From the moment you plan your travel to the moment you come back home, travelling as a hijabi is completely different from any non-hijabi traveller’s experience. Your hijab makes you stand out as it gives away your cultural identity on the spot.
However intimidating it can be, it’s not just about attracting a few awkward stares though. It’s about making a beautiful statement and showing your friendly attitude towards local people and fellow travelers, and… enjoying the trip! We are all travelling human beings after all! 🙂
Since I’m often asked how “I’m doing it” anyway, here are a few simple tips to make travelling in your headscarf an easier and a better experience for you!
Choose the right accommodation
Before you set off, do your homework and collect as much information about the local places to stay as you can! Ask your friends or simply do a lot of research online and choose a place which meets all your travelling expectations. If you’re travelling alone, you would obviously want to be staying in an area that’s safe and Muslim-friendly.
Plan your outfits in advance
When it comes to planning your outfits, do keep versatile pieces that can be used in different ways. For instance, a crew neck tunic that can be worn as a top with jeans and you can also tuck it in with a skirt for a completely new look. Or a maxi dress that can also be transformed into a skirt by wearing a shirt over it.
This way you’ll need to carry fewer outfits and make your trip stress-free. If you feel that you’ll have trouble remembering all these different combinations, take some selfies as reminders!
Respect the cultural norms
When travelling to a place where the environment isn’t very welcoming for hijabis, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable and it’s completely okay to change your hijab style or make it less visible by wearing a hat or a hoodie. If you’re advised by the locals or the tour guides to not visit a certain place with your hijab then don’t ignore their advice and make the right decision for your own safety.
Open up to others
One of the first things I learned when I started travelling is that a hijabi cannot be narrow-minded, arrogant and ignorant towards others. People sometimes don’t understand that you’re another traveler, just like them. If someone seems curious or even nervous about your hijab and faith, then don’t be hesitant and initiate a conversation yourself so they’re able to see beneath the hijab and get to know the wonderful person that you are.
Helping the other tourists or locals is a great way to initiate friendship too and this can start from the simplest things like offering to take a picture of someone who’s struggling to do so. Remember that travelling is a great opportunity for any Muslim to shatter the negative stereotypes around.
Don’t forget to update your family or friends
It’s important for hijabi travellers, especially the ones travelling solo, to keep someone in their family or friends updated of the chosen accommodation and the places that they’ll be visiting. Even a quick facebook check-in will do! It’s also a good idea to keep your hosts or the hotel staff updated about your whereabouts for the day.
Don’t pack things you don’t need
Don’t carry stuff that you think you won’t need. While this rule applies to every traveller, in case of hijabis, it is especially important because our modest outfits, hijabs and abayas obviously take up a lot more space as compared to a non-hijabi sister. So always pack smartly by planning your outfits for everyday before hand.
Don’t assume too much on the way
While it’s only natural to ask for help when we need assistance, don’t take it personally when somebody refuses to give you a hand. People have their own errands to run and they may be simply too pressed for time to help you out. It’s not necessarily about the headscarf you’re wearing!
Don’t leave your prayer essentials at home
If you’re a strict observer of prayer and prefer to perform them on time, then do keep a small prayer mat and a compass in your handbag at all times. It’s always good to be self-sufficient in this manner, even if you’re travelling to a Muslim country, as you may wish to stay flexible and comfortable throughout.
The Must Do’s
This is pretty simple, you must have fun! Consider yourself privileged to be a hijabi and even luckier to be travelling, this isn’t a combination that everyone is blessed with. So make the most out of your time and make memories that will last forever.
Once you’re done with your trip, reflect on the things you learnt, how you could have improved the experience, the things you did rightly or wrongly, and do share all this with not just your friends and family, but also other hijabi sisters so that they can also learn and be inspired from your experiences. Happy travelling!