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  • Muslim Travel Etiquette: How to Travel Responsibly

    The subject of being "Responsible" reminds me of a Hadith that states: "All of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects, the man is a guardian of his family, the woman is a guardian and is responsible for her husband's house and his offspring, and so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects." (Bukhari & Muslim) This Hadith sets a notion that all of us will be responsible for our actions and the things that are in our control. All of our actions will be accounted for hence it is important for us as Muslims to always do the right things. The act of traveling is highly encouraged in Islam thus it takes a responsible traveler to uphold the true essence of embarking on a journey. Here are some ways for us to be a responsible traveler! 1) Set the right intentions Islam sets the utmost importance in setting our intentions right before we set out on any act. This can be seen through the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. that says "The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention." (Bukhari) A simple everyday act of eating if intended for the sake of Allah s.w.t will be considered as worship to Allah. Similar applies to the act of traveling. You should set a greater purpose for traveling. It is permissible for us to travel for leisure and holiday. On top of that, you should take this opportunity to appreciate the greatness of His creations through exploring, observing, visiting, learning and studying. This is enjoined in the Al-Quran as stated in Surah Al-Haj verse 46, "So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear?" Set the intentions right and you will be rewarded for your travel, In syaa Allah.   2) Learn more about the culture of the respective countries Before traveling, do read up and research on the culture of the respective countries that you will be visiting. Prior reading allows you to be mentally prepared and adjust to the surroundings better. It is important to respect differences of cultures and accept diversity. Learn the basic language like saying "Hello" and "Thank you" so that you can still engage in conversations. Have the courtesy to ask before taking pictures and avoid using any inappropriate language or body language to show any uneasiness. Do everything respectfully and you will be respected as a guest.   3) Complete your tasks and responsibilities Whether you are a working adult or a student, ensure that all pending tasks are duly done. For every task that you have been assigned to is an Amanah and it is expected of you to do it to the best of your ability. If your absence is going to affect others (eg: your colleague, family members) then do advice them accordingly. This is a basic courtesy that you can offer others while you are absent. If you are leaving behind a family for long, do put in check that their needs are taken care of. This way you too can enjoy your holiday when you have ticked off all checklist!   4) Plan your schedule around the prayer timings Wherever you are, do not forget that you have the obligations to the Almighty to fulfill. Prayers should not be left behind in the name of travel. In fact, there are concessions (Rukhsah) in prayers that you can perform during travel. You may choose to combine Zohor and Asar prayers, and Maghrib and Isyak prayers together. You can also shorten the 4 Rakaah prayers to 2 Rakaah. Hence, there must be enough effort to ensure that your prayer timings are taken care of during the journey. Research on the places that allow you to perform the prayer. Search for nearby Masjid, Musolla, amenities that can be used if available. May He ease your journey!   5) Leave no trace behind Tempted to throw your rubbish by the roadside when there is no rubbish bin to be found? Think twice. Do your part in keeping the country clean and refrain from doing any more pollution to nature. Keep a small rubbish bag in your backpack so that you can keep them first and throw out later when you see a nearby rubbish chute. Minimize the usage of plastic bottles, cups or cutlery. Bring your water bottle and reusable cutlery when eating out. It is also part of the ethics as a Muslim to keep oneself clean and also the environment as cleanliness is part of our Iman.   6) Take care of the wildlife Going on that elephant ride? Wish to take a photo with the tiger? Think again if the act brings more harm than good. Ensure that the wildlife park that you are visiting is registered with proper governmental authorities. Avoid activities that cause danger to wildlife and nature. As the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. has mentioned: "There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm".   7) Support local businesses Local businesses are critical to the economies of a country. Support them by purchasing and eating locally. Supporting them also would mean that you are directly injecting revenue into the economy and also providing the locals with job opportunities. Do not underestimate the small action that you take because you never know which lives could impact from this very small act. Didn't Islam encourage us to help each other as long as it is a righteous deed?As mentioned earlier, we need to travel responsibly as it is part of our ethics as Muslims to take full responsibility for our actions and things that are in our control. Apart from that, we must also realize that Allah s.w.t has created the mankind to be the vicegerent (Khalifah) on this Earth as mentioned in the Quran "And (mention, O Muhammad), when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority." (2:30) Hence it is important to understand the role of human mankind is to maintain the law and order among all living and non-living things. May He ease our journeys; both the travel and trying to be a responsible traveler! Amin!...

