travel

My Hajj essentials

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A good friend of mine and her husband are embarking on their Hajj pilgrimage in a few weeks and she asked if I had any tips for them. As my husband and I were fortunate to complete our Hajj trip a couple of years ago, I had a few tips that will hopefully make their journey more comfortable. And I thought I should also share them with you in case you or someone you know will be performing the Hajj.

  1. Backpack (Our group provided us with these) – good to use during tawaf and at Mina as it keeps your hands free and you can have your prayer mat, water bottle, medication and other essentials inside.
  2. Food – cereal bars, cookies, granola bars, nuts, dried fruits, chocolate etc. whatever you like to eat πŸ™‚ Your Hajj group might be wonderful with providing food and snacks but sometimes you just want something to eat that you’re used to. Gatorade powder was a lifesaver on the day of Arafah. It gets really hot in the tents so to keep hydrated just add some of the powder to a bottle of water (preferably cold). I took mine in a small resealable bag.
  3. Medication – gravol, imodium, polysporin, tylenol, bandaids etc.
  4. Refillable bottle – fill with Zam Zam at the fountains during Sa'ee and you wouldn't have to make as many stops at the water fountains for a drink.
  5. Chinese folding hand fan – I bought one in Saudi and it was probably the best money I spent on the trip! They’re dirt cheap too.
  6. Sleep mask – this is helpful if you’re a light sleeper or if you like to sleep in a darkened room. It’s especially useful when in the tents in Mina as you’re sleeping in  a room with 20+ other people who may not be sleeping at the same time as you.
  7. Collapsible bucket – if you plan on hand washing your clothes (especially undergarments) then you can buy one from any outdoor/camping supply store. We also used plastic shopping bags to wash our hijabs in the sink. Just place the bag in the sink, fill with water and detergent and soak your hijabs in. It’s a bit more tricky to use than the bucket. Laundry detergent can be purchased when you get to Saudi (bin Dawood is the go to store for everything!).
  8. Over the door single hooks – to use in the washrooms in Mina to hang your clothes on while you’re showering as there is no place to put your clean clothes. Buy a few different sizes as the thickness of the door would alter how the hook fits.
  9. Face masks – these are especially helpful if you have dust allergies or in the event you get sick and don’t want to spread your germs πŸ˜‰
  10. Petroleum jelly or similar item (unscented) – particularly useful for men to rub on their legs and inner thighs to prevent chaffing while wearing the ihram.
  11. Comfy shoes – Crocs sandals/shoes is awesome as it’s rubber so when your feet gets wet you don’t have to worry about your shoes being soaked. Wudhu friendly! 🙌🏽
  12. Light sleeping bag – we bought ours from Walmart. When we were leaving Muzzdalifa we gave it to the other hajjis who were sleeping on the roads and didn’t have a hotel.
  13. Small scissors – to cut your hair with after Umrah. Learnt this one the hard way; I used a scissors from a manicure set to cut my hair and lets just say it took forever and not to mention how uneven my hair was!
  14. Sunglasses and hat – for when you’re visiting the historical sites. Sunglasses also come in handy if you plan on doing tawaf during the day as the glare from the sun reflecting off the marble can irritate your eyes.
  15. Thin/light blanket – it gets somewhat chilly at nights in Mina so if you’d like to cover while sleeping then a very thin blanket or a large pashmina might work. I didn’t have any and used my towel to cover with!
  16. Unscented wipes – to use any and every time!
  17. Pocket sized tissues – the washrooms when you’re out and about don’t have toilet paper. Another washroom tip: use the bathroom early on when you get to Muzzdalifa as it tends to get messy after a while.
  18. Light coloured cotton clothing – keeps you cooler than synthetic fabrics and darker colours.
  19. Dua list – family and friends will request that you make supplication for them. To remember it all, plus the ones you would like to recite for yourself, it is easier to type it up, print it off and take a couple copies with you. On the day of Arafah, you take your printed copy out and make your dua from there for those who asked for specific things. A major recommendation is to memorize all the dua's needed during tawaf, Sa'ee, etc. beforehand so when you're in the state of ihram, you are just reciting from memory instead of from a book.
  20. Journal – a pretty journal to write your memories in is a nice treat. It's therapeutic at the end of the night to jot down your thoughts on your journey thus far. It's also handy for writing your dua's in. Here are two that come to mind: Dua journal,  Pampered Muslimah

As my husband pointed out, my list is quite long and not everyone will need these things. However, they were useful for me and I'm sure some of it will be useful to others as well πŸ™‚

Hajj Mabrur to everyone performing the pilgrimage this year.

