What you do on earth is rated by Allah through your niyyat (intention). Begin with a good one before you plan on any journey so that it would not be in vain. A journey made with virtuous intentions is considered an ibadah (good deed) and will thus be amply rewarded.
List down the things to do (changing currency, visa requirements, passport validity, accommodation, flight, travel insurance, tour itinerary, land transfers and vaccination shots) and things to bring (how much money needed, clothing, snacks, immunisation certificates, medicine and power adaptors) before you embark on your journey.
Go to various websites and compare deals on accommodation, flight and packages to ensure that you’re getting the best deal for your trip. Shopping search engines help find the best deals for you and compile price comparisons from different websites on a single page so you don’t have to. Great travel deals can also be found at travel events such as MATTA Fair and Selangor MATTA Islamic Tourism Fair (SMITF).
For your convenience, check if the airline serves halal food on board when booking your flight. This is especially important for long-haul flights, as packing your own food can be quite a hassle and adds to the travelling load, especially with a large family and small children in tow.
Read up on the destination either on the web or in travel books so that you know what to expect, especially when you haven’t been to that place before. Find out about the history, weather, transportation system, do’s and don’ts, social and cultural practices, where halal food and mosques are located, places of interest and if possible, the prices of goods and services you might need.
Do your research and prepare a list of mosque, musholla and halal food outlets available within the destination you plan to visit, along with the addresses. The list would save you time and the trouble of looking for them when you arrive so you can put that otherwise-wasted time to better use. This list would also help you decide if you need to do your own cooking while you’re there.
Do your research and plan your trip carefully. Aside from looking for the best deals, you need to take into account other aspects such as safety and convenience, such as whether your hotel is located near major tourist attractions or in a safe area. It also most likely that you only have a limited amount of time to explore the destination, so it is wise to plan an itinerary and decide the must-see places beforehand.
If you happen to know someone who lives where you plan to go, let them know that you’re coming and ask them to be your local tour guide. It is safer to have a local host that you can trusts in a foreign country as besides preventing you from getting lost, they can also help direct you to local Halal eateries and the nearest mosque or musholla.
This is the most important yet often the most overlooked part of your trip. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of departure.
Check if your destination requires a visa for you to enter. Arrange for your visa early and don’t wait until the last minute.
Find out what type of vaccinations and immunisations that you might need to protect yourself from unknown diseases. Get all relevant health information on the destination you’re planning to visit, and know what health precautions you should follow.
Arm yourself with a good and reliable Qibla compass to ensure that you’re facing the right direction when praying in a foreign land. Aside from traditional, handheld compasses, Qibla direction apps can also be downloaded on smartphones.
It is best to bring along a copy of prayer times for the place you intend to visit so that you’ll know exactly when to perform your salat, in case there are no mosques nearby. There are also apps that can tell you the prayer times for your current location with the aid of GPS tracking that you can download on your smartphone, but with roaming charges, it is perhaps much cheaper to just print a copy off the internet.
A phrasebook is a handy tool in places where you don’t speak the same language. It also helps you get around easier and in getting your message across especially in cases of emergency.
Buy travel insurance before your departure to keep yourself protected from the unexpected. Medical bills, for example, can be costly in foreign destinations, so having travel insurance will ensure that your medical needs are covered without literally costing you an arm and a leg. Today, there are plenty of Islamic travel insurance providers available for that complete peace of mind.
It is wise to prepare a small first-aid kit when visiting unfamiliar places as a sort of precaution. Make sure you include charcoal pills, bandages, plasters, safety pins, antiseptic, painkillers and other medications you think you might need.
Change your currency at a registered money changer for the best rates.
Call up the airline, the hotel and other ground operators at least two days before your departure to confirm your bookings. Print out a copy of your booking confirmation and take it with you in case there is a dispute.
Make several copies of all important travel documents (passport, travel insurance, flight and accommodation booking confirmations, immunisation certificates) and keep them everywhere you can think of – in your luggage, in your hand luggage, in your hotel room – for easy reference. Don’t forget to leave some with the people back home.
It is wise to leave your travel details such as your contact details, itinerary and address of your accommodation with family or friends back home before your departure. Don’t forget to leave copies of important travel documents with them too before starting your journey.
For your convenience, choose a luggage with wheels so that you don’t have to deal with a heavy bag to lug around. Also ensure that your luggage is made of strong, quality stuff and won’t come apart easily as there is a possibility that it gets thrown around in cargo.
Know your flight’s luggage limit and bring only what you need. Learn how to maximise space to fit everything in one bag. Bring clothes and footwear that can easily be mixed and matched for optimum wear. Bring a couple of foldable bags for packing souvenirs.
Check what the climate is like at your destination throughout the duration of your stay and pack suitable clothing. It is also worth to check if the destination has certain public dress code so that you won’t stick out like a sore thumb or offend the locals. Comfortable footwear is a must as it makes a whole lot of difference in the enjoyment of your trip.
Don’t leave anything valuable in your luggage. Carry valuables in your hand luggage, as well as important documents and things that you might need during the flight.
Bring some titbits for you to munch on in case your flight is delayed or you are held up due to some unforeseen circumstance. This would help keep your energy level up throughout your journey. Chewing would also help in dealing with cabin air pressure.