  • 7 Reasons Why You Should Go on a Solo Journey

    What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of travel? Are you thinking about all the fun things you could do with your family and friends? If your answer is yes, perhaps you should consider venturing through a destination alone instead.Rest assured, embarking on a solo journey could be one of the best decisions you make for yourself. In case you're not totally convinced, here are 7 reasons why you travel by yourself at least once in your lifetime.   1) Make new friends Photo by Jaime Reimer from Pexels One of the biggest misconceptions is that solo traveling is only meant for people who have no friends. It's not! Solo traveling is meant for anyone and everyone looking to embark on an exciting journey with a peace of mind. Instead of going to a destination with your own group of friends, why not make friends at your destination? There are so many things you can learn from people living in other regions of the world. This includes their culture, cuisines, history, societal norms; etc. More so, this will serve as a great opportunity for you (especially introverts!) to break out of your shell and foster new friendships with people you never thought you'd be friends with.  You've only got one life to live with 7 billion other people so why not make full use of your time and get to know as many people as possible? Indeed, traveling solo is full of surprises. Who knows you might find your long-lost partner at your destination!   2) Everything will go your way Photo by from Pexels Solo travelers are generally more flexible in their trip planning process as they need not worry about accomodating the needs of anyone else's except their own. This means no arguments about where to go first or which places you don't want to visit, because everything is in your control. If you wish to leave your hotel room at 12 noon so you can spend more time getting a good night's rest and choosing your outfit the next morning, then you can do just that! After all, you're the boss!   3) Be more self-disciplined Photo by Josh Hild from Pexels Indeed, traveling solo is a great way to push you out of your comfort zone. As you can only depend on yourself, day-to-day activities like waking up on time, cooking food and washing your own clothes and dishes must be done by you and you only! This is a great practice especially for those who wish to lead a more independent lifestyle and want to quit being so lazy. Besides this, as traveling solo is an accomplishment in itself, you might feel even more eager to achieve more things throughout the course of your journey. This includes participating in thrilling activities like riding roller coasters or tasting spicy food for the first time. Who knows what you're capable of?   4) More time for self-reflection Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from PexelsAnother perk of solo travel is that you get more me time. More time on your hands means more time for self-reflection. Some of us may find ourselves diving deep in thought and questioning things such as who we are, what our strengths and shortcomings are, what our purpose in this life is, how we will benefit from this solo journey and how we've interacted with the people around us thus far.Ultimately, self-reflection will serve to be very useful for you it the long run as it helps you become a better, improved version of yourself overall.   5) Build your confidence Photo by fabioretratos from Pexels As a wise men once said, "With great power, comes great responsibility." Likewise, as solo travel is so liberating and gives you the power and freedom to do anything you want, you must act responsibly. For instance, staying up past 12 the night prior to going on a hiking trip will only make you regret the next the next morning. By realising this, you will keep watch of your sleeping schedule and ensure you get enough rest the next day.Besides sleeping, other forms of responsible acts include limiting your unhealthy food intake while overseas, ironing your clothes the day before leaving your hotel and researching on Halal-certified food places near your area (Psst! Our HalalTrip app can help you find all the best Halal food places near you in one click!)   6) Gain valuable learning experiences Photo by Follow Alice from Pexels Yes, traveling with loved ones will also benefit you greatly as you learn new things with them. However, what differentiates solo traveling from group traveling is that you get to learn everything at your own pace and time. For example, while visiting a museum, you do not have to rush through reading the signs detailing the history of artefacts because after all, you are in-charge!   7) Be more money-savvy! Photo by from Pexels Next is finance. Traveling alone requires you to pay for your food and transportation costs. This means no more relying on your parents or friends as a safety net if you ever run out of cash. Solo travel teaches you to spend your money wisely and not to splurge unnecessarily. Being money-savvy is an important trait everyone should exercise because it eases your worries when you keep track of how much money you're spending. So what are you waiting for? Go book your ticket to any destination of your choice and embark on your first solo journey! Our travel packages could help give you some ideas. Tell us how it was too, we can't wait to hear your responses!...

