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Your Ultimate Umrah Planning Resource [2023 Update]



“A wise man learns from his mistakes, but a genius learns from the mistakes of others.”

If you are going on Umrah, this article has a list of some top tips from those who have been before. Please note, there are many other articles out there (including on MM) that deal with tips to do with ihram and Hajj. However, as the actual state of ihram is only a few hours on any Umrah trip, this article is more about the practical tips that help you maximize your entire Umrah trip; which are usually not found elsewhere.

InshaAllah your Umrah is accepted, and you benefit in some way from some of these points.

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[If you would like to add your own, please include them in the comments section and I will attempt to update the article annually at least insha’Allah.]

1️⃣ Preparation is key

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “There is no wisdom equal to good planning.” [Al-Bayhaqi]

Your experience on Umrah will often depend on how well you plan ahead.

I suggest having a planning meeting in advance to discuss everything we discuss in the following points and more. The key things to plan would be:

  • Your itinerary (where you are staying, how you are traveling, etc.)
  • Your emergency contact methods (in case of an emergency, at home, or while you are there)
  • Travel/health insurance (depending on your views on these)
  • Health precautions (including any immunizations, medications, and letters that you will need)
  • Budget (how much you plan to spend so that you can stay within budget and take the correct amount with you)
  • Dua’ list (who will you make dua’ for, what you will make make dua’ for)
  • Your will (in case, nauzubillah, something were to happen while you are away)

2️⃣ Location, location, location

If you have a choice as to which hotel you are going to stay at, check reviews for how long it takes to get to the Haram from the hotel.

Being geographically close doesn’t always mean a faster trip. Sometimes being a bit further away, but not totally reliant on elevators is better. Some of the closest hotels to the Haram have notoriously slow elevators, which require 30-minute queues at around prayer time. The option of taking the stairs may either be impractical or impossible.

In Makkah and Madinah, there are specific entrances for men and women to each of the Haramain. Being at a hotel that is close to the men’s entrances but a 15-minute walk from the women’s entrance is going to make life difficult for the sisters in your group, especially if they are elderly or have small kids.

Some will say that it is not relevant where you stay as surely you will be spending most of your time in the Haram. This is true for a small subsection of the population, but often for those with children, health conditions, the elderly, etc… being able to rest in between periods of time in the Haram is a blessing they would like to take advantage of.

Here is a link to website with links to which gates are men only, women only including map:

List of 42 Gates of Masjid al Nabawi

3️⃣ Book Haramain Railway

Traveling between Makkah and Madinah was a 4-5 hour drive on what was often a very dangerous road. There are, unfortunately, frequent stories of entire families being wiped out when an overworked and underpaid driver falls asleep at the wheel or a stray camel wanders onto the road.

However, it is not just safety. The journey is also between 4 to 6 hours and can essentially mean half of a valuable day from your Umrah trip is taken up by travel.

The high-speed railway has changed all that, and even though you need to arrive early at the train station, the overall experience is much more comfortable (and safer).

There are a few caveats to this, though. Traveling by taxi or bus will allow you more flexibility to stop at locations along the way like Badr, Hudaibiyah, etc… It is also much cheaper and you can choose to travel at a time of the day which means you are not missing out on much.

You can access the Haramain Railways website here.

4️⃣ Dress appropriately

In the evenings, especially in the winter months, it can get cool enough to require warmer clothes. I’ve lost count of the number of shivering foreigners I’ve seen who cannot believe that the Hijazi weather can be so biting at times. The lack of appropriate clothing means that you may struggle to pray outdoors or on the roof, especially in the evenings.

There’s a reason that people wear flowing robes and dresses in warm countries. They’re cool and comfortable. Possibly leave the jeans and T-shirts at home.

Also, it is always handy to have watched an ihram tutorial before you put it on:

5️⃣ Set meeting location

With more than a million pilgrims in the same place, it is easy to get lost. This is especially devastating for children and the elderly who may not be able to remember or identify the hotel or have a mobile phone.

Nowadays, you are able to buy wrist tags with the key information that would be helpful to any good samaritan or official who finds someone who is lost. However, an even better practice is to identify a set meeting place that helps people find each other.

It is good practice to arrange a set meeting point that is easy to identify via easy-to-see landmarks. E.g. the green lights in the Masa area or at the wudhu station directly in front of the green dome.

In some cases, people may prefer to advise their loved ones to stay exactly in wherever they are as soon as they realize they are lost. This is useful as having one fixed party in a search vastly increases the odds of being found as opposed to having two people both on the move randomly.

Don’t switch the meeting place or people will get confused.

6️⃣ Take masks and wear them

Covid isn’t over even though some people may think and act like it is. However, regardless of your feelings on Covid, there are still thousands of other bugs and viruses out there, and many of them have the ability to ruin your Umrah experience.

