Hajj with Children: a survival guide for families!

Is Hajj for kids? From packing and preparation to advice for navigating the challenging journey, here’s what you need to know prior to performing Hajj with the family.

Before setting off on a trip to Makkah with the family it’s important to understand what to bring, safeguards to take and ways to engage children on the sacred pilgrimage.

Find Child-Friendly Hajj Packages

Search for organizers with services that cater to kids. For example, some packages offer to have guides supervise children while you perform Hajj rituals.

Essential Items for Makkah with Kids

The desert sun can be harsh on both you and your children. Bring an ample supply of sunscreen and a hat for each member of the family. You’ll also want to travel with plenty of water bottles as dehydration will be a concern for much of the journey. Consider snacks that can withstand heat such as dried fruit, granola bars and individually wrapped hummus tortillas. A travel pillow will be indispensable when your child wants to sleep.

There are pros and cons to bringing a stroller. It’s useful to have one while shopping in Makkah and traveling from hotel to mosque. A stroller that reclines to a flat position is also great for sleeping. However, strollers are not allowed in or around the Grand Mosque during Hajj. Also, keep in mind you can hire a wheelchair to ferry children around Makkah. So it might not be necessary to lug a stroller around for the entire trip.

Clothing for Hot Days and Cool Nights

Children should dress for hot weather in Makkah. While kids are not required to wear Ihram clothing, the loose lightweight garment is still a good idea. It’s also a good opportunity to teach them that simple clothing is worn to express that all are equal before Allah. Evening temperatures drop in the desert climate so you should also have clothing for cool weather. It’s a good idea to bring blankets or sleeping bags for your night under the stars at Muzdalifah and Mina.

Document Hajj Steps in a Family Diary

Keeping an account of one’s pilgrimage is a time-honored tradition in Makkah’s heritage that’s almost as old as Hajj itself. It’s also a wonderful way to bring the family together to recount shared experiences, discuss each day’s events and record how they impacted members of the family. Let the older kids write about the activities in their own words and have a parent write for younger children. Encourage them to draw pictures depicting what they witnessed each day. The diary will be a memento that’s cherished for generations.

Educate and Entertain with Digital Devices

Your smartphone or tablet can be an invaluable tool that both educates and occupies young minds on the journey. Online stores have lots of Hajj-related apps that will come in handy on long rides. Check out Learn Hajj Games and Salah for Kids. You can also download e-books such as Tell Me About Hajj and Muslim Child to teach about the importance of Hajj in inspiring and interactive ways. If you have a reliable Internet connection, watch any number of kid-friendly YouTube videos that illustrate the significance of the pilgrimage. Feeling retro? Buy some animated Hajj DVDs from Amazon to play on your laptop.

Make a Hajj Map

Visuals are a great way to engage children. You can download and print an online map of the Hajj steps or create your own. Make the map in black and white and have the kids color each step as they’re performed. Let children draw the hill of Mount Arafat as you explain the importance of the site where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preached his final sermon. Fill the sky over Muzdalifah with stars as you teach your children why pilgrims spend a night in the open. The map will also make a wonderful keepsake your family will treasure for years.

Consider a Safety Plan

Getting separated from a child is one of every parent’s greatest concerns. An identification bracelet for your child can give you peace of mind. You can order one online. YouTube videos can help you make a fun and fashionable wristband. Include the names of both the child and parents, your hotel and a local phone number in both English and Arabic. Keep in mind that Hajj locations can get crowded and chaotic. So it’s a good idea to always agree on a meeting point in the event of separation.

A pilgrimage during childhood doesn’t free one from the obligation of Hajj during adulthood. But the journey can be an inspiring spiritual experience that helps children gain a deeper understanding of their faith.

Smart budget tips for Hajj and Umrah

Whatever your financial position, it’s important to plan your budget for Hajj and Umrah carefully. Then you can enjoy the spiritual experience of visiting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah without worrying about money issues.

