Is it safe to visit Iran as a woman?

And other questions you wanted to ask about Lupine destinations …
by Lauren from Lupine

Here at Lupine we have been speaking to a number of our female customers and tour leaders about their honest experiences travelling to some of our more unique destinations. This has been in response to the common questions we get regarding the considerations of travelling to many of the countries we visit as a woman and we hope their perspective will help you make informed decisions about your future trips. Now, with more and more women travelling with us than ever before, we wanted to record and share their first hand experiences with you as part of our goal to make our trips as inclusive and diverse as possible.

As women, there may be things for us to consider when travelling that don’t apply to our male counterparts, for example when it comes to understanding modesty requirements of various regions. Solo travel can also pose some unique challenges, so joining group tours can be a great alternative. However, if you have never been on a group tour before, you may be wondering how it will feel.

With these things in mind, lets crack on and try and debunk some myths, answer some FAQ’s and see what it’s really like travelling to some of these places…

Name- Rhian
Age- 32
Location-North Wales
Fact about you-I make ice cream for a living
My next Lupine trip is- Iraqi Kurdistan
Lupine Trips- 6 and counting, both as a customer and then as a Tour Leader.

  • One thing you have learned as a female traveller?
    Rhian – Most people in the world are good people who want you to be safe, and enjoy your time in their country, city, town or village. Also I’ve always got on really well with all of the other women in the Lupine groups. I recently got back from Central Asia, where our ages ranged from 26 – 70-something, and I can honestly say that I had a fantastic time with all of them.
  • Did you hear any myths about the places you travelled to before you went? Did these turn out to be true?
    R- Sudan is made out to be this sort of pariah state, full of extremists etc, but it’s one of the friendliest places I’ve ever been, and I felt completely safe walking around Khartoum both by day and by night, even not wearing a headscarf or long sleeves. It’s an incredible country, and up there with my favorites.
  • Have you ever had to wear more conservative clothing while travelling?
    R- In Somaliland we were covered from head-to-toe while we were outside of the hotel in Hargeisa. In the hotel was fine, and we could take our scarves off while we sat and drank coffee in the lobby restaurant. It was more relaxed in Berbera, but we still stayed covered up. I even went for a dip in the Gulf of Aden while fully clothed! It’s not ideal when you’re somewhere that hot, but it’s the only way to experience some countries, so you just get on with it.
  • How safe did you feel on the trips?
    R- I’ve always felt safe wherever I’ve traveled with Lupine. I can’t say there’s been one time where I’ve felt unsafe.

Name: Murshidah
Age: 30
Location: London
Fact about me: I have been to 9 different destinations with Lupine.
My next Lupine trip is: Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • One thing you have learned as a female traveller?
    Murshidah – Always follow local customs, do not do anything or wear anything that would attract unwanted attention and talk to locals to find out more about their culture. The final thing I have learnt – not having Wi-Fi is not the end of the world…
  • Have you ever had to wear more conservative clothing while travelling?
    M- I had to wear a headscarf, and cover my arms and legs in Iran. It took a few days to get used to it, but after that it was fine. The downside of wearing a headscarf is that it can get a bit hot, the upside is you don’t have to brush your hair!
  • What would you say to a woman considering a tour with Lupine Travel?
    M- Go for it! You will always make new friends, meet a variety of people, see un-spoilt destinations and come back with a bigger travel bucket-list. As a tour leader, I try to take extra care of solo travelers and ensure they do not feel alone. Most of the time the group naturally bonds and people make friends. I am very lucky to have had some amazing groups over the years. Lupine travelers are very open-minded and usually looking for unique experiences.
  • How safe did you feel on the trips?
    M- I have never felt un-safe on any Lupine trips, in some countries you get stared at, which may be uncomfortable, but that is natural and locals are curious as to why you there. Locals have come up to me to ask why I am visiting – this even happened in Wigan on our anniversary tour!

Name-Yosh
Age- 47
Location- Singapore
Fact about you-I am a Banker, a Photographer, I love travel and wine!
My next Lupine trip is- I have 2 coming up- North Korea and Sudan.

