Packing: travel hacks for your trip to Turkey
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Packing for your trip to Turkey can feel overwhelming. What do I need to bring? How is it different from other places? Is there anything special I should know about?
Turkey is definitely different than the Western world both in culture and different from America specifically when it comes to electricity and conversions for just about everything.
I have a few cheats that will help and a PDF you can download to make packing easier. Make sure you grab the PDF with a complete list of things you should bring.
What should you pack?
First we should consider between a roller suitcase or a backpack. Personally I hate using rolling suitcases unless I have to because the roads just aren’t always suitable. That being said, A backpack can get heavy.
As far as backpacks go, though, I have been loving my Osprey Porter pack because it lays flat and zips all the way down. Allowing you to easily access things in the bottom of the pack instead of having to remove everything!
It can also be used without the straps, just using the handle on the side. You can buy it in a variety of sizes but I got the 46L because I wanted to be able to use it as a carry on. Works like a charm.
If you decide to go with a roller, it is totally doable just realize it may be harder. That being said, the roller bags with 4 wheels often jolt all over the place and it is easy often to just drag the suitcase.
I also recommend using taxis with bit suitcases. It makes life easier! If I am taking a big suitcase, I will just take taxis to and from the airport to make it easier. You can check out my blog here on the best 7 apps for travelers in Turkey.
Okay! Let’s take a look at a general list. At the end we will look at a few considerations for items that would be helpful for specific seasons.
1. Travel Adapter
Make sure that you pack a good adapter that can handle the 220 voltage that Turkey uses. It important to note the AMPs the adapter supports. Most only support up to 6 amps which means you can’t use high powered (blow dryer, curling irons, etc) with them.
For instance, if you have a CPAP machine, make sure you know what are the electric requirements and bring a convertor if necessary.
This is my favorite adapter. It can be used is so many countries, supports up to 8 amps and 100V – 240V. Plus it has 3 USB slots and one Type C charging slot.
2. External Battery
There is nothing worse that visiting your favorite ancient site in Turkey and realizing you only have 10% battery left. You can get a tiny one that is good for one charge like this one.
My favorite one is this one by Anker. They have great quality and protect your phone from overcharging.
It is a little bit heavier but it can charge multiple devices (think bluetooth headphones, tablet, phones). It even has multiple slots so you can charge more than one thing at a time.
I am a huge fan of less is more so I actually just use my phone on my camera but it is also a really great quality camera.
If you want to travel with a little extra camera, I would highly recommend the Canon Powershot. I actually backpacked through Europe with this (a few generations older) and it was perfect!
This isn’t something to pack but to prepare before you go. When I first traveled abroad, I realized I had access to more shows on Netflix when I was in England. Simultaneously, I couldn’t watch a few shows that I really loved.
With a VPN you can select your home country and watch your shows regardless of where you are! I have been using this VPN for years and have never had a problem. And their customer service is stellar!
When packing for your trip to Turkey it is especially helpful to have printed out copies of everything. Here, paper is king! So make sure that you print off any reservations that you have. You also want to make sure that you have the following things printed off.
Make sure you check the current COVID restrictions here.
1. Health Insurance
It is really good to get travel insurance set up when you buy your ticket. In case something should happen, you want to make sure you’re covered. I like TravelInsurance.com because they have a variety of plans that allow you to choose what you need.
Make sure you print out a copy of your card and information you need in case you need to make a claim.
It can also be helpful to bring a copy of prescriptions with the generic name on them in case you lose yours while traveling and need to get a refill.
Make sure to check the local pharmacy as many prescriptions can be purchased here without a prescription. You may be able to save some money by buying them here!
3. Copy of Passport
It is a good idea to always travel with a color copy of your passport. While you want to walk around with your passport on hand, it is a good idea to have a copy in case something happens to it.
In the event that your passport is stolen, you can take the copy to the embassy to make getting a replacement much easier.
Most of the stuff here will be on the PDF but there are a couple things that I have found to be helpful as I have traveled. I also wrote a post on medicine in Turkey for some helpful tips.