The total cost of your pilgrimage depends on many choices. Check out our tips for a great Hajj or Umrah experience at a cost you can afford.

What Hajj or Umrah packages are available?

Hajj pilgrims must book a package including visas, accommodation and transport via an agency approved by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Umrah pilgrims are free to arrange their own accommodation and transport, but may wish to take advantage of special Umrah package deals. These range from basic to VIP, so take time to compare packages and find the best one for your budget.

Prices depend on your country of residence and you may be able to find a better deal by booking accommodation in Makkah and Madinah independently – especially if you wish to stay in a luxury hotel.

Can I travel at off-peak times?

Traveling during low season and outside of holiday periods offers a more relaxing Umrah experience. It also allows you to take advantage of lower flight costs and special hotel deals. If you must perform Umrah at a busy time of year, consider traveling on weekdays instead of weekends.

Most pilgrims stay in Saudi Arabia for 15–28 days. A shorter trip will save some money – but once you have paid for your flights and visas, you may as well make the most of your stay!

What are my travel costs in Saudi Arabia?

Taxis and private chauffeur transfers are the most comfortable travel options for pilgrims with large families and lots of luggage – but for the long journeys between Makkah and Madinah, they can add a lot to your budget. For up-to-date information and tips on travel options in Saudi Arabia, check out our blog articles on the best routes to travel to Makkah and how to get around Makkah once you’re in the city.

Alone or as a group?

Large families and groups traveling together can save money by sharing taxis and booking family suites in hotels. On the other hand, traveling with children or elderly relatives may mean you need to spend more on transport, shopping and meals.

What level of comfort do I need?

Don’t underestimate how strenuous Hajj and Umrah can be, especially at busy times and during hot weather. In Makkah, many pilgrims appreciate the comfort of staying in a 5-star hotel near Al Haram with reliable air conditioning and high-quality facilities. If you budget smartly, book well in advance and look out for special deals, you’ll be able to treat yourself to a higher level of comfort and enjoy your Hajj or Umrah experience even more.

What do I need to buy in Makkah?

Shopping for gifts for loved ones back home is a major aspect of Hajj or Umrah for many pilgrims. You may also need to include ihram clothing, sun protection and fragrance-free toiletries. Haircuts and shaving are other minor costs. You have a lot of flexibility in the “shopping” part of your budget – but careful, big shoppers may need to pay excess baggage fees on the flight home!

See our blogs on sensational Hajj gifts and souvenirs and the best places to shop in Makkah.

How much should I budget for food and drink?

Eating and drinking together should be one of the pleasures of a pilgrimage, so it’s worth budgeting a decent amount depending on the type of restaurants you enjoy. Hotel rates, particularly in more upscale hotels, often include a generous breakfast and you can also book half-board or even full-board package deals. Remember to include money for snacks and drinks, as the weather in Makkah is very hot and you will need to stay refueled and rehydrated while performing your rites.

How much does the sacrifice cost?

Unless it is included in your package, you must budget for one obligatory sacrifice while staying in Makkah. You can buy a sacrifice coupon in advance or in Makkah itself, with the cost depending on the type of animal you choose to be sacrificed. If you miss an obligatory rite, you’ll need to pay for another sacrifice to expiate for this.

What does WiFi and mobile internet cost in Saudi Arabia?

Calling, messaging and sending photos to friends and family back home – as well as keeping touch on social media – are part of the pleasure of a pilgrimage. Many good hotels now offer free WiFi and you can get great deals on prepaid SIM cards for your smartphone while traveling in Saudi Arabia.

The best stress-free ways to travel to Makkah

Looking forward to your trip to Makkah? Of course – there’s nothing more awe-inspiring for Muslims than visiting the holy city. If you are traveling to Saudi Arabia independently, there are several options for how to get to Makkah.