  • Check Out Our Ideas And Tips For A Muslim-friendly Camping Trip Before You Start Packing!

    Young people have an appetite for trying new things. Camping out in the wilderness is one of them. However, what most first timers do not know is that camping isn't simply about packing your things and setting up a camp in the middle of nowhere. It requires a lot of planning and decision-making. You have to decide where to go for a camping trip, whether the location you chose is warm or cold, what you're bringing and most importantly, how you're gonna keep yourself safe. Here are some of the most important things that one should ponder over while planning a camping trip. Top 10 Glamorous Camping Spots In Asia 1) Legality The most important thing to keep in mind is that it's not always legal to camp out or ignite fire at certain places. You might have to face legal consequences if you break them. For instance, igniting a fire in the woods may be regarded as arson and you might even have to face jail time if caught. 2) Managing food items If you're camping with a large group then there will probably be people with different choices and special diets which you'd have to consider. For those who are vegetarian, vegetarian BBQ is a good option, a lot of people who are unaware of this might ask, "Is a vegetarian BBQ even a thing?" and the short answer for that would be yes. Do remember to buy meat from Halal butchers before you head to the camp so you can create a meaty muslim-friendly BBQ when you're there. 3) Keep yourself hydrated If you are not camping near a river where the water supply is unlimited, you have to remember to bring a lot of filled water bottles. There is a good chance that there would not be any shops in the jungle to purchase water so better come fully prepared. Camping requires a lot of energy thus keeping yourself hydrated is really crucial. If you are left with no water supply during the camp trip, it's best to start making your way out of the campsite and head home. 4) Temperature Remember to do your research before you head to your campsite. It's very important for you to know the weather conditions and temperature of the desired location so that you can prepare accordingly. If you're in a cold area, keep in mind that you have to purchase winter tents. This might seem obvious but believe me, I've seen people taking summer tents to cold areas and struggle to get through the brutal cold at night. Summer tents usually are open from two or three sides and surrounded only by nets to let air in, which of course would not be very pleasing if the temperatures are near freezing point. Moreover, you should also remember that if you're using a weather app on your phone then the temperature shown on it is of the town or city and not of the actual area that you're camping at. For example, if you're camping in the premises of Nianzishan, China, then the temperature on the app will be of the city, which means your actual location could be way cooler. To conclude, make sure that you're prepared for low temperatures unless you're very sure that the campsite you're heading to is not freezing. 5) Avoid Littering Campers are infamous for the fact that they usually do not clean up after camping. This generates a bad image in the mind of the locals. What's worse, it would harm the environment and ecosystem of the area in so many ways. So please, don't be that person. Bring along with you a huge trash bag to clear the rubbish before you leave the campsite. That way, no animals will get harmed. 6) Avoid destroying nature A lot of campers tend to permanently scar the area where they camp. Uprooting entire trees for fire wood, digging soil, harming wildlife and the list goes on. If you do any of those things, you might get barred from camping in that area again by the authorities. An alternative would be using fallen branches instead for fire wood and bring your own food from home so you don't have to hunt for food. 7) Bring an insect repellent Insect repellent creams and lotions are easily available in convenient stores, so remember to purchase one and bring it along with you for your camping trip. Since there are a lot of bugs out there, some being way more harmful than others, an insect repellent would work as your secret weapon to shoo away the creepy crawlies. 8) Keep the fire lit Apart from cooking, fire also serves as a defense mechanism since it scares away predators and wild animals. However, sometimes when you are grilling meat, you might attract some unwanted attention from brave wild animals.  When that happens, take a burning stick out the campfire and swing it near them. Before you know it, they will be running miles away out of fear. Be sure not to hit them, they probably just want to try your tasty grilled beef. 9) Safety While many campers tend to carry licensed weapons, not everyone should. You need to be experienced enough to carry a firearm for safety. If mishap happens, medical centers and hospitals might be too far away for you. You can keep pocket knives with you but in some countries such as China, keeping knives is illegal and can be confiscated. The best option is to bring a whistle to call for help or have an emergency contact in case something does not go exactly to plan. While many people focus more on what they're going to cook and eat out there, I believe that overall, the most important thing for first timers is how they're going to keep themselves safe in a foreign environment. If you're bringing someone experienced with you, then just follow their lead. Otherwise you can get tips from them before embarking on your journey. Read other Halal travel blogs...

