Step 1: Physical Prep
- Get in shape. You will walk, walk and walk some more. Some people recommend walking regularly in the weeks before Hajj to build endurance.
- Boost your immunity. Travelling from the U.S. takes a huge toll: long plane rides, layovers, and a wait anywhere from 2 – 12hrs at the Jeddah airport. So indulge in fruits and veggies while in the U.S., especially those rich in antioxidants. Stay away from sick people as best as you can during the trip. One friend started taking a teaspoon of honey regularly in her tea. A few people wore a surgeon’s mask throughout the trip. Although it may seem mean, don’t share your water bottles or share prayer mats. You might still get sick, but take whatever precautions you can.
- Pace yourself upon arrival. Try to balance between resting and making the most of your time in Makkah and Madina. You don’t want to wear yourself out before going to Mina, but at the same time you want to earn good deeds in the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah.
- Preventive care. Take medicine as soon as you feel sick, but avoid taking antibiotics unless or until you have been diagnosed with a bacterial infection. Ricola cough drops are excellent. It is a good idea to take several packs because people will ask you for some. Everyone gets the ‘Hajj cough’. Use lemon, honey, orange juice, etc. Take Vitamin C supplements regularly during the trip—don’t wait till you get sick to start this!
- Gather your supplies. Make a list before travelling so that you don’t forget anything. Make a specific list for the days of Hajj before you leave for Mina (i.e. stuff you will pack in your backpack)
- Take your ‘worship tools’ to use during the waiting time. A lot of times people find themselves without anything to do during the long stretches. Come prepared with a Qur`an, seerah (biography of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him) book, or dhikr (remembrance/prayer) beads.
- Write down a few du`a (supplications) for yourself that you can memorize or repeat frequently. Sometimes you will be too tired to remember so keep a small notebook on hand. Also, you can write down some notes or reflections that will help preserve the experience.
- Stay energized. You need to keep hydrated—drink Zamzam (water from the well of Zamzam in Mecca) but also take snacks and energy bars. Some programs do not serve lunch so healthy snacks will help hold you till dinner. If you don’t like the food at the hotel, don’t complain. There are plenty of places to eat at the malls and hotels. Avoid anything that doesn’t seem clean and anything that you know makes your stomach upset.