj

Each day leading up to the actual hajj gets more and more crowded!

The Long Journey

4. Most of us go for about 3 weeks with time spent in Medina. {Going to Medina after the Hajj rites will be a nice relaxing trip so I suggest planning it that way if you can.} Because the trip is so long, you will need one large suitcase and a carry-on size luggage to bring with you to Mina. The large suitcase stays in your hotel room, which you return to after the stay in Mina. I highly suggest packing the separate cary-on bag for Mina at home so you don't miss anything. I packed at the hotel and missed a very important item (mentioned in the next section!)

5. I didn't quite realize this until I was on the actual Hajj: it's about five days spent in a tent (Mina). Think about your comfort level five days in a tent, in the desert, sleeping on a smaller than a twin sized mattress, packed with strangers! Right away we are thrown out of our comfort zone and it is your mindset first that will help you focus on the reasons you're there! It sounds obvious...but everyone can you tell you the not so pleasant experience of the pushing, complaining, people getting angry etc. ( I could write a whole other post about that!) Expect it and focus on your own well-being.

hajj

No shoes beyond those doors! The Kabaa is beyond the doors, in the middle. 

Bathroom Business

6. Aaaand the bathrooms. The bathrooms! Wow if there is a thing that will put you out of your comfort zone it will be the bathrooms. Basically don't expect soap or toilet paper anywhere. From the time you're at the airport to the end of your trip, carry your own wipes, sanitizer, toilet paper and gloves (for the bathroom washing hose) in a ziploc in your crossbody bag, and the same for guys in their sports bag. {In the haaram, backpacks will always be searched so I don't recommend walking around with a backpack}.

7. At Mina, the squatting toilets and shower are in the same stall. You have to be very careful with your personal items because you can drop on them on the floor...which goes straight into the toilet hole and you'll never see it again! The stalls are outside so you'll see the sky if you look up:) Over the door hooks are a must (see Simply in Control Blog for links!) Separate slides are also a must. I accidentally left mine at the hotel and had to buy a men's size at Mina! Also, eat as little as you can! You don't want to spend extra time in the bathroom, it's not pleasant.

Recommendations:

Hanging Organizer - What to Pack for HajjHanging Organizer - What to Pack for Hajj

 

I always take a hanging toiletry organizer for trips and it's especially useful for the bathrooms at Mina. Use it for your toiletries and medicines. Buy the case on the top here (also available in other patterns) and the one on the bottom, here.

Clothing

8. It surprised me how hard it is to find comfortable clothing for Hajj! It's a task to find modest, natural fiber, breathable clothing! 

In Mina, our tents were not private and it was so hot because the AC didn't work. The workers who bring the food and water will pop in unannounced so it's not like you will be sleeping in your regular sleep clothes. {Tip: get to the group tent early and go to the back so when you're sleeping no one is walking all over you}. Of course some groups have 'tents' that have a sturdy wall, ours was an actual tent!

Recommendations:

I wore abayas I had, but I would've been more comfortable in a long linen tunic top with wide leg cotton pants or a linen skirt; or a knee length linen tunic top with a linen skirt. And spot those pockets on the tunic? Yes!

 what to pack for hajj clothing

 

what to pack for hajjLinen Skirt

cotton wide leg pants

9. I was petrified of all the walking we would be doing. I have scoliosis and had spinal corrective surgery, so I get back pain easily and frequently (another topic for another day!). I bought new Skechers sneakers with memory foam just for Hajj. The cushion was good, and the no laces are easy, but the sneaker itself wasn't a good fit even when I sized up. Now, I use gel inserts in all my sneakers/flats and I find it more comfortable. I use the one pictured below, Sof Sole brand. You can also find them in Modell's and you can cut it to suit your shoe.