  • Eco Tourism: The New Trend

    Travelling does certainly bring joy in one's life. However, with the fast-growing world and over explosive developments, nature is slowly losing its importance. Big malls, endless skyscrapers, and hotels are sure to provide you with all the necessities. Yet, they can't give you the peace which nature has to offer. In order to make your trip a meaningful one, invest yourself in eco-tourism. If you're not familiar with the term, here's what you need to know: What Is Ecotourism & Why Is It Important? Ecotourism promotes the fact that one should be a responsible traveler and enjoy nature. We are today living in jungles of concrete and whenever we travel, we're moving from one zone full of man-made buildings to another. And sometimes, we barely enjoy nature. That's where ecotourism comes in. Being an ecotourist makes one environmentally responsible while visiting natural areas in order to appreciate the beauty of nature. Ecotourism aims at promoting conservation of nature as well as helping locals in their economy, which helps in improving the well-being of locals. How To Be An Ecotourist? Learn about Ecotourism The first step toward becoming an ecotourist is to understand what ecotourism is all about. Make sure to learn about the concept of ecotourism and its benefits before embarking on your trip. Ecotourism is now becoming a common practice as people are starting to realize the tremendous benefits of shifting from being a mere tourist to an ecotourist. So, open your Google browser and surf your way through the net. Make an Eco bucket-list Sure you got lots to add on your bucket list, but you might want to consider to make it an Eco bucket list and go visit places that wouldn't harm nature or even habitats of wild animals. So the next time you're booking your ticket, just don't forget to check out the places you could go to without damaging nature. Participate in local life You'll be surprised to know that you've got a number of things to learn from your host country. Don't be afraid to participate in local life. Take a break from your daily overcrowded bus and train journeys and give a shot to old-school transportation means. Travel back in time when bicycles were first available and take a stroll down the hill. Raising awareness Raising awareness around you is another important aspect of being an ecotourist. While you're learning and experiencing the benefits, it is important that you share that information with people around you so that they become conscious travelers and also engage into Eco-tourism. Remember, we've got only one planet. If we start damaging nature and destroying habitats of animals, we might end up with nothing except jungles of concrete. I'm not telling you to cancel every activity you might have planned for your holidays. It's about time that we all become more cautious and make sure that we are not harming our environment and our planet Earth....

