Women’s Practical Preparations for Travel to Iran

As I planned for my solo trip to Iran, I made different preparations than for my other travels. Normal planning and preparation consists of reading blog posts, searching for hotels and hostels online and reading a guidebook or two for historical reference and things to do. Before my travel to Iran I didn’t do any of that. Instead, I focussed on more practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As I discussed this with a colleague of mine at work, she tought it was hilarious but yes indeed very practical. That’s why I decided to share them with you! After all, who doesn’t like a good laugh and be prepared for travel in Iran?

Read more: Is it safe to travel solo to Iran?

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.

What do women wear in Iran?

Normally, I know exactly how many days I’ll stay in a place and how to travel to another city. In the 2 months between booking my flights and my departure to Iran, I didn’t think at all about my itinerary. Instead, I went shopping. A lot. I searched for some long sleeve shirts that would cover my bum sufficient enough. Because ladies in Iran, have to obey the rules of hijab, the modest dress. Women in Iran, also travellers, can not wear short sleeves. No cleavage, only loose fitting outfits and shirts have to cover your bum. No dresses but long trousers and of course the head scarf. After a few deliveries of my favourite online shopping channel, I settled for a new long vest, a top and some floral leggings to spruce things up a bit.

Read more: A Girl’s Guide to Dressing up for Iran by Travestyle.com

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
My outfit for Iran: floral leggings for easy use of squat toilets, long sleeve- loose fitting- bum covering top and my head scarf.

Practice wearing a head scarf

I never wear a head scarf. But I have over a dozen colourful scarfs from many of my travels and I never leave the house without one. I use them as a scarf, a pillow, a blanket or to protect me from the sun. For my travel to Iran, I would use it as my head scarf.

Read more: Best places to see the desert in Iran.

I practiced wearing one during two nights at my house. I wrapped it in a few different ways to see how it would look and wore it around the house, doing housework and walking around. When would it fall off? When does it get caught in between things, all kinds of stuff like that. I figured it might look silly, but first of all: nobody sees me in my home, and second of all, better look silly now than frantically manoeuvre the head scarf around my head while I’m fresh of the plane in Tehran.

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
I tried a few different “styles” to wear my head scarf.

Stretch until it hurts

I am not very fit. Overweight too and I have trouble sitting up straight. I also find sitting on the floor a nightmare. I never know where to leave my legs and it starts to hurt after a short time. As I know, Iranian people sit on the floor while eating, I prepared myself for this. Every night, I stretched. I sat on the floor in my bedroom, trying to last a minute longer every day. I tried to find the best position to sit still in and keep this position as long as I could before cramping up.

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
Devouring heaps of rice while sitting on the floor.

Read more: How travel to Iran ruined my future travel experiences

Squat exercises until it burns

All the above are not that hilarious. But when I showed my colleague in the office how I practise my squats 3 times a day, she was literally rolling on the floor laughing.

Iran has mainly squat toilets. Although they have western toilets everywhere, I prepared for the worst. I have to go to the toilet an average of 12 times a day when I travel abroad (thank you Crohn’s disease). So I  made this a top priority in my practical preparations for travel to Iran. I cannot rely on finding a western toilet every time I have to go, so I did my squat exercises every day. Need help finding toilets? Try sitorsquat.com

Every morning, afternoon and evening, I squatted down, trying to get my feet on the floor as flat as possible. And I tried to maintain that position as long as I could. Until it burns. Hard!

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
The dreaded squat toilet in Iran

I also checked how to get my jeans down while squatting. This turned out to be difficult (especially with the longer shirt, belt etc.) so I settled on the leggings for my outfit to wear in Iran.

My colleague started hyperventilating from laughing too hard when I told her, I even explored the different wiping methods for squat toilets on the internet. It is a video on how to use Japanese toilets, but I found it very useful. Did you know there is an “elephant” method and “monkey tail” method? Hilarious but very useful during my practical preparations for Iran.

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
Matching outfit for the sights

Looking to shop for my leggings? Check sizes and prices here.*

Learn Farsi before travelling to Iran

Ok, I have to admit, I failed miserably at this point of my practical preparations for travel to Iran. I did manage to learn to recognise the numbers in Farsi. I also managed to remember how to say “hello”, “nice to meet you”, “thank you”, “goodbye” and “where is the toilet” in Farsi. The last one might have come out wrong a couple of times, so I settled on the universal: “toilet?” while making a difficult face.

I think that learning some basic words will help you tremendously when you want to connect to locals on your travels. That is why I advise you to learn Farsi as part of your preparations for travel to Iran.

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
The friendly Iranian man who “adopted” me and showed me half of Shiraz.

Other preparations for travel to Iran

In this post, I focus on the unusual practical preparations for travel to Iran mainly for women. But there are some other useful things to think off while planning your travel to Iran.

  • Get your visa for Iran (either via the embassy or a visa on arrival).
  • Bring cash as Iran is disconnected from the Western banking systems and your credit and debit cards are useless in Iran.
    Read more: My 2 weeks Iran Travel Budget.
  • Set up a VPN if you’re not prepared for a digital Facebook detox. More about why you should use a VPN when travelling on Lost with Purpose.
  • Pre register with your foreign affair offices to inform them when you’ll be in Iran.
  • Check if you need to update your travel vaccines for Iran.

Read more: Iranian Visa on arrival. How does it work?

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
Beautiful Esfahan

How do you prepare for your travels? What did you do different when planning your travel to Iran? Please share it in the comment section below, I’d love to read it.

Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
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Before my trip to Iran I focussed more on practical preparations for travel to Iran as a woman. As they are slightly different from other travel preparations, I share them with you.
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21 Comments

  1. Annelore

    Hi Naomi!

    Volgende week vertrek ik ook naar Iran, en ik was nieuwsgierig hoeveel geld je hebt meengenomen?
    Ik ga gedurende 2,5 week backpacken, en ik wil zeker niet te weinig meenemen..

    Nog complimenten voor de woestijnfoto’s! (Ik snap dat het onder de verkeerde post is excuus haha)
    Verder nog een opmerking; ik kon je erg moeilijk terugvinden via Google! Misschien dat je daar iets aan wil doen, je blog is in elk geval wel de moeite waard!

  2. Thorough list of tips, and I’m glad that you had a sense of humor about everything, too! Your photo in the pink mosque is absolutely stunning. May I ask what deterred you from learning more Farsi for the trip?

  3. Ivy

    Wow, the time and effort you took in prepping for this Iran trip is admirable!I grew up with public squat toilets (thank god Taiwan has evolved since) and I still can’t get used to them. I didn’t even know about the different wiping methods! Good call on the leggings instead of jeans 😉 And great tip on setting up a VPN!

  4. Vrithi Pushkar

    You really put an effort into this! I am going to look at the toilet methods though. Never heard of it! We have a lot of squat toilets in india and that may help. Great post. So helpful for someone planning on visiting Iran.

  5. That was a good move practicing with the headscarf before leaving. I was in the Sahara desert and needed to dress like an Arab and had no idea how to put my headscarf on, I had to get a local to do it for me. I didn’t know about the visa on arrival option, I’ll check that option out for my nationality.

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