It is that time of the year again when many friends and family members are getting ready for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
It is expected that almost one million lucky pilgrims will perform Hajj in 2023. After the long wait during the COVID years, Muslim pilgrims all over the world are overjoyed to be allowed to fulfil this special faridah.
“And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations.” – al-Quran 22:27
Getting Ready for Hajj 2023
As you prepare for this great pilgrimage, it would be helpful to have a checklist of what you should take with you. Getting ready for this pilgrimage to Mecca will be one of the most important tasks leading up to your big journey.
Preparing a checklist for your trip will help you pack the essentials you will need to participate in hallowed Hajj rites and visit important religious sites in this sweltering summer. A Checklist also prepares you for the journey.
If you are not sure what to pack and what important documents you need to take with you, then we are here to help. This guide will provide you with a comprehensive list of items you must take with you when you embark on this life-changing journey.
The Ultimate Checklist for Hajj 2023
Below is a checklist of all the essential items you should have with you before you embark on the great pilgrimage to Mecca. In this list, we have included practical items for convenience, including items you will need to carry out important religious rites.
This is a no-brainer. For an international trip, you will need travel documents, including passport and visa documents. Here are the basic documents you need for Hajj:
- A passport that is valid for at least 6 months and has at least 2 adjacent empty visa pages
- Flight tickets
- Proof of identity (a valid identity issued by your country)
- Hotel booking information
- Receipts of payments made for Hajj
- Transportation vouchers, if applicable
- Certificate of relationship if you are travelling with a companion
In these unprecedented times, there are some important additional documents that you will need for Hajj; these are:
- The PCR COVID-19 test that was taken 72 hours before departure
- You will also need proof of vaccination. This is important as you will need to show that you have been vaccinated with a Saudi government-approved vaccination. For more information on which vaccines are approved, visit here.
There are some special documents that are not essential but will help you during Hajj. These are:
- Passport-sized photographs of yourself and your companions – If you are traveling with family members, ensure that each family member has one photograph of themselves and the rest of the family in case you are separated.
- Prescriptions of medicines you need – Especially important for people who take drugs for chronic diseases like diabetes, blood pressure, etc.
- Self-made identification card – use your computer to create and print an ID card that contains your name, passport number, contact information in Mecca, Medina, and home, the contact information of your family members who are traveling with you, and contact information of your Hajj group leader or companion, your address in Mecca and Medina, notable medical conditions, blood group. Wear this card at all times.
Suggestion: Hajis suggest that you keep multiple copies of important documents like your passport, hotel details, contact details, and payment receipts.
Moreover, you should keep each copy in a separate place; one should be in your daily-wear bag, one in your luggage, one in your pocket, and you can even give one to your cluster head for safekeeping.
2. Money & Cash
Having funds readily available for any requirement during your trip is extremely necessary. It is important to carry the right kind of currency when you are embarking on your Hajj trip.
The official currency of the Saudi government is the Riyal. Therefore, change your local currency to Saudi Riyal before you leave for your trip.
But it is not a good idea to carry large amounts of cash during Hajj as you could be at risk of losing it. Here are some safer alternatives to cash:
- Debit Cards & Credit Cards– Debit & Credit cards can work if your card is accepted in Saudi, and it gives you a good interbank rate. Ask your bank for information before you leave.
- Traveler’s Cheque – You can get a traveler’s cheque when travelling for Hajj. It is safe and allows you to draw money when you need it. However, the exchange rate makes this method expensive, and you will have to take out time to find a bank to process the cheque.
- Hajj Forex Cards – Banks around the world have introduced Hajj Forex Cards. Think of them as a Debit or Credit card that is specially designed for Hajj. They are PIN protected, can be used for online payments, allow you to draw cash from the ATM, and allow you to reload money in the card and view account balance via internet banking. Most importantly, they are relatively safe from fluctuation in the foreign exchange rate and offer a more affordable way of utilizing cash abroad.
Suggestion: If you are old school, don’t trust banks, and want to only take cash with you, then we suggest you divide the cash into smaller chunks and store it in multiple places, just like you did your documents. In this way, you will not lose all your money even if someone steals it or you lose the bag or wallet carrying the money.
3. Ihram, Clothes & Shoes
The ‘Ihram’ is the special cloth covering those men and women are required to wear throughout their journey of Hajj. For men, this consists of two white sheets and a belt to hold it all together. For women, it implies that they should dress modestly, which usually means wearing an ‘abaya’ over their clothes.
Hajj 2023 is in the summer season, so you need to buy the Ihram accordingly. Here is what we suggest:
- Pack 3 Ihram – 1 in cotton and 2 in a soft, breathable, lightweight towel fabric. In summers, you will need a fabric that wicks moisture. You will also need to change your Ihram daily; 3 sets of Ihram will allow you to wear a fresh Ihram every day while the other is laundered.
- 2 Belts to hold the Ihram.
