Hajj is truly the journey of a lifetime. The preparation for this is multifaceted and often begins far in advance. And because there are so many moving parts, it is important to be prepared accordingly. The emotional and spiritual preparation trumps everything, but the importance of packing properly cannot be overlooked.
Being fortunate enough to have had the experience of hajj a few times, I’ve compiled a list of the essentials that you may want to consider packing. Please note that when it comes to clothing, this list is geared towards women. Men’s attire obviously has different guidelines, which are covered in most, if not all, hajj prep lectures.
The other thing to keep in mind as you move through this list is that just about everything can be found in Makkah and Madinah. The desert has come a long way and every amenity and material need that arises is available for us while we’re there. As a matter of fact, you’ll find a section titled ‘Bin Dawood’ below where I’ll list items that you can purchase there. Therefore, if you forget something (even something that isn’t on this list), there’s no need to worry – Bin Dawood will not let you down. In general, everything you need should easily fit into one big suitcase and one carry on. Overpacking will just make things more stressful for you when you move from one place to another.
- Abayas & hijabs – for obvious reasons. You don’t need too many if you’re willing to wash them in your hotel bathroom.
- If you have a Madinah first program, I recommend packing just 1-2 abayas because you can easily get decent quality and fairly priced abayas in Madinah. If you have a Makkah first program, you’ll get abayas there as well, but they may be slightly more expensive.
- Small tees & harem pants for inside the abaya. I’ve ordered harem pants from Amazon and purchased a bunch of small tees from H&M or Forever 21. I like to have enough of these so I don’t have to wash them. The harem pants are especially good for the days of the manasik because they’re closed at the ankle, which is helpful to ensure they won’t touch bathroom floors. For days in Madinah, any comfortable and light pants will do.
- Undergarments – make sure you have or purchase comfortable cotton items that won’t bother you in the heat. I would advise packing enough so that you have 1-2 per day depending on your usage, so that you don’t have to wash these items.
Shoes: This is the one time in life where it seems like men’s shoes are more complicated than women’s shoes (but are they really?)
- For to/from the haram: Something that’s easy to slip on and off when entering the haram. These will probably be what you will wear during the majority of the trip.
- For Mina: Something you don’t mind wearing in the shower in Mina. Simple flip flops are fine for this.
- For the manasik: Something comfortable that you can walk long distances in. During the manasik, I prefer sneaker type shoes (obviously not an option for men). Not only are they more comfortable, but being closed means your feet won’t be encased in dirt by the end.
- For Umrah/tawaf/saee: A nice thick pair of non-slip sock will do the trick (included in the Bin Dawood list, but might be better to find here if you have a Makkah first program). Alternatively, I’ve also liked wearing a pair of house slippers (I buy a pair so it’s brand new when I use it for tawaf and saee) that have some cushion. Either option is fine because it’ll reduce the impact on your feet from the marble flooring. Your feet with thank you.
- Any prescription medication that you take. Keep this with you at all times (even when luggage is being collected to send ahead to your next destination)
- Immune boosting supplements: Echinacea, zinc, and olive leaf extract are a few that you might consider. I personally begin taking my supplement of choice 4-6 weeks prior to hajj to help strengthen my immune system ahead of time. This year, I’m taking Viracid, which was recommended by a nutritionist.
- Pain killers: Advil, Tylenol, Motrin or whatever painkiller works for you.
- Cough & Cold medicine/fever reducer
- Imodium/Pepto Bismol: to help sensitive stomachs if something doesn’t sit well
- Cough drops to help with the inevitable hajj cough (which alhumdulillah I’ve managed to get by without thanks to the precautionary approach – refer back to immune boosting supplements – and lots of dua – say mashaAllah!)
