What is this website about?
MuslimTravelGirl helps you find Halal travel holidays, provides DIY Umrah tips and helps Muslim travellers explore Allah’s world! As simple and complicated as this may sound it is an achievable reality. This website is predominantly for Muslims who would like to travel around the world and learn more about Muslim friendly / Halal holidays.
Additionally, I do have an awesome audience who are not Muslims and I do try to give them an insight into what we the “crazy Muslims” are like. I hope I can be a positive image of Islam to the world and share wonderful travel adventures with you all.
Who is this website for?
If you want to travel more and learn all the tricks of some of the best ‘DIY holidays’ that cost half of what it would normally do when you are in the right place. Stick it out and read some more.
I predominantly write for ‘newbies’, who are not familiar with the travel hacks available to them. I write about miles and points which not many Muslims use and I aim to change the perception we have that travel is expensive.
The young generation of Muslims like myself don’t only travel “back home”, we want to see the world and this website teaches you how to do this for less and provides some inspiration (hopefully) to experience the World. Allah SWT created this beautiful world and we are part of it, as the Quran Says:
”… and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. “ (Quran 49:13)
In this website, you will find information on predominately two categories
• Miles and Points
• Deals and Travel hacks available to make your money go further
I know many people travel for less, and I knew there are tricks but when I discovered how much I can save it was crazy. Muslims have an amazing consumer power and yet we don’t use much of these strategies. We stick to package deals and the conventional type of savings.
What is your background?
I came from Greece to the UK to study. I did my bachelors in International Business and Management and then my Masters in Islamic Finance. I am also a Chartered Islamic Marketer with the Islamic Marketing Association and I have several years of corporate experience in marketing and social media before I started this blog. I have also been part of several NGO initiatives.
I have travel and marketing as my passions. Since I was born with the travel bug and I love talking to people they seemed to be a match made in heaven. I still work with companies on a consultancy basis on social media, marketing and branding. To read more about me here.
How can you travel the world for so cheap?
I have been to amazing places for extremely low cost because of all the “travel secrets” I have discovered and I share them with you here. I use a moderate amount of miles and points for my travel as well as other travel hacks I have learned over the years. I stack up on deals when possible and use every available trick to make my money go further. Also, I have to admit I have an amazing husband who loves holidays so he chips in on my budget. 😉
But where do I finance my travels from?
I don’t make thousands of pounds a month contrary to what people think but I have some amazing readers.
They love me and appreciate what I do so they use some of the affiliate links that I have available. When they use the affiliate links I get a small commission, it’s not much but it helps to run the site. I also have some amazing courses coming up and books that help people save thousands on travels which you can buy on my website. I have an E-book on Umrah under $500 where I show people all the steps to do Umrah for less. I am preparing an e-courses on general travel that can help families experience the world Allah SWT created without breaking the bank. I do occasional travel bespoke work for those special trips and moments in your life such as honeymoons, family trips and Umrah. You can find more about my services under “Work with me”.
If you like and benefit from what you see on MuslimTravelGirl and you would love to support me you can use my referral links to book your hotel and flights. I personally use those as I would never recommend anything that is not “value for money”. I appreciate every help and support as it goes towards keeping up the website.
Do you always travel business class?
No, I don’t. I wish I did since it’s so awesome but I sometimes can’t find the money or justify the cost or points. Since I do have to work hard to accumulate these points they are usually more valuable to me than money! At least this is what my husband says, who has little understanding of the values of points. 😉
I am an “experience” person meaning I would prefer to spend extra cash on my hotel and fine dining than a business class seat. Travelling for long in an economy seat can be tiring and I do have a back problem and I can be very dangerous when in pain and grouchy. Just ask my husband. So I do avoid extra long flights for this reason, unless the deal was irresistible.
I am new to this, where do I start from?
First of all welcome to the site. I am excited that you have discovered us and I am sure you will love what is in store for you here. So many things to read comprehend and understand. Sometimes the world of travel can be complicated; when I started it took me months and thousands of hours to “get it”. Hopefully, you don’t have to spend that much time, as I have tried to make everything as easy as possible for you. As a newbie I welcome you and I suggest you start with the “Start Here” if you have any questions check out our Readers Questions which I will keep updating with the daily questions I receive. If you can’t find your answer there then feel free to drop me an email via the contact form and I will be happy to help.
What are all these miles and points you are talking about?
Miles or points are all around us in the form of loyalty programs. I am sure you have signed up for a dozen loyalty programs, from airlines to retailers and even your local supermarket. Effectively they are reward currencies from each retailer giving you a little something back and thanking you for your loyalty. Stores want you to be loyal and it is easier to give you something back than acquire a new customer.