Mini Travel Emergency Kit
So this kit has saved me multiple times. I just put a small portion of each just to have. Recently I went on a trip and got bit by something and immediately regretted not having my kit with me cause all the pharmacies were closed and I couldn’t find anything for the bug bite.
While you can totally build your own, you can also buy one for pretty inexpensively. This Amazon’s Choice First Aid Pack has over 87 items for under $8. You can always add a few things to it as well.
A few things I keep in mine are bandaids, mini sewing kit, allergy pills, something like Benadryl for bug bites, nail file, clippers, floss, cortisone cream and pain pills. You can customize yours to yourself. For instance, if you get motion sickness, you may want to add that in case you take a fairy or cough drops if you get a sore throat often.
One thing to note is that I will be doing another post on medicine equivalents for when you’re traveling and need to find something.
So it is helpful when you’re traveling and just need to clean your hands. But you don’t need a ton. Turkey has something a little different but I love even more. Kolonya.
Kolonya is similar but smells lovelier and I find that it doesn’t leave my hands feeling so sticky. Make sure you grab some to take home. This is my favorite brand and you can find it everywhere! They have the most amazing scents!
Activated Charcoal is a great addition to any emergency medical pack. It can be used for things like:
- Reducing bloating
- Treat bile flow problems
- Accidental poisoning (helps with food poisoning)
- Help with hangovers
This one has a high potency so you can even take just one pill and it will last longer, also more pack per pill is great when you travel.
Want to know more? Check out this article by Dr. Axe on activated charcoal uses.
Honestly most of this can be purchased once you get in country. You can stop into a Gratis, Rossman, or even most markets have the things you need. They will be fairly cheap and don’t have to worry about bringing it back.
The one consideration would be if you’re traveling around a lot by way of flying, you won’t be able to fly with large bottles unless you check your back.
a useful hack for language:
Use google translate app. If you open the app, you can select camera and it will allow you to read live just by having the camera open on a product. BOOM! Now you can read the bottles!
The one thing I highly recommend for traveling is a menstrual cup if you’re a woman. If you’re not just pass on along. If you are, it makes life so much easier not having to think about that for 10-12 hours at a time! I have been using this one and love it!
So you want to bring a ton of clothes when packing for your trip to Turkey. It may seem like a good idea but you’ll likely regret it. While you should definitely take note when you’re booking your housing is whether or not there will be a washing machine, it doesn’t mean you should bring more clothes if it doesn’t.
Bring smarter clothes. Many places have washing machines but some don’t. Even more so, if there is a washing machine you will likely never find a dryer. What you need is clothes that dry quick and easy or something you can wash and let dry for at least 24-36 hours.
Especially if you’re traveling with kids and know there will be a ton of dirty clothes, it may be worth it to book a place with a washing machine.
There are no laundromats in Turkey. You may find the occasional dry cleaner but there aren’t laundromats. You can’t just go wash your laundry somewhere.
Everyone knows their body better than anyone else. Not only are the shoes you wear important but also the preparation before all the walking. If you have a fairly sedentary life style, I would recommend going for hourly walks the month before you leave and then upping it to at least two hours a day the week or two before.
I came and didn’t prepare my feet well enough and after months and months of walking 15k+ steps a day, I developed tendonitis. I now only wear barefoot shoes and my foot is learning to do the work instead of relying on a shoe. I totally love @anyasreviews on Instagram. She has tons of great recommendations for shoes if you’re interested.
Otherwise, I recommend something that you can walk a lot in. Heels are not practical here with the uneven and cobblestone streets. Make sure they are stable shoes.
2. Modest Clothing
The Eastern part of the world is much more conservative in their clothes than the West which perhaps you are quite aware of. One note I would make is that typically, the less skin you can show the better.
While it may not be a problem in some areas, especially highly touristic places, the less clothes you wear the more attention you’ll experience. Of course you’ll receive attention simply because you’re a foreigner. It is helpful if you don’t add to it, however.
When I have people visit me, I ask them to not wear shorts shorter than the knees or string camis. There is already a misconception that American women are loose (I mean I can completely understand when all you know is American TV shows and movies) so I try to dress closer to the population around me.
