Travelling through Turkey

Kay O’Sullivan address Jane’s concerns about travelling in Turkey.

Q. Jane

I’ve always wanted to go to Istanbul. I love the idea of seeing the wealth and architecture of the sultans’ palaces. Is it a safe place to travel? I’m not sure about which parts of Europe that border Middle-Eastern countries are safe. I wouldn’t be travelling alone, I’d be going with my husband.

A. Istanbul is fabulous, one of the great cities of the world the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and the sublime Topkapi, the palace home of the Ottomans for 400 years (I had to be dragged out of the jewellery room last year). And this being the centenary of Gallipoli brings an extra poignancy to travels through Turkey.

But we need to talk safety rather than talk Turkey. Turkey has been in a heightened state of alert since launching air strikes against Islamic State in Syria and Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. There have been a number of terrorist attacks, most recently near the Dolmabahce Palace, the Turkish prime minister’s office, and a popular tourist site.

As the events in Bangkok so tragically show, there is nowhere in the world that is 100 per cent safe. Nowhere.

More than ever, travellers today need a hefty dose of common sense, as always, and then luck, wherever they go.

And every Australian who is travelling internationally needs to register his or her details, destinations, travel dates and emergency contact numbers with www.smartraveller.gov.au, the Department of Foreign Affairs’ website for travellers.

As the site says, no destination or traveller is immune from a crisis. It also advices that you should share your contact details, travel itinerary and copies of key travel documents with friends or family. I’d suggest putting all of that up in ‘the cloud’, perhaps in one of the information sharing sites, such as Dropbox. That way, if you and your documents are separated, you know where to find them as well.

I’d also recommend signing up for DFAT’s subscription email for travel advices and the latest information on the safety and security at your destination.

I have no intention of staying in Australia for the rest of my life but now more than ever I am mindful that I need to be careful and sensible and then hope that good fortune favours me. That’s all I can do and that’s all anyone can do.

Do you have a travel question for Kay? If so, email your Travel SOS to [email protected]

Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has written about travel for numerous papers, magazines both here and internationally and on the internet.

Written by kayo



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