The travel bug has bitten all of us and is here to stay. Everyone raves about the gorgeous countries they’ve visited, the delicious local cuisine they sampled, and all the friendly people they’ve met along the way. For Muslim travellers especially, we travel with the intention of not only exploring this vast world that Allah SWT has created, but to also act as ambassadors of Islam and spreading the message of peace 🙌
However, behind the wanderlust-y Instagram shots and the fascinating tales of your global adventures, there’s certain matters that you never really tell anyone about. Travelling isn’t always smooth-sailing. That exciting, carefree trip you’ve been dreaming about for months may face several (unanticipated) hurdles along the way and time isn’t always on your side. Here’s 8 things about travelling that no one really tells you about, till you experience it yourself!
1. Unexpected travel delays
Imagine walking through the departure hall doors, eager to hop on the next flight out but you suddenly hear the airport speakers blaring announcements regarding flight delays. Your heart drops to your stomach for a moment, and you cross your fingers, hoping that you’re not one of the affected passengers. You look up at the humongous board displaying the relevant flight information and stare in horror as the status of your flight rapidly changes from ‘Boarding’ to ‘Delayed’ 😞
Credit: Gabriel Jorby on Flickr
Now, while this might come off as a tad dramatic, flight delays are truly a cause for concern. When planning our itineraries, most of us won’t factor in the possibility of such incidences – which result in a major time crunch for the remainder of your trip. You’ll either have your trip cut short (which is the worst-case scenario) or compromise on some of the attractions you’ve always wanted to visit.
Credit: Joshua Ganderson on Flickr
Though a life-saver at times, technology can also be the bane of your existence. Transiting somewhere and thought that there’ll be no hiccups along the way? The system may just forgo your booking and you’ll be making your way to an overbooked flight. Depending on weather conditions and frequency of flights, you could be waiting for hours (even days!) for the next available seat 😭
#HHWT Tip: Be reimbursed up to SGD1000 with HyfeAssure travel insurance ! You can claim SGD100 for every 6 hours of waiting, which you can use for your next short getaway instead 😊
2. Dealing with loss/delay of baggage
After going through what can only be described as a complete and utter nightmare (waiting around aimlessly sure isn’t fun), you’ve finally reached the destination of your dreams. But wait… Where on earth is your luggage? You’ve been at the baggage claim for a while now and while every other passenger has gotten theirs, your luggage’s nowhere in sight.
Credit: Thomas Angermann on Flickr
Baffled, you make your way to the nearest airport staff and after making some checks, they nonchalantly inform you that your baggage’s either delayed or was ‘accidentally’ placed on another flight and they can no longer track it. Though you’re never been the materialistic sort, you NEED at least some of the items in your luggage to survive – extra cash, winter clothes, medication?! 😰
Credit: @bigchefnikay on Instagram
With a heavy heart, you fill in a delayed/loss baggage report and fervently pray that one way or another, you’ll get your belongings back. For now, though, make do with what’s in your carry-on and pick up some essentials along the way – improvisation is key! If you’re covered by HyfeAssure, you can claim up to SGD1000 for your delayed baggage and up to SGD5000 for loss baggage when you return to Singapore. Swing by any Changi Recommends counters in Changi Airport to claim up to SGD200* instantly!
3. Expanding your horizons as a Muslim traveller
As Muslim travellers, the availability of halal food and finding the nearest prayer space is of utmost concern. Living in our home country, we’ve become so accustomed to such necessities being within reach that once we’re thrust out into the open world, we start second-guessing ourselves, especially in a non-Muslim majority country. “Is this halal? Can I eat it?”; these are some of the burning questions HHWT gets asked daily.
It’s important to do your own personal checks, however thorough it may be. Ask the individual vendors if the food item you’re interested in buying contains alcohol, gelatin or is free of any derivatives. If you don’t share a common language, useful visuals and hand gestures will do. Once you’re cleared of any doubts, there’s tons of Muslim-friendly options for you to try.
