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Has anyone taken the RS Best of Turkey tour lately?

We are thinking of signing up for the Best of Turkey tour sometime in September/October 2019.
We were in Istanbul about 6years ago and absolutely loved that city!
Ive wanted to return and see more of Turkey, and I’ve finally convinced my husband that the political situation is stable enough for us to travel there

Id love to hear feedback on the tour from anyone who has taken the tour recently.
Thanks, claire

Posted by
6717 posts

You can see the trip evaluations here:
https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/greece-turkey/turkey

Without trying to cause premature panic, I'm not sure I would characterize the current political/ economic situation as "stable" - more like highly in flux, but who knows what the future will hold in the short and long-term. It's very hard to predict what September/ October 2019 will be like (in Turkey or the US, to be honest), but you have a fairly wide time window to work with. The (very recent) currency fall has to be stanched somehow because it is troubling, to say the least (I mean from the perspective of locals trying to make ends meet among high inflation).

Anyhow, I've been there three times and really enjoyed it, I would like to go again myself when the opportunity presents itself. I did go on my one RS tour to Turkey but it was called Village Turkey back in 2011. It covered the southwest coastline and Istanbul, but doesn't exist in its current form anymore (although the same local RS partner, SRM Travel, operates the tour - they were great!).

Posted by
872 posts

I have reserved a spot for September, 2019. If I am uncomfortable as the time gets closer, or if things change for the worse, I will ask to transfer my deposit to another tour (Best of Adriatic).

Posted by
1954 posts

I'm signed up for this tour Oct. 15 - 27 and will arrive 4 days early to Istanbul. I plan to post a report on the forum when I return. I'm excited and looking forward to it.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you all for your replies.
Agnes, I agree that it’s impossible to guess what the political climate of either Turkey or, sadly, the US will be in 2019.
We will have a Plan B, but will go ahead signing up for Turkey 2019.
I cant wait!
Ive been wanting to return to Istanbul and to Ephesus and cant wait to be there again
Looking forward to reading your trip report, Judy.
Ive been looking through the RS Scrapbooks and the last trip report on Turkey was in 2014
Cheers, Claire

Posted by
5011 posts

We need better crystal balls...

About a year ago (summer 2017), I planned a trip to/through Turkey for summer 2018. Booked flights, started planning. Then there was a diplomatic kerfuffle between the current US administration and Turkey's (actually there were multiple ups and downs, but one major "down"). In the fall of 2017, Turkey stopped issuing visas to US tourists. That persisted for a month or so. During that time, many of us watched and started to worry about trip plans. I eventually changed my plans around the beginning of December. I was able to cancel my flights and rebook a different trip at no cost (thank you, United Airlines, for doing the right thing). About a week later, a "diplomatic breakthrough" was announced, and visa-on-arrival for US tourists started again.

Of course, lately I've been thinking about that trip to Turkey again, for next year.

Now, recently there's lots more drama between the US administration and Turkey again. And the trend lines are going in the wrong direction. Everyone should make their own decisions, but I'm putting the trip to Turkey on the back burner again (and I just booked next summer's trip to Ireland and the Faroe Islands - I hope Trump doesn't start some snit with them). My guess is that things between the US and Turkey may settle down in the coming months, or may get worse, but will probably not return to something like stability until one or both countries enjoy a change in leadership. What's going on currently is a shame for a multitude of reasons, but for me, I'm going to give it some time before I plan the Turkey trip. It's a shame, I really want to go (and I am not one who easily is spooked by political news) but when they routinely deny entry visas for tourists, it's important to pay attention. YMMV.

If you do plan a Turkey trip, it's worth noting what the policies are about cancellations and rebooking (check with airlines and tour companies). And of course, pay attention to developments which could impact your ability to go.

Posted by
6717 posts

If there is no pay wall, here's an interesting article from today's NYT titled "Another Hit to Turkey's Tourism?". For Westerners who aren't traveling to Turkey, others (from the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere) are taking their place.
https://nyti.ms/2nDiKrn

I think signing up for an RS Turkey tour is fairly low risk. They will work with you and allow you to apply your deposit to another tour if you change your mind. Late 2019 is a long time from now.

I hope things work out for you! It's a fascinating country to visit, I'm glad I had the chance to do it a few times.

Posted by
1049 posts

If I were you, I would wait a while before booking your tour based on today’s political climate. I am sure there will be space available as it gets closer to the time you want to go. Why not wait a little longer? While I think you will be safe while on the tour, who knows how some Turkish citizens will feel about the harsh sanctions that have been imposed. I am old enough to remember how quickly things changed in Iran. Tourists were harassed by fundamentalists. Some had difficulty leaving. While I am sure if things got too bad, Rick Steve’s would cancel the tour and refund your money, but could you get your airfare refunded. Why not error on the side of caution want wait a while before booking?

Posted by
17 posts

Well, I just signed up for the September 16 tour.
My husband has to sign up for vacation time 1 year in advance so I need to commit to specific dates.
I won’t get the air fare till much closer to the date, and I also checked to make sure that there are other tours leaving during the same time frame in case the Turkey tour gets cancelled. (Needed a Plan B)
I’m excited and just hope that the tour will happen

Claire

Posted by
1939 posts

I hope the tour "will happen" for you, too, Claire. Turkey is a wonderful country and Istanbul a wonderful city. I have taken two different Rick Steves tours there (neither the Best of Turkey!) and thoroughly enjoyed both. I applaud your commitment and feel sure it will happen for you. Kudos to you, smart planning finding a tour time when another tour could be substituted if necessary. The RS folks are very, very good at helping their customers find suitable alternative tours and dates.

Posted by
14326 posts

I flew to the US at the end of June and stopped for 5 nights in Istanbul on the way, easy enough since I was flying Turkish Air. It was my second visit, the first was in 2013 when I spent a week in Istanbul, mostly with a friend, and then joined the RS Turkey tour, which I loved. This time, except for the Hagia Sophia I didn't go to any of the places I'd been before (except a trip to the spice market to get a kilo of Turkish delight) and had a great time. There were a goodly number of tourists around, but barely any Americans. Most of the women I saw were wearing hijabs and burqas, those nearly all had their faces uncovered. I was surprised that there were so many "covered" women until someone told me they are almost all tourists. I had a chat with a lovely woman in her 20's from Tehran at one of the museums. She was bare-headed and wearing a skimpy dress. I asked if she dressed like that at home, and she laughed and said she didn't dare go out without a burqa, though nearly all the Iranian women hate it, they have no power to resist. She obviously was enjoying the freedom of Turkey.

Posted by
17 posts

I want to thank everyone for their very informative, detailed replies.
I am really looking forward to Turkey but trying to pace myself since it’s more than a year away, lol.
We were in Istanbul about 6 years ago and I remember speaking with a woman who stressed that Turkey was a secular society, tolerant of other religions.
I hope Erdogan hasn’t changed that.
Of course, I imagine many people visiting the US hope the same thing about life under Trump.

Posted by
503 posts

I have signed up for the Turkey tour for Sept. 2019 along with two friends. That is 13 months from now so I am not worried yet. So much can happen in that time. If the situation is so bad that RS cancels the tour, your money can be applied to another tour of your choice which I am happy to do. If the tour is a go with RS, then I will go.

Posted by
17 posts

That is our attitude, too. I am hopeful the tour will happen, but if not, we have alternate plans.
We are booked on the September 16, 2019 tour; I can’t wait.