Whilst I was packing for our Umrah trip, I still couldn’t believe that my call had come. The Almighty (Allah swt) had chosen me and my family to visit his house, finally!. So much happiness was gushing inside me, my emotions were running high. Am I really going? I kept asking myself. Feeling blessed was an understatement, and for anyone planning there trip to Umrah, It should be! Mecca and Madinah are the 2 most beautiful places my eyes have ever witnessed and my heart has ever felt. So if your planning your trip to perform Umrah, then this blog post is for you. Il break down step by step how we performed our Umrah, not just on our own but how we managed to perform our Umrah with a toddler and an infant! YES ITS DOABLE!
I remember people telling me don’t do it… travelling with a toddler and infant?? Are you out of your mind.. How will you pray? You wont be able to focus. Why are you even taking your kids, wait till they grow up then go.
Yes.. these were the ‘not so positive’ comments I got when me and my husband were planning our pilgrimage trip to Saudi Arabia.
Did it stop us though? Nope! We travelled in October 2019. Hands down the best decision ever made. October was the first month to open up for Umrah 2019 after the closure for Hajj. It’s one of the quietest times to travel and since we were travelling with young children it felt like the right time to do so. I felt when planning this trip I was under a lot of pressure for taking my kids along, going against the norms or breaking the rules or atleast something like that. Most people were shocked to hear that we would be taking our 2.5 year old and 8 month old along and all I can say to that is IM GLAD I DID! Experiencing the most beautiful place on earth with your loved ones is such a surreal experiance, a memory, a moment which will last forever in our hearts. Me and my husband didn’t think twice about arranging childcare, we packed their bags too.
Lets get straight into the nitty gritty on how our journey was…
October the 1st – flight departure at 4:15pm. We chose to travel direct from Manchester (United Kingdom) to Jeddah (Saudia Arabia) via Saudi airlines One Word – They were amazing! As we boarded they greeted us with such friendliness. It was the first time travelling with this airline and I must say we as a family were fully impressed. The hospitality, friendliness, service were 10 on 10. (not sponsored haha, just honest truth). My toddler was made to feel so special that he was boarding his first flight ever and was kept entertained through out. Boarding with children is a bonus as you get to fast track through a lot of places. Lets rewind a little so I can explain what I mean. When going through the airport security check ins, it can take AGES! However if your travelling with a child or children under the age of 2 years , then my lovelies, TAKE ADVANTAGE. Airports have a normal queue and a fast track queue. Let the airport security know you have a little one, they will happily escort you into the fast track lane where your not waiting around and are seen as priority until boarding. Great right!
Back on the plane, as we took our seats it was time for take off and my 8 month old literally didnt take long before she fell asleep during it. (I will be posting a blog on what I packed for my little ones too, and how we managed flight takeoff without any upset tummys and ears…stay tuned)
The journey was 5hrs50mins to be precise. It felt like a breeze. If your travelling straight to mecca first then its most likely you will be performing Umrah first thing as you land. Yes we did just that. 1 hour upon landing the flight captain will announce a crossing zone called Miqat. It’s a boundary point from where pilgrims make their intention that they are to perform Umrah and from that moment they enter a state of ihram. We entered into ihram an hour before landing and prayed 2 nafl to seal the deal. Saudia Airlines have a space in the back of the plane where a pilgrim can pray there nafl or any prayers they wish to do so. Its such a nice thing to consider and I was very impressed. Entering the state of ihram made me feel so light and sin free already, I began to think how amazing I’d feel once I’d performed Umrah, oh my! The feeling is so surreal, its definitely a beauty to experience.
Upon entering the state of ihram, the pilgrim can start reciting the Talbiya (Labbayka llāhumma labbayk(a), labbayka lā sharīka laka labbayk(a), inna l-ḥamda wa n-ni’mata, laka wa l-mulk(a), lā sharīka lak.) This was recited by our dear Prophet (saw) until entering masjid ul haram.
Landing in Jeddah
12.30am – we landed in Jeddah. Upon landing I’d made sure that I had fed both my toddler and infant. Knowing Jeddah airport it can take a while getting through security and passport control before we reach the hotel, so I made sure I was prepared. Travelling with kids isn’t easy but can be if you PRE-PLAN. Don’t leave things last minute as it will just cause chaos, and you really don’t want that. Tantrums on the plane because their hungry or upset, because they can’t find their favourite toy, that’s a NO NO .. Organise your bag so you have plenty of snacks and toys in reach to keep them entertained. Change their diapers if they are in diapers on time! Most importantly keep their belly’s full so that way their happy and content. My toddler is a Type 1 diabetic (https://businesswithcoffee.com/type-1-diabetes-got-my-19-month-year-old-son/) so for me time management is most important. I made sure his blood sugars were checked continuously and he was fed during flight to keep his levels fine. My infant is a healthy bubbly formula fed baby. She just needed to be fed on time and it was all happy games.
