Making the most of your travels during Ramadan

CaptureDuring the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim lifestyles change significantly during this period. So, if you have any plans to travel to a predominantly Muslim country at such a time, your trip should be quite eventful. Ramadan will start from the end of June and continue for 4 weeks until the end of July.

To prepare for your journey try to find out as much as you can about Ramadan, so that you have an idea about the significance of Ramadan and how the locals spend their time during this period. The month of Ramadan is “dedicated to fasting” which occurs from sunrise to sunset. To break the fast, Muslims usually have what is known as Iftar, the meal eaten at sunset. Much later on another meal, Suhoor, is served which is the meal eaten before the sun rises again. So, during daylight hours, Muslims focus on “spiritual renewal” and slow down during the day, abstaining from food, drink, smoking and intercourse.

Try to plan as many of your daily activities and mealtimes in advance, if possible. Bear in mind that tour operators are likely to alter their working hours during Ramadan, so it’s a good idea to book your tours in advance. Many restaurants and hotels will be serving international guests throughout the whole day, but try to find out about any places which interest you, that could possibly shut their doors during the daytime hours, or even take a meal and a few drinks with you if you’re going on a day trip.  This could come in handy, should you need to wait until sundown for any restaurants to serve you.

You may also like to change your schedule to fit in with the Ramadan festivities, which, of course, vary depending on which country or which part of the country you are in. There is always plenty going on once iftar begins as the night is still young.  Moroccans enjoy lively music and well-lit streets where people hand out sweets on every corner. In the Gulf states locals socialize in “Ramadan Tents” which are made to be glamorous where people can play games while smoking shisha and having snacks to eat. You are also quite welcome to join in regardless of whether you are |Muslim or not. In Turkey you are sure to see many tents after sundown where food is inexpensive or even sometimes free.

Familiarize yourself with the laws regarding your country of travel, as some are stricter than others, where non-Muslims and even Muslim travelers from abroad are expected to keep the fast too. Try to be considerate by not eating or drinking in the company of others whom you know may be fasting and remember to dress respectably during Ramadan.

Lastly, take part in the festivities and have a good time. You will experience great “hospitality and generosity,” and be offered plenty of sweets and invitations, so join in the parties and feasts. You’ll find that you will enjoy the experience more if you do as the locals do. The daytime will be quiet with plenty of time to catch up on your sleep.