3. Consider a capsule wardrobe
If you have never heard this term before it is simply a collection of clothing items that work with each other. So you pick a handful of tops, a few bottoms, a couple pieces to layer with and maybe 2 pairs of shoes. Then you can mix and match.
The goal is not only to have less to bring but also that it helps cut down on the many decisions you will have to make throughout your trip. Here are some images for inspiration.
Finally the loose ends. The things you may not think to grab or think you will but might not.
Ear plugs & Eye mask
I actually use a noise machine instead of earplugs but whichever works for you. Especially if you stay in Istanbul or a bigger city, you will likely hear cats and traffic all night love.
Earplugs (noise machine) will help you sleep well. An eye mask, like this one, will keep you from getting woken up by that sun earlier than you want!
Reusable Water Bottle
Now most people will tell you to grab an expensive filter water bottle, which you could do. But honestly, the problem is not so much the viruses and bacteria in the water here but the high levels of heavy metals in the water from the old plumbing.
You would probably do even better to get large 5L bottles of water from the market and fill your bottles when you go.
As you walk the streets, you will find bottled water everywhere. And if you see these fountains, this water is drinkable and many use it regularly, though again, there may be heavy metals in the water.
Also I am a fan of a crossbody bag, I realize not everyone else is. Depending on what you use on the go, there are few things to consider.
If you want to use a backpack, something like this backpack, which deters from people gaining easy access to what’s inside would be recommended.
When you hop on public transport, make sure you wear it on the front of you so you don’t whack someone or give someone easy access to your valuables.
If you are a woman and prefer a purse, I have been using a Travelon purse for years and I absolutely love it! Be careful though. Because of it’s size, it’s easy to over fill it and then hate carrying it all day!
Make sure you carry a pack of tissues with you at all times as not all bathrooms here have toilet paper all the time. I have made the mistake one too many times.
If you don’t have a travel bag or are particularly cautious of your passport and money being stolen, a great way to keep them safe is to use a money belt.
Make sure you get one with RFID block protection to keep those credit cards from being copied. This is an inexpensive one that comes in three neutral colors.
However, belt is worn under your clothes, that way no one can access it except you, so color isn’t typically a big deal.
I have found having a small microfiber towel quite handy when I travel. Sometimes I have just needed an extra towel and there weren’t enough or I needed it immediately and couldn’t wait for someone to bring more.
The great thing about microfiber towels is they dry fast, absorb a lot and are incredibly lightweight. This one has multiple sizes to choose from, though I usually just bring a small one.
To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, to gain all while you give, to roam the roads of lands remote, to travel is to live.
Hans Christian Andersen
When packing for your trip to Turkey remember that it is roughly 1.25 the size of Texas. The variety of weather that this country has is vast. While winters are typically rainy, the temperature greatly varies just as the summer temperatures can vary. Thus packing for your trip to Turkey can be tricky. So make sure you check out where you are going.
Spring & Fall
You will be greeted with cool nights with warmer days. But it can also be quite rainy in some areas. Make sure you pack a good rain coat and if you can, get a longer one like this women’s coat, trust me. Unfortunately, the men’s coats don’t have as many options for length. If you’re dead set on an umbrella, I recommend a wind resistant one like this one. Make sure you look up where you’re headed and dress appropriately. Layers are especially helpful as the weather changes.
Summer is hot in Turkey! Make sure you pack light clothes that cover your skin but allow the wind to go through them.
Don’t forget your sunscreen. That Mediterranean sun can burn you before you know it!
This is also a good time to bust out those Chacos or Tevas. They are sturdy and can handle the rough roads as well as hiking if you’re out in nature!
Winter you will find rain no matter where you go as it is the rainiest season throughout Turkey.
Check where you will be going and make sure you pack warm enough clothes. Some places are extremely cold and others are mildly cold but super rainy.
Make sure you check out my other post on things you should know about Turkey before you visit. Things to be aware of and be prepared for. I promise it will save you lots of time and headache!
Also don’t miss this post on packing your carry on.
Holler when you visit Istanbul! I’d love to meet up with you and show you a few of my favorite places if I am free!
Was there anything that surprised you about these packing travel hacks?
Anything that you didn’t realize? Is there something you can’t do with out that I don’t have on my list?