Travelling to Europe for many Muslims these days can be intimidating. I don’t want to say scary because it shouldn’t be, as Europe is still very much a Muslim friendly place. I just came back from a recent European trip and things went very smoothly and it was super fun. Another friend just returned from a girly trip to Europe as well all without any problems. And they shouldn’t be if you are prepared and you know what to expect when travelling to Europe.
I receive a lot of emails from Muslims who want to travel through Europe alone but are not sure about it. There is no easy answer to this and I don’t want to get into a debate whether Muslim women should travel alone but I have put together some of my “must do” if you decide to go.
Many Muslim women worry that hijab will be a “red flag” for non-Muslims and that you will feel intimidated. During my travels through Europe I haven’t felt intimidated but rather made feel welcomed.
Before I was married I did travel alone, as a convert with a corporate job I kind of didn’t have an option. But I also definitely didn’t want to be stuck at home waiting for the prince on the white horse. So I did travel and had fun. We know that for men it is easier to travel but I think both genders should be equally careful when travelling solo.
Start with Your Dua (Prayer)
There is no better protector than the one high above. So make sure that before every trip you make your dua and intention. He is the only one that can keep you safe no matter what. That is a way to start your journey.
Book a Reputable Hotel
One of the most important things for me and the one that I am happy to pay good money is my accommodation. You can use hotel loyalty programs to bring the cost down of your accommodation, but a reputable hotel in a good location can provide the safety you need when travelling. It is more unlikely to get robbed or have problems with your hotel if you choose an international brand plus most of the times they have properties in the city centre making it super convenient. Always read the TripAdvisor reviews and look online for the cheapest deal.
Trust your Instinct
The best way to tell if something is wrong is to trust your instincts, they are usually never wrong. If something doesn’t feel right when on the road don’t push it, just remove yourself from the situation. Better miss on an event than be sorry later. No matter what the situation my inner voice is almost 99% right and that 0,01 % is usually because I try to ignore it.
Share your itinerary
As a solo Muslim woman travelling you definitely want to share your itinerary with a friend or a family member, just so they can keep track of you. Just in case something happens there is one person always knowing your location. I love using Uber in Europe for this reason too, you can easily share your ETA with someone else and this definitely makes me feel more safe. Plus it’s a great way to avoid being scammed, see below.
Register with your embassy
I know this is extreme but many consulates and embassies have programs where you can register with them. In essence, you let your government know you are in town and if something happens you are on their radar. This will make it much easier in case of an emergency.
Avoid the scams
Sadly Europe does have a lot of scamming and pickpocketing so when travelling solo be extra careful. Don’t stop to talk to some random salesman offering your bracelets in Rome or Milan. Preferably if you need to withdraw money out of your bank account do so within a bank branch especially rather than outside. You want to avoid drawing attention to yourself.
Visit the local mosque
As a Muslim woman traveling it is a great way to make friends with local sisters. Visit the local mosque, many European cities have female prayer facilities so this is not a problem. Search online for the central mosque in the city and pay them a visit. You might be invited to try some local food too or have a tour guide for the day.
Join a Free Walking Tour
If you want to keep your independence but still want to explore some of what the city has to offer, join a Free walking tour. It is a great way to meet other single travellers too, have a local tour guide and see the city. It’s a win-win and definitely a lot of fun. There are even themed free walking tours so look online for some in your preferred destination.
You are definitely not alone. You will see so many Muslim women through your travelers either travelling or living in Europe. There is not even one city where I have not seen a Muslim and I have been to more cities than I can remember.
Muslims are everywhere and it’s great because number one, there is always halal food available and number two travelling is one of the best ways to break misconceptions about Islam and see what this beautiful world has to offer. So pack your bags and safe travels.