Sunday, May 17, 2009

Travel Tips to Turkey - #7

If you're planning to visit Turkey, here are some practical travel tips.

1. Money - If you can, get some Turkish lira before you leave - around $100 worth. I don't like to change money with money lenders in airports because the exchange is terrible. I live in the Los Angeles area and I buy foreign money from Mr. Mahesh Patel with World Banknotes Exchange, tel: 213-627-5404 or 888-533-7283. He has good rates. If you don't have time to get Turkish lira beforehand, buy some at the Istanbul airport. You can use ATMs there, but bring at least 2 credit cards, in case one doesn't work. I like to bring cash and not rely entirely on ATMs, but keep this secure in a money belt. I also like to bring 30-50 $1 bills because they come in handy for tipping or buying small items some times. It's better to use their money, so this is just emergency money.

2. Clothes - You're heard this before: travel light. Dark colored mix-matches, including pants and skirts, and a variety of tops are good. Skirts are great! A good waterproof coat is good. Scarves can dress up your outfits and are needed when visiting mosques. A heavy-duty shawl can be worn in the evening. Forget those cute high heel shoes, bring good walking shoes and/or sandals. I like to bring 2 pairs of shoes or sandals. In case one gets wet, there's another one to wear. If you like to dine out, it's nice to have evening shoes, but this is only if you have space in your suitcase. If you have black tennis shoes or sandals, this can be used in the evening.

3. Other matters: I like to bring a sling purse that I can secure across my torso so my arms are free. Bring sunblock, all the toiletries you need. Bring a hat. Bring a second suitcase that you can pack in your suitcase going there; you can fill this with your purchases coming home. I also like to have a small bag that folds and which I can open when I am there, to hold my hat, map, water, etc. Speaking of water, I like to throw in a small bottle of water in my suitcase, so when I arrive a place, I have water to drink, in case I'm very thirsty and still haven't bought/acquired water bottles. The empty bottle can also be refilled for daytime use, if needed. I like to pack some nuts or chocolates in my suitcase. Bring books and a notebook, a couple of pens, an extra pair of eyeglasses, all your medicines, copies of your passport and credit cards with vital info blacked out (to avoid identity theft but which gives you the info you may need should the originals get lost). I use a TSA lock on my suitcase; you can buy such a lock in Rite Aid or Target. This allows airport security personnel to open your suitcases if needed.

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