When it comes to packing for a trip, it’s easy to forget or overlook some of the basic things we use everyday. Sometimes, the challenge is not necessarily forgetting, but finding pretty, compact versions of common items that are easy to pack, or not knowing the alternatives exist! See below for our guide on essentials for Muslim travellers.
We have three travel musallahs that we pack, depending on the length and destination of the trip, as well as the activities we’ll be doing whilst away. The first is a normal sized musallah, soft and suitable for everyday use, even on tiled or wooden floors. It fits into a matching bag, with room to spare for a burqa or Quraan as well. This one does take up more room than the others, but if we have the space we never leave without it.
The second one is sized between the other two, quite soft and pretty, but not really suitable for outdoor use. This one gets used the most, as it fits into a carry-on or handbag easily and takes up very little space.
The last one is the most compact, and usually gets thrown into our day-bag, ready to be whipped out no matter where we are. It’s easy to wash so we don’t mind if it gets a little dirty from getting placed on the floor, but it is very light and tends to fly away if you don’t place weights on the corners on windy days.
The Swim-dry picnic mat is also great to travel with, as it doubles as a musallah for more than one person at a time. It has a nice waterproof backing, and folds up as shown, making it easy to always keep in your boot, for impromptu picnics or prayers.
Once again, there a few options here. You could just take your normal daily burqa or abaya, but there are also these nifty burqa’s with sleeves which are especially handy if you’re wearing short sleeves and want to read Quran. They are available in knee-length or floor-length, depending on your preference.
A kabaya is one of my favourite versions, since it doubles up as a great, billowing dress that functions as an extra outfit with the right accessories. It provides head to toe coverage, and easily fits over your clothes. Paired with a pretty scarf, the built-in burqa can be covered up, or disguised a hoodie. It is also very light, and doesn’t take up too much space.
I’ve recently come across Hasanah, but haven’t tried any of their products first hand, yet. Their products do look amazing though and they offer loads of long and short burqas in gorgeous prints, which fold up into a compact little pouch that doubles up as a pocket while you’re wearing it. They also come with travel musallahs and tiny tasbihs, which make them a great all-in-one option.
When it comes to wudhu, these swim-dry, microfiber towels are by far the best option out there. Way more space-efficient than usual towels, which are bulky and take ages to dry. The microfiber versions, while quite pricey, fold up easily and dry ridiculously fast. They come in coordinated sets and even have nifty little icons so that you don’t mix up your feet and hand towels. The full-sized versions are also great for the beach or pool, if you don’t have space for a normal towel, and macaroon has the most beautiful patterns.
4. Spray bottle
Making wudhu can be a challenge on the road or in the air, and these spray bottles, available at West Pack, make it so easy to make wudhu no matter where you are. With no spillage that arises from pouring water out of bottles, it is a cheap alternative to keep on hand.
5. Istinja bottle
This is one of the things that you always need to carry around, whether on a road trip, a flight, or even just a day out of the house. A normal plastic bottle can do the job, but these memo-style bottles, also available at West Pack are easier to pack in small handbags or schoolbags as they’re less bulky. The It’s Not Made in China bottles are also a nice size for handbags, and the fun designs make it easy to identify which bottles are not for drinking! An alternative that takes up even less space are these roll-up soft plastic bottles, which are compact but a little less user-friendly.
Mozas are one of the most convenient items to invest in if you’re travelling in winter. With options from Sealskinz and Dexshell available at CII stores, and approved by ulama for use as wudhu socks, you can rest assured that your ibadah will be accepted. At home, after making wudhu, just put your socks on and make your intention, and then for 24 hours after your first wudhu breaks, you only need to pass your wet hands over your socks during wudhu, instead of washing your feet. While traveling, the concession extends to 3 days, which makes it even easier to make wudhu in public places, as you won’t have to put your feet in bathroom basins. Wearing a pair of normal socks underneath helps as well, since you won’t have to wash your wudhu socks as frequently if you only have one pair for your trip.
While most people prefer their everyday Quraans, it does come with certain challenges when travelling, like where do you leave it when you go to the bathroom, or how do you put your bag down when you need a break from dragging around luggage all day. Travel sized Quraans are widely available and take up less space, but still doesn’t solve the above. With everyone traveling with a smartphone and/or tablet, it becomes the easiest way to take your Quraan with you. The plus side is that you don’t need to have constant wudhu when you dig into your bag, and it’s always in your pocket so it provides extra opportunities for reading while waiting in queues or on long journeys, instead of wasting time. There are tons of apps or PDFs that you can download, based on your preference.
One of the kitabs that I couldn’t find in ebook form was Key to the Treasures of Jannah, which has all the daily and weekly surahs, duas, and duroods in one convenient book. Unfortunately it is quite thick, and heavy, so I ended up spending 2 days manually scanning it so that I could load it onto my iPad for ease of use.
This is probably the easiest thing to pack, takes up virtually no space, and is available in the simplest or most extravagant designs. My favourite are the elasticated type, which double as a bracelet and are thus literally always on hand, as a constant reminder to make Zikr. Pearls to Paradise has a great range, or you can diy them to your taste. China Mall has a great selection of beads and spacers at quite low prices, and it takes less than thirty minutes to string it up.
Muslim Pro is one of the most comprehensive apps we use, and is available for free or as a paid, premium version. It has everything, from a Qiblah compass to salah times, daily duas, and locations of nearby Masjids.
Halaltrip is also fantastic, and even goes so far as to provide Qibla directions you’ll need while on an airplane. Its simple to use; just input your origin and destination, along with your flight times and it will show you what direction to face at hourly intervals, as well as calculate the time for each salah. It also has information about destinations, both generalised and Islamic, and is an extremely valuable resource.
When it comes to food, it becomes a challenge as not all countries have a certifying body like South Africa does. For local travel, Sanha, ICSA, NIHT, and MJC can be contacted for confirmation regarding halal food, but internationally, it’s not as easy. Zabihah does have a directory but the information is not always accurate or updated, so it’s always best to confirm before you eat there.
Please comment below with any other essentials you use that we’ve left out!