Short list of WHO WHAT WHERE and HOW for Iran Travel

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Here’s my list of online sites which inspired and kept the dream alive while waiting to see if Iran wanted me to come or not.  I hope they are useful to others looking to go:

US Travel Warnings

British Foreign Office Travel Advisory


Destination Iran Tour Site

Traveler Nico from Scotland’s Flickr Stream

Soorm’s Flickr Photos of Iran


Rick Steves Journal – Iran

WikiTravel – Iran

Wikipedia – Iran

Journeywomen’s Blog


Uncornered Market Trip to Iran Nov 2011

Why we travel by Paul Theroux


Iran Railway Infomation

Pars Tour Agency

Magic Carpet Tourist Information

The Unlikelihood of Attractive Convertible Travel Pants

Trying to work the Convertible Pants
Packing for a trip that goes from a week to a year is pretty easy, provided that you keep a zen state of mind.  It’s all about keeping the bag as light and as carefree as possible so that you can focus on the import things, you know like enjoying yourself. Having a ‘light state of mind’ can involve some sacrifices and for some this can become a very emotional task.  I spend a great deal of time on choosing my travel clothing.  I need them to look good, fit well and be appropriate for where I’m traveling to.
Travelers should first figure out type of clothes are going to work out best and at the same time trying to keep the bag light.   For myself, choosing pants is always biggest obstacle.  My trip was going to be taking me to places where the temperatures didn’t go below 50 F and could reach 110 F and it could be dry or very humid.  This meant the pants needed to be lightweight, easy to clean, wrinkle-free, the right colors and fit well. To my horror,  and after countless hours of online research the unlikely match for me ended up being the unfashionable convertible travel pants. The kind that transform into shorts in a matter of minutes. I and many others associate those who wear them as being big travel dorks.  I reluctantly purchased the pants since they were what I needed but oh so ugly and expensive.
These pants that set me back $75 USD soon became my only pants and for 6 months.  When I wasn’t wearing them,  I would wear the long skirt I had made for me in Vietnam. The way I saw it, who was really going to care what I wore and how I looked.  In the Middle East, temperatures on most days went well over 100 F degrees.  These pants kept me comfortable in the desert heat and protected me from the scorching sun.   In the end, I found that without those convertible pants I could have never gone hiking inside the canyons in Petra in the middle of the day, walked down the streets of Damascus, seen the towering Pyramids at Giza or the inside of any of the numerous mosques and churches along the way.
For many, it’s difficult to figure out what to bring and to leave behind.  Many refuse to buy the convertible pants because they are indeed ugly.    Companies like Patagonia, The North Face and LL Bean have all put out a great selection of travel/hiking gear that are both light and fast-drying but basically produce the same style.  If they would only put some effort into the style and look of women’s travel pants.   We women need ones that don’t ride up and have a little more give to them.  This should be simple, right? Myself, along with many other traveling women, are waiting patiently.

Top 5 things an Adventure Travel Girl can’t go without

There are so many things a girl can do without when it comes to adventure traveling.  This list is long and it’s better to focus on the top 5 most important things bring along when going on an adventure trip.  In adventure I’m talking about one where you will have to carry your bag more than a few yards from the taxi to the hotel.  This will be a trip where you will maybe  find those things  you wish you had brought at your destination but if not oh well.

1.  Clothing made of synthetic material

Clothing that is not made of cotton but a material which keeps you cool or warm but will dry fast, not wrinkle and be compact.  The clothing should  have a neutral shade and be able to mix and match with other pieces.  Who cares if you are wearing the same pants and/or shirt two or more days in a row.  It’s good if  you are able to wash them every night and know that they will be dry by morning.  Look at it this way.  This will free up some space in your bag and give you an excuse to buy something locally. Besides, it makes a great souvenir.

2. One pair of shoes

This is not counting the light pair of Havaianas you have as well.  It is best to invest in a comfortable pair of nice looking travel shoes made of a durable material such as leather.  There are some great shoes that look good and function as a low-level hiking shoe.  Even if you are not going to hike up a mountain there is a good chance you will be walking a lot.  Another thing,  make sure this isn’t the shoes maiden voyage.  The shoes need to get worn enough to break them in and to make sure they will be suitable for the journey.

3.  A Good Hat

A hat has many functions while traveling.  It will block out harmful sun rays and heat of the sun, cover your head when it’s raining, cover your head when you are visiting a holy site, makes it easy to hide under when visiting countries where as a woman you don’t want to make eye contact, and it hides the fact that you are having a bad hair day.  The hat should have a wide rim on it so it can protect you and be also made of a breathable material.  It will get dirty so wash it along with those fast drying pants when needed.

4.  Cell phone with a good camera

Having a cell phone that you can slip in your pocket and use with a local SIM card can come in very handy.  You may have packed away a camera that takes better pictures but it’s handy to have one that fits discretely in your pocket for some quick shots of food or places where you may want to leave the more expensive camera back at the hotel in a locked safe.  A traveler can find that having a local cell phone number is convenient with booking a hotel that doesn’t have a website or to use in emergency situations.  The rates vary from country to country but they usually are reasonable.  A cell that is bluetooth enabled is key.  If there is a strong or strong enough wi-fi signal you can set up an account with Vonage or Skype and keep in touch with folks back home.

5.  Good bag with TSA approved locks

Your bag is one of the best investments you will make.  It’s worth the time and money investment.  I prefer one that is light in weight, has a protective cover which extends over the bag and locks, has strong zippers that can secure easily and not allow any gaps, made of strong material that resists tearing especially by a knife or other sharp edge, and fits well to your body type.  Some other helpful features are a bottle holder or hook for one, a small inside pocket in the inside lining which can fit dirty laundry, and be waterproof.

This list is short and is very subjective since everyone has their own priorities on what they need to take to make them feel comfortable in a foreign land.  These things are what I have narrowed my list down to over the years.  I used to bring much more when I started to travel but over the trips I have found that many things are best left at home.  It’s a life lesson to find out what you as a person really need to have to live your life.  It’s less than you would think.