Last summer, after some spontaneous trip bookings, I found myself looking at spending two weeks as a solo backpacker in Turkey on a limited budget. I was nervous, due to knowing little about the country, and finding little credible websites to help me on my research. However, i can not rate this beautiful country highly enough. Maybe you should consider it for your future travels.
Whilst there are many more places I’m yet to explore my trip went to the following places:
I booked a sailing trip through Contiki on a whim, mainly to experience the sailing type of trip, without as many tourists or parties that can be found in Croatia or Greece. I found this trip to be relaxing, have the adventure that I wanted, have some partying aspect and have AMAZING food 3 times a day included, with just drinks and tips additional. Being a Marina town, it is common to see less conservative dress, but I wouldn’t walk around with swim wear on show on the streets.
The beautiful ‘Cotton Candy’ is a natural marvel next to Cleopatra’s pool and the ruins of Hierapolis. Whilst I came just for the mineral-rich thermal waters, there’s a whole days’ worth of activities in the one site. Relax, explore and make sure you have sunscreen!
Apart from splashing out on every tourist activity, I survived on less than 20 pounds a day. However, the fairy chimneys, caves and hot air balloons are a must see. I cannot recommend visiting and spending a few days in this quiet and unique part of the world. Also, you’ll get offered apple tea wherever you go!
I was probably the most nervous about Istanbul, for security reasons however there is security everywhere and just to get on my plane at the airport, I needed to go through three different security screenings. It was by far the priciest option for accommodation and tourist activities, but I wouldn’t call it expensive. This is also the place where I got the most attention, whilst being alone, but most went away with ignoring it.
Here are my tips for planning a Turkey adventure on a budget:
Book flights first and work out your plans after
Had I done this, I could have saved myself the 300-pound flight into Turkey that I booked last minute. My advice is to start either at the North or south and make your way down/up the country rather than doing a loop.
Be aware, not scared
Turkey has a reputation in certain countries of being unsafe, particularly in Australia. It was so sad to be told in a shocked voice “you’re Australian! You guys don’t come here anymore!” In large tourist locations, use common sense and stay away from as many large crowds as you can, or any demonstrations. As a solo female traveller, don’t go out at night alone. In summer, it’s light long enough to get dinner and get back to your accommodation before it gets too dark.
If you do want to go out to drink, some regions, particularly the Marina areas, have a great deal of opportunities for you. As I mentioned, my first leg was on a sailing tour which included two chaperoned nights out. I was also offered by my Hostel manager to be chaperoned on nights out. Whilst you do need to be mindful that you are in a Muslim country, check the acceptable activities in the regions you want to visit.
Booking bus travel in advance is hard, but achievable
Unless you have a Turkish ID, you aren’t able to book bus tickets directly with the companies online. However, some travel agents will do this for you, for a tiny fee, if that gives you piece of mind. I did this, as I can get anxious about not having finite plans. For people I met whilst travelling, they were able to easily check bus timetables and prices online and then book at the offices at every point. That is a great option for those who want to see where their trip takes them, or where their new friends are going.
Avoid eating out
Turkey can be done on a budget with take away and corner shop food, with an occasional meal out. If you do want to eat out, try lunch which will usually be cheaper. Honestly, I lived off of Kebabs, large bottles of water and apple tea and was a very happy camper.
Book refundable tours
Due to my love of having most of my trips organised beforehand, I had booked most of my must-see tours and activities beforehand. However, most hostel managers will always try and find you a cheaper deal. In Cappadocia I ended up paying 35 euros for a hot air balloon that was usually advertised between 50-100 euros.