What you need to know before you go for your Umrah
Updated: Dec 9, 2022
Every year, Muslims from across the globe undertake the spiritual journey of Umrah to the holy city of Makkah. Umrah offers an opportunity for Muslims to refresh their faith, seek forgiveness and pray for their needs.
When traveling to Makkah and Madinah for Umrah, you’ll want to know the best times in the year to do so for you to make the most out of your pilgrimage. Umrah is seen as an opportunity of a lifetime, and unlike the Hajj it can be performed throughout the year, what is important is that you plan the best possible experience for your pilgrimage. For Malaysians, popular months to perform the Umrah are between June to August and in December to January.
How to prepare for your trip
Always start planning early, prepare a checklist and get a head start to keeping your health and immunity up so you are fit to travel. Here are some tips you can follow to help make your travel experience a memorable and comfortable one.
Prepare your travel documents ahead of time
Ensure that your passport is valid and has not expired. It should be valid for 3 months after your visa expires. You will need to present your passport together with a printed version of your visa to gain entry into the country.
Malaysian citizens need to apply for a Saudi Arabia Tourist eVisa which takes approximately 5 days to process. This visa can be used for tourism purposes only and will allow you to be in the country for up to 90 days in total. eVisa is a Multiple Entry visa and has a validity of 1 year after issue. If traveling with your family, find out about visa requirements for your kids. eVisa are applications made online, so make sure you complete all your details correctly before you proceed to make your payment.
Umrah travel insurance provides a range of benefits such as personal accident benefits and travel inconvenience benefits for trip cancellation, curtailment, baggage, and other travel-related benefits. Some insurance providers provide special packages that include Covid-19 hospitalization and treatment coverage too. Check with your preferred insurance provider for the best package that suits you and your family.
Flight and accommodation
There are 2 ways to book your flight and accommodation for Umrah. First, you may choose to use an authorized travel agent/tour operator for your Umrah trip. And secondly, you can plan and book your preferred flight and accommodation on your own. Speak to friends or family who has been on Hajj or Umrah and enquire about their experience to gather information. Book your travel ahead of time to avoid disappointment and it’s best to make payment via debit/ credit card so you maintain a legit paper trial.
Doctors letter to carry medication
Ask your GP for a letter listing your current medicines for immigration purposes
Keep and carry all medicines in their original packaging in your hand luggage along with a printed copy of your prescription.
Be aware that certain types of medication, such as morphine-based drugs, might be restricted in Saudi Arabia.
Check with the Saudi Arabia foreign embassy if you are unsure
Boost your immunity
Meningococcal and Influenza vaccinations
The Saudi Ministry of Health recommends that all individuals traveling for Umrah/ Minor Pilgrimage should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza and meningococcal disease. Those at high risk are pregnant women, children under 5 years, the elderly, and individuals with underlying health conditions. Individuals who have not gotten a meningococcal vaccine in the last 3 years are also required to get the vaccine. Here are the common diseases that can affect travelers to the Middle East.
It was previously reported that the Saudi authorities would accept only four types of vaccines, namely Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna. However, since July 2021 new announcements have been made that the Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccine would be accepted with the condition pilgrims complete a booster dose of an accepted vaccine.
Get physically fit
The Umrah pilgrimage involves walking many miles and can be strenuous, even for the fittest individual. Before going to Umrah, try to walk as much as you can so that you can build stamina for walking. You should start this routine at least 4 - 6 weeks before your trip. Walking for 30 to 40 minutes daily builds stamina. During peak seasons your walking distance may increase due to lesser availability of transport or larger groups of people, making your circuit larger.
Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies ought to be a part of your daily diet to build up stamina and boost immunity. The best way to boost immunity is to increase the intake of green vegetables and fiber-containing fruits. Eat food that is freshly cooked and free from exposure to insects and pollution while on your trip. Choose snacks and drinks like nuts, yogurt, dried fruit, or fresh fruit juices if you get hungry between meals. Remember to always stay hydrated when walking in the heat to avoid dehydration and other complications.
Health and safety while traveling
Practice good hygiene habits and stay safe
It is important to follow good hygiene measures including regularly washing your hands and disposing of used masks and gloves safely. Avoid meetings and being around people who are sick to avoid the risk of getting ill. Don’t share what you are drinking or eating because the germs are transmitted from person to person. These practices should be followed both while you are in Malaysia or the holy land.
Traveling with Medication
If you take prescribed medication, make sure you have enough supply to cover the duration of your trip, and a little extra supply to allow for unforeseen delays. Sufferers of asthma, usually experience an increase in symptoms during Umrah due to overcrowding and coming into contact with people who are coughing, pollution from vehicles, as well as a sudden temperature change. Ensure you have your medication or inhaler with you at all times.
Consult with a GP
You may benefit from having a general health check-up with your GP or specialist to ensure you are in good health and that any known health conditions are stable before you travel. It is best to ensure you receive treatment to manage any health conditions if any at least 3 months before your departure. Contact Doctor Anywhere to speak to a doctor from the comfort of your home to address your concerns and to have peace of mind.
Take a first aid kit with you
Your first aid kit should include cold and flu relief drugs, pain-relief tablets, travel sickness medications, cough syrups/throat lozenges, diarrhea, tablets, bandages, fragrance-free sunblock, cotton, antiseptic cream, muscle pain relief creams, oral rehydration salt sanitizers, and antibiotics. In light of COVID-19 precautionary guidelines, also carry masks and sanitizer bottles.
Apart from these essential documents and items, you should have the following items prepared and ready for your trip.
Emergency contact numbers
When Umrah is not recommended for you
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Health has advised the following people are exempt from Umrah religious duties as it can be physically exhausting.
Senior citizens over the age of
65 years and above
Those with severe health conditions such as heart, kidney, liver, or lung disease
Those with cancer or any other
People with conditions causing confusion or affecting memory, including dementia
Although traveling to any part of the world carries certain health risks, embarking on Umrah poses several additional challenges due to the hot climate, the strenuous nature of its rites as well as the gathering of large crowds. Being aware of what to expect and preparing for your trip sufficiently can effectively minimize your chances of getting injured or falling ill during your journey. Doctor Anywhere Malaysia is your partner for all your medical needs; whether you need to consult a doctor, do your health screening, get a medication refill, or get your required vaccinations before your travel, we have your back.