Umrah Travel Tips
Make Your Pilgrimage to Makkah Memorable
Both Hajj and Umrah travel are holy experiences and are the two pilgrimage options that allow Muslims to walk in the footsteps of Prophet Mohammad PBUH in the holy land of Makkah. While Hajj requires you to complete the trip on specific days of the year, you have more freedom with Umrah. You can complete this religious journey at any time, so you’re not likely to run into the crowds that make Hajj more complicated.
For some, the lack of that crowd also makes Umrah travel less exciting, but this is still an impressive accomplishment that should every participant with pride. Let’s take a quick look at some of the major differences between Hajj and Umrah:
- Umrah includes five required rituals, but Hajj includes more than eight required rituals. This is why Hajj is considered the more challenging and significant pilgrimage option.
- Hajj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, so every Muslim is required to complete it at least once during their lifetime unless they are financially or physically unable. Islam experts disagree on whether Umrah is required according to the Quran, and many followers consider it more of an optional opportunity. Other followers complete both pilgrimages just in case Allah did intend for them both to be mandatory.
- Umrah is often an individual journey that allows for personal introspection and dramatic spiritual growth. Hajj is performed with thousands of people in one massive group, and many people share hotel rooms and tents with other people. This makes Hajj more of a group journey.
- Hajj takes five days to complete, but Umrah can be completed in a single day or extended to multiple days. This goes back to the greater flexibility that comes with this pilgrimage option.
You can complete Umrah with or without Hajj. Some people prefer to do them together, partaking in Umrah right before Hajj. Others find Umrah a less stressful alternative, so they complete it without Hajj. How you approach this will depend on your ability to complete Hajj and how you view both of these pilgrimage opportunities.
How to Prepare for Umrah Travel
Umrah preparation doesn’t start with hotel accommodations and transportation. It starts with mental and spiritual preparation. It’s important to understand the significance of Umrah and to prepare your heart with humility and gratitude for the opportunity. You will need to physically exert yourself to complete the rituals and thoroughly enjoy your time in Makkah, so you might also need to exercise and build strength before leaving for your trip.
Some of the most common mental and physical Umrah preparations include:
- Fast for two or three days prior to the trip. Physical purification will put your mind and body in the proper space to grow spiritually.
- Try to walk at least 2,000 – 4,000 steps every day to prepare yourself for the journey and praise Allah all the way.
These internal preparations are at the heart of Umrah, but there are some Umrah travel tips that are just as important for you to keep in mind:
- You must have the right entry visa and permits when traveling to Makkah for Umrah. Without the right documents, you may be turned away at the airport or even face more severe legal consequences. Working with an experienced travel agency authorized to provide Umrah travel packages will ensure that you’re fully prepared for legal entrance.
- If you would like to have a guide stay with you in Makkah or at least remain in the city in case you need assistance, ask about these services when booking your accommodations. Some travel agencies offer more extensive services than others.
- You’re required to book a round-trip airline ticket when entering Mecca for pilgrimage.
- Make sure that you have your Ihram and that it is clean and perfectly pressed. Study ahead of time so that you know how to put it on correctly and when to do so. This is the most important item that you will pack.
- You should bring a prayer mat with you. This will save you from praying on the hot ground of Saudi Arabia, especially if you travel during peak tourist season for the region. An umbrella may also help block the sun in hot weather.
- Visiting a barber to cut your hair is the final act of a successful Umrah, but safety is critical. Saudi Arabia requires all barbers to use clean, disposable blades for each customer, but they don’t all follow those guidelines. It’s your job to protect yourself.
Prioritization is Key to Successful Umrah Travels
The best thing that you can do to prepare for Umrah travel is to set your intention and make the realization of your goal a priority in your life. Give yourself some time to prepare your mind and body, and then coordinate with a reputable Umrah travel agent to plan a trip that meets your personal needs. From determining the length of your trip to deciding how many days you will spend in Mecca and other cities, there are a lot of details to think about during the trip planning phase.