What does it mean to be a Muslim Solo Traveler?
Ever wondered what it means to be a Muslim Solo Traveler?
Well, you’re about to find out in this article!
The establishment of muslimsolotravel.com comes from the idea of championing Muslim-friendly Solo Travel, and becoming the go-to resource for Muslim Solo Travelers.
Disclaimer: Some of the links here are affiliate links. I receive a small commission AT NO EXTRA cost to you if you use the links. Hope you find this guide helpful!
What makes Muslim-friendly Solo Travel different from other types of Solo Travel?
First, let’s cover the more extensive umbrella terms: basics of Muslim-friendly travel (or Halal Travel) and Solo Travel.
What is Muslim friendly-travel or Halal-travel?
Muslim friendly travel, Halal travel, or Halal tourism, is a travel segment where travelers adhere to observing Islamic faith-based needs while traveling.
What is a solo traveler?
A solo traveler is a traveler that goes somewhere alone during the trip, where they have the individual autonomy to choose to do everything (from activities, services, and places).
This type of travel is based on individual experiences, but it doesn’t mean that they are entirely self-sufficient.
As they are mainly in charge of their own decisions, they can also join services and activities offered by a tour agent, a friend (new or old) they met at the place!
According to CBI Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Solo tourism is travel undertaken by a solo person. This person can be either single or in a relationship. They can be traveling alone, but also in a group. Solo travelers do not travel alone because they have to, but because they want to.”
For the most part, the solo traveler is on their own. But they do travel with others, the people they bump into on their trips, or with tour guides and licensed experts of a location.
What is a Muslim Solo Traveler?
So, what makes Muslim Solo Travelers different from other Solo Travelers is that Muslim Solo Travelers have Islamic faith-specific needs.
In other words, a Muslim Solo Traveler is a Solo Traveler with Islamic-faith basic needs.
Or, a traveler that observes the Islamic religion needs and travels to a place alone, with complete autonomy over their travel needs.
Muslim Women – The Force behind Muslim Solo Travel lifestyle
It is also worth understanding that most Muslim Women are the biggest drive in the Muslim Solo Travel market. In 2019, Research showed that 28% of Muslim women ventured on solo trips, which alone was worth USD 80 billion.
And this is only the beginning, now that travel has restarted in early 2022.
What do Muslim Women Wear?
With solo travel being on the rise since before the pandemic, it is crucial to understand Muslim women’s lifestyles.
Some Muslim women wear the hijab (headscarf), and some wear the Burka (veil). Those wearing the hijab usually wear modest clothes.
Meanwhile, those on the veil are covered from head to toe, except for their faces, and sometimes eyes.
In their travels, especially when it comes to water-based activities, Muslim Women wear full coverage swimsuits. Otherwise known as burkini, these swimsuits cover their body, except the palms of their hands, feet, and face.
What does a Muslim Solo Traveler look for in their travels?
There are a couple of things that Muslim Solo travelers look for and need in their travels. A few of them are:
Observing Faith is a top priority.
Since Muslim Solo Travelers are those with Islamic Faith-based needs, travels that give them space and opportunity to observe their faith are prioritized. This means:
- The ability to pray (travel schedule-wise and space-wise)
- Halal food (if non-existent, vegetarian food + absence of alcohol)
- Muslim-friendly or Sharia-compliant tourism services (interacting with activities, and staying in accommodation that has segregated pools, and absence of loud music)
Reassurance on Safety
As most Muslim Solo Travelers are Muslimah (Muslim women), it is only natural that a Muslimah would want to go somewhere they know they can be reassured of their safety.
Reputable and trusted tour services or activities
Sometimes, a Muslim Solo Traveler would want to join a tour group for certain activities. As these activities require a certain number of people.
Being in charge of their own schedules
Like other Solo Travelers, Muslim Solo Travelers, too, want the freedom to have power over their own schedules. They want to go wherever they want, whenever they want, for however long they want.
