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10 Things to Consider Before Traveling Internationally as a Muslim

Traveling can be an enriching experience because it exposes you to different cultures, languages, food, and helps you meet people you probably wouldn’t have had the chance to meet before. But when traveling, it is important to do research on your destination. The list of things to know before traveling may become a little longer if you’re a Muslim. So here are ten things for Muslim travelers to consider before traveling.

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1. Cost
It is a must to think about the overall cost of your trip before planning. If it isn’t in your budget, it probably should be on your list just yet. Some of the costs you will encounter for a travel experience will include visa (if applicable), the cost of transportation to the destination (i.e. plane, cruise, bus, train, etc), the cost of the hotel or place you’d be staying, food, local transportation, leisure/amusement (especially if you have children), and probably more, depending on what you plan on doing and for how long you’d be there.

2. Politics
There are many countries around the world with political unrest. It’s a sad reality because everyone deserves to live in safety, but that doesn’t always happen. You wouldn’t want to be unexpectedly caught up in the middle of chaos. In addition, not every country is Muslim-friendly, so keep that in mind before planning your travel.

3. Documents
If you’re traveling internationally, having a current (not expired) passport would be crucial. Depending on your passport, you may not have the green light to just go to a new country without a visa. Some passports such as American, British, and Canadian open doors to many other countries because of the special diplomatic relationship they may have with those countries. So make sure to visit your embassy’s website to check if you would be required to get a visa.

4. Healthcare
Try to have an idea of the specific health concerns of the country and take precautions accordingly if required. Your embassy may be the best place to get such information. You can also ask those who have been there before.
If you’re planning on making your destination your new home (i.e. hijrah), then getting information about the country’s healthcare system may be important. Helpful questions to keep in mind will be:
“Will my family and I be covered if I work at this company?
Do non-residents or non-citizens get free healthcare?
How much is the healthcare system for expats or immigrants?”

5. Culture 

Learning a little about the culture of the country you plan on visiting is important. People have different ways of living, have different belief systems, and will probably have specific traditions that may be completely foreign to you. Even if you go to a Muslim-populated country, don’t expect to understand everything you see. You may share the same religion, but it doesn’t mean you would necessarily share the same culture. Be open-minded and respectful, even if you disagree with the local customs.

6. Language
There are hundreds of languages around the world. So always make sure you have an idea of the local language of the country you plan on visiting. If it’s a completely different language, try to see if you could go with someone who speaks the language, meet someone locally who can help interpret and guide you, or just give yourself time to learn the language. Regardless of what you decide, it is important to make an effort to learn at least a few important words and phrases of the local language. It shows respect and consideration for the locals, it would make life a little easier for you, help you be more independent, and give you a chance to mix with the locals.

7. Masjid/Place of Prayer
This one is especially crucial for men because they are either required or recommended to pray at the masjid. But having any place of prayer is also important. For example, if you go to a mall with your family and the time for salah/prayer comes, would there easily be a place where you could all pray? That’s readily available in some countries, but not so much in others.

8. Transportation
Once in the country, how do you plan on moving around? Do you plan on renting a car, taking taxis/Uber, or using public transportation such as a train or bus? Try to find out how the local transportation system works.

9. Halal Food

If you’re used to seeing halal grocery stores and restaurants where you live, you may not understand that not everyone has that luxury. There are many countries and cities where finding halal food is like climbing a mountain. So keep that in mind before traveling.

10. Weather 
Many people don’t usually think about this one, but depending on where you plan to go, it may be crucial to know about the local weather. The weather in some countries are extremely hot almost year-round, and there are some countries that are extremely cold. Also, there are other countries where the rainy season is very long. Having an idea of the weather will prepare you to dress accordingly or cross the country off the list if you don’t think you could bear the weather.

No matter where you want to go and how long you plan on staying there, always make extensive research before making a move. It will also help to talk to people who live in those countries or have been there before. Make clear your purpose for traveling because depending on your reason, you may find different information. The internet is full of information, so take advantage of it while still taking your precautions.

Umm Sumayyah
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