Being on a road trip in Turkey is simply one of the best things I know. And we have been there quite a few times – with and without children. Both have equal charm.
It’s so easy to be on a road trip. And one sees so much. If you rent a car (we usually do that), take the local bus, ride a bike (yes – some people actually do that) or how to arrive, it is a temperamental question. And whether you are staying in a tent, going to a 5 star hotel, living in the car or in cozy little local guesthouses is entirely up to you. I have primarily experience with guesthouses, so I can clearly recommend that. For here there are really many good experiences and with fantastic opportunities to get to know the culture (yet) better.
But one thing is certain – a successful road trip will stay with you all your life. And (hopefully) create memories that make you smile widely on a cold and dull day at home.
Children and roadtrip:
Although my children often complain about the prospect of spending many hours in a hot car, it is rarely a problem, when we are in the process. Well, only the one time we had to drive from Izmir to Antalya (a trip of about 8 hours), where the air conditioning in the car didn’t work and it was 42 degrees outside. That was perhaps a bit tight. But all survived….
Besides that, road trips in Turkey have fortunately been equal to many good experiences, slightly untraditional places and spectacular scenery. And then the parents might just be a tooth more spontaneous and loose than usual. And much easier to persuade just to drive a different road, stop and get an ice cream and provide snacks and funny (childfriendly) drinks in great style at the nearest tank, eat a spontaneous place, pause somewhere with a delicious beach, etc.
And then the trip is usually playful with questioning, “who knows and can sing along on most songs”, diff. games, talk and fun. A great way to get closer to each other.
Roadtrip in Turkey:
Road trip in Turkey is probably not so much different, than in other countries. And yet there are always some things, that can be good to know and plan for. But above all, a trip on the roads often means freedom and a certain amount of uncertainty. Not everything must be planned down to the smallest detail, because there must also be room for spontaneity.
But if you know your budget, where you go and when to go. Then you are already out of the way.
So now you just get some tips on how you can – try – to plan as smooth a ride as possible. And preferably with as many built-in experiences as possible.
Tips for road trip:
# Look at Google Maps before you go. Enter your end station and see what is going on along cities, restaurants, sights etc. Maybe you are closer to something exciting and unknown, than you thought? But make room for spontaneity and the unexpected.
# If you like, then the website Roadtripper.com can also be really good – besides Google. Here you can enter your exact route or use the site’s suggestions for places to sleep, eat, see, camp etc, close to your route. This site also calculates km, time and gasoline consumption on the trip and covers the whole world. At least I’m going to have a look at it in the autumn, when we go on a trip again.
# Take the smaller roads. Yes, they may be a bit more slow, but in return you will see a lot more than on the major highways.
# It is tempting to drive at night, when there are not quite as many cars on the road, and where it is cooler. Do not! There are generally too many cars driving around, where there is alcohol involved. And traffic accidents are clearly the biggest cinner in Turkey.
# Consider having an ordinary map – for the sake of both the fun and the challenge, but it is also nice to have, if you have no signal on the phone. And that happens quite often in Turkey. Maybe you drive in or between the mountains or right by the water, where there often is no signal? But of course you can just download a card on your phone. Sometimes, however, it can be nice to be off-line.
# Remember to update your phone and especially the GPS. Just so there won’t be any surprises on the way.
# Something as simple as a car, and the car’s condition / equipment, can mean the world for your trip. If you, like us, are unfortunate to have a car, where the AC does not work, then it is not good to drive a very hot summer day. Also think about how many people, there should be space for in the car, how close will you sit and are there any room for all the suitcases? We have met this some times. And it’s also not great to sit with heavy suitcases and bags on your lap and around your legs, when you have to drive. And then remember the insurance.
# Your travel companions are also important. Do you have anything to talk about in the many hours, you sit in the car. Is there anyone, who can take over, when you get tired, the children are aware of what is going to happen, and for how long you have to drive?