Once landed my husband held the infant and I hand-held my toddler and the hand luggage. Jeddah aiport wasn’t the best experience if im honest. Although the aiport was super quiet and almost empty, the airport security still took what felt like forever to check our passports and let us pass through passport control. Then to top it up, they released the baggage almost 2 hours after landing. Regardless of the fact that we were stuck at the aiport for 2 hours waiting for luggage, the fact that we were in the state of ihram really helped us maintain our cool. Everyone there was just so calm and with the help of Allah (swt) even the kids did not get agitated for a single second. Alhamdullilah.
We already had our taxi pre-booked with the travel agency we used for Umrah. It was waiting for us as we left the airport to take us to the hotel. Let me know in the comment section below if you would like to know who we used. They are based in Manchester and sorted out a good package for the 4 of us.
The journey from Jeddah airport to our Makkah hotel took just over 1 hour. The hotel we chose to stay in was the 5 star Hilton Suites Jabal Omar. Main reason for this was due to its proximity. It is one of the closest hotels to masjid ul haram with just a 2 minute walking distance from it’s gates to the mosque itself. It’s practically in front If I say, just crossed the road and wa-lah! your in the mosque. The hotel was amazing. I mean the reviews on the net speak for themselves. It literally is a beautiful hotel to stay in. Most hotels around the surroundings of masjid ul haram are either 5 or 4 stars, all within walking distance. The 3 star and below’s fall slightly further away. I’d recommend if travelling with kids or the elderly, then book close. It saves time, especially if your in and out of the mosque after each prayer. My main reason was also diaper change. I wanted to ensure I had a close hotel so I could run back if needed.
Once checked in, we had a 30 minute rest in our hotel room. I fed my kids a snack and some milk as they were both awake and just then we heard our first Azaan. Azaan-e-tahajjud. Oh my! my ears have never felt or heard anything as beautiful. Hearing it on t.v was so different compared to hearing it live, and as our hotel was right outside masjid ul haram we could hear it loud and crystal clear. So beautiful!.
I grabbed my backpack which contained my infants milk, diapers, change of clothes, my toddlers diabetic supplies and some water. Off we went! The hotels concierge approached us to ask if we would like to use their wheelchair for my toddler in case he got tired during Umrah. This was such a sweet gesture and such a money saving blessing. Hiring a wheelchair from the mosque can cost a few riyals, around 20-50 riyals. Purchasing your own from the pharmacy can cost even more! We were lucky the hotel offered to let us borrow theirs.
Entering masjid ul haram
Remember when we entered the state of ihram? on the plane? Yes I mentioned it is recommended as the sunnah of the Prophet (saw) to recite the Talbiya until entering the mosque and beginning tawaf. Yes all that time the Talbiya was on my tongue and how amazing is this, I didn’t even realise. It was like my heart and tongue were both working together to ensure I continued reciting it without feeling any pressure to do so. Like second nature you can say! SubhnaAllah.
Masjid ul haram has 4 main gates to enter and several doors within those where you can enter from. They are all numbered. Just remember the gate that’s closest to your hotel and you won’t get lost. Another easy reminder from where you entered is the Clock Tower. I mean that’s huge and hard to miss. We entered from King Fahad gate.
As you enter the masjid make sure to read the ‘entering mosque dua’. If your anything like me and forgot to learn it (woops), don’t worry. They have it written on the wall outside for you. I was so mesmerised when I entered the mosque. Its so so beautiful. Still couldn’t believe that we were finally here. You have to walk a little further into the mosque before you can see the Kaaba. It’s in the centre on the lower floor. The structure of the mosque is there is a lower floor (where the Kaaba is), a ground floor, (where all people enter from), 2 top floors (extra prayer facilities and space to do tawaf, made for those with wheelchairs) and a roof floor (open roof of the mosque).
