Most Muslims prefer to stay close to home during the holy month of Ramadan, because traveling can be physically and mentally exhausting even when you’re not fasting.
But if for some reason or another you must travel during this time, here are some useful tips to help you prepare:
1. Time it right
For short journeys, pick a flight that departs after iftar and lands before sahur so that you won’t need to travel while fasting.
If that’s not possible, then try to time your departure and arrival so that you won’t have to have sahur or break fast mid-flight.
2. Know when to break fast
While in transit, you don’t need to adhere to the fasting times of your departure or arrival country. For example, if you’re on an airplane, you should break fast when you see the sun set from your current location. As long as night has fallen where you are, you’re good.
If you happen to be someplace with unusually long days (Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, clocks in around 20 hours of daylight in the summer! 😵), it’s recommended that you follow the fasting hours of Saudi Arabia, where Mecca is. You can also follow the schedule of your home country – if you usually begin your fast at around 5.30am and break fast at 7.30pm, then stick to those hours).
3. Pack emergency iftar/sahur snacks
Unforeseen circumstances can crop up at any time, from delayed flights to traffic jams, so you might find yourself having to grab a quick bite to eat for iftar or sahur while on the go. For these instances, pack some easy-to-carry snacks like a bag of nuts, dates, granola or a cereal bar. A pack of biscuits and a juicebox also works.
4. Plan ahead
In Surah Al-Anfal, it’s said that “Allah is the Best of planners”, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework. Be sure to do the necessary research and plan ahead as much as possible so that you’ll arrive prepared.
Stick to a light and flexible itinerary so you don’t get too tired and figure out where the nearest mosques or prayer areas are to where you’ll be so you won’t have to wander around looking for them.
5. Don’t skip sahur
We know it can be tempting to sleep through sahur if you’re feeling tired, but that’s the last thing you should do – it’s equivalent to starting a long road trip with your car’s fuel tank on low.
Once you’ve reached your destination, head to the nearest supermarket or 24-hour convenience store to stock up on foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread with peanut butter, as well as bottles of plain drinking water. Fruits are also a good option.
6. Make friends with fellow Muslims
It’s always a welcome feeling to be surrounded by your Muslim brothers and sisters, especially during Ramadan. Find out whether there’s a Muslim community where you’ll be or choose a place to stay that’s near a mosque. Join the Tarawih prayers and experience the local Muslim community first-hand.
You’re likely to find halal eateries nearby or you can ask around for suggestions on where to break fast – you may even be invited for iftar in someone’s home! Some mosques even provide sahur or iftar meals for free.
7. Download handy Muslim-friendly apps
Our handphones have become an extension of us, so make full use of yours by downloading some useful Muslim-friendly apps that can help you in your travels. There are all kinds of apps available these days, from one that keeps track of prayer times and can show you the Qibla to Quran apps so that you can keep up with your reading for Ramadan.
8. To fast or not to fast?
“(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later.” – [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:185]
This is a last-resort kind of option, but Islam has a special concession whereby it’s not compulsory for travelers to fast. So don’t force yourself if you’re finding it physically difficult. However, you’ll have to make up for any days you skipped fasting once Ramadan is over (and before the next one comes around).
Safe travels and happy fasting wherever you are! Make your trip go even smoother by booking your flights and hotel stay on Traveloka.