For safety purpose, bring just enough cash for your immediate expenses and use a credit card or a debit card to pay for other things.
Pack a small, empty plastic bottle or spray bottle for you to fill up with clean water and carry around with you in case there is a lack of clean water for ablution where you are at. The bottle is also useful to keep you from getting dehydrated on your journeys as you can take a sip from it at any time.
Remember to recite travel du’as before, during and after your journey. Seek protection and guidance from Him for yourself, the ones you leave behind and your journey.
Get yourself well prepared for uncertainties that might arise before your departure, including flight delays. Bring some water and snacks with you and arm yourself with a magazine or a good book, in case you need to wait longer than expected.
Make sure you adhere to airline rules prohibiting certain items to be carried on board, or your departure could be delayed. Things such as aerosol sprays and sharp items are not allowed on flights, as well as any form of liquid above 100ml. Check with the airline on what is allowed and what is not.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security just because the airport is filled with security personnel. Be aware of your surroundings and even more aware of your passport and belongings. Never leave your bags unsupervised.
Don’t agree to anything if a stranger approaches you asking you to help carry or check in something for them. You might just get into big trouble for doing so, as this is the most common modus operandi for drug traffickers.
Changing air pressure in the cabin during take-off and as the plane makes its descent could result in painful eardrums. Make sure you carry a packet of chewing gum in your pocket as the act of chewing and swallowing helps in reducing the effect.
Don’t just sit in your place throughout the flight. Get up at least every half an hour if possible and take a short walk up and down the aisle or stretch your limbs every few minutes. By getting your blood flow going, you could prevent the risk of contracting Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Mind your manners – even when you’re a few thousand feet in the air. Keep the volumes on your headset low and don’t talk or burp loudly. Refrain from eating food that could make you gassy prior to and on the flight. Keep your snoring and body odour in check and don’t recline your seat too far back.
Prevent yourself from getting dehydrated as a result of dry cabin air. Drink plenty of plain water and constantly apply lip balm and moisturiser throughout the flight.
Being stuck in the confines of an airplane for hours can be trying and tiring – not to mention boring – so find something to do to pass the time. Besides sleeping and losing yourself in the in-flight entertainment, now’s the perfect time to catch up on your reading. Bring along that book you have always been meaning to read or read up on the destination you’re heading for. Alternatively, you can catch up on some work, indulge in some creative pursuit like
Taking the effort to learn and speak the local language, even if it’s just the basic phrases, would earn you the locals’ respect, creating a better rapport between you and the locals. They also tend to pay more attention to you, resulting in a smoother and more memorable journey.
If you don’t know anyone who lives there, fret not. Use your instincts and find a local you can trust and make friends with – there’s bound to be at least one crossing your path. Ask them to show you around – more often than not, they’ll be more than willing to demonstrate to you what’s so great about their hometown. It’s much safer and more convenient to be accompanied by a local in an unfamiliar place.
The thrill of being in a new place and seeing new things can go to your head, but it is crucial to remember to keep your belongings with you at all times. Also, stick to crowded places especially if you’re travelling alone. Keep your wallet and passport in front of you where you can see them, not in your back pocket or in your backpack.
It is easy to get carried away especially when presented with so many options not available in your country, but do keep a tight rein on your purse strings. Bring only what you need to avoid overspending. Bringing less cash with you also skips unwanted attention.
Always ask for permission when taking pictures of people. Respect their wishes if you’re refused. If they let you, do something nice for them in return as a token of appreciation, such as buy what they’re selling or give them some sort of a small gift. Some buildings and public places do not allow photographs, so find out beforehand if it is alright to and seek permission first before whipping out your camera.
Visit as many places and experience as many things as you can when visiting a new place. Aside from popular tourist attractions, try going off the beaten path – you might just stumble upon more interesting things. The best kinds of attractions are nature-based and historical – the former reminds us of Allah’s supremacy, while the latter carries lessons you can benefit from.
Learn as much as you can beforehand about the destination’s cultures and traditions, so that you don’t end up offending the locals with your ignorance. Find out what is acceptable and what is not.
As long as it is halal, try as much local specialties as possible as you can sometimes learn more about a place through its local flavours. In non-Muslim countries, find out beforehand from locals and guides the locations of halal eateries.
Always have a list of emergency numbers with you at all time in case you need them, including those of your country’s embassy and other country representatives’ office. It is also handy to have the international number for your credit card and insurance company, as well as the numbers of local hospitals and police stations.
A small spray bottle could come in handy when you need to perform your ablution on the plane. Don’t use too much water and wash only the necessary parts. You can wipe over your shoes with a moistened hand if it is inconvenient for you to take off your shoes. Tayammum (dry ablution) can be performed where it is difficult to obtain clean water.
You don’t have to wear full praying clothes. As long as your aurah is properly covered, you’re good to go.
On a moving plane, it can be quite a challenge to ensure that you’re facing the Qibla at all times while praying. Fret not, it is not necessary for you to. Just make sure that you’re facing the Qibla during Takbiratul Ihram. Which way you face after that does not matter.
A Muslim travelling a considerable distance is allowed to combine and shorten his or her prayers. Zuhr and Asr prayers can be combined at two raka’at each while Maghrib prayer can be combined with Isya’ with three and two raka’at respectively.