If you are a woman traveling alone, you have to be extra careful about your safety, other than general rules you follow every day like not walking alone at night and watching your food and drink when you’re eating alone, and not trusting strangers, traveling to each country can come with its own tricks and difficulties due to the difference in culture.
Every tip a woman should know before Travelling to Turkey
Turkey is one of the most beautiful countries in the world attracting a lot of tourists every year, if you are one of the people hoping to visit Turkey in the future you might find these tips helpful; especially if you are a woman traveling alone.
Dress more modestly
This might seem like an overstated fact but it is very important to consider that most of the citizens in Turkey are Muslim and the culture is very close to middle eastern cultures so you have to have in mind that the culture is a little more conservative than most European countries so dressing very revealing or wearing clothes that are normal to you but not so common in this country might bring you some unwanted attention and make you feel uncomfortable, especially if you are staying in one of the more conservative areas or if you are visiting mosques and Religious sites.
Learn a little Turkish
Although you don’t necessarily need to know Turkish very well despite the fact that most people don’t speak English, you can still enjoy your time in Turkey. But knowing a few simple words like hello (Selam) and thank you (tesekur ederim) can go a long way. Turkish people are very proud of their heritage and history and appreciate it when a tourist goes out of their way to Communicate in their language. just trying to speak Turkish is considered a friendly gesture and can help you easily make friends and even better deals when negotiating.
Being invited somewhere
Turkish people like all Asian cultures are very generous and big-hearted and it is not uncommon to get invited by locals for food and maybe coffee or tea. It is up to you to accept these invitations or not, but if you decide to go make sure you consider common traditions that are considered polite. The first one is that you can’t walk in the house with your shoes on, always take your shoes off before you walk in; another nice gesture would be that you take some kind of gift with you when you go to a friend’s house, mostly chocolate or sweets; another tradition is that you should ask to help the host in cooking or setting the table to show your gratitude, you can also learn to cook some nice Turkish dishes at the same time
Diners, cafes, and restaurants
A lot of restaurants and cafes in Turkey are separated into two sections: the family section and the public section. If you are a woman traveling alone or traveling with children you will definitely appreciate this setting. Smoking hookah and cigarettes in Turkey is a very common tradition everywhere, even inside restaurants and a lot of local men spend their time in cafes with friends drinking and smoking, if you feel uncomfortable anywhere you can ask the manager to guide you to the family section where is more quiet and safe for a woman traveling alone.
Visiting Religios sites
Although wearing hijab at all times is not mandatory for women in Turkey, unlike most middle eastern countries, still during sightseeing around turkey you might visit a lot of sacred Religious places and according to Islamic rules Muslim people believe that women should not be on their period and they should cover their hair when they walk into sacred places like mosques so keep these rules in mind as to not disrespect Muslims there so it’s good to carry a scarf or pashmina with you when you go out.
If you have visited Asia ever before, you know that packing toilet paper wherever you go is a must and Turkey follows the same rules. Even though a lot of establishments have adjusted to European settings and cultures over the last few decades, but still most toilets in Turkey don’t have toilet paper and you might find using hoses uneasy and uncomfortable so it’s always nice to pack some toilet paper with you just in case.
If you are visiting Turkey you will probably want to experience a nice traditional Turkish bath or hammam. These traditional hammams are some of Turkey’s most charming tourist attractions but keep in mind that even though a lot of them are turning to a unisex experience, most of them still set seperate days for men and women to visit there so make sure to ask for when the building is open for women to use.
When to travel
Turkey is a country that is always beautiful and you can find activities to do and tourists everywhere, all the year, although it might get a little cold in the winter so if you are not used to cold weather you might want to consider that.
Common scams (overcharging/learning to barter)
Other than pickpocketing which is the number one crime in Istanbul like most tourist cities around the world, another common scam in Turkey is taxi drivers or shopkeepers overcharging tourists. If you are taking a taxi make sure to ask the driver to turn their meter on or use online services and make sure you don’t overpay. Another reason that makes tourists pay higher prices than necessary is that they don’t consider that in most Asian markets bartering is a very common practice, shopkeepers will mostly ask for more than the actual price and you have to counter with a lower offer until you find a price you are both satisfied with, you can save yourself a lot of money by learning to barter, and if you don’t have the skills or can’t speak Turkish very well, make sure to ask a local friend to accompany you when visiting the local bazaars.
When you are getting out of your hotel make sure that you take your hotel’s business card and number with you. Whenever you get lost you can call your hotel or even ask the locals, the police, or shopkeepers and they can help you find your way.
All in all, Turkey is a very beautiful and safe country to travel especially if you are a woman traveling alone, you can make your best memories in this country, have some of the best dishes of your life and hopefully find your new favorite destination in the world. Have a great time!