Muslim Solo Travelers are people who want to see the world without the need to wait for someone else.
As they are mostly (and if not entirely) alone in their travels, Muslim Solo Travelers can also be travelers that wish to have some “self-reflective” time for their next life chapter.
What better way to have that if not through a solo travel experience!
Empowering and authentic travel experiences.
Like solo travelers in general, Muslim solo travelers embark on their solo travels for authentic and empowering travel experiences that are much more rewarding. This means they want to experience what culture is honestly like and connect with the community.
They could also envision traveling to a foreign country and genuinely living and doing as the locals do.
This can mean experiencing life as the locals do in what they eat, see and do. Or a simple thing as interacting with the locals. This can already be an empowering experience, especially for the Muslimah solo traveler!
Best places to travel solo as a Muslim Woman.
The first place, of course, has got to be the solo traveler’s own country.
Before a solo traveler jet sets around a foreign world, it is wise for the Muslim solo traveler to try out solo travel in their own country first.
After that, I suggest that Muslim solo travelers try traveling in small towns compared to large cities. Everything is walkable within a distance—it makes it much easier to navigate!
If you want to take it up a notch and have Muslim-friendly destinations in mind, some of the best trips for Muslim solo travelers are Malaysia, the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. These are the leading Halal travel destinations, as Halal food and praying facilities are easily accessible throughout.
The myths and reality of traveling solo as a Muslim woman
There are some myths and realities to traveling solo as a Muslim woman. And this is not a be-all-or-end-all thing. It can be subjective to one’s own comfort level.
Dealing with Loneliness
For Muslim travelers who are not used to being on their own for an extended period, solo travel can be an awkward and foreign experience.
But think of it this way, this is a rare experience for us to really get in touch with our most authentic selves and reflect on our life priorities.
Along the way, you’ll definitely meet people (tour guides, kind strangers) who will enrich your solo travel experience.
So, enjoy it to the fullest!
Putting yourself out there, beyond your comfort zone
Having a positive mindset really makes all the difference in solo traveling. Instead of dwelling on “what can go wrong” with putting yourself out there, think of all the opportunities!
Experiencing a new place and a new country is already a step out of your comfort zone. So give yourself credit for taking such a huge leap!
One day, you’ll rethink back on your solo travel journey and be glad of what you’ve done. For the most part, the solo travel experience would pass by quickly when you have fun!
Solo travel is impractical and expensive.
Opting for accommodations specifically for a single occupation can lean on the more expensive end if you compare it to sharing with another person.
Regardless, with the rise of solo travel across the spectrum, platforms like booking.com and tour guides are now publishing more resources and offering more services for solo travelers, making it easier than before.
Also, if you look at group travel, some expenses like food can lean on the costlier end. As long as you know how to manage your budget, things will balance out by themselves at the end of the day.
Stigma on discrimination and racism
Due to their visible Muslim appearances, Unfortunately, Muslimah travelers can feel fearful of embarking on a solo trip because of their visual appearance of wearing the headscarf.
This can be due to the Islamophobic perceptions and deeply ingrained cultural prejudices they’ve seen in the mass media or personal experiences heard from peer travelers.
From a personal experience, I had to go through vigorous checking in the USA because of my hijab.
While this heightens a Muslim’s fear of solo travel, we can say that no single solo travel experience is ever the same—at all!
No single travel experience is the same & you can’t let one’s bad experience be the final factor in everything.
Don’t let anxiety get the better of you. It can make you overthink your travel decisions and miss out on great opportunities you will cherish for a lifetime.
Facing uncomfortable cultural differences
“Finding Halal Food will be difficult,” and doing wudhu (ablution) in Western countries means that you’ll have to take ablution at the sink of the toilets.
While these are undoubtedly uncomfortable…
Like anything else in life, you will stumble upon some challenges. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the world.