  • Top 4 Things to See and Do in the UK in Spring

    After a long cold winter with heavy winds and several snow storms around the UK these past few months, finally the long overdue spring is around the corner! The temperatures start rising, and birds chirping can be gradually heard in every corner. It is now time for spring cleaning, and to start packing for the long-waited spring holiday to enjoy the warm weather and the refreshing, clean air. It is certainly the best time for all fellow global travellers to visit the UK in its most glorious season. Check out the London Muslim Lifestyle Show 2018 Find a Halal Restaurant near you in the UK Find a Halal Hotel near you in the UK   There are indeed a lot of things that we can do and visit in the UK this spring holiday, whether you're travelling solo, or taking a journey with friends and family, which will ensure that you come back from your holiday with a refreshed mind and newfound energy. The following is a list of several activities that you can do this spring in the UK:   1. Adventure in the Wild Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, Spring is a brilliant time to explore the natural beauty of the UK countryside. The nature holiday adventure is suitable for every traveller, and the bonus part is that it will rejuvenate your mind and body when you are back to your normal day routine. You have to be prepared for physical activities though, from walking, hiking, trekking, biking, camping, fishing or just merely embarking on a nature walk. You can choose any activity which suits you best. Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, One way to enjoy spring in Britain by enjoying the blooming wild flowers that can be found in almost every corner of British countryside. Particularly, daffodils and bluebells are everyone’s favourite flowers this season; it is really exciting to see them in full bloom. For Daffodils, the best time to watch their magnificent beauty is in mid-March to April, whilst Bluebells show best their splendour in late April to early May. One interesting fact that might not be known by many: half of the world’s Bluebells grow here in the UK and, not just in the woods! The best spots to watch the beautiful blooming Bluebells are in the Lake District area, Bristol, Dartmoor and Gloucestershire. Click this link to find where to spot them! Apart from wild flowers, watching and spotting wild animals in spring is also a relaxing and enjoyable holiday. This time around you will have a chance to see the Seabirds nesting. Around eight million Seabirds fly to the shores of Britain in Spring. It is indeed one of the greatest wildlife gatherings that you can watch on Britain’s shores; moreover, you get to spot whales and dolphins too if you're lucky, especially up north, in Scotland. Check the Britain’s nature news link if you want to do wild animal spotting. If you prefer, animal spotting can also be done on land, where you can encounter many species of birds in the wild and also the tech-savvy Badgers. Have you ever seen Badgers in the wild? Badgers begin to come out of their hibernating holes in spring, so you could go to Devon in particular for a unique experience in spotting these cute and smart animals.   2. Flower Farm Visit Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, Another nature activity that you can enjoy in the glorious British spring is to visit the many flowers farm sprawling all over Britain. One such farms, and also the most well-known type of flower farms, is the Lavender farm. There are several Lavender farms not far from London that you can visit from around June, up to August. The closest to London, yet highly recommended is the Mayfield Lavender Farm. Their 25 acre lavender farm with café and shop is located in Banstead (Woodmansterne), Surrey – approximately 15 miles from Central London. I suggest that you read their visit information carefully on how, when and where to go there. Click here to know their information for visitors. If you can't wait until June, there is another famous Lavender farm worth visiting this Spring time, the Somerset Lavender Farm. Click here to find out where and how to go there. They will open the field this May to September, In shaa Allaah. Apart from Lavender, the Rapeseed and Yellow Mustard flower will also be blooming all over the UK. Their farmers grow these flowers in such a way that they can even be seen to the left and right of motorways. So if you do intercity travel by car, bus or train you can see beautiful, lush yellow carpet-like flowers on either side of the roads or railway tracks, and the scenery is magnificent. However, you must be quick if you want to see these pretty views, as the best time to spot them are from early April to the end of May.   3. Royal Wedding at Windsor Castle in May 2018 The love-hate relationship between the public and the UK Royal Family has always been a topic for the tabloids. Nevertheless, even though the Royal Family’s popularity may not be the same nowadays compared to the past, their news and activities still capture the attention of so many people around the world. Especially now in 2018: the next big event that will happen to the Royal Family is the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on 19 May 2018 at Windsor Castle. In celebrating this event, the Royal Family invites the public