Most likely you have signed up for so many programs that you have lost track. Me too! Years ago I use to receive all these emails with offers but I never actually received anything valuable.
One example for me was travelling in business class on aeroplanes.
Back in my first year of studies in the UK, I was upgraded to business on the way back from Greece. I was impressed. It was so cool and they even gave you ice-cream and proper cutlery. Needless to say, every time I was praying to get an upgrade again, it never happened. I had a vague idea that I had to sign up for their loyalty program so I did, and then I took a flight with the airline and nothing. I didn’t even have enough miles for an economy ticket one way. If this sounds familiar then you know what I am talking about.
However a few years ago I really did spend a few months and a few hours a day learning the ins and outs of the programs that work. I have spent thousands of hours learning all the tricks on how to actually get business class upgrades or economy flights for far less than ever expected. It is all down to the right loyalty programs. There are certain ways you can travel more and pay less with the currency of each airline.
It is a matter of finding the right program and the right way of using it and redeeming the best manner possible.
What are loyalty programs?
Every major retailer has loyalty programs; some are better than others. All airlines have programs they call their currency miles. Emirates, Etihad, American Airlines, British Airways and others have a program where you can sign up and earn miles. When you fly you earn miles, statuses and bonus perks like lounge access, free baggage and others.
There are also international hotel chains loyalty programs such as Hilton, Intercontinental, Marriott, Hyatt, Club Carlson and others. Mostly they call them points and you earn points when you stay with them. The more you stay the more you earn (or not). You can receive free upgrades to nicer rooms, lounge access for free snacks and drinks and later check out times among other benefits.
There are many ways you can earn these points and miles and at the same time not having to spend thousands or fly so often. These are the travel tricks I cover and others in this blog. As I have said before my aim is to help Muslims travel in style without breaking the bank by taking advantage of what the travel industry has to offer.
Check out the guide to loyalty programs here.
I don’t travel much can I still earn points?
Yes, you can.
One thing people assume is that they have to fly or spend nights in hotels all the time to earn those perks and rewards. There are plenty of ways to earn points even if you don’t travel. This, of course, depends on your location but today most companies have similar programs in any country. Here I mostly post about Europe and North America, however, there are similar programs in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
You can earn points via many different ways such as credit or charge cards, hotel offers, cash-back sites and more. There is something for everyone. What it takes is to be consistent and have a goal in mind. It is not an overnight process and there is a small learning curve but I will try to minimise this for you via this site.
Here are some resources that can be useful to you:
• TopCashback Guide
• Travel Strategy
• Muslim Friendly Card
I am Muslim can I use miles and points?
Loyalty programs are rewards in return for your loyalty. So far I have not found a negative correlation. I know many scholars who do make use of these programs themselves. I cannot comment on the permissibility and it depends on the individuals as I am not an Islamic scholar but from my research, I have seen no forbiddance.
Many Muslims use these today as they are just ways of helping you save on travel and maximizing the benefits of what the travel industry has to offer.
How can I earn miles and points and not travel
As I said above there are many ways you can earn miles and points without having to travel too much or spend too much.
Your first option will be via cashback sites such as TopCashback UK/USA & Quidco in the UK and Ebates in the US. You can find a guide about using those here.
Credit and charge card signups that can help you accumulate thousands of points. I know people who earn their points and travel predominantly this way. Please be careful when you use those. As a Muslim, I know credit cards are a “necessary evil” for many of us and they can still be beneficial if you use them right. See section on credit cards.
Hotels have offers sometimes that can be very lucrative when combined and used carefully. These can require very little spend and yet give you very big rewards. Read my article on a previous promotion from Intercontinental hotels that gave you two free nights anywhere in the world.
Airlines many times have offers and partner with hotels where you can earn thousands of points if you stay in X brand and you credit your stay to the airline. I have done this numerous times and it is awesome.
What I usually try to do is to make my money go further. So for example, if I will be travelling somewhere for a family vacation I will try and combine a few deals together. This way I can earn enough points from my stay so my next holiday is free or almost free.
It does require a little planning but it can be very lucrative. On this website, you will find the section with the later deals so you can have a look before your trip. If you read my blog regularly you will know pretty much many secrets to make it super cheap.
Which airlines & hotels have the best programs?