# Do you know the road rules and signs? Turkey is not so much different from home. Perhaps just near the slippery notice in the summer due to molten asphalt. Yes, it’s really something you should take into account. And also you can sometimes meet sheeps on the road, a small road might be closed due to weddings (there is best room for the chairs on the road), that there may be landslides in the mountains – or worse, nature fire. And you have to take the many police checks seriously and not just rush past. They will be happy to check out both the car, your insurance and the driving license if there is the slightest excuse.
# What is a road trip without proper music? Yes not worth much in my optics. Make sure you to have playlists (and cable to the radio) in the car, it goes a little easier. Every year, there is always a new song that hits. In Turkey no exception. At least we are still wondering, if the performer who sang last year’s hit: “Lost in Istanbul” has come home or is still lost? 😉Something that we can still laugh about here a year after. And then it can somehow be very cozy to listen to the local radio stations. Some play “Western” pop music, other Turkish or traditional folk music. Yes, it can all be quite entertaining.
# Clean up the car. There is rarely anything so annoying (and smelly in the heat) that rubbish in the car. Chip bags, chocolate papers, cans, crumbled biscuits, etc. Clean up and throw out every time you leave the car or arrive at a gas station. And remember to have clean bags and paper or wet wipes in the car (we often forget that). And maybe an extra bag for purchasing various things along the road. We have both come home with bowls and spoons from our tours.
Hotels and gas stations:
# Consider whether there is a hotel or anything you need to book before departure. Just so you are sure, there is space and so you have something to look forward to.
# There may be far between gas stations. Very far. So watch out for your gasoline, gas or diesel consumption. Not infrequently, I have seen a sign showing 50 km to the nearest station.
# Have a cold bag packed with lunch and drinks. And make sure you make good supplies before you leave. You can get a lot at the gas stations – amazingly much actually. But it can be a bit monotonous or the range varies. We always have biscuits, chips, salt crackers especially, plenty of drinks and maybe a little freshly made gözleme or something.
Remember the fun of your road trip:
# Turkey is a mega cozy and beautiful country to drive around in. But if you want to learn a bit along the way, I can only recommend staying and eating locally. Even small strange places and eateries Off the road can really broaden your horizons. Of course, one should also keep an eye on the hygiene. There is no reason to have a stomach infection a dubious place.
# Wear comfortable clothes. Both where there is room for the stomach, there is nothing that tightens, but also something you can quickly get on and off. I have often experienced the need to change if ex. driving in the mountains. The cold always cheats, and there can be big differences up and down.
# Remember to double-check your luggage, medicine, phone, purse, charger, camera, sunglasses, etc. And take a pillow and a blanket with you. A little extra water in a big 5 l. Canister (to rinse yourself for salt after a spontaneous swim) and an extra gas tank can also be a good idea.
# Entertainment – For God’s sake, remember entertainment. Especially if you are traveling with children. Otherwise, time can be really long and filled with more quarrels than good. We always have small magnetic games with – Ludo, backgammon, “gallows-word-play” and tablets with us. But audiobooks are not a bad idea either. And then play with counting horses, sheep, flags etc. And then Turkey is a wonderful country to be on a road trip in. Besides that there is very “different” nature to see from the road than in DK. You can also use a lot of time identifying license plates. If it starts with 35 it is from Izmir, 34 from Istanbul, 09 from Aydin, 07 Antalya, 06 Alanya, 42 Konya etc. … The kids think it is quite cozy, especially to spot one from far away (and from other countries). And then they learn a bit about geography and distances at the same time.
And remember to take fun pictures. Not just pictures that are postcards or Instagram worthy. But crazy, funny pictures that you remember and can laugh at.
Are you leaving?
Yes it suddenly became quite a lot. But I really hope, that you can use my advice for a really good road trip in Turkey. And that you have the courage to throw yourself into it. No doubt that some of our best experiences have taken place in cars across the country. So I want you to also get some of the same experiences. There is everything to gain and not so much to lose … ..