to attend this special day, and the Windsor local council and Windsor residents have been preparing their city for the visitors who will come there. Now, if you fancy a fairytale-like wedding, this may be your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a world-class Royal Wedding festivity. You will surely enjoy your visit to Windsor as well, since this city is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. You can experience the grand history of England by visiting the Windsor Castle, which is one of three Royal Residences of Queen Elizabeth II (the other two being the Buckingham Palace in London and the Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh,) which are still being used, up till now. Note that admissions are charged in this castle. You can watch the famous Changing of the Guard daily routine at 11:00 here, up close. Apart from Windsor Castle, you can do punting and cruising the river around the city centre, and the whole family will love Legoland Windsor, too. Now, if you want to experience this special royal event, you should book your travel and prepare everything promptly, since all hotels will be booked by visitors all over the world. Avoid booking one on the day itself. Click here to know more about it.   4. Outdoor Adrenaline Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, Love the outdoors? Spring time is the best time for camping, climbing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, surfing and more in the United Kingdom. There are many places here to do these outdoor activities, but one place stands out from the others as you can do all these activities we mentioned in that one place. Can you guess where it is? ...   It's Wales. Wales, the ultimate place for all you outdoor junkies out there! It has beautiful green scenery, towering mountains, as well as both sandy and rocky coastlines, so you can do all your outdoor activities there. In this site, you'll find the right place to do all the outdoor activities. Click here for their site - you'll see, they have it all! One of the world-famous outdoor activities there is “coasteering”. Ever heard of coasteering? If you're an outdoor junkie, you'll love this one. Coasteering is a sport, the activity of exploring rocky coastlines by climbing the rocky cliff, jumping off into the sea, and swimming along the coastline. This outdoor activity has attracted many visitors to Wales. Indeed, Wales is in fact, the birth place of this new outdoor activity. Picture Credit - Lili Lengkana, The rocky coastlines in Wales make this one of the perfect activities there. One of the operators in Pembrokeshire, Wales is the pioneering entrepreneur behind this outdoor activity, and they have been instrumental in spreading this activity to other parts of the world such as Australia, Hong Kong and many other places that have the ideal coastal environment for coasteering. You can find out more about coasteering in Wales from the Wales Tourism Board website, click here.   Solath - A Reminder to Muslim Travellers Picture Credit - A holiday is a fun and enjoyable time for the whole family, but as Muslims, we also strive to fulfill our duty to Allah and remember Him, and that includes praying (salah) to Him, every day. If you're travelling to big cities in the UK such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, or other cities, you can surely find Masjid(s) there. Most airports, hospitals and universities in the UK also have prayer places, so finding a prayer space shouldn't be a problem. However, if you're travelling in small towns or countryside, then this noble hadith above surely gives us useful guidance to fulfil our obligations: It was reported by the Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), 'The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The entire Earth has been made a place of prayer except for the graveyards and the toilet.”' (Sunah At-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 317 – Sahih). What this noble hadith informs us, is that Allah has made it easy for us to fulfil this duty by making the whole earth as a Masjid for us. We can offer our salah anywhere on the earth, even if there is no Masjid or specified prayer place/prayer room.  You can pray in your hotel, the parking lot, airport, train station, mountain, beach, park or any other places, as long as it's clean, and not places such as toilets (that is, when and where people answer the call of nature,) and graveyards. So, my tip to be able to offer prayers are: (1) make sure that you have a bottle of water for ablution (wudhu’), a small prayer mat and a prayer compass app in your mobile app with you at all times; (2) find a clean, quiet and secluded place in any place (forest/woods, parking lot, corner of the building, hidden spot in the park, etc) to offer your prayer. Moreover, there are concessions for us as a traveller that will make it easier for us to offer our salah during our journey, as long as we can fulfil the condition of a traveller in fiqh. For more on the fiqh of travel, we recommend that you consult a reliable scholar in your locality who will be able to teach you the fine details of travel fiqh according to the madhhab of your region.    Read our UK city guides Find Attractions near you in the UK Go on a Halal Trip with us!...

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