As spring break coincides with Ramadan, non-fasting students may feel uncertain about traveling to countries that celebrate the holiday, but they do not need to be discouraged.

First-year IR student Sophia Rehim visited her family in Egypt over spring break and said Ramadan is not a barrier for visitors. There are stores and restaurants open, although the hours may differ depending on where you are. 

“I can imagine outside of my culture, it would be a little tough to travel during Ramadan, but it’s nothing that is impossible to adapt to. You are not meant to fast while traveling, so stuff at the airport is open. In Egypt, we just stay up really late and wake up late because of Ramadan, so I‘m not awake for long before iftar—stores are just less busy but [still] open the same hours,” said Rehim.

Poppy Maynard, a first-year Journalism student, traveled to Qatar for the break. In Qatar, eating or drinking during daylight hours can be punishable by law. To allow tourists to visit, many open restaurants will have the blinds down so that people cannot see in or out, according to Maynard. 

“Although it’s very different, it just means that when the sun goes down, the country is very lively. Everyone is so welcoming during this time of the year. I’ve been to a few iftars at restaurants, and hearing prayers from all the mosques is so special and unique,” said Maynard.

The people who keep the stores and restaurants open during the day are usually fasting themselves. Eniz, a student living in Antalya, Turkey, worked during Ramadan from 11 until sunset while fasting. 

Photo by: Mae Bryant

“The first week was hard because I am not used to working while I’m fasting, especially while working in a restaurant. Our food is just too good. It was very hard, but after that I just got used to it,” said Eniz. 

After sunset, those fasting break their fast with meals, or iftar, as frequently as every two hours, which helps store energy for the next day, according to Eniz. It depends on what a particular country’s laws are, but foreigners are free to eat at any time of the day, usually preferring to do so in private out of respect for those fasting.

Traveling to countries that celebrate Ramadan offers those unfamiliar with the practice an insight into different cultures. While students should research how Ramadan could change their travel experience, it should not be discouraging, as it could enrich their adventures even more.