- Women can choose to pack 2 – 3 Abayas in soft cotton or another lightweight and breathable summer fabric.
Women can choose to wear modest clothes other than abayas as per Islamic rulings, but men must only wear an Ihram until the Hajj is over.
Men and Women should also pack 3 – 4 pairs of their everyday summer clothes to be used when visiting religious sites, visiting Medina, and site seeing across Saudi after the Hajj is over.
In addition, pack 4 – 5 changes of undergarments and comfortable pajamas. Finally, pack very comfortable, preferably medical-grade shoes. Men have to wear a very distinct type of shoe in-line with the requirements of Ihram. So, make sure that you pack two of those shoes, one as a backup.
Many pilgrims report that their shoes broke in Arafat and Muzdalifah, and they had to walk barefoot as there were no vendors there. Some reported that their feet got blisters and tears from walking so much during the last rites of Hajj, so it’s essential to pack very comfortable shoes and always carry a backup.
Suggestion: Read online reviews and take recommendations from friends and family who have been to Hajj when shoe shopping for Hajj. We recommend that you buy a shoe that’s suited for your feet and break it in for at least 30 days before Hajj. Buy a couple of shoes and wear them every day, take the ones which are the most comfortable for you.
4. Essential Toiletries
Toiletries? Absolutely, but with a twist.
No scented toiletries are allowed when you are wearing the Ihram, including soaps, powders, and perfumes. These can only be used after Hajj is over and you have taken off the Ihram.
Therefore, take special unscented toiletries. Here is what you should take with you:
- Toothpaste & toothbrush
- Unscented facewash, handwash, shower gel, or soap
- Unscented shampoo and conditioner
- Unscented sunscreen, hand cream, and face cream
- A tub of unscented petroleum jelly
- Unscented tampons or sanitary napkins
- Unscented shaving cream and razor
- Unscented travel-sized tissues and hand wipes
- Nail clippers
- Makeup basics for Eid (optional)
A quick search of the local market or the internet will lead you to companies selling unscented cosmetics for Hajj in your country.
5. Umbrella, Sunglasses & Hydration
To protect yourself from the heat, it is important to carry an umbrella and wear good-quality sunglasses. The umbrella will provide shade from the sun as you perform hajj rites. From Tawaf to runs in the Muzdalifah, the umbrella & sunglasses will be handy.
You will also need to stay hydrated; performing straining Hajj rites & rituals can take their toll on the body due to the hot temperature in summers. Therefore, keep yourself hydrated; here is what you can do:
- Carry a lightweight water bottle. There are many water coolers in the haram, and everywhere else you go. So, keep a refillable bottle with you to keep hydrated.
- Drink plenty of liquids; in al-Haram, people are always distributing bottles of water, juices, and milky drinks to pilgrims. Drink plenty of these throughout the day.
- Take hydration pills or tablets that restore your electrolyte count
6. First Aid Box
Another essential is the first aid box; injuries and accidents can happen anywhere, and it’s best to be prepared. Here is what you should take:
- Unscented Antiseptic cream
- Plasters of various sizes
- Bandages & gauze pieces
- Antihistamine cream and tablets
- Cold and cough medicine
- Prescription antibiotics after consulting with your doctor
- Stomach medicine
Suggestion: Along with the recommended vaccinations, get flu shots and allergy vaccinations before travelling for Hajj.
7. Spiritual Essentials
Hajj is a holy pilgrimage, and therefore the focus should be on ibadah as much as possible. Here is what you can take to help you in this goal:
- Pocket-sized Quran
- Travel-sized Dua booklets
- Tasbeeh or digital tasbeeh counter
- Foldable prayer mat
- Tawaf counter
- Notebook and pen
8. Folding Chair
An essential item, especially for senior pilgrims, is a folding chair that can be used to sit on whenever you need to. Often you may not have any place to sit and will have to wait for hours. A small folding stool can be very handy for those who have arthritis or back issues and who cannot sit on the floor.
9. Tech Essentials
We are all dependent on technology, and indeed it can make even our religious duties more efficient. Pack the following tech essentials for Hajj 2023:
- 2 Universal chargers
- Power bank
- Wi-Fi or 4G device to be bought in Saudi Arabia
- An old smartphone as a backup
- Headphones and earphones
Suggestion: Did you just buy a new iPhone? Don’t take it with you. Choose a phone that functions well but isn’t too expensive as you may lose it during Hajj.
Are You Ready for Hajj 2023?
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “He who came to this House (Ka’ba) (with the intention of performing Pilgrimage), and neither spoke indecently nor did he act wickedly. would return (free from sin) as on the (very first day) his mother bore him.” al-Muslim 1350a
Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam that comes with many blessings. To make the most of Hajj 2023, you need to pack the essentials so you can worship Allah without worrying about mental or physical discomfort.
Here is hoping that Allah SAW accepts the Hajj of all the pilgrims who perform and that you are allowed to make this special journey to the House of Allah inshallah.