There are so many programs out there that it is impossible to keep track of all so I prefer to concentrate on the ones that give me, and I believe other Muslims the best value for money/time. These can be used to enjoy family travel or make a pilgrimage to Makkah. On MuslimTravelGirl I mostly discuss Avios, Etihad, Virgin and a few more depending on the offers available. The reason for this is that these programs are international and can be used by all my readers whether they are in the UK, Europe or North America. They do offer good value for money and they are quite easy to earn.
Which is your favourite hotel brand?
There are different brands for different purposes and people’s preferences. What I like, and my needs might not be the same as yours if you have a large family or a different budget. I have a couple of hotel chains that I love for their ability to offer good benefits such as free breakfast, lounge access for free hotel drinks and room upgrades.
One of them is Hilton which is brilliant since they have four properties in Makkah alone and also many more choices around the world. There is always a Hilton I can stay in and earn points. They do have generous offers as well which is always a bonus and their loyalty program is good.
Another one is Hyatt though they are mostly US-based. However, they do have a property in Makkah which is awesome and you can earn generous points with them. I tried Hyatt after a Diamond status match (highest membership level) and I love their benefits, offers and hospitality. So I kind of became hooked. I guess their strategy to convert me to a customer via status match worked.
Intercontinental will be the last one of my top three brands, they are the “mother” brand of Holiday Inn hotels. Their coverage is great and their point offers are awesome. I have found great benefit in redeeming their points as well as earning them. However, I can’t say their highest status is anything special so I don’t expect much. They also have two properties in Makkah which make for great redemption options.
I want a cheap holiday how I can book it?
This is a question I get asked a lot. First, it’s hard to measure what is cheap for you or me since this is subjective. For example, a cheap holiday for some can be £1000 for a week where for me it can be £500 for the week. It all depends on your need and circumstances. On the blog, you will find many ideas on how to make your holiday as cheap as possible.
Here is a list of all the companies I use in order to book and search for my holidays.
Some of these links are affiliate links which means if you book via them I will earn a small commission to keep this site going. I really appreciate your love and support in doing so. The companies that I have chosen there are all the ones I use and I would never recommend a company just for the sake of it if I don’t believe or find believe in them for me or you.
Can you help me book my holiday?
Yes, I can.
First, the blog has awesome information that you can read and implement. If you find that you need some help I am happy to point you in the right direction. If you want more in-depth help with finding and booking I also do offer a travel consultancy service where I can help you put together an awesome package holiday specifically for you and save you money in the process.
You can find my services page here.
Credit cards, Islam and churning?
Today there are many credit cards offering rewards. Here I mostly recommend the American Express Rewards Gold Card which is a charge card and not a credit card. I do this because it is not a credit card and it needs to be paid in full. I would not want Muslims getting in debt and not being able to pay their cards as we know debt in Islam is not encouraged.
The best way to earn miles is by sign-up bonuses for credit cards. There are many great offers and sometimes the miles can be irresistible. Many Muslims today use credit cards and it is better to switch to a credit card that will help you travel and reward you for your spending. Now we all know that Islamically we are not allowed to borrow interest and I will never encourage you to do this if you are going to run into debt and you cannot afford to pay it back. However, I am presenting to you facts about what is available and what you can take advantage of, and it is entirely up to you to make the decision.
If you are thinking, then why do you write about this option, as it is haram? Here is my argument and many more knowledgeable people have said it. In today’s society, unfortunately, we cannot avoid the financial institutions or the credit cards, or the bank account and anything else financial related. Most of us have credit cards as they offer consumer protection on large purchases, and I will assume you pay off every month the full amount, so you are not charged interest. If you use your card within the limits it is set, and you do not over the purchase and you pay it off at the end of the month, then there is nothing wrong with having and using a credit card.
The problem starts when you spend more than you earn and you don’t have the means to cover it. I don’t want to encourage people to have so many cards that they can’t afford to pay them off. I don’t also encourage churning since it can be hard to control.
How do you earn miles from card sign ups?
Companies give you the sign-up bonuses on these cards not because they like you but because they want your custom. For example, the American Express Gold card gives you 20,000 (22,000 if you are referred) as a standard option. This is enough for 2-3 return flights in the economy within Europe from the UK and within the US using Avios.
Usually, you have to hit a spending limit and you get these points. Most of the limits are quite reasonable and possible. What many people hitting the spending limit and then they cancel the card; which means they have the card for a short period of time. I have kept my Amex Gold as my go-to card but I have done this with other cards which I know I will not use again as they don’t offer great value. If you feel comfortable to do this you can and when I find good offers I will post them on the website under the deals tab.
Make sure you pay them every month, you do not want to have to pay interest. If this is the case please don’t do this and stick with only one card that is good for you.