Credit: @tityhsb on Instagram
Bear in mind that not all countries have religious certifying bodies, and even if they do, there may be various organisations with differing guidelines. Above all else, it’s up to your own discretion and what you’re comfortable with. Always go with your gut!
Credit: @hijabimeetsworld on Instagram
The entire world can also be a prayer space, if you allow it to be. I’ve seen people pray by the sidewalk in Mecca, taxi drivers have been photographed in mid-prayer on top of their vehicles in New York and so on. A famous quote by Rumi is as follows: “Witness His wonders, lose yourself in awe.” Allah SWT has always encouraged us to travel – to see His creations and be reminded of Him. Expand your horizons, throw all doubts out of the window and stop limiting yourself!
4. The risk of being a target of tourist scams
Even if you’re never been a victim of a tourist trap, you’ve probably heard all kinds of horror stories from your friends and family. From getting pick-pocketed in broad daylight, being offered ‘free gifts’ from strangers who’ll demand payment later, to more extreme cases like being practically held hostage by the shop-owner who refuses to let you go without making a purchase, being a traveller has its risks.
Credit: @annelineholland on Instagram
To avoid being a victim of tourist scams, it’s best to take the necessary precautions and be well-aware of your own personal safety. Keep your valuables with you at all times, NEVER place your phone/wallet in your back pocket and always place your bag in front of you (particularly in crowded spaces).
Credit: @nomadtravelapparel on Instagram
With that in mind, while it’s not wrong to practice caution, don’t be wary of interacting with the locals because there are truly genuine and kind souls out there. For Hamdun al-Qassar said, “If a friend among your friends errs, make seventy excuses for them. If your hearts are unable to do this, then know that the shortcoming is in your own selves.” [Imam Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman, 7.522]
#HHWT Tip: There’s a way for you to earn back some of the cash you lost! Opt for insurance coverage from HyfeAssure and claim up to SGD500. HyfeAssure plans are also affordable, and if you use the promo code 50OFF, plans start from only SGD3.50/day 👍
5. The woes of falling sick while travelling
Let me just say this, travelling while you’re sick is one of the worst feelings ever! All you want to do is to go out and explore the city, making the most of your time there but your immune system just can’t keep up with your enthusiasm 😷 It puts a damper on your mood when you’re constantly sniffling or feeling nauseous. Plus, depending on which country you’re in, medication can get costly if you’re visiting the doctor as a foreigner – which adds to your travel expenses.
Credit: @cupcakerist on Instagram
Though you may have taken care to not fall sick prior to the trip, the drastic change in climate/weather may not be in your favour. To combat this, sip on a hot cuppa every now and then and stick to less strenuous activities like cafe-hopping, visiting the local museum or taking a peaceful stroll along the local markets. So, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of ways to fully immerse yourself in the culture without compromising on your health.
Credit: @justin_yuwa on Instagram
Avoid over-exerting yourself at all costs because it’ll delay your recovery! Though if self-medication seems to have no effect, it’s best to consult the local doctors and get the correct medication 😊
#HHWT Tip: Under HyfeAssure’s Overseas Medical Expenses coverage, you can claim medical fees for up to SGD250,000! This scheme is also perfect for families as it covers travellers of all ages (children, adults to seniors).
6. Finding the cure to loneliness
Travelling solo is a daring step that many avid adventurers are taking, with the biggest perk being having complete freedom of choosing where/when to go and which activities to tick off your travel bucket list. From staring up at the towering ancient architecture in Greece to sitting by the canals in Venice and watching the gondolas pass you by, you can’t help but marvel at the fact that you’re just a small speck in the universe.
You have this moment of contemplation, knowing that there’s so much about the world that you don’t know about. There’s this pressing urge to share these sentiments with someone, and that’s when the feeling of loneliness overwhelms you. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll meet lots of amazing people who’ll leave their mark and change you for the better. They’re short, meaningful chapters in your story, but all chapters have an ending.
