Is It Safe To Travel To Turkey?

 

Fisherman on Galata Bridge in Istanbul

We waited to tell them. We talked about when it would be the right time. Over dinner, we thought about how they might respond. We agreed that we wouldn’t say anything until the day before our arrival.

Finally, it was time to tell our parents that we were going to Turkey. It was time to say that we were going to the country that was receiving nonstop news coverage in the US about the country’s shared border with the Syrian town of Kobani, which was under attack by the terrorist group, ISIS. It was reported that ISIS supporters from all over the world were using Turkey as the main thoroughfare to Syria. So, it’s understandable when parents express concern when their children tell them “We are going to Turkey!” on Facebook messenger.

Lamps at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

My mom replied with a phrase straight out of Midwest, America, “Good grief!”

I reminded my mom that Turkey is larger than Texas and we are not some young, overly-idealistic, naive travelers with our heads in the clouds hiking into Taliban-occupied regions of the world.

I am not going to lie. I was not immune to all the bad news. I have the admirable skill of hearing terrible news and instantly believing that it will likely happen to me. I am pretty sure this personality trait is why Nic married me 😉 Who doesn’t love an anxious partner?!?!

West Coast near Kas, Turkey

Even though my anxious thoughts can get in the way of living a life of joy at times, it does help when it comes to researching safety concerns in other countries. I read the travel warnings issued by THREE countries – the UK, Australia and the U.S. Yes, this is excessive but I like it. Unlike the U.S., the UK includes balanced tidbits like this: Over 2,500,000 British nationals visit Turkey every year. Most visits are trouble-free. I also like that the UK actually includes a map of Turkey with clearly marked areas of where you should not go. VERY HELPFUL.

The waterway, The Golden Horn, separating the old and new city in Istanbul.

The reality is that the overwhelming majority of the world is safe and the few pockets of violence that do exist dominate the news and consequently our thoughts and perceptions of a place. But, they are just pockets, a concentration of scariness in an otherwise peaceful place.

To add some perspective, many people we meet traveling who are not from the U.S. ask us if we feel SAFE LIVING IN THE U.S.? They are bewildered by Americans refusal to support stricter gun ownership regulations given the high number of shootings. The fact is that we are more likely to be killed by guns (or a car accident) in our own country than by a terrorist while traveling.

Istanbul has some funk

So, we spent about three weeks in Turkey and guess what happened? Nothing! Actually, many things happened including being asked out to dinner by a young Turkish man named Baris who we met by renting his apartment on airbnb.com. Baris was friendly and kind. He shared with us his opinions of his country and what it is like being a young person in Istanbul. And he told us where to find some of the best baklava ever! It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Bakalava_Yum