As a 43-year-old woman, I wanted an adventure so I went to Iran solo
Lorena Skipper was about to fly to Iran, only when she looked down at her nails. They were bright pink.
"Before I left, the color had been reduced to a more subtle brown," she explains at whimn.com.au, "just in case.
About to get out of his comfort zone, a hundred things trotted in his head. And the color of his nails was up there. Was color important? Could she even wear nail polish?
Lorena traveled to Iran on one of Intrepid Travel's women-only tours. For Skipper, a 43-year-old mother of two from
Once she landed, Lorena had no worries.
"I had some concerns and questions about travel to the Middle East," she recalls. "Would it be safe? How would I be treated as a woman? What should I wear?
"[But] all these questions and feelings of uneasiness left me as soon as I arrived. I met a beautiful Iranian woman on the flight from Dubai and she told me about life in modern Iran. Once I landed, I had no worries. Not one."
So, why go there? "I wanted to visit a different place, I wanted an adventure." For 12 days she visited the lone women of Intrepid Travel. She visited Shiraz, Esfahan, Tehran. From there, she took a night train to Yazd for a stay in a village in Fars province before returning to Shiraz. In other words, an adventure.
Lorena could not believe the culture she had discovered.
Far from the precarious place she had imagined, she instead found a world of vibrant colors, rich in culture as well as customs. And, being a woman and traveling in a group made up exclusively of women, she also gained a unique insight into the lives of women in this region, she said.
"Iran was totally different from what I expected," says Skipper. "The country itself was more modern and cosmopolitan than I had ever imagined. The people were so warm, open and kind. Although there were restrictions, it did not seem restrictive.
"I wish I knew that I would feel safe and well received. Thus, I would not have spent time listening to people concerned about my safety and I would have lost no time doubting my decision to go on this adventure. The incredible experience I would have missed if I listened to them! I think about it a lot - what I would have missed because of the fear of the unknown.
"I have always been someone who wants to experience different things. This trip has taught me not to be unprepared for what the media presents. The Middle East described in the media is not what I lived. "
Why not travel alone? She said it was a chance to experience the country and meet like-minded people. "Do not get me wrong, I love traveling and sharing experiences with my family, but I enjoyed being myself on this trip. Intrepid has only local leaders. Thus, when traveling solo, you are guided and assisted by a person knowing the destination from the inside to the outside. I loved traveling solo. "
When I ask Lorena for advice to other women, her response is categorical: "Do it! Jump in!
"It will be an adventure that will change lives."