Similarly, long-term travellers are akin to drifters – they don’t spend much time in one place or don’t have a permanent place to go home to. Even if you’re completely comfortable with spending time alone, being alone and feeling lonely are two completely different things. Perhaps, the next time you’re sitting on a train alone, approach a stranger and strike up a friendly conversation. While you might feel sad knowing that every chapter has an ending, the thrill of starting a new chapter never goes away 😌
7. Expectations Vs Reality
The expectations you have before the trip and what you actually experience later on never seem to match up. Plans get cancelled, bad weather causes you to miss flights/buses/trains, or if you’re travelling in a group, disagreements are bound to take place and people flare up. Thanks to Instagram filters or digital manipulation, that gorgeous sight of the city skyline you’ve always wanted to capture might just turn out to be dull and lacklustre.
Credit: Jordan Fischer on Flickr
All these things are part and parcel of every person’s travel journey. Don’t let this dampen your spirits – think of how you can adapt and make the best of a worst-case scenario. Stuck in an airport waiting lounge with only your phone for company? Look up nearby locations that you can swing by – they don’t have to be the best tourist attractions. It’s pouring rain outside and you want to take a walk around the city? Grab a poncho and brave the storm!
Credit: Jackie.lck on Flickr
Remember there’s always a chance of a rainbow after a heavy storm 🌈 Much like how by not allowing yourself to be restricted to conventional travel experiences and getting out of your comfort zone, you’ll discover and have experiences you never knew existed. Every cloud has a silver lining, no matter how dark and dreary, you just need to remain optimistic 😊
8. Removing the rose-tinted tourist glasses
Crossing the top tourist attractions off your list and savouring the best local dishes is an accomplishment in its own right. Immersing yourself in the local culture and customs is an experience like no other. Still, are you just viewing the country through a tourist’s perspective and does this impact what you know about the country as a whole?
Credit: Pure spirit on Facebook
For example, when you bypass the tourist hotspots and go off the beaten path, you’ll realise not everything is all glitz and glamour. Have you ever heard about some cities/towns around the world – half of them are dedicated to promoting tourism whereas for the other half, there are locals still living in poverty? It really puts into perspective how incredibly privileged all of us are to be able to step foot out of our home country and embark on an adventure anytime we wish.
Credit: @refugeesthroughmyeyes on Instagram
My friends have told me stories of how in Paris, throngs of tourists visit Champs Elysees and Sacre Coeur Cathedral, with massive shopping bags in hand. Yet, you’ll also see dozens of homeless migrant workers and refugees from Afghanistan and Somalia who fled to the city to escape the violent and tumultuous conditions of their home country. The clear contrast between those sleeping on the cold streets and those fortunate enough to be out for a day of shopping is truly heart-breaking. As Muslims, we aspire to be ambassadors of peace, so what can we do to help those in need? Something to reflect about on your flight home 🙏
Travelling has never been a rigid process, it’s flexible and subject to many factors that you have no control over (though I sure wish we had control over bad weather 😪). However, there are still worst-case scenarios that’s within your spheres of control. Insurance can provide monetary comfort for when you’re feeling down about your trip not going as well as you expected.
HyfeAssure by Changi Travel Services for instance, covers everything from medical expenses, travel delays, damaged, missing or delayed luggage and more! Unlike most claims that can take up to two weeks to process, you can receive cash claims of up to $200* instantly at any Changi Recommends counters in Changi Airport. Use the promo code 50OFF to enjoy plans from just $3.50/day👍 This awesome deal is for a limited time only, so fastest fingers first!
All you have to do is to submit the claim form, provide relevant documentation and you’ll get your claims on the spot! Another useful take away for your future travels 🤗
*Terms and conditions apply.
This article was brought to you by Changi Recommends.