I remember walking along the inside of the mosque waiting and waiting to set my eyes on the Kaaba and see it for the first time. The feeling still gives me goose bumps when I think about it. It was literally perfect. We walked for around 2 minutes before we reached the centre of the mosque and there it was! SubhnaAllah the holy Kaaba! None of this world’s beauty can compare to the Holy Kaaba. From seeing it on t.v to finally seeing it with my own real eyes was such a blessing and a moment I could not thank my Allah (swt) enough for. Alhamdullilah. You wouldn’t think a black box building could look or feel so beautiful right? Well you have to see the Kaaba then, because you will be blown away! I just couldn’t take my eyes of the Kaaba. Was it because I knew its my Allah’s home? was it the love I had for my religion which made it feel so beautiful? or was it because its the centre of the world and the only place I first time in my life felt safe! I just don’t know. Comment below if you’ve seen the Kaaba. what was your initial reaction? id love to know!
At this moment I just stared and prayed for what my heart desired. I felt so much inner peace it was unreal. My toddler was literally in Aw! he was so happy to see the Kaaba in real life that he couldn’t stop smiling. We made our way down from the escalators onto the ground floor. And there it was, standing right in front of our eyes. The Holy Kaaba!
We made intention to begin tawaf. This is circulating the Kaaba 7 times. My toddler sat in the wheelchair and I held my infant using a baby carrier. I got my baby carrier from Ebay last minute. It was amazing. She comfortably fell asleep whilst I did my 7 rounds. My husband pushed the wheelchair. I was told pushchairs are not allowed on the ground floor during tawaf whereas wheelchairs are. However this was not the case. They are both technically the same thing infact a pushchair is smaller in size so why wouldn’t it be. For anyone travelling now to Umrah, I’d recommend taking your pushchair if your child is comfortable in it, they are allowed and we didn’t get stopped during our tawafs there even once. As we didn’t know this on our first day we ofcourse opted for the free wheelchair, thanks to Hilton Suites.
When starting your tawaf you start at the Black Stone corner. Beginning with raising your right hand in the air and reciting “Bismilah, Allah hu Akbar x 3 times”. It is all labelled up and marked out to assist first timers so don’t worry if you feel you’ll get lost, you wont!
After completing our 7 rounds we made our way to Makam-e-Ibrahim. This is a golden pillar next to the Kaaba which holds the stone foot prints of prophet Ibrahim a.s. Here one prays 2 nafl. Me and my husband took it in turns. I stood with the kids whilst he prayed and vice versa. After all, team work makes dream work. Bare in mind my kids were fully fed before starting Umrah so they didn’t cry or get agitated during it. My infant actually fell asleep throughout :). Do carry some snacks in case they get tired as it can be abit lengthy for small children, especially this next stage.
After reading our 2 nafl we headed towards the holy water. Zam Zam water. Oh wow it’s so delicious. You have to drink some Zam Zam water before beginning Sai (safa-marwa). We nourished ourselves with a lot of water and I fed the kids too. We felt so energised and pure, it was amazing.
Then next comes Sai (the walk between Safa and Marwa). This is the 5th stage of the Umrah. Il break it down for you:
1st stage – Ihram and Talbiya
2nd stage – Tawaf (7 rounds around the Kaaba)
3rd stage – 2 nafl behind Makam-e-Ibrahim or anywhere in the mosque is accepted too
4th stage – drink Zam Zam water
5th stage – Sai (safa and marwa)
6th stage – haircut
Sai is around the distance of 2.5miles. You begin walking from mount Safa to mount Marwa and do that 7 times back and forth. From this moment me and my husband switched child duties. He strapped the infant to himself in the baby carrier as she was asleep. I took the responsibility of pushing the wheelchair along with my toddler in it for the 7 rounds. This is a good time to hand some snacks to your children if they start moaning a little due to tiredness. A pack of crisps or some biscuits usually does the trick. My husband finished Sai before me and we both met at mount Marwa as that’s where it ends. We then made our way to the barber shop. He needed a full head shave whereas I just needed a little trim. The barber shops are located in several places, best to ask a local and they will direct you. We found one just near the clock tower mall and straight after we headed back to our hotel room for a shower and some sleep. Our whole Umrah from stage 2 to 6 took us around 1 hour 30 minutes. I think that’s pretty impressive considering we had young kids with us too. It’s totally doable and so rewarding too. Now that we had performed our Umrah that’s it. We had the remaining days to just pray, sight see and chill, a relaxing holiday you can say.
If your planning Umrah with your littles ones, honestly go for it. Allah swt will help you along the journey and make it super easy for you just like he did for us. Alhamdulilah!
Until next time, take care my lovelies .xxx