You are thinking of Iran for your next travel with your kids. Is this a good idea? Is the country safe? Do people behave friendly? These are the questions that parents would ask, when planning to visit Iran.
People of Iran love kids, and the way of showing their affection sometimes can be annoying for foreigners. Also, Iran in general is a safe country, yet there are some safety tips that you need to consider when traveling to this country. We gathered some helpful tips which can assist you to have an enjoyable experience with your children while you are in Iran.
Before getting here
First things first, Iran visa. All persons, regardless of age, will need a visa to enter the country. You can contact our staff about visa requirements as the requirements and process may vary depending on your nationality.
Do not forget the insurance. If you couldn’t get a travel insurance that covers Iran, you can buy insurance upon your arrival at the IKA airport.
Also there are general cares such as being up to date with vaccines, booking well ahead of travel time to have everything reserved, downloading suitable apps on your devices for them to play and doing some research about your destination, which you would normally do for any other destination.
Probably you have read about the dress code required by the government’s law in Iran, however, do not worry about applying the rules for kids. Children can wear freely and there is no need to wear hijab for girls under the age of 10. For girls above this age, the law bends in most parts of Tehran and some large cities, however we advise you to watch for the dress code in religious cities such as Mashhad, Qom or Kashan. If you are not sure, you can always ask.
Weather and Children
Check the Weather
Before planning for the trip, you need to research about the weather. Although Iran has a diverse climate in different parts, keep in mind that the cities on the classic route are all located in hot and dry areas which makes the visit in summer time a nightmare!
Which season to travel
The best time to travel to Iran is Spring or Fall, when you can enjoy the pleasant weather in most cities. Winters can get freezing cold not only in mountainous cities, but also in desert areas; a type of could you have never experienced before. Iranians have an expression for the cold weather in the deserts, they’d say “it burns the bones”. Also keep in mind that roads can be dangerous or blocked by blizzard and in rare occasions even the airports might get shut down.
Another important thing you may want to consider is the air pollution. Tehran and major cities of Iran are facing problems with air pollution and the situation worsens in late Fall and all Winter, as the greenery decreases and inversion causes the smog to stay below a certain height.
Even if you travel in Spring or Fall, have sunscreen, hat and shades with you. In the mild temperature, sunlight still can cause burns on delicate skin of the children and more especially babies. In warmer areas, also be prepared for mosquitos.
Food and personal care
In most major cities the tap water is potable and bottled water is cheap and abundant in every supermarket, restaurant or even news kiosk. We recommend bottled water over tap water especially for your kids. For using the tap water when traveling, Iranians use a trick to get used to the water in the new city, by mixing some amount of water from their own hometown with the water of the new city, so their body can adjust gradually.
It is not very easy to find baby-food in jars, especially in famous brands. In Tehran, you have a better chance of finding baby-food in mega supermarkets, such as Hypermarkets, as well as in smaller supermarkets in the north and northwest of the city. Be advised that due to economic sanctions, you probably won’t see familiar brands here, so you might want to bring the supply of baby-food with you. For Formula and baby cereals, you can find them in pharmacies, but expect to pay a higher price than other countries. Fresh milk and other milk products (chocolate milk, honey milk, strawberry milk, etc) are easily found everywhere.
For older children, the challenge is to find kids-friendly menu, especially in traditional restaurants. You can find pizza, pasta, fries and all sort of fast foods, but that bowl of steamed veggies or mac’n’cheese could be tough. Also, try not to give street food to your kids.
Fruits and vegetables
You can easily buy fruits and vegetables in green-grocers, but take extra care in washing them, to remove any remaining pesticide that may still be on them.
Sanitation standards could vary in different cultures. In general, families care about the sanitation especially when it comes to children. They teach them to wash their hands before eating and after using the toilets. Yet in a several million inhabitants city like Tehran, don’t be too optimist about sanitation. When you go to Bazaar or sightseeing sites, finding functional and clean toilets could be difficult. Also when traveling on the road, sanitation might become a challenge. Roadside restaurants could be of poor health and quality and you may see trash here and there. To be on the safe side, have sanitizer, wipes, liquid soap and a roll of toilet paper with you. Another challenge is the toilet itself. Finding western style sitting toilets outside your hotel might be impossible and your child might be confused to see a totally different kind of toilet. It would be a good idea to familiarize your children with squatting toilets and how to use them. WikiHow has an informative article on this matter.
If your children are on a certain medication, make sure to bring enough supply, as it might be difficult to find the exact medication in the country, due to international sanctions.
Diapers are found in all major supermarkets, but make sure to have enough supply when traveling to rural areas. Diaper changing areas are not easily found, some metro stations and most shopping malls would have a “mother and baby” room. But if you are in need, ask, and Iranians will be more than happy to help you with your baby.
About breastfeeding in public, look around to see how the situation is. It is generally recommended to find a quiet corner for nursing and not to cause much attention.
In the next article, we will continue with some advice for the times you are in the city or on the road to other destinations.