Most direct route: Jeddah to Makkah

Makkah has no airport, so most people fly into the huge King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) in Jeddah. South Terminal serves mainly domestic flights and Saudi Arabia’s national airline, Saudia. Most other international flights arrive at North Terminal, 19 km away.

The most convenient option for the 104 km journey from Jeddah Airport to Makkah is a private limousine arranged by your hotel in Makkah.

You can also take a licensed taxi from the terminal, or book a ride with Uber or Careem. Be ready for a long wait during busy times. There are regular SAPTCO buses from Jeddah Airport to Makkah. Since the bus station is 7 km from Makkah city center, this option is stressful if you’re traveling with heavy luggage.

Coming soon: When fully operational in late 2018 or early 2019, the Haramain high-speed train will offer fast, comfortable travel between Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah.

Alternative route: Madinah to Makkah

The other main entry point for Umrah and Hajj pilgrims is the smaller, usually quieter airport of Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport (MED) in Madinah.

For the 456 km journey from Madinah to Makkah along Route 15, many choose to travel by VIP SAPTCO bus. The air-conditioned service offers several direct trips per day, stopping at a miqat point before entering Makkah. It has a shorter travel time and greater comfort, including WiFi and refreshments, than regular buses. VIP tickets sell out quickly, so book well in advance.

Your hotel concierge can advise on a private hotel-to-hotel transfer between Madinah and Makkah. This is advisable if you are traveling as a family or have lots of luggage.

Travel to Makkah – questions to ask

  • What are my visa restrictions? Most pilgrims must arrange their trip via an agent certified by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Hajj and Umrah visa holders are restricted to travel between Jeddah, Madinah and Makkah. Those with another type of visa may consider flying to the quieter Ta’if International Airport (TIF), 70 km from Makkah.
  • When am I traveling to Makkah? Airport formalities can take many hours during busy holiday periods such as Ramadan. Consider traveling to Makkah at quieter times of the year and arranging private transfers to skip long queues for taxis and buses.
  • Where else am I going in Saudi Arabia? It may be possible to save travel time by flying into Madinah, for example, and departing via Jeddah.
  • Am I traveling with children or elderly relatives? To make the journey easier, travel with hand luggage only and book hotel-to-hotel transfers. Also avoid late-night flights.

Visiting Makkah is a trip of a lifetime. For a stress-free experience, consider your travel options carefully and make sure you have the most up-to-date visa information.

Related information

Hajj and Umrah visa information
How to get around in Makkah: the best transport options for you

5 amazing facts about Makkah you never knew

There are some things that every Muslim knows about Makkah – but a lot of interesting information that very few people know. Amaze your friends with this unusual Makkah facts!

World’s highest prayer room

A tiny prayer room (musalla) lies 600 meters above sea level in the Makkah Clock Royal Tower hotel by Fairmont. With space for just six or seven people, it is contained within the tower’s crescent. The distance to the Kaaba is just 500 meters, making it the closest of all prayer rooms in Makkah.

A key part of Vision 2030

Over 8.75 million pilgrims entered Makkah for Hajj and Umrah last year, with the vast majority coming from outside the Kingdom. Including the growing number of business travelers, the total number of visitors to Saudi Arabia is expected to rise to 30 million per year by 2030.



Over 8.75 million pilgrims visited Makkah last year


A major aim of the Vision 2030 plan initiated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to welcome these visitors in safety and comfort. Given its importance as a city holy to Muslims worldwide, Makkah is at the center of this comprehensive development plan covering public transport, education, infrastructure, accommodation and more.

Largest automated waste network in the world

When your attention is focused on the religious sites and bustling city center of Makkah, you might forget what goes on in the background to sustain the holy city.

To deal with the city’s waste, including the 600 tons generated per day during Hajj and Ramadan, Makkah has the world’s largest automated waste transport network. Waste is transported from 318 collection points to a Central Utility Complex outside the city, via 30 km of underground pipelines.