Travelling with our little ones

 

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The hubs and I like to explore the world.  After having two babies within two years, we actually took more trips than we did pre-parenthood.  Some might say we’re nuts for doing this but for us it’s actually a good stress reliever. A good break from the everyday routine.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hectic as ever trying to pack and organize the essentials for 4 people into two suitcases! And my idea of “essentials” greatly differs from my husbands’. I tend to overthink how many outfits we’ll need, how many diapers the kids will go through, what if they get sick – better bring ALL the *meds* they might need! I think after our second was born, I loosened up somewhat. But I’m still an over packer!

Packing lists. A good tip is to create packing lists. It sounds obvious but I find using this system to organize our packing greatly relieves my stress level.  I love mentally ticking off items from the list!  I made one when we took our first vacation as a family of three and have more or less used the same one since with tweaks based on where we’re going and for how long. Our list is based on each family member’s clothing essentials, toiletries, accessories, footwear and then general items that everyone needs (food, medication, toys, electronics, etc.). A packing list for your carryon/diaper bag is useful as well. If you haven’t guessed by now, I thrive on making lists!

This past week we took a mini road trip to Niagara Falls. It was a last minute trip and I packed just before we left. Since it was only a couple days and it was local, I decided to pack on the fly. It is the one time I forgot my pj’s!  Never again will I abandon my trusty packing list.

Busy bags. Another good idea is to to make “busy bags” for your kids to play with, especially if you’ll be travelling on an airplane or taking  a long car ride.  A clear, resealable bag with a few toys, books, games, crayons, blank paper, colouring books etc. is handy to have. It saves you having to rummage through your bag for a specific item. A good tip is to include a few new items. This will buy you some quiet time (hopefully) as your little one will be curious to explore the new items.  I like to organize these according to the items in them. So I’ll have one for books, another for colouring activities, stickers etc. If your child is old enough to carry their own backpack, just keep them in there for easy access.

Food. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll want something to eat the minute you leave the house! I always have crackers and snack bars in my bag. But if you’re going to be travelling on a longer journey, make sure to stock up.  I like to include fresh fruits (pre-washed and cut if needed), yogurts, cheese, dried fruits, trail mixes, cookies and candy (for when you need to bribe them!). Pack whatever they like to eat as being in new surroundings and eating new foods can be a big adjustment for some kids. And use the perishable food items first (yogurts and cheese especially).

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Accommodation. On our first trip as parents, we booked an Airbnb condo as we wanted the comforts and convenience of a home.  It was useful to have a kitchenette to make quick meals for our baby and a laundry room to launder our clothes. On subsequent trips we’ve stayed in hotels that have laundry facilities (self serve) along with entertainment for kids (playroom, waterslides, parks  etc.).

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Itinerary. Always, always account for nap times! Being out and about all day long is tiring on everyone, especially little bodies. Prior to our trip, we create an itinerary of the places we’ll visit, things we’ll do and on which day we’ll do them. We make sure not to over schedule as a beautiful day exploring can quickly change with a cranky, overtired child.

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Yup, it’s time for a nap.

Strollers and baby carriers.  They make travelling easier. Plain and simple. And they work well for naps too! Win-win! We like our Maclaren umbrella stroller as it’s lightweight, reclines, and is sturdy. Ergo is our preferred carrier. I did a post a while back on baby wearing where I talked about our Ergo.

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Ergo came in clutch while exploring the Capilano suspension bridge and canopy walk in Vancouver.

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These are my  go-to’s to make my travels smoother with two little ones.  Hope you found them useful. If you have tips of your own, please share them with me as well.