We can always be creative, like carrying a Tayammum pad, a wudhu spray bottle, and the internet!
When all else fails… the internet is there to save you be it halal food, vegan options, or maybe a secluded park where you can perform your praying duties!
A little reminder: it is good to research “what can go wrong”. But only for precautionary measures, not for something to dwell in too much. Go with an open heart and open mind, and believe that Allah will take care of the rest of your journey.
Practical tips for traveling Solo as a Muslim Woman
Research & plan a destination
Nothing good comes from rushing and being reckless in your decisions.
If you have never solo traveled before as a Muslim woman, take time to research and plan a destination.
As dull as planning can be, you will be glad you did that.
But as you familiarize yourself with solo travel more and more, researching and planning ultimately become like second nature to you.
Muslim-friendly Solo Travel doesn’t have to be grand.
It doesn’t need to be a month-long or a sabbatical trip to the other side of the world where the country has a high-value currency.
A Muslim-friendly Solo Travel can be a trip to the neighboring town, or state in your own country! You’ll be surprised at how eye-opening the trip can be.
Update someone you know on your whereabouts
You know how this works.
If you’re going into a remote area, update your family that you’ll be off-grid for days.
And give them essential information like the tour guide you’re going with.
Don’t feel guilty for paying extra.
As a Muslim Solo Traveler, there might be some extra charges that come with our trip because of reasons like…
- We would like to have space for praying. Hence, opting for Single Room makes sense.
- When Halal food is hard to find, go for Seafood / Vegetarian meals.
- We feel secure staying in a hotel located downtown a city rather than in a hostel filled with strangers in the shady part of the city.
These are valid reasons to pay extra. Don’t feel guilty for forking out a little extra from your budget.
As long as you can clear the worries from your mind and feel comfortable in your travels, nothing is as expensive as your “happy & relaxed mind” when traveling
Listen to your gut instincts!
Allah SWT gave us our gut instincts as powerful guidance. Do not brush it off.
Be it Halal food or safety, if you feel like something is off, or you’re just not comfortable with doing something.. trust your gut instincts!
Learn useful phrases, and basic self-defense
Before you embark on your Muslim Solo Travel experience, it is beneficial for you to know simple phrases of the country.
Phrases like Good Morning, How much is this, where is the washroom, can be handy. Besides that, you’ll also get to connect deeper with the local people!
Pin for later!
Finally, when joining tours as a Muslim Solo Traveler, some things to ask and check before paying are..
It was rare to find tours accomodating to single pax in the past. However, with the increase and awareness of solo travelers these days, tour guides have been more accepting of receiving solo travelers onboard.
Before you join a tour, ask them first if it is a Solo Traveler-friendly tour.
Regardless, there are also tours where the participants are made up of solo travelers. This type of tour makes it less scary to attend, as you know everyone else in the group is in the same boat as you.
You won’t also be left out as compared to other tours with couples inside.
Do ask about the dietary plans provided on tour. If it is a tour agent that knows Halal travel, there’s nothing to worry about.
But if it is in a destination where there are no Halal tour guides, you can check or negotiate with the tour guide on having a vegetarian meal, or eating on your own. Communicating is key.
Choose All-inclusive for the solo traveler
All-inclusive holidays for the solo traveler are becoming popular because there’s everything you can think of, in one location!
Some highly-raved All-inclusive resorts are Club Med (Turkiye & Cherating, Malaysia are good options)
I hope this article gives you an understanding of what a Muslim Solo Traveler is, and the special needs this community look for in their travels as compared to other solo travelers out there!
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Looking for the best places for a Muslim Solo Traveler? Check out these articles!
- 21 Things To Do on Your Solo Trip to Dubai [With Sample Itinerary]
- Solo Travel Washington DC (Muslim-Friendly Guide)
- Solo travel in Philadelphia (Muslim-friendly guide)
- Solo Trip To Chicago: A Muslim-friendly Guide
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