Tips For Choosing a Hajj Package
Hajj, which purifies the man of all sins, is a very sacred journey whose spiritual aspect can be obscured in the face of logistical problems. Therefore, choosing the “perfect” hajj package is essential to allow you to focus on the spiritual aspect of the trip wholeheartedly.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a hajj package:
1. Choosing an agency registered with the Ministry of Hajj rather than a sub-agent increases the chances of a smooth trip. Registered agencies are more aware of the latest visa processing rules and regulations, can contact the Ministry of Hajj to solve a problem, are accountable to the Ministry if pilgrims make a complaint and are more resourceful in making arrangements on airlines , hotel and transport. They are also cheaper because travel arrangements to Saudi Arabia can only be made by authorized agencies. Sub agents must purchase services from these agencies and then sell the package at a mark-up price.
2. Despite all the benefits of the licensed agents mentioned above, you can choose a subagent if you have heard of it. All authorized agents may not provide good service while some secondary agents are very professional. Therefore you should choose a supplier of hajj packages based on the references.
3. The company of an experienced and experienced guide in your group is required. Regardless of the amount of information you have accumulated from books and lessons, you may face questions that you hadn’t anticipated before. It is also important to know if the travel agency seeks advice from their guide. For logistical reasons, some agents may plan to leave for Arafat and Muzdalifah earlier than the time recommended by Islamic law. Choosing an agency that plans the trip under a respectable imam can mitigate the risks of taking shortcuts or going against the Sunnah.
4. Be sure to check that the Imam will do the hajj with the pilgrims from the package you have selected. It is difficult to contact the Imam if you are in another hotel, travel in a different bus or live in a different tent in Mina than yours. This problem is particularly common with agencies offering a large variety of packages under the guidance of one or two imams.
5. Having a female guide would be of further benefit to the sisters who go on pilgrimage.
6. It is helpful to check whether the travel agency has a full-time employee in the United States and Saudi Arabia. The more an agency relies on external resources, the more likely it is to suffer mismanagement. In addition, the longer an agency has provided Hajj services, the more equipped it is to provide an organized service.
7. Most Hajj packages advertise the fare from New York to Jeddah. If you live elsewhere, be sure to include the cost of the national airfare to New York when choosing a package. Also add the cost of the Hajj and Zabiha taxes to get an estimate of the exact amount you will spend per person.
8. Accommodation on a convenient site is very useful. Hotels near Haram and Masjid-e- Nabwi is more important than the number of stars of a hotel as it would reduce travel times, save energy for worship and save time by not having to queue for wudu or use the toilets. In some cases it may be better to share your room with 4 people in a hotel near Haram and not share the room with another person but at a greater distance from the Haram. In addition, the hotel ratings conform to Saudi government standards which are different from the American hotel classification standards.
9. Don’t worry too much if an hajj package doesn’t offer Mecca and Medina meals. There are many options around Haram for eating and drinking between prayer times, but it may take a long time to wait in line. Hotel buffets could be a time saver or a great distraction, as people can often spend a lot of time socializing too much. However, it is good to receive food in Mina and Arafat as options will be limited. If you’re running Hajj with the family, it may be best to choose a package that offers meals on the go.
10. Choosing hajj packages that land first in Medina can save time spent on immigration lines. Pilgrims who land in Jedda can experience 14-18 hours of immigration before leaving for Mecca. However, choosing the package where pilgrims land in Jeddah opens up many more flight options and can be cheaper. The same goes for leaving Saudi Arabia. Medina as a port of entry or exit could save a lot of time.
11. Ask the agent about Mina’s tent location. VIP tents are mostly (if not all) within walking distance of Jamarat. However, regular tents in the North American camp are a 50-minute walk from Jamarat each way. In fact, some tents are not even mounted in Mina. They are located beyond the huge signs that say “Mina ends here”!
12. Hajj packages that promise access to private apartments during your stay in Mina are an advantage. Mina tents are small with enough space for people to sleep. Pilgrims can then leave their luggage in their rooms during their stay in Mina. It also opens up the possibility of using the bathrooms and showers in the room and not those set up in the Mina camp.
13. Hajj packages that offer a free shuttle service from Mina to Haram can help you save money. Taxi fares increase exponentially during Mina days. Attracted by the profits, a number of people come from other cities to work as taxi drivers and may even get lost while trying to drive pilgrims to Haram. Buses, although cheaper, take a long time to arrive. Therefore a shuttle service provided by your agent would be faster and free.
14. Most hajj packages distribute SIM cards. This too could save time. Otherwise you may have to wait in line to get a SIM card.
Consider these logistical problems while choosing the perfect hajj package, it will hopefully cut your mundane worries about performing hajj and allow you to focus on your cult for the content of your heart.