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Americans traveling in Turkey

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I was stationed with the American forces at Incirlik in the early 1990s and have many fond memories of my time there.  In fact, I've started developing some early travel plans to visit the country again, perhaps this fall.  I would have made these plans a while back, but with the coup and then the row between the governments leading to a problem getting visas for a time, the trip got delayed.  

But I'm pumped to be making plans to head back!  The thing is,  the US Department of State advises against travel there at this time.  But the warnings ring a bell-  when I got stationed there after the first gulf war,  there were all kinds of dire forecasts about safety, but I got there and things were really fine, and I have no intention of going to Southeast Turkey where the situation is politically hot.

But before I make firm plans,  I wanted to check with people on the ground just to be sure.  Is there anything beyond the normal precautions a traveler should take that I should be aware of?  Are Americans as welcomed in the tourist areas, or even off the beaten track a bit, as they used to be?  The Dept of State warns of "detentions."  They don't say if that's  detention by the government or maybe a militant group or what.  Anything to that? 

Frankly I'd be a tad shocked if you have something too substantial to report,  but perhaps there's something I, as an American traveling in Turkey, should know.  


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Hi Thomas and welcome to Turkey Central. I know a number of Americans living here, in fact the owner of this site is one of them and will welcome you with open arms when he reads your post. Aside from the usual advice that we used to get there is nothing to worry about. Turkey and the Turkish people are as welcoming as ever. Hope you have a great time when you get here.


Çukurbağlı's blog. Warning - takes you off the forum and into the www.wilderness


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The only thing to add to Cukurbagli's comment is check that the travel insurance is not affected by the government warning. All is well here for travelers who are respectful, careful and polite to Turkey and its customs, you will have a great time and should not feel threatened.

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  • 11 months later...

Thanks for this post Thomas Meacham!  I also grew up in Turkey in the 1980s at Incirlik.  I've always considered Turkey 'my home' and miss it SO much.  I was also looking into traveling to Turkey again but was also concerned about the State Dept. warnings.

Thanks for the post and all of the replies putting me more at ease! =)


Incirlik - 83-85 / 87-91

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I was at Incirlik from 2005 to 2007, living in Antalya now. I think the travel warnings mainly focus on the southeast, which is probably a good place to avoid, but I haven't heard of any incidents anywhere in Turkey which were directed at foreigners. Not lately anyway.

I mentioned this in other posts... the Incirlik alley is pretty much dead... a few shops and restaurants are open, but the base has been in lockdown for quite a while. Still worth a visit though, at least to bring back some old memories!

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Softly softly catcha monkey, I noticed that Thomas made his one and only post a year ago and has probably been and gone by now.

I have visited many parts of Turkey during the last 30 years and met no agression at all from Turks. I am English born and bred and have many American relatives, I am not sure if this has affected my accent but I have been mistaken for an American on many occasions but not suffered as a result.

Moving on to Turkey in current times it might not be such a good idea for foreigners to visit major cities right now because of the animosity being promoted recently. That is not to say that foreigners won't be welcomed by most. The flash points here have always been places to avoid. That does though apply to many other countries of course.

As Bob Dylan used to sing.

"You  don't need a weather man to know which way the wind blows" 

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Ken & Cowboy-

Appreciate your thoughts on this!  I have a year a two to plan my trip so I have some time to see how things settle (or not) in Turkey.

A question for both / either of you.  Is it a good idea to go with another friend / family member?  I'd kind of like to venture alone - but thought it's probably not a 'safe' idea.


I'm really thankful that this site exists!  Thanks Ken.

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There's no way to predict what is going to happen no matter how many people you are with. But use common sense. As for venturing out alone, around the tourist areas you'll be fine. But of course, it wouldn't be a good idea to go just anywhere after dark. You can ask someone at your hotel or pension for more local advice.  Some areas have a problem with pickpockets and similar types of crime, especially those which involve distraction. But the typical street crimes are not meant to harm, they are just meant to get what you have on you and get away. It is most likely you will have no problems at all.

If you would like to read my articles on crime and safety in Turkey, see the Crime and Safety articles.

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I have just read Ken's 5 bullet points and agree completely with every point he has made

One thing that has not been mentioned is the fact that you have to carry ID at all times, be it passport or residency paperwork. These are as valuable to a thief as càsh or cards and extra care should be taken with them. Many people wear what is some times refered to as a bum bag. (a zip pouch worn around the waist) These in my opinion are not secure as a would be thief now knows where you keep your valuables an can plan his strategy. What I would suggest is a money belt, this is flat and roomy and is worn under your clothing. Keep some small money in your pants pocket and be careful where you access the belt.

There might be one other item which Ken would be more qualified to answer. There is a growing feeling against the West at the moment, particularly Americans.

Good luck and enjoy your stay here.


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