Avoid the pitfalls

In Belgium

Deal with an official travel agent

Insure you perform your pilgrimage through a official and legal travel agent. Please feel free to reach out SOS Pelerin (association aiming to protect pilgrims)

Avoid the middle man

Make sure the guy who refers you to a travel agent does not take a commercial commission, this commission does not add any value to your service and can go up to 500EUR / person

Compare prices

Insure that your travel agent is publicly transparent on the prices

Compare the services

Sign a contract detailing all the aspect of your pilgrimage. Insure that your contract is simple and compliant with the 1994 travel agent law.

Vaccine passport

Insure you are up to date regarding the recommended vaccines

Anticipate the ritual and know the irham rules

Read and memorize the ritual

 

 In Saudi Arabia

Drink water

Take advantages of ZamZam. Saudi Arabia is hot throughout the year. Insure that you drink enough water. Your urine should be transparent or slightly yellow. Strong yellow or orange urine is a sign of dehydration

Eat healthy

Fruits and vegetables are necessary as the pilgrimage is physical intensive.

Sleep well

Agree from day 1 on a sleeping curfew hours (silent hours) with your room mates. Good rest is key for performing the pilgrimage.

Wear a mask

Many pathogen agents are transmitted by air, especially in crowded area. Wearing and changing a mask every 2 hours can reduce drastically the risk contamination (Tuberculosis, Mers CoV)

Comfortable shoes

Insure that you have comfortable ankle free shoes for the ritual, and comfortable hiking/running shoes for the rest of the time. Shoes are allowed within the holy mosque, feel free to tawaf with your shoes.

Be aware of the pick pockets in Mecca

Just like any city in the world, there are honest and dishonest people in Mecca. Insure that you don’t walk around with your wallet / cash. Pick pockets take advantages of the high density of pilgrims to steal people

Take some Vaseline

This advice is specific to men. When you are in a state of ihram, you aren’t wearing any boxers or underwear. Your legs will chaff and Vaseline can make a world of a difference.

Choose an hygienic barber

At the conclusion of Umrah, it is customary for men and women to cut their hair.  For men, don’t just cut a snip of your hair.  Instead, cut your hair all around, even if you don’t want to shave it.  If you do decide to shave it (recommended), then make sure the barber whom you visit uses a brand new disposable blade.  The Saudi government requires it and most barbers follow this rule, but just be extra careful and have your barber open up your blade in front of you.  You wouldn’t want some blood-borne disease such as Hepatitis C to be transferred to you from the dried blood of the customer before you.  

Travel lightly

Travel with the strict minimum in terms of clothing. There are 2 benefits, first it will ease your journey since you won’t have to deal with heavy luggages. Second, it will free up your luggages capacity to your way back home for ZamZam water.