Travel Tips for Muslims during Ramadan
Traveling is quite stressful at any time of the year, but during the fasting month, there’s much more to consider and plan for before you embark on your journey.
Here are five all-important tips that Muslims can follow if traveling during Ramadan:
Get the Ramadan Schedule for your travel destination
If you are traveling to another Muslim country in Asia, Africa or the Middle East, you’ll likely have very little trouble (if any at all) finding this information.
But you can’t always choose where you travel, especially if it is for work. What if you have to voyage to places without a strong Muslim community or a remote location?
One way to prep is to find out beforehand i.e. go online and keep a soft copy (or hard copy just to be safe) of Sahur and Iftar times or simply download a worldwide fasting schedule app.
Bonus Tip: There are a ton of apps to help make your fasting month burdens just a little bit lighter and some are just perfect for use while travelling! For instance, you can find local mosques, check through a worldwide halal restaurant database and even access Koran readings.
Settle your Data Plan
When you travel to new places, having an internet-enabled phone is invaluable, perhaps even more so during Ramadan. With a sufficient internet plan, you’ll be able to stay connected with family, check online for travel advice, join local Muslim forums and meetups and more importantly, for use during emergencies.
Most travellers tend to opt for a local mobile plan once they’ve arrived at their destination as calls and internet charges will be a lot cheaper than your Malaysian mobile roaming plan. If you plan to do this as well, do research your options online to find the best plan for your needs.
Telecom stores that sell tourist SIMs are typically available at your destination airport itself. But if for some reason that is not the case, do consider activating your roaming capabilities at least for a day or two, just to be safe. Note that roaming charges vary with providers and travel destinations, so check thoroughly before departing.
Look For Hotels with Ramadan Buffets
Photo credit: http://johorkaki.blogspot.com/2014/07/ramadan-buffet-in-johor-bahru-hotel.html
Most hotels around the world offer a halal menu, but it’s still best to check ahead! Also, don’t just ask about individual ala carte meals when buffets are lot more cost-efficient. Some travellers find that jet lag (and traveling in general) leads to a bigger appetite. So you’ll want the option to open your fasts with heavier meals. Ala carte dining at hotel restaurants twice a day is likely to be very expensive.
Now if your trip lasts for more than three days, you’ll definitely want to source for local restaurants and eateries as hotel buffets can get rather repetitive. But this shouldn’t be too hard a task when you know that there’s an app for it!
If you are not going the hotel route and have perhaps decided on an Airbnb or other homestay instead, check if you have kitchen access and if it is Muslim-friendly (i.e. with proper cooking utensils and cutlery). Better still, just look for places to stay with fellow Muslims where possible and you’ll have a buka puasa buddy!
Bonus Tip: Stock up on light snacks when travelling. You never know what might happen to delay you from tucking into a proper buka puasa meal. So do keep prepacked foods like dates, dried apricots, raisins and juices to fill up in an emergency.
Mind Your Luggage
If your mosque attire is weighty or if you need to carry special holy books and your prayer rugs, be sure to weigh your luggage beforehand.
If the flight you are choosing doesn’t offer free checked baggage, you might want to consider buying during booking to save as much money as possible.
Also, if you are going to a hotel or staying with fellow Muslims, do check with them if the accommodation is equipped with prayer essentials, so you can travel light.
Buy Travel Takaful
We can never predict the future and most would agree that traveling tends to open up the door to even more uncertainties. Especially, if it involves navigating completely unknown terrain.
Thus, when travelling, it’s in your best interest to plan ahead and minimise risk as much as possible. One way you can do this is to buy a good travel takaful plan.
However, not all travel policies are created equal. As a Muslim, your insurance needs might differ from others and so it’s best to find a plan that caters specifically for your religious obligations. Be sure to look for a plan that is Shariah-compliant and offers special coverage to perform Badal Hajj, Waqaf and Qurban.
One such plan that offers these benefits for Muslims is the Hong Leong MSIG Takaful Travel PA Plan. The premiums for these plans are affordable and come with coverage options for annual protection or single trips. Moreover, the benefits are not just limited to Badal Hajj, Waqaf and Qurban compensations, you can also claim for medical expenses while traveling, travel inconveniences (e.g. loss of luggage, delayed flights, etc.) and even total permanent disablement from accidents.
If you are traveling soon, do check out the Qompanion comparison page for travel insurance and takaful to find a plan that suits you best!