The holy month of Ramadan, which involves fasting from sunrise to sunset for 30 days, began on Monday. While this may sound grueling, most Muslims have created their own cultural ways to celebrate. But a pair of New Yorkers have managed to come up with one of the most quintessentally American ways yet: a road trip, of course!
Two years ago, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq decided to break their fast in a different mosque in the New York area every day, and blogged about it at 30 Mosques. Inspired by the warmth of the Muslim diaspora in the city, they went national last year: 30 mosques, 30 days, 30 states. Though exhausting (you try logging 400 miles a day on an empty stomach for a month straight!), the experience was life-changing, opening the duo's—and the blog's avid readers' (myself included!)—minds to the diversity and beauty of the American Muslim community. They visited the infamous Park51 community center near Ground Zero in Manhattan, a Cambodian American community in California, a Bosnian mosque in Idaho, and the site of the oldest mosque in the U.S. in North Dakota. They ended the month by celebrating Eid in Dearborn, Michigan, home of one of the largest Muslim communities in the country.
This year, Aman and Bassam are taking it to the next level by hitting up the 20 states they missed last Ramadan (Alaska and Hawaii included!) and revisiting some old favorites. Planes, trains, automobiles, boats: virtually no mode of travel will be left out on what promises to be a truly epic adventure. I chatted with Bassam (Aman was too busy with last-minute preps before they took off to Alaska the next day) to get the scoop on everything from how they plan their itinerary to how many pairs of underwear they pack.
Q: How did this idea come about?
Q: What were some of the highlights from last year's trip?
Q: What can we expect this year?
Q: What tools are necessary when planning for a trip like this?
Q: What exactly does one pack for a monthlong trek across 30 states?
Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure. You can follow her on Twitter @BySarahKhan.