Remember that there are people arriving here from across the world and many times, the change of weather, the packed airplanes, or the sheer exhaustion makes the area rife breedings ground for infections. If you don’t want to take on a sample of viruses across the world – take simple precautions.

Even though the evidence for masks can be debatable, they are still easy to use, cheap, and widespread. Protect yourselves and others and wear a mask, especially in crowded times and locations.

7️⃣ Pack your personal bag to facilitate spending time in the Haram

We spend so much time, money, and energy to just get to the Haramain. However, we often fall at the final hurdle and find ourselves unable to spend long periods of time in the Haram itself.

If you’re someone who struggles to skip meals, a few small snacks means you don’t have to leave the Haram every time you get hungry.

If you struggle to sit on cold marble floors for hours at a time, a prayer mat can make all the difference.

If you want to stay off your phone whilst in the Haram, bring a diary or dua’ book with you. Here is a simple checklist of items that I usually packed:

  • Card with hotel information
  • Shoe bag to put my slippers in
  • Empty bottle (to fill with Zamzam)
  • Mobile phone battery pack
  • Small sweets in case I got hungry
  • Soft prayer mat (in case I found myself spending hours on a hard surface)
  • Some cash (in case my card didn’t work, but also to give to those who need it)
  • Sunscreen / Sunglasses
  • Perfume
  • Seerah book

8️⃣ Share childcare duties

Before all of you who are not married or do not have children skip this point, this applies to you too.

Performing Umrah with children is a blessing, but sometimes parents want to be able to spend quality time in the Haramain without having to babysit.

Husbands, make sure you share childcare duty with your wife. This is ibaadah too.

If you don’t have children, you may be traveling with people who do. Even entertaining the kids for a few minutes while the parents are engrossed in prayer or just trying to go to the toilet, will give you much ajr inshaAllah.

9️⃣ Make food your friend, not your enemy

Probably the biggest time sink during your visit will be in searching and queueing for food.

In addition, we get picky about where we are willing to go as people tend to want to eat specific types of food (ahem, al-Baik.)

By identifying a few restaurants that are ideally located in relation to your hotel, the opening times, and that the food is suitable for everyone in your party, you will be saving yourself a lot of time.

Avoid ordering food or eating at restaurants during crazy busy periods such as immediately after prayers. You will spend ages just trying to get the food and will struggle to find somewhere to sit down.

If possible, vary the types of food that you have so that you stay healthy doing your trip.

There are many people who have come on Umrah who cannot afford regular meals, therefore look out for opportunities to either pay for someone’s meal or at the very least, make sure you do not waste any food whatsoever.

🔟 Don’t fall into the breakfast trap

For many of us who are reading this article, we have the opportunity to stay in hotels that provide free breakfast in the morning.

This can be a trap for some. A free breakfast means that you need to wake up early in the morning. In order to do this, you are not able to stay awake till late in the night. However, you are in a place where staying awake late into the night is ideal as it is less crowded, not to mention the reward for qiyam.

Rather than resting in the earliest part of the day well before Dhuhr prayer starts, instead, we are queuing up for our free breakfast. The free breakfast, by virtue of being free, almost always means that we gorge ourselves and have more than normal.

This means we start our day tired and weighed down with excess food. It’s hardly a recipe for success.

1️⃣1️⃣ Wear comfortable shoes

I remember listening to a talk with a speaker who devoted a whole 15 minutes to the right type of footwear. At the time, I thought it was OTT, but now I realize the wisdom behind it.

There is a lot of walking involved during this trip and you should not let your footwear be a limiting factor.

Speaking of shoes, have a plastic bag or a shoe bag that you can keep with you at all times as trying to relocate your footwear is also another headache that you can do without.

I’ve seen a trend nowadays of people wearing their shoes whilst inside the Haram including when performing Tawaaf. I would advise against this. We wouldn’t like it in our homes, therefore we should not do it in the house of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

1️⃣2️⃣ Speak to other people whilst there

The Haramain is a unique melting pot of humanity.

For many people there, this is the first time out of their country and often, the first time meeting Muslims from a different country, different background, or even different color. Make it a good experience.

Show concern for their situation and ask how the Muslims are in their home country.

Offer some of the snacks you brought with you. With permission, offer sweets to the children. I lost count of the elderly pilgrims offering sweets to children. This made the children associate Umrah with an experience of spontaneous love from total strangers they never experienced anywhere else.

1️⃣3️⃣ Don’t haggle aggressively

This is a bit controversial since there will be a difference between large multinational stores and small corner shops, or individuals selling items on the street. I am speaking more of the latter. Quite often, these are the relatively poor of the region bringing some wares to the areas surrounding the Haramain and hoping to make a quick buck. However, where we may normally haggle with them to get the best possible price, remember that the people of Makkah and Madinah hold a different status and privilege.

