My husband and I, active seniors in our 60s, have been planning an independent trip to western Turkey for months. We plan to leave October 1 for almost 3 weeks. All plans are in place, although fortunately we could cancel with very little monetary loss. With US airstrikes against Syria seemingly coming at some point in the next few months, we're wondering if we should go ahead with our plans. Although I've been wanting to visit Turkey for 15 years and this was to be my chance, I also don't want to be foolish. I know the Turkish people themselves are wonderful, but we're debating whether to postpone this trip until who knows when. This site has a wide range of experienced travelers, so I'd welcome your thoughts. (FYI: We've traveled independently many, many times in most of the other countries of Western Europe and also to New Zealand.) Thank you.
The strike is very unlikely. Britain has backed down and Obama won't get the congressional green light.
Obama won't get the congressional green light. Inside information or crystal ball, Sean? We tend to deal in facts where we can, here on the Helpline.
6th sense, Nigel. So ghost stories are fine on this board, but 6th sense is not?
Cynthia asked for an opinion, Sean gave one. What's the big deal????? Here's mine: No matter what happens tourism to the region will be impacted; a lot travelers will stay away and go to other places. If it were me I would visit Turkey anyway, if for no other reason prices for hotels and airfare will be rock bottom, and private guides will be begging for work. For the price of a three star hotel, you might be able to afford to stay at the Four Seasons. Turkey is a NATO country, the US and the rest of the Eurie members have it's back.
As noted above Turkey is a NATO country with a fairly strong military itself, so any large scale response is very highly unlikely. However, small scale responses are realistically a possibility somewhere. Syria, Iran, and Lebanon's Hezbollah are allies. All have a history of promoting terrorist activities. That said I think the Turks are used to dealing with the PKK and internal threats and the tourist areas will be well protected. I would probably still go and not think twice, but would take a few precautions. #1 Avoid the U.S. embassy, consulates in Istanbul and Adana, or any such obvious targets. #2 Avoid the southern border (anything below a line connecting Iskenderun, Gaziatep and Diyarbakir. #3. Check for State Department warnings before you depart. They may specify locations to avoid based on any developing conditions (see this site: http://turkey.usembassy.gov/warden_information.html). My response assumes that the U.S. engages in a response to Syria. If they do not, then you're dealing with more typical regional conditions and less risk. I say go and have fun!
If you wait for things to "calm down" in that part of the world you'll never make the trip. I am leaving for Istanbul in the morning as planned.
I'd go for sure. No hesitation. Don't let the chance go!
Cynthia, You may want to have a look at the travel warnings issued by the U.S. government at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1046.html (check again just prior to your trip). I routinely also check the Canadian and U.K. government websites prior to travel, and the general consensus on advice to travellers to Turkey is to "Exercise a high degree of caution", and DO NOT travel in areas near the Syrian border. Of course, the usual advice also applies - wear a Money Belt and be watchful for street crime. In the same situation, I'd consider hiring a local guide (perhaps the ones used by RS tours, SRM Travel) for a local walking tour for a couple of hours, and ask them for advice on safety and local conditions in the places I'd be visiting. Happy travels!
Life's short - it's better to travel when you can. I don't see any reason for postponing a trip.
Avoiding western Turkey because of trouble in Syria is a bit like avoiding San Francisco because of trouble in northern Mexico. Furthermore, a lot of Turks support military action against the Syrian regime, so it's not like Americans would suddenly be frowned upon if airstrikes happened. Quite the opposite of 2003 when the invasion of Iraq was profoundly unpopular among Turks.
On Fodors Europe travel forum this question is being asked with some regularity. The resident expert, OC, gives brilliant advice on all things
Thank you all for your thoughts and perspectives. It's not surprising that the consensus seems to be "just go!" I appreciate the references to the State Dept. website and also to the Fodor's site. I am familiar with the poster OC on that site and value his opinion. I guess the best thing to do at this point is wait as long as we can before locking ourselves into final plans that we can't cancel without a lot of expense. I do believe that the strikes will happen at some point.
One other place to check would be the TripAdvisor forums. They have Destination Experts who are on the ground in the locations and IMO give good reports when there is unrest in the area. I traveled to Egypt last summer and the information I got from the Luxor forum was very balanced and helped prepare me for potential problems. The other thing that is important when you are traveling to an area that has a higher-than-average potential for unrest/political turmoil or even a natural disaster - have plans in place for "what if" scenarios. This may mean always carrying your passport and extra cash with you (money belt!!). It could mean pre-arranging a higher credit limit so you can buy a plane ticket for evacuation. Be sure to tell friends and/or family what your plans are, and you can register your trip with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program with the US Dept of State. That said - I would still be traveling to Turkey if I were in your shoes.