First ever car on Arabian peninsula

You’ll see lots of luxury cars driving down the highways of Saudi Arabia and around Makkah – and may even be driving one yourself! – but did you know that the first car to enter the Arabian Peninsula was in Mecca? It was owned by Sharif Awn Al-Rafiq, ruler of Makkah from 1882 to 1905.

Abraj Al Bait: the biggest, brightest, best…

The famous Abraj Al Bait complex in central Makkah breaks many records – including the record for the number of superlatives you can use to describe it. The 600-meter Clock Royal Tower containing the Fairmont hotel is the world’s third tallest building – and of course, those clock faces are also the world’s largest, visible from as far as 17 km away. The clock sparkles at night with millions of LEDs and 26 powerful searchlights beam out from the top, lighting up the heavens up to 10 km high.



The world’s largest clock tower in Abraj Al Bait


The floor area of the Abraj Al Bait complex covers more than 1.5 million square meters, making it the largest building in the world. Discover it for yourself when you stay in one of Makkah’s luxury Accor hotels!

How to get around in Makkah: the best transport options for you

Are you planning a visit to Makkah and wondering how to get around? Here is an easy overview of the city’s excellent transport network, which covers all areas of the holy city and beyond.

Public transport is continually improving thanks to government initiatives. This makes it easier and quicker for visitors to access the Grand Mosque and other central areas and holy sites in Makkah, even during busy times like Ramadan and the Hajj season

Public buses: clean and efficient

Clean, regular public buses operated by the Saudi Public Transport Company, Saptco, run on specific routes within Makkah. Intercity buses also run between all cities in Saudi Arabia. You can check bus timetables here.

A more extensive network of bus routes into and around the city is planned as part of the Makkah Public Transportation Program.

Metro: ideal for Hajj

Opened in 2010, Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro line only runs during Hajj, transporting thousands of pilgrims quickly and easily between Makkah and Mount Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. The metro system is set to be expanded with new lines to serve residents and pilgrims all year round.

General Syndicate of Cars buses: a good Hajj option

Operating during the Hajj only, the General Syndicate of Cars runs several thousand buses transporting pilgrims between the various holy sites.

Al Haramain high-speed train

Also known as the Makkah-Medina high-speed railway, the brand new Al Haramain train starts operating in early 2018. It will shorten the journey from Makkah to Medina from 6 hours to 2.5 hours. The train runs via the cities of Jeddah and Rabigh.

Tickets are divided into three categories: business class, first class and tourist class.

Hail a taxi

You can hail taxis anywhere in Makkah. Drivers usually don’t use the meter, so the fare is negotiable. During the last ten days of Ramadan and the Hajj season, the fare may be three times higher due to the high demand and traffic congestion.

Private buses for pilgrims

High-quality, air-conditioned buses run by private companies (such as Dallah and Rawahel) operate specific routes during the Umrah and Hajj seasons.

Chauffeur and car-booking services

Uber and Careem provide private chauffeur services inside Makkah. You can order a car by calling the company or using a mobile app linked to a credit card. The price is higher than a regular taxi.

Renting a car in Makkah

GCC nationals and visitors with international driving licenses, as well as expatriates residing in the Kingdom, can rent cars from various rental offices in Makkah.

Walking: the best way to avoid congestion

Despite great improvements in Makkah transport options, walking is still the best way to get around the city during Ramadan and the Hajj season. This helps you avoid traffic congestion and overcrowding, as well as higher prices for taxi fares.

Saudi buses - SAPTCO

SAPTO buses are clean, modern and efficient.


Private Hire Car at the Swissotel Makkah

For chauffeur service in Makkah, simply ask the hotel concierge.

5 reasons to stay at Swissôtel Al Maqam hotel

Looking for the ideal Umrah or Hajj accommodation? Look no further: this luxury Makkah hotel provides warm Arabic hospitality, Swiss standards and easy access to the Grand Mosque.

