Ramadan is an annual Islamic tradition during which Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, abstaining from food and beverage from dawn until sunset, in an act of togetherness and solidarity.
Traveling during Ramadan is possible, though the experience will differ dramatically from travelling during other months. If you plan on visiting any Muslim-majority country during Ramadan, here are a few top tips for travelling safely during this holy time:.
1. Know the local customs
Customs of any country can make or break your travel experience, from small details like how people greet each other to big issues such as how religious practices are respected or valued. Being aware of these differences before arriving allows for respectful and enjoyable travel experiences.
Noting the customs and traditions associated with Ramadan is also key. Capable Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan; exceptions include pregnant women, children, travelers on long journeys, elderly and travelers due to illness or travel. Any missed days due to illness must be compensated by feeding the poor.
On top of that, the streets are illuminated by intricately decorated lanterns known as fanous. This tradition hails back from Egypt’s Fatimid Caliphate of 10th-12th century and can even be seen being fired off from cannons during sunset!
2. Be flexible
Traveling in a Muslim country during Ramadan requires flexibility. No fasting should be expected while on vacation and eating in public shouldn’t be frowned upon; however, keeping plenty of water and snacks handy would help ensure a more enjoyable journey. If possible, hotels might even allow guests to have drinks and food delivered directly into their rooms so you can eat privately during the day.
Evenings during Ramadan are vibrant, social events full of activity and enjoyment. At Iftar, people break their fast with meals with family and friends before returning home after spending the night at mosques or visiting relatives; no matter where you are there is bound to be something going on!
Travel can also provide an ideal opportunity for learning about Islam if that’s something that piques your interest, with plenty of online activities such as reading the Quran and watching Islamic talks on YouTube available online. There are also Facebook groups dedicated to meeting local Muslims around your destination such as Muslimahs Who Travel group which I co-run that has women travelers from around the globe enrolled as members.
3. Don’t panic
Non-Muslims do not need to fast, but it is recommended that they follow the example set by locals by refraining from eating, drinking or smoking in public – such as public transport and tourist restaurants.
If you’re embarking on an extended trip, it is advisable to book accommodations early as many places offer reduced hours and close during the day. As night falls, cities come alive with excitement and life as Muslims gather after sunset to break their fast with a large feast called f’tour.
Pack modest clothing when travelling during Ramadan to show respect for local culture and avoid unwanted attention. Men should consider wearing loose-fitting shirts and trousers while women may wish to consider covering up their heads with light pashminas or scarves; though not compulsory for travellers. Hijabs or abayas may also be worn voluntarily in order to show your observance of tradition and show your understanding.
4. Wear modest clothing
As soon as traveling into a Muslim country, it’s essential that visitors dress modestly – women should wear headscarves while men cover arms and legs with loose clothing reaching past the knee or tunics that reach there too. Cleavage should also be covered up since any exposure could be considered immodest; this is particularly important when visiting mosques or religious sites.
At the conclusion of Ramadan, families and friends come together for Eid-ul-Fitr, an annual three-day holiday which marks the conclusion of fasting for Muslims worldwide. On Eid, loved ones visit one another, give gifts, and exchange greetings between one another.
If your daughter plans on traveling during Ramadan and you have concerns about her clothes, have an honest yet respectful discussion with her about them. Explain that your concern for her safety and well-being led you to request she wear more modest attire; perhaps this might help her listen and agree to make changes; otherwise it is fine if both parties remain firm in their opinion and agreed not to change things until after Ramadan ends.
5. Plan ahead
When travelling to Muslim countries during Ramadan, it’s essential that plans and expectations be adjusted accordingly. For instance, restaurants may close earlier to allow Muslims to reach home for Iftar dinner before sunset as part of respecting religious and cultural sensitivities of those fasting.
Public transport also needs to be planned ahead. Buses and trains will often run on reduced schedules around iftar, with people scrambling home before it begins in order to prepare their meal. Therefore, booking accommodation, transportation and tours in advance may help avoid disappointment and be on time.
Non-Muslim travellers don’t need to observe the fast, but should at least be mindful of local customs and traditions for an enjoyable travel experience. Restaurants and tourist attractions typically remain open during the daytime, selling food and drinks normally; just make sure that when tipping, be generous as staff may still be working hard at this time!