My Travel Story to Umrah Part 1

| March 31, 2014 | Comments (0)
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Plan to visit for Umrah staring of new year 2014

There’s a quick detail in about me section where you can learn about my profile.

Last year (2013),I planned to visit Makkah with my family along with one of my brother who currently resides in Uk. We decided to meet at Saudi Arabia where my family & me were to leave from Pakistan and my brother from UK. In short, this made us total of four adults (me, my wife, my father and my brother from UK) and 2 kids(3 year daughter and 1 year boy).

As a first check for travelling to Makkah, you must have your documents ready to perform Umrah.

Few essential documents you need to apply for an Umrah Visa.

  1. You must have valid government issued ID card with you.
  2. You must have valid Passport with minimum 6 months of expire date.
  3. Passport size pictures.
  4. If children are travelling with you, they must have their Form B or (ID Card)
  5. For Ladies, they must come up with a proof that they are not travelling alone and they have some Mehram with them, without it, you not can get the visa issued by Saudi Government.

    Passport

    Passport

So considering the first check, we had prepared our documentation including our passports and arranged Form-B for my kids somewhere near October 2013. As soon as I was done with arranging required documentation, the next challenge for me was to look for some agent through which I could apply for visa.

For that, I scoured over the Internet & searched multiple websites to get detail and info on how to get Umrah visa. Following is a quick recap of my findings:

  1. To get Umrah Visa, you cannot apply directly to embassy.
  2.  You can only apply visa through some agent who contacts the embassy on your behalf.

Visa with Residence

While searching for how to apply for Umrah Visa, I came across few Visa packages offered by different agencies /Travel agents with complete packages including hotel stay. The amount they were charging averaged PKR 25,000.00 for 7 to 8 days stay in Makkah/Madinah and it included transport too but no food.

Where to stay in Makkah.

Now, considering the current available travel agent packages in which they offered residence situated approx. in a radius of 1000 meter (1 Km)to 2000 meter (2 Km) away from Haram. This practically becomes really difficult to go to Haram with kids.

I discussed this with my bother in UK and we collectively we tried to figure out an alternative website that offers online hotel booking in Makkah. We came across thousands of them including expedia, hotel.com and we ended-up choosing booking.com

We planned our trip by booking a hotel for 4 days in Makkah and 4 days in Madinah. My advise to everyone reading this is to wisely choose a hotel and prefer the one which suits you nearest to Holy Kaba.

My preference in particular for booking a hotel was booking.com because they allow you to easily cancel your booking any time you want. This is contrast to many other hotel booking sites through which once you book a hotel, you can’t cancel it.

How to find flights

Since we (my brother and my family) had to meet-up in Saudi Arabia with different departure destinations, it was another challenge for me find and book the cheapest flights that could suit our schedule collectively. Again, I did some research online and found multiple online flight booking sites including Cheapoair.com and expedia and other online flight registration sites. Eventually, we choose  Saudia Air line flight from Lahore to  Jeddah at 23-Jan-2014 and my brother in London purchased his ticket on same Date 23-jan-2014 and was supposed to reach there at 9:30 pm (local time) while we were supposed to reach  in 24-jan near 2:00 am (local time).

Find a travel agent for Umrah Visa.

The pre-travel tasks were almost done including booking hotel in Mekkah and Medina & booking flight to Makkah. It was now time to find an agent to get us a visa but something at the back of my mind stopped me from approaching any of the regular agents.

Probably there were several reasons that resulted in such an action. Few of them included highly charged visa processing fee and the package they were offering within that fee. However, with a help of a friend, I found a travel agency and they agreed to apply visa for us and charged a nominal fee of PKR 15000 for adult/kids. All they asked me was to submit them my booking.com reservation details & our flight schedule. .

I paid the visa fee along with ticket fee. Starting from October, I was able to submit all required documents including passport/booking/money to travel agent somewhere around 15-Nov.We were all set to travel after 1 and half month, so we got good ticket rates near PKR 60,000 for per adult and 75% of which I had to pay for my daughter and 10% for my kids.

To be Continued as part 2.

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Category: Guidelines on performing Umrah

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