  • What made you decide to take a Lupine Tour?
    Yosh – All the destinations are very unique, not your typical vacation destinations, which I find fascinating. In my experience these kinds of destinations often do not have great transportation systems for a solo traveler. So it’s a great option for me to join a Lupine group tour- I get to see unique destinations, but within the safety and comfort of a group! The group tours are well organized and very effective in enabling you to see as many things as possible during a short visit.
  • What is the best thing about group tours as a woman?
    Y- It is very time effective; you don’t need to plan anything in advance- just buy return flights and board the flight! Every woman traveler is very adventurous indeed. The most surprising thing about the Lebanon tour was that everybody was also a solo traveler except one married couple. I had joined various kinds of group tours to find many couples/families/friends in them and I was quite often one of the few solo. I found everyone (including women and men) so adventurous and brave!
  • Have you ever had to wear more conservative clothing when travelling?
    Y- No I haven’t. Only when I stepped into Mosques & Churches in several countries, I had to hide visible skin and my hair, but it was easy to do. As well as respecting the culture of the place you are in, it was also fun to put on something you usually don’t wear.

Name- Jhanelle
Age- Child of the 80’s
Location- London
Fact about you- I love playing netball. I have played since I was 11, all through school and university and now play with a group of friends.
My next trip is- For work to Bucharest, Romania.

  • What made you decide to take a Lupine Tour?
    Jhanelle – I stumbled across Lupine Travel in the Lonely Planet Guide when researching trips to North Korea. I was travelling at the time and wanted to go. However, when I went onto the website, I found the ‘5 Stans’ Central Asia tour. I had wanted to go to this region for ages but most of the organised trips I found were really expensive. I booked this with Lupine, and it was pretty awesome.
  • How safe did you feel on the trips?
    J- I’ve been on 4 tours with Lupine over the past few years and the only time I felt a little apprehensive was with Chernobyl in regards to the radioactivity. However, once I was there my mind was put at ease. They took the time to explain exactly how much radiation we were exposed to.
  • What is the best thing about group tours as a woman?
    J-There’s safety in numbers and in each country there is always the local guide as well as the Lupine Tour Leader, which is very helpful with language barriers and local customs/practices.
  • Were you treated any differently as a woman?
    J- No different to being treated as women at home, facing the same concerns/issues.
  • Which country was your favourite out of all the places you have visited with us? J- My favourite country has been Tajikistan, as there were no other tourists; it was very laid back and rich in history. My favourite place was Cricova in Moldova – the wine tour and the afternoon in the cellar, drinking and eating.
  • One thing you have learned as a female traveller?
    J- Be firm. There have been times when people have tried to take advantage, for example, agreeing on a taxi price and then the driver tries to ask for more when you get to your location.
  • What would you say to a woman considering a tour with Lupine Travel?
    J-Book it! You’ll have a good time, meet loads of new and interesting people and get to explore places off the beaten track.
  • Have you ever had to wear more conservative clothing when travelling?
    J- Most of the countries I’ve been to I’ve worn more conservative clothing. A) As the majority have been Islamic countries B) A lot of these places don’t see many black people like myself, which draws attention and C) Unfortunately/fortunately I am very busty which also draws attention so overall, I keep my clothing modest. T shirt and vests have been fine but not strappy or strapless tops. Also keep skirts and shorts longer. Even if it’s not frowned upon it will draw attention.So, in conclusion…

We hope these answers have given a bit of an insight into what it is like to take a tour with Lupine Travel, and in particular about the group dynamics and country specifics from a woman’s perspective. This is the first blog in a series we’ve put together to give a better idea of what our trips are like, especially for those who’ve never traveled with us or a group tour before. The next in the series is an analysis of our last year of tours to give an idea of what sort of people join our trips, such as nationalities, solo or group travelers etc. so as to help you decide if our groups are the right fit for you on your next set of travels!

If you would like to know more, please contact us at info@lupinetravel.co.uk.

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