Weelcome back to Women Who Wander. This series focuses encouraging women to seek out solo travel. Empowering and inspiring both seasoned Solo Travellers and those who have yet to venture out on their own. This week we have a wonderful piece from Naomi on her experience with solo travel to Iran.
Probe around the Globe is a travel blog run by Naomi. She is an avid traveller who makes use of weekends away to explore cities around Europe and goes on bucket list adventures. After Mongolia, Tibet and South America, Iran was one of her recent solo adventures. She shares her story about solo travel in Iran as a woman. You can follow her adventures in Iran over on her blog at Probe Around the Globe
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Solo Female Traveller in Iran
When I decided I would go to Iran for 2 weeks on a solo trip, I had already read many blogs about it and I knew Iran would surprise me. And it did. I never expected the country to surprise me that much though.
When I first told people I would be a solo female traveller going to Iran, everyone was concerned about my safety. They all thought I would be abducted or at least thrown into prison for being a woman. As it turned out, after 2 weeks of solo travel in Iran, I had the best time ever. I never felt safer than during my solo travels in Iran.
Nervous about solo travel to Iran
But of course I was nervous. From the moment I booked my flight to Tehran, my hands were shaking and I had a knob in my stomach when I thought about going to such an unknown country alone. I wasn’t so much concerned about my safety as a solo female traveller in Iran, but more practical issues. Would I be able to find my way? Will people understand me if they don’t speak English? Will I be dressed appropriately? In the months leading up to my trip to Iran, I managed to assure my mind a bit with a few practical preparations for Iran, like the right outfit and learning a few words of Farsi.
As it turned out, all my worries were for nothing. Iran was a breeze. People spoke English and genuinely wanted to help me sort out my travel plans, without anything in return!
Group travel vs solo travel in Iran
There are many tour groups offering guided 2 week tours around Iran. If you travel on an American passport (or Canadian or British), you will not be able to get a visa without a guided tour. Even for Europeans, there so many tour groups on offer, it seems too much trouble to go solo and travel independent in Iran. But because I wanted to be flexible and I thought I could save some money, I arranged everything myself and travelled around the country solo.
Solo travel around Iran is easy. I was not treated differently for not being on a tour group and I was able to book hostels, boutique hotels and guestrooms the day of my arrival. I snatch the last seat on a bus a couple of times. Those were really some advantages of solo travel in Iran.
I did pay maybe a bit more than couples or families travelling together. I used taxis a lot and most of the time I had to pay the same fee for 1 person as for 5 people, which is normal when you travel solo anywhere in the world.
What I liked best about being a solo female traveller in Iran
I also travel with my boyfriend or family when I have the chance. But I also like solo travel in some cases. It gives me the freedom to do what I want, when I want it. What I particularly liked about my solo travels in Iran as a woman, was that I could have detailed conversations about being a woman and our relationships with other women.
I was so curious to learn about women in Iran. What it is like for them? I was keen to learn if we would have similarities and what they would be. Because I travelled solo, it was easy for other women to strike up a conversation with me. At the bazaar, waiting for the bus, on the bus, over lunch or in the desert.
While I would not normally ask about someone’s relationship status with other people around, in these cases, conversation was easy. I discussed the benefits of a potential boyfriend with a young girl over diner in Yazd and I was introduced to dating habits and possibilities of students in Esfahan. I discussed the expectations of raising a family with an undergrad student in Kashan and so on. In Iran, I met so many amazing women who wanted to know all about my relations. Because they wanted to know my outlook on being a woman in the modern world, it was an open opportunity for me to ask the same questions to them.
Because of this, I learned a little bit about Iranian women and their outlook on life, solo travel and relationships. For me, this was such a memorable experience and the highlight of my solo travel to Iran.
Should everyone travel to Iran solo?
I think the country is ready for more tourists. The people of Iran are eager to show their beautiful country and rich history to the world. For them, it doesn’t matter if you travel in a group or travel solo in Iran.
I do think women travelling solo to Iran should have a certain mind-set. You have to be open for a different culture, which is normal anywhere you travel. To make the most of your solo travels to Iran, accept invites for conversations, a lunch or even a place to stay. Of course, Iran has many sights to see, but the most memorable experiences of your solo travel to Iran, will be the people you’ll meet.
I had a fabulous time travelling solo in Iran and I wouldn’t change a single thing!
Finally, If you are interested in writing for Women Who Wander, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Can’t wait to share your stories
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