Here are five top reasons to book a room at the Swissôtel Al Maqam hotel.

1. Easy access to the Haram

Facing the Kaaba, this luxury hotel within the Abraj Al Bait complex is just a few minutes away from the Holy Mosque. Guests have direct access to the main entrances.

2. Contemporary Swiss style

This Makkah hotel features modern design, friendly service and comfortable public spaces. Enjoy a blend of Arabic hospitality and Alpine decor in the heart of Makkah.

3. Sensational room choices

You have many choices: from the classic twin room to the spacious Family Suites with a separate living room, dining room and kitchenette. All rooms come with WiFi, a refreshment center, prayer rugs and Haram radio.

4. Relaxed, refined dining

Al Khairat is an all-day restaurant that serves authentic cuisines from the Gulf region, Europe and the Far East. For relaxing refreshments, try the cozy Masharif Tea Lounge.

5. Easy shopping at Abraj Al Bait Mall

Guests have direct access to world-class shopping at Abraj Al Bait Mall. Find everything you need in one place, from international brands, jewelry and Hajj souvenirs to a popular food court.

Learn more about the Swissôtel Al Maqam hotel.

Swissotel Al Maqam Lobby

Expect Swiss standards of service at the Swissôtel Al Maqam hotel

Hot weather in Makkah and how to handle it

Are you travelling to Makkah in Saudi Arabia? Be prepared for the weather with these hot tips!

Makkah climate

Like most cities in the Arabian Peninsula, Makkah has a hot, dry desert climate. At the start of summer, around June, the temperature can rise to as high as 47°C (117°F). Summer sees regular sandstorms.

In winter, Makkah enjoys a warm climate with temperatures ranging between 25°C (77°F) during the day and 17°C (63°F) at night. There is some rainfall during winter, plus occasional storms and strong winds.

Top tips for dealing with hot weather in Makkah

Walking or hiking during Hajj or Umrah, especially in the middle of the day, can cause heat stroke. Protect your body from the scorching sun by following these simple tips:

  • Use umbrellas to avoid exposure to direct sunlight.
  • Rest between rituals and avoid making more effort than necessary.
  • Use sunscreen to avoid sunburn and dry skin, especially before performing sa’ay and tawaf in the afternoon.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (especially Zamzam water!) and avoid fizzy drinks because they can make you feel thirstier.
  • Take a light jacket in case of wind and carry a blanket for overnight stays.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible in tents and when walking or performing rituals.
  • Of course, stay in a hotel with reliable air conditioning and good ventilation – such as one of the AccorHotels in Makkah.
Bright sunshine over Masjid Al Haram

Crowds and hot weather in Makkah can cause health problems

Quick guide to the best places to visit in Makkah

Ever wondered about the best places to visit and things to do in Makkah? There is no religious obligation to visit any of these sites, but you’ll love discovering them – many places in Makkah are closely associated with the history of Islam.

Al Noor mountain, home to the Cave of Hira

Northeast of Makkah is the Cave of Hira, where The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelation. After (carefully!) climbing over 1,000 steps up Al Noor mountain you reach the entrance to the cave, which overlooks Makkah. The cave is only large enough for five people, but during Hajj season it is extremely busy with several thousand visitors per day. See more information about visiting Hira and Al Noor mountain.

Cave of Thawr, ancient hiding place

A short drive south of Makkah is the Cave of Thawr, a hollow rock in Thawr Mountain. Here is where Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companion Abu Bakr (Allah is pleased with him) took refuge from the Quraysh tribe during the migration to Medina. See more information about visiting the Cave of Thawr.

The spectacular Abraj Al Bait

Not all places to visit in Makkah are historical. Opened in 2011, the striking Abraj Al Bait skyscraper complex by the Grand Mosque is the tallest building in Saudi Arabia. It is home to 5-star hotels and the five-storey Abraj Al Bait Mall, as well as viewing platforms and huge prayer rooms. See more information about Abraj Al Bait.

