BACHAR Houli embarked on the trip of a lifetime during his recent off-season, with the Richmond half-back making a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

The devout Muslim said his Hajj journey was "the most amazing trip" he had made, describing it as a "combination of pure worship and incredible sightseeing".

The annual pilgrimage to Mecca is the world's largest gathering of Muslim people, and all able-bodied Muslims who can afford to do so must make the journey at least once in their life.

Now, inspired by his October journey, Houli wants to return in coming years with his wife, Rouba, who is less than two weeks away from giving birth to the couple's first child.

"It was just great to zone-out from worldly affairs and focus on myself as an individual," Houli wrote in his blog,

"My 22-day trip was full of reflection and as well as completing one of the five pillars of Islam - it has made me an even more grateful servant of God.

"My reflection included our blessing of good health and the amount of comfort we have living in Australia.

"Seeing so many people with much less in their life made me think we are given too much, especially when these people that are less fortunate seem to be more humble and so happy."

While Houli's AFL contemporaries travelled to popular end of season destinations such as Bali, Thailand, Europe and the United States, the Tiger embraced his religious journey.

He said the type of reflection he experienced was "healthy every once [in] a while", and he urged others to spare some time to do the same.

"We can get so caught up in our own lives and sometimes I feel like the more money and possessions we have, the more we want, and it just doesn't end," he said.

"I believe that everything is just a test from God to see what we do with it.

"There's nothing wrong with being wealthy, having good health, or a great amount of knowledge, but the important question is, are we giving back?

"Are we supporting less fortunate people with our wealth, are we using our good health to make good decisions and are we sharing the knowledge we have to benefit society?"

A picture of Mecca from Bachar Houli's blog

Houli also said the Tigers' pre-season, which started for him in late November, had been one of the toughest he had faced, and came after the best break since he was drafted in 2006.

The supremely fit former Bomber said training intensity had increased by 20 per cent and test results had shown the players were fitter than ever.

"Football starts in just over a month and spots are definitely up for grabs," he said.

"Players are no longer given their jumpers. 'It must be earned'; these are the words of our coach, Damien Hardwick.

"The players are all taking this seriously – hence their solid work rate at training."

He described the final stages of the wait before the baby is born as "the most nervous time of my life" and said he "can't wait to be a loving father".

"Already it's made me feel like there's so much more to just playing football.

"Apparently when you have a hard day at work the only thing that erases it is a smiling baby face. I can't wait!"

Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan