I am one of those people who like to travel lite. So lite, in fact, that I omit the ‘gh’ just to make a point.
[You can get most of these items from your local Walmart. You can also view my complete Hajj Checklist.]
Clothes For women, shalwar kameez (loose, full sleeves, non see-through fabric and dupatta included, of course) is suitable attire for hajj. You do not need any special clothes, such as abaya. I did not buy an abaya, but most women do prefer it. It’s your choice. Abayas are made of synthetic material and are not suited to the weather (very hot!) most of the year. At times I did wear a thin cotton ankle-length shirt over my clothes when I stepped out. This absorbed all the dirt and grime outside and I would just remove it once I got to my hotel room. I also wore a tied head scarf and hijab instead of dupatta as it was easier to keep it in place.
Men’s ihram consists of two unstitched pieces of white cotton cloth. When not under the restrictions of ihram, regular clothes (jeans, shalwar kameez, thob) may be worn.
Shoes Get very comfortable walking shoes (we wore Keen). Women can wear any type of shoes, but I recommend water resistant sandals or slip-ons. They are easier to slip on and off in the mosques and in the tents and will hold up to exposure to water after ablution and possibly wet bathrooms.
Men’s ankles must remain uncovered.
Some people prefer to wear crocs or flip flops. I’m a half-size so crocs are either too big or too small for me. On top of that they are not soft or comfortable and neither crocs nor flip flops provide a good grip. But that’s just me; go with whatever you are most comfortable in. Remember, you may have to walk for miles. And don’t buy new shoes two days before leaving. Shoes have to be broken in. I also always wore thin cotton socks to protect my feet.
Shoe bag One of the most useful things we had. I bought mine online. First, you don’t want your very comfortable shoes to get lost or stolen. Put them in the bag and carry them inside the mosque with you. Secondly, people will be stepping on you, over you and in front of you while you are praying. It is very important that no one should be in front of you when you prostrate. Put the shoe bag about two feet in front of you when praying so that even if someone passes in front of you, you’re good.
Cloth bag or zip-lock bag Keep one for carrying the pebbles you will collect at Muzdalifah for doing rami. You might be collecting up to 70 small pebbles per person.
Medicines Medicines are available in Saudi Arabia of course, but we did not want to deal with the hassle of figuring out where and how to get them. I would recommend buying all the basic over the counter medicines that you might need, like
- Pain killers
- Cough drops
- Allergy medicine
- Stool softener
- Anti diarrhea
- Muscle rub
These really came in handy, not only did we use them but also shared them with other people in our group.
No scented products are to be used. Take the following with you. Look for unscented/fragrance free.
Unscented soap We took a couple of bars of Dove. Unscented soap may or may not be available, it’s better to have yours with you. I bought unscented washing powder too, but I wouldn’t recommend it! I ended up using Dove for everything- showering, washing hands and washing clothes. Less is more!
Unscented deodorant Both his and hers are easily available.
Unscented hand sanitizer Very important. This is not easy to find in stores and I ordered mine online. Use it a lot and hand it out to everyone around you to protect yourself against germs and bacteria.
Unscented toothpaste This is again not easy to find. Ordering online is quite expensive. Alternatives are salt, baking soda and of course miswak (tooth stick, available in Mecca and Medina).
Other items You may take along any other personal items that you like to have with you, like a pocket size Quran, nail cutter and a small pair of scissors for cutting your hair, and a pen and paper, just in case.
Haji mat For spending the night in Muzdalifah. This can be purchased from Mecca or Madina.
Belt pack You will need something to carry your money, phone and a few other important items with you at all times. You also need your hands free and something secure because pickpocketing is quite common. We were each provided with a belt pack by Dar El Salam. The great thing about mine was that it was too big for my waist so I wore it across my shoulder and covered it with my hijab. You can also hide yours under your abaya if you decide to wear one. My husband wore a money belt and carried a backpack. Always carry water and some snacks like fruit, cookies, granola bars, dates etc.
In my belt pack I carried,
Travel size Vaseline
Tissues & a pack of toilet paper
An extra face mask
Small prayer booklet
My own small prayer notebook
A foldable cloth prayer mat
A small camera (We got a cheaper one but I recommend this for better performance in low light conditions.)
Something to snack on, like a granola bar or a few dates
*Money changers can be found easily in the market and all of them will give you more or less the same rate. No need to go running around to find the best rate.
**We bought phones and phone cards from Saudi Arabia the morning after we arrived. Our group leader directed to some shops in the market where they could be purchased.