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RS Turkey Tour

Hi all, for the first time ever I am taking a tour. I have chosen RS Turkey 13 days. My partner and I (retired) have always traveled independently hiring independent guides and depending upon RS tour books. I no longer have a travel partner and therefore have picked a “tour”.

From Boston any advice on flights to look into and how far in advance to arrive in Istanbul.

Any advice welcome

Dot

Posted by
2991 posts

Hi Dot!

I haven't taken a tour like this one and have traveled independently with a partner as you have done. But, if I were in your situation, I'd want to arrive in Turkey a few days before the tour begins to rest up a bit from the long flight. If possible, I'd try to stay in the same hotel in Istanbul where the tour begins. If not possible, I'd stay in a central location where I'd feel safe going to a dinner and a few sights on my own until meeting up with the tour group.

I use Google Flights to check schedules, compare prices and book flights. Turkish Airlines has the only direct flight from Boston right now - personally I'd chose a direct flight even though it might be more expensive.

There are other posts on this sight that have good information about the tours to Turkey. It's a great destination!

Posted by
6714 posts

I would try to fly Turkish Air, although you may have to connect in NY (I usually take the redeye from IAD in VA). Also, I would give yourself as many extra days in Istanbul as you are able - there is a lot to see. I spent 2 weeks there on my own and never got bored, but I tend to explore non-tourist areas on my trips.

Posted by
3385 posts

I usually aim for 2 extra days pre-tour and it has worked well for me. I think a great deal of that depends on your comfort level for exploring on your own and your budget.

I am a solo traveler as well, and I find that I really enjoy RS tours. I do get the single supplement and am happy that I do. Sometimes it is just nice to have your own space to hang out in for a bit. The people that I have encountered in RS tour groups are generally very friendly and a pleasure to get to know. I find that the idea of "shared experience" with others is a component that adds to my travel enjoyment.

Tips that I have for you include being prepared for ideas on the free time. Have a list of ideas ready of what you might enjoy doing in the free time offered on the tour. You may find some others that are looking to do an activity together or you may find that you want to do something independently. Both are just fine, but having those ideas thought about in advance is really helpful.

Don't hesitate to let people know if you would like to have someone to eat dinner with on a non tour dinner night. The secret here is to find the balance between letting people know you would love to have company and making sure that you respect everyone's right to do their own thing. So far, there have always been people interested in sharing a meal on the times that I have asked. One tour had 7 solo travelers on it and it was very easy to find someone in that situation. Don't expect that you will be invited if you don't communicate.

Finally, don't hesitate to sit down at a table for "4" at a group dinner. My first tour, I didn't feel like I could this and I ended up at the teen table most of the time. Now, fortunately I like teens and they were a fine group. However, I learned that I didn't need to relegate myself away from eating with couples just because I was solo. Ideally, there are tables set up for larger groups than 4.

I think you will really enjoy yourself. My first tour was an experiment to see if I would like traveling in a group. I discovered it was great. I still travel independently at times, but I do enjoy RS tours.

Posted by
101 posts

We took this tour in 2019 and it was wonderful. There's more than a week's worth of sights to see in Istanbul and the tour only spends 1-1/2 days in Istanbul. The tour will tell you what they visit and they suggest what you could see on your own. You can also contact others on your tour in advance to meet up.
We arrived 3 nights before the tour and I feel we saw 3/4 of what we wanted. I'd suggest you stay in the same hotel as the tour, as most others will also. With RS Istanbul book, you'll learn how to use the cheap local transportation. The Tour includes a Museum Pass. On the Tour you have about 3 hours on your own before the second dinner, but its the most strenuous day and I believe we napped. A few people went back to Istanbul after the Tour to spend more time.

Posted by
2 posts

Me too, Dot! I've been to the UK, France and Spain on my own and loved it, but when working out the logistics for Turkey, Rome2Rio and various travel blogs convinced me that travel by night bus on my own was not the adventure I really wanted. Anyway, I plan to arrive in Istanbul at least 2-3 days early to recover from jet lag and just wander about soaking up the atmosphere.

Skyscanner has good info on flights. I'm starting from CA, so I'm looking at 20-30 hours and at least 2 plane changes.
Good luck!

Donna K

Posted by
19 posts

I read that in Istanbul we drink only bottled water. If that is true do we eat street food. In South America we were told not to eat street food because food is washed in their water (which we have adverse sensitivity to).

One of the joys of travel is the street food.

Posted by
865 posts

dedellac,

If you search the Turkey forum, you can find my threads on the topic of the water. It made a lot of people snippy that I asked this question. Not only is it recommended by locals, not to drink the tap water, it is recommended not to swallow water in the shower or brush your teeth without bottled water.

Street food is very important to me. This is what I did. First, I took the oral typhoid vaccine before traveling. It is in 2 doses. You should be able to get a prescription from your county health department, a travel clinic, or your PCP.
Secondly, I bought from Amazon an off brand of pepto-bismol tablets. They come 2 tablets in an individually wrapped packet, easy for travel. Before eating, chew 2 tablets. This coats your stomach lining and gut, significantly reducing the chances of getting a water borne bug. This is science based advice : ).

Anecdotally, this worked for myself and my traveling companion. We ate street food including raw fruits and vegetables without so much as a stomach cramp. We also went on a paid food tour which helped us choose our street food wisely.

Have a great trip!

Edited to add: My son did not take the typhoid vaccine, but he did use the bismuth tablets.

Posted by
105 posts

Hi Dot,

I did this tour in September of 2019, and it was great! I actually went over 5 days early—Istanbul has SO much to see and do that I could have used still more time! You might want to reach out to Lale, who runs the RS tours in Turkey, and ask if she might be able to connect you with a guide for an orientation tour when you arrive early, and maybe to show you some of the things that won't be covered by the tour. (Galata tower and the cistern are two that aren't on the tour but worth seeing. Go to Galata right when it opens, the line gets very long shortly after.)

I spent my early arrival time at a hotel in the Taxim area. I was glad to have a slightly different perspective from where we stayed as a group. (That place was fine, but I just appreciated the contrast.)

Two years ago Turkish Airlines had a flight out of Boston, so that would be a natural choice. There were three flights a day from NY back then, too.

One tip- pack a parasol or buy an umbrella while you're there. The sun can be blazing, and it really helped while out touring ruins!