Sof Sole

 

10. Additionally, cushioned socks are a must! In the haaram there are no shoes allowed. The floors are tiled. For the Umrah part of my Hajj, on the third tawaf, I developed a limp and terrible lower back pain! That was Day Two! Every time I stepped on my right foot, it felt like my ankle was going to crack! Thankfully the local pharmacy had a $1 ankle support sock that I wore throughout that saved me. I saw some women in slipper/sock styles and wish I had brought them:

Recommendations:

Once you're at the Kabaa you'll most likely be there for a few hours due to the crowds and the long walk back to your hotel. Especially if you're there for tahajjud you'll want a little extra comfort because you're praying on tile. Bring a comfy salaat mat and a throw blanket for the extra hours you'll be spending near the Kabaa. 

The guys have it harder because in Ihram they're not allowed to wear sneakers or socks! Plan accordingly and pack ointments for foot blisters/swelling. Pack comfy sneakers and socks to wear out of the state of Ihram. 

11. One of the best clothing decisions I did make was wearing a sports bra! So comfortable and breathable! I used one with a front zipper (easier and quicker).

Recommendations:

fruit of the loom sports bra packVS Sports Bra

Fruit of the Loom 3-pack Sports Bra and Victoria's Secret Front Zip

Skincare

12. I carried Claudia Nour makeup products that easily wash off and are all natural. This is a good option if you're like me and have very inflamed skin and want a little coverage and skin protection as well.  Unfortunately I didn't bring any good unscented facial soaps or lotions and my skin became more and more irritated! I would suggest an unscented shea butter soap, a moisturizer/sunscreen combo, and a facial mist as must have's especially if you have dry/sensitive skin. I underestimated how dry and irritated my skin would get. I was so uncomfortable!  I recently sampled a moisturizer from First Aid Beauty and I think it would be the perfect skincare to bring. You're in the AC in the hotel, then in various hot, dry, and humid heat, walking around in smog with people coughing and sneezing all over the place. My husband also got facial redness, so we would have both benefited from a little more skincare.

Recommendations:

first aid beauty face cleanser

first aid beauty moisturizer

First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Cleanser
First Aid Beauty Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer

 

 What to Pack for HajjAloe Vera Spray 


Pixi Glow Mist and Aloe Vera Skin and Body Spray 

Staying Cool

Big regret? Not packing this!

I was gifted a handheld fan then left it on one of the buses:( My husband wishes we had a water misting fan too! This set has two fans and a mister!

 

13. Another tip for the guys: my husband found the Tom's of Maine deodorant we purchased didn't help with sweating and ended up purchasing a different deodorant there! That one didn't work either! Products need to be unscented but they need to work too! Bring one that works guys!

entrance to Jamarat

Hat, backpack, sunglasses and UV blocking umbrella are necessary for Jamaraat and the looong walk to Mecca!

Preventing Sickness

14. Bring your own water bottle to refill. Near the Kabaa, there is zam zam water everywhere. There are mini plastic cups but bring your own is better.

continuo water bottle
My favorite water bottle that I bring on every trip!

At Mina, our group had plenty of water bottles (and tea) outside the tents. Drinking water along with an energy drink powder packet is a great idea. We had the Emergen-C packets but I can't stand the taste and wish I brought a different brand. 

Dr. Price's Energy Packets

I'm linking the Emergen-C mix (on the right), but as I mentioned I really hate the taste so I can't recommend it, but it's cheaper than Dr. Price's

15. Hand sanitizer will save you! I love this one with aloe because it's soothing and doesn't irritate my hands. I use this regularly! Get a pack of minis in case you lose one.

Aloe Hand Sanitizer

16. I packed antibiotics in advance. I came down with a terrible sore throat on my last day in Mina, and the third day of stoning at the Jamarat. I took Z-pack and it cleared up my sore throat within a day. However, my husband got sick later on and spread the hajj cough to me, and that was it! I had to take extra days off work since I was sick. My supervisors were not thrilled about that (I had just taken 3 weeks off), so keep your health on the top of the list and bring antibiotics especially for you and your spouse. 

 YFT Brutally Honest Hajj Tips

Part II is the shopping guide! Please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this post and share with friends!


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  • Ammara on

    I would love to go again! Especially knowing what I know now:)

  • Ruqayyah on

    Such interesting products and insight…wish I were now going!


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