If you’re someone who likes to haggle for everything, temper that inclination here. I’m not saying to let yourself get ripped off willingly, but if you’re going to decline – do so quickly and in a dignified way.

1️⃣4️⃣ Keep gifts small and easy

Shopping is not the greatest way to spend time in any situation, but you really want to avoid losing too much of your Umrah trip to wandering the many and copious shops present around the Haramain. Many times we just want to get nice gifts for our friends and family back home. Although there are much blessings in buying gifts for others, without a plan, it can become another time sink.

Having a strategy like bulk buying miswak and attar perfume for the men, and hijabs and tasbeehs for women can make buying easier and less stressful.

Remember, the best gift is a sincere dua’ and salaams to our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

1️⃣5️⃣ Practice patience

I remember standing in a queue at a restaurant when suddenly a heated argument broke out. One of the patrons was screaming at the person behind the counter that they had served someone else before them. He became so abusive that eventually, the worker started reacting. Most people were simply watching this scenario, but a few people decided that they would break up this situation. They hugged the customer who was upset and started reminding them that they are in the city of the Prophet ﷺ whilst simultaneously motioning for the worker to take a step away and one of his colleagues to come in his place. Within minutes, things had calmed down.

There will be people who will push you to your limits. They may be queue jumpers, unhelpful hotel staff, or rude officials.

Remember, controlling your anger is one of the key features of Umrah. Expect the tension and have methods of dealing with it.

For some, it might be repeating salawat on the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and for others, it might be completely removing yourself from the situation. Whatever it is, do it.

1️⃣6️⃣ Learn some Arabic

It enhances your experience to be able to use and understand the lingo. Although there are people from across the world at the Haramain, the lingua franca is Arabic.

Just a few words will make it easier to communicate with others, but also to understand the Quran. Just being able to do so is a huge motivator for many for when they return back home to continue with their own studies of the Quran and the Arabic language.

1️⃣8️⃣ Read a Seerah book before you go – and take one with you

Remember that the Umrah is not just a spiritual journey, but also a historical one. It is an opportune moment to connect deeply with the Prophet ﷺ and the earliest generations of Islam. One cannot ignore the fact that the Seerah comes alive when you walk on the same land that Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), the Prophet ﷺ and the great Sahaaba did.

However, this is an area that is often overlooked and people walk past sites of deep significance without even realizing it. This is a video on the importance of looking at the locations of the Hajj and Umrah through a historical lens.

1️⃣9️⃣ Umrah in Ramadan top tips

The basic rules for Umrah in Ramadan are not much different. However, the key point you need to be aware of is that the combination of heat, stress, being somewhere unfamiliar, and the lack of control over where and what you eat – could be destabilizing.

You can prepare in advance by finding out what your plan B is in case you miss iftar or suhoor. You would also be served very well by avoiding fatty and processed foods during Ramadan as they may make you extra sluggish, not to mention play havoc with your digestion.

You may also want to be more vigilant of the young, old, and unwell members of your group as many will be fasting and pushing themselves to the limit. Having said that, an experienced clinician who goes with a Hajj group every year, says the demographic that is most likely to become unwell in these situations is the young healthy male because they are the least likely to be aware of the limits their body is able to cope with.

Iftar is provided in the Mosques as is Suhoor, but this is basic and it is good manners to partake in what you are offered and to share whatever you have. The Taraweeh prayers are long and extremely crowded so setting off early is a must with many people staying in the mosque from before Maghrib and only going out to eat after Taraweeh finishes.


… and more to come inshaAllah. If you find any of this useful, please make dua’ for me and the Ummah.

These are just some of the tips that I could think of, but I am sure there are many more out there. Please share them in the comments sections and I will add them to the list and credit you inshaAllah. 



Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - National Council Member, Muslim Council of Britain | - Lead, National Muslim Covid Response Group | - Council Member, British Islamic Medical Association | - Founder, Charity Week for Orphans and children in need | - Co-Founder, Islamic History Channel | - International Director, FIMA Lifesavers



  1. Batman

    May 11, 2023 at 7:30 AM

    Hotels closest to the Kaaba are expensive but luxurious and make it easier to reach the holy Kaaba. The ones at around 500 metres are affordable in comparison but the fatigue of having to walk half km and back for Salahs will have you praying some Salahs in your hotel room and regretting your decision.

  2. Make A Will

    May 11, 2023 at 7:48 AM

    Make a will regardless of travel. So many men don’t make a will before they die and leave their children fighting over their money and property. It is an Islamic duty to make a will, and be fair with all your children.

  3. File Rehab

    May 11, 2023 at 2:17 PM

    This is one of the beautiful ways to help muslim people all over the world, keep going on admin and thanks for sharing this valuable information with us. I like to visit this helpful website again for more beneficial information.

  4. afsaaripb

    May 24, 2023 at 11:16 AM

    This article will be very helpfull
    Thanks for sharing this info about umrah in simple steps .

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