Here are my best travel tips Muslim women must know when flying. As a hijabi who has visited 30+ countries, I know it is hard sometimes to make yourself comfortable on an aeroplane when you have to keep your modesty and sleep.
I will style my headscarf or wear a hat or a turban, depending on my mood.
Almost always, though, I will pass security in an airport with my hijab on as it saves me the question, “Ma’am, please remove your hat too”.
However, most of the time, I have no problem passing through airport security as a hijabi.
With so many Muslims travelling these days, they know what to expect, and if needed, they will ask you to step into the private room.
I have had flights up to 15hr long straight and being a Muslim and a hijabi, I struggled with those long-haul flights.
So here are all my best tips as a Muslimah and how to make yourself comfortable on an aeroplane.
Best Travel Tips for Muslim Women When Flying
1. Hydrate your face and hair
I will usually wash my hair before a flight and hydrate it with a mask to prepare it for the dry air and the longitude during my flight.
Wearing a hijab for many hours puts a strain on our hair, and combined with the dry air in the sky, it makes it even worse.
I also do the same with my face and wear a hydrating mask the night before my flight. My skin doesn’t feel as tight during or after the flight
I love the Olaplex and Coco and Even hair masks, which leave my hair super shiny and healthy.
For my face, I love the Clarins SOS hydrating mask. I have been using it for years, leaving my face always feeling good.
2. Upgrade your flight
Seriously, this is my favourite tip, and I love upgrading my economy flights to premium economy on points.
Also, depending on the time of year you travel, the difference between economy and premium economy can be only a couple of hundreds. So while you are searching, just check all three cabin categories because I know many people who don’t.
Definitely worth it for the extra space you get and additional baggage allowance.
You can read my article on upgrading your flight here.
3. Fly on red-eye flights
Before I became a mum, I preferred to fly long-haul flights at night.
During night flights, most people are sleeping, and as they dim the lights, I always loosen my hijab to let my hair breathe more.
Because our hair is tied up most of the time, it can start hurting; it is good to loosen it up.
Now that I try to travel during the daytime with a toddler, I try to wear a turban that is easy to put on, or I will just wear my hijab once over my head and let my hair underneath lose.
4. Get a hoodie
As a hijabi, I always try to find ways to make myself comfortable because no matter what cabin class you are flying, you still want to be modest but comfy.
When flying, I will wear my most comfortable clothes, which generally include a hoodie sweatshirt long enough to cover me and my hair. These types of clothing are super comfy for travelling; if you don’t want to wear it at the airport, just pack it in your hand luggage.
Before sleeping, I remove my hairband and leave my hair to lose under my hoodie. This way, I don’t feel that my hair is stretched and hurt after hours of being tied tight in a ponytail. I leave it loose and free under my scarf to feel relaxed.
As most people are already sleeping and the lights are off, not many will notice it. If you feel uncomfortable that your hair might show a little, you can also wear a headband to keep the front of your hair intact.
5. Easy to wear shoes
I don’t know if you are the type of traveller that removes their shoes on a plane, but I do. I always have an extra pair of socks over my regular ones if I wear any.
Note, I never go to the bathroom without my shoes; this is gross.
However, I highly recommend you fly with easy-to-put-on shoes. For example, I will travel with slip-on or ballet flats that I can put on when I need to go to the bathroom or stretch.
For the rest of my flight, I remove my shoes and place them under my seat. This way, I don’t have any pressure on my feet as they swell during flights.
6. Have a second hijab and a fresh top
Most of us might not travel in business or first class, where we can have a flatbed and a shower, but I like to feel fresh after arriving at my destination.
It doesn’t matter If I will head to sleep or a day of exploring; I prefer to feel fresh and ready for the day ahead of me.
That is why I always pack a new hijab and a new top that won’t wrinkle in my hand luggage. I always travel with tops in my hand luggage that doesn’t need ironing.
Economy class is not known for the most comfortable sleeping arrangement your scarf and clothes become wrinkly therefore not so “fresh”.
What I do is that just before landing, I will go and change in the restroom into a new top, brush my teeth and wear a new hijab that is wrinkle-free and clean.
7. Drink Water
Drinking water is super important when flying long haul. I know toilets can be filthy, and sometimes you want to avoid them, but your body needs hydration. I usually buy a little bottle from the duty-free shop and have it to drink throughout the flight.
I would also avoid the tea and coffee from the cart as they can dehydrate you, and also, I have heard they are not the cleanest. The same applies to fizzy drinks too.
8. Choose a window seat
I know aeroplane seating is a personal choice and people are particular, but personally, I prefer window seats.
First, you can get some great views and photos; second, you can sleep and rest against the window; and third, it makes for a great safe place to relax your hijab. Plus, you don’t have to move whenever your companions need to use the bathroom.
9. Have a self-care pack
Even if we don’t fly in business class, where they give you those amenity kits, I always make my own at home.
I put everything I might need on my flight in a small pouch; even the transparent one from security will do. I then pack a mini face cream, travel toothpaste and toothbrush, antibacterial gel or wipes, a lip balm and hand cream.
Once seated, I will take out my wipes and wipe the whole place in front of me. If I am travelling with my daughter, I do the same on her side.
Also, if I pray during a flight, I wash my face and then use my face cream and lip balm because my face gets dehydrated quickly and becomes itchy.
It always helps, and it makes you feel much better and fresh.
Yes, fighting to make wudu or change clothes in a small bathroom is not always comfortable, but it does the job.
So there are my favourite travel tips Muslim women should know and that I personally use on every flight. It is my survival kit on long-haul flights and keeping my sanity.