Some of Makkah’s most interesting mosques

There are several important mosques in Makkah and the surrounding region. These include miqat stations such as Al Ji’ranah Mosque, marking the place where Muhammad (PBUH) entered into ihram after the Battle of Hunayn.

Close to the Grand Mosque, the ancient Mosque of the Jinn is located where a group of Jinn once gathered to hear the Prophet (PBUH) recite passages from the Koran. They later accepted Islam and swore the oath of allegiance.

See more information about visiting mosques in Makkah.

Makkah museums: a glimpse into history

West of Makkah lies the Al-Haramain Museum, known as the Museum of the Two Holy Mosques or Exhibition of the Two Holy Mosques Architecture. This depicts the history of the Holy Mosques through pictures, models, antiques and inscriptions. You can also see an exhibition on the Kiswa and the rim of the Zamzam well. Call in advance to arrange a visit.

Close by, you can visit the Kaaba Kiswa Factory where the Kiswa is handcrafted each year.

The Makkah Museum in Al Zahir Palace displays exhibits on Islamic calligraphy and art, as well as antiques and archaeology.

Where to find Makkah trip advice

If you are staying at one of Accor’s 5-star hotels in Makkah, simply ask the concierge for advice on places to visit in Makkah and how to get there.

View from Al Noor mountain

Al Noor mountain near Makkah, home to the Cave of Hira


Abraj Al Bait towers at night

The glorious towers of Abraj Al Bait by night

Essential Umrah or Hajj packing list

Your pilgrimage is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so don’t ruin it by forgetting an essential item! To help you pack for your Hajj or Umrah experience, here is a quick guide of things you’ll need.

Clothes for traveling and ihram

Take enough clothes for the length of your journey, bearing in mind that you may need to change several times in one day. The weather in Makkah is extremely hot and the rituals often require great physical exertion. Loose clothes are recommended.

Be sure to pack your ihram clothing in your hand luggage, along with pins to fasten it. Again, you may need to change your ihram clothes if they become dirty or torn. A small bag to hang around your neck will be useful for storing your money, phone and documents.

Stay clean and healthy

Cleanliness is extremely important, so carry enough wash towels for the duration of your stay in Makkah. Check you have your toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb and nail clippers. Remember, antiperspirant should not contain perfume. Women should take a small pair of scissors to cut off some hair after leaving the state of ihram.

It is a good idea to take simple medicines such as painkillers and tablets for stomach problems and colds. A small first aid kit is useful and sunscreen is extremely important.

If you have a specific condition such as diabetes or a heart problem, pack a sufficient supply of medicine, along with any devices you use to measure blood pressure and sugar.

Don’t forget your documents!

When your mind is focused on the spiritual side of the pilgrimage, it’s easy to forget important documents: passport, flight tickets, flight schedule, hotel address in Makkah or Madinah, etc.

Last-minute items that are often forgotten include your phone and charger, glasses and contact lenses, sunglasses and a small notebook. Of course, remember to pack a Koran and a booklet of the adhkaar (invocations), plus a guide to Hajj or a guide to Umrah.

It’s a good idea to take sandwiches or other snacks with you in case of a flight delay. Carry anything essential in your hand luggage in case your suitcase is lost or delayed.

How to change into ihram on the plane

Remember that you have to enter ihram before entering the miqat area, even in the air. If you are traveling in normal clothes, keep your ihram clothes in your hand luggage and check at what time you will enter the miqat zone. Plan to change into your ihram clothes at least half an hour before this.

If you forget something…

If you are staying at a 5-star hotel in Makkah and realize you have forgotten something, please ask at reception. With their local knowledge and experience, the staff will help you find a replacement.

Arabic businessman walking with a suitcase

Pack carefully to enjoy stress-free travel to Makkah


Arabic Muslim holy book Koran background

Carry valuable items with you in your hand luggage

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