- Antibiotic ointment and bandaids: because it’s always good to be prepared
- Sunscreen – because, well, the desert sun doesn’t play around (also on the Bin Dawood list)
- Electrolytes – this one is crucial. With hajj coming along in warmer months, we don’t even realize how much we are sweating. And we also aren’t used to recognizing the signs of dehydration. Use these throughout your trip and maybe even bring some extra to share!
Purse: I like to have a crossbody purse that has a zipper or some kind of closing mechanism that requires some level of effort. The extra effort to open it will be worth it because pickpocketing is common. You may even choose a neck pouch (available on Amazon) that can go underneath your clothing.
Travel/Foldable Prayer Mat: sounds odd, right? I like to keep one of these in my purse at all times to ensure that when I pray at the haram or during the Manasik, I’ll have a clean place for Sujood. It’s especially useful if I don’t get a chance to grab a regular prayer mat when going to the haram. Sure, the carpets are nice, but I’d prefer not to inhale the germs from the millions of feet that have walked there prior.
Sunglasses: We are in the desert after all.
- Unscented products for the times you’re in ihram
- Soap/body wash – if you’re using a soap bar, it will help to cut it into small chunks ahead of time that are just big enough for a single use. This way, you won’t have to store a wet bar of soap while trying desperately to stop your pants from touching the wet floor as you dress yourself in a small shower stall.
- Face wash
- Hand sanitizer
- Hand wipes
- Scented toiletries for non-hajj days – don’t skip on these. You won’t realize how much you appreciate the ability to shower with scented products until you’ve been drenched with sweat for days and surrounded by BO (probably including your own). Be prepared to take the best shower of your life once you come out of ihram after hajj. If you don’t have the scented products for this, you’ll definitely regret it. Just trust me on this.
- A small scissor – this is important so you can trim your hair after finishing your Umrah/Hajj. The other women in your group will love you for this since people often forget to bring one.
- Nail clipper – especially for right before entering into ihram. Don’t skip this, even if your nails seem short enough. Nails somehow grow fastest when you’re not allowed to cut them.
- Snacks – some power bars, nuts, dates, or energy chews are good to keep with you, especially during the Manasik.
- Over the door hooks – for Mina, so you can hang your toiletry bag and/or clothing for easy access to things.
- A toiletry bag that can be hung on a hook
- A towel (or 2) for Mina. While Darelsalam does provide a towel while in Mina, it would be nice to have an extra. A small face towel wouldn’t hurt either.
- Hijab pins. Lots of them. Those little things really have a way of getting lost!
- In years past, I would have included a sleeping bag on this list. However, Darelsalam has been providing bedding in Muzdalifah, and unless something changes, we won’t have to carry around a sleeping bag. If for some reason you do want to get your own bedding for Muzdalifah, I would suggest you purchase it from Bin Dawood (it’s on the list below)
- Unlocked cell phone – check with your service provider if you have roaming options in Saudi. If not, you may decide to get a local sim card, which will only work if your phone is unlocked.
- International adapter
- All chargers
- External Batteries – these are especially useful during the manasik (notice I used the plural. This is another one of those things that will make everyone your best friend)
Bin Dawood: You can make a list of all these things and head to Bin Dawood on your day of arrival (there’s one conveniently located near every one of the hotels that Darelsalam uses in both Makkah and Madinah)
- Powdered detergent: helpful for hand washing the little stuff (or big stuff too)
- Thick socks to wear during tawaf and saee
- Sitting stool – if you need this for sitting during salah at the haram, or for the manasik where you may need to sit if/when we are walking or standing for long periods
- Spray fan – everyone around you will love you for the cooling powers you’ll have and will hopefully share
- Sleeping bag/mat
This list is not exhaustive by any means. The goal here is to cover all the essentials that you’ll need to smoothly complete your hajj. Once you have these things in order, hopefully you can begin to work on the real prep: the heart and mind.
May Allah ease our prep, provide us all with a smooth journey, accept all our efforts, and grant each and every one of us a Hajj Mabroor. (Say Ameen! 😊)
By: Sr. Menahal Begawala