Alrighty, folks – as promised, here are the items that are nice to have. As I mentioned before, every single item you take with you will matter. You have to carry it around the airport, keep track of it as it moves through a maze of busses, hotels, and many times they run out of space. That means your luggage might be put into another bus that will, “wallahi” arrive at your hotel. But if it doesn’t, you will spend the next few days looking for it. Take as little as possible. But in case you need more than what is in this last post, consider adding these items to your list.
1. Charmin To Go Flushable Wipes – (if you are a fan). There might be…no there WILL be times where you have no other option –no running water, no water bottles, no portable water, no toilet paper, no leaves etc… for your toileting needs. Heed my warning: the juices from the bag will seep into your other stuff, moisture will build up in the heat, and they are heavy (given their size). Put them in a ziplock bag.
2. Undergarments – Double or triple the number of days you will be traveling. No joke. I was burning through 1-2 pairs of undergarments a day. I hate sweating and feeling sweaty or dirty. But this is me. Many (many) people in Hajj are aloof of their offensive odors to themselves or to others. Sure, it’s not that important, but I don’t know how it’s possible to make wudhu five times a day and still smell horrendous. This reminds me of the next nice to have.
3. Laundry – everyone says it’s so easy to get laundry done. Wrong. The laundry dude comes only at a specific time. They do a TON of work every day, and the guy who picked up your laundry might not be working the next day, so you’ll have a really hard time finding it. We had three batches of laundry done, and it was not easy, at all. And it was also very expensive, we’re talking around USD 50 for just one person’s clothing. Yes, it’s a rip-off and they can charge whatever they want. Get it done but know that you might not see the clothes when you need them. But if or when you do see them they are nicely pressed and folded. Even your undies.
4. Towels – hand towel and a shower towels. We were staying in Aziziyah for portions of our journey…which I will write a post about, later, but if you are staying in Aziziyah, you’ll need all you can get. We were sleeping on beds that still had the plastic on (to keep them fresh for the next user) and pillows that had more air than foam. It was not comfortable or refreshing, but you get what you pay for. If you bring them, bring something thin and soft. After a long, hard day of walking for hours, I appreciate some kind of comfort.
5. Backpacks & Drawstring Bag – You may want to consider bringing these if you are carrying miscellaneous items (as I like to call ‘aatrum-shut-rums’). Realize that they will get full very fast with:
a. A Quran
b. Hajj Guide
d. Water bottles
e. Items we mentioned in this post
g. Snacks on snacks
h. Cash (which reminds me, I need to make a post about cash)
We got our Drawstring Bag from PUMA (wallahi, buma the best!) and they lasted us for our trip. Looking back, I’d get one with some mesh or sweat proof backing, but honestly, I don’t think anything helps in the sweat department. It’s simply too hot.
6. Leather socks – Despite the incredibly hard working cleaners of the masjid, the floors are clean, but for just a few minutes at a time. The rest of the time, the floors are riddled with residue from socks, bandages, diapers, the occasional safety pin, water, sweat, hair and even lost hajj badges. I didn’t have leather socks for the first half of the trip, and I constantly felt dirty despite making wudhu all the time. I wore the socks, and I felt wonderful, and I wish I had found them earlier. You can find them in the bazaars for a relatively good price, I think I spend $9 USD on mine or be on the safe side and snag these Leather Socks
7. Non-cellphone camera – If you are a photographer, chances are you wont be caught dead leaving home without it. I get it. But we are both into photographs, and the number of times that we took the tme to take a photograph with our slim-camera can be counted on a single hand. Its simply too hectic, hot, and even when its not, you just want to spend time relaxing or in dhikr, and not worrying about getting the perfect shot.
Here is a list of things NOT to bring.
Despite what anyone else tells you to. Even if we are wrong, on any of the below items, you can find them for a REALLY affordable price in Bin Dawood, or some other place near your hotel.
8. Sleeping bags, blankets, sheets, those woven things everyone buys from Bin Dawood, etc. – don’t bring them. Even on the day of muzdalifah, all of those items are provided for you. We saw a few people bringing their own things, like mattress pads an blankets and sheets. At the end of muzdalifah, the amount of leftovers was indescribable. A graveyard of trash, blankets, food, carbohydrate wrappers, sheets, and sleeping bags. You will probably only sleep a good 3 to 5 hours, if even that. Instead of worrying, soak in the moment, the stars, the atmosphere, being here with millions of people for the same purpose. Bring yourself back to why you are there.
9. SIM Card refills – we were thankful enough to have friends who added a line for us on their T-Mobile accounts for global data coverage. Had we not, we would have waited for hours and hours in line waiting for these refills. The lines for these stations were longer than bathroom lines. Quite frankly, had we not had cell coverage, I still think I would be lost in the arid tunnels underneath Makkah. Keeping in touch with your group and family is really critical, and you don’t need to worry about minutes or data in crunch times. If you DO decide to go with a SIM card option or have no other choice, here’s my advice:
Cell phone stations close 10-15 minutes before prayers, so that’s the worst time to go. During salat, the entire area becomes a prayer area. Make sure you pray next to one of the stations so that soon as salah is over, you will be one of the first in line
10. Those stupid fans/spray bottles – I borrowed a couple. In the heat, the batteries give up. It will give you marginal comfort at a cost of having to carry/angle it for your comfort. It’s simply too hot to make a difference.