Travel with Kids in Turkey

Tips, cautions and bright ideas for keeping children safe and happy during travel in Turkey.
turkeytom
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Travel with Kids in Turkey

Post by turkeytom » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:02 pm

More and more families are traveling in Turkey, and want to know how best to keep the children safe and happy, and to get the most out of their trip.

I traveled with my family to Turkey when my daughter was 10-1/2 years old. She loved it! The palaces and boat trips in Istanbul, the caves—and cave hotel rooms!—in Cappadocia, the crusader castle in Bodrum, and of course the beaches. We had a wonderful time.

She's a good traveler, and had no problems with the food, or with boredom. (She still savors the memory of Turkish breakfasts, which she loved.)

But kids are different, and different ages present different challenges. I'd be very grateful for your input on how best to help children have successful trips in Turkey.

Tom Brosnahan


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TRAVEL WITH CHILDREN

Post by davcamp » Wed Oct 11, 2006 7:25 pm

TOM, THANKS FOR OPENING THIS DISCUSSION.
FOR ISTANBUL...WE FOUND THAT KIDS LOVED THE MINIATURK EXPERIENCE. WE TOOK A 6 YEAR OLD WHO ENJOYED THE PARK FOR 3 WHOLE HOURS WITHOUT COMPLAINT.

THERE IS A SIT-IN-TRAIN RIDE, A WALK-THRU-MAZE, A PLAY PARK TOO.
YOU'LL ALSO FIND A SNAK BAR & PLENTY OF OTHER DIVERSIONS FOR CHILDREN TO STRETCH THEIR LEGS.
http://www.letsgoistanbul.com/miniaturk.htm

GENERALLY, UNDERSTAND THE CHILDREN WILL FIT INTO YOUR AGENDA IF YOU PLAN & KEEP REGULAR STOPS FOR THIER INTERESTS (MEALS, ICE CREAM STOPS, PARKS, ETC). LET THEM SIT NEXT TO WINDOW WHILE COMMUTING, LET THEM SUGGEST FOR ONE DAY WHAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO DO/GO TO. MOST OF ALL...THEY NEED REST BREAKS SO BRING A SMALL BAG OF BOOKS, COLORING CRAYONS, ETC.

DAV

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Family Cruises?

Post by turkeytom » Thu Oct 12, 2006 2:23 pm

I looked at your cruises, and I don't see what's 'family' about them. They look like ordinary cruises.

For all I know they might be good, and families might enjoy them, but if there is nothing special about these cruises, your message constitutes an advertisement.

Please do post messages that provide helpful information for TTP visitors, and answers to their questions. Please do not post messages that are merely advertisements for business.

If advertisements are allowed, the TTP Forums would soon be so full of ads that other information would be difficult to find.

Please contact me if you would like to advertise on other parts of TTP (not the Forum).

Tom Brosnahan

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Post by carrie » Wed Nov 08, 2006 2:57 pm

Hi all,

By the way Tom Great idea for families travelling with children. I do hope that everyone posts a question and answer here.

My suggestion is for moms and dads to bring along some necessary items while travelling especially for the little ones.

1. fever thermometer - I never travel without
2. travel insurance
3. a few medicines like fever medication, pain relief, bandaids, etc or like a small emergency kit for cuts or bruises.
4. small snacks while on the road and water
5. crayons, favorite toy, or books to keep them occupied - so they are not screaming are we there yet.
6. waterproof sun screen with a high UV protection factor
7. bug repellant - the kind made for children

Try to keep travelling fun for them they will get bored easily or try to use the over-night buses and then maybe .....and I mean maybe can sleep.

Work out a trip that will keep them interested as well....sightseeing in the morning and a fun kid trip in the afternoon.....maybe book a hotel or pansiyon with a pool for some afternoon or evening fun.

A lot of the above items you can find very easily in supermarkets like migros, tansas, kipa etc so you don't have to pack everything from home.

If I can think of any more ideas I will post them again or if anyone has questions please ask. Also BTW I am a mom with two of my own

Here is also a link that I did by typing kids in the above search box and here are some of the results from previous posts.
search.php?mode=results

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Post by wilson » Fri May 18, 2007 8:54 pm

First, just want to say that the TTP site was extremely helpful. I read it thoroughly, and the advice was dead-on. Thanks much.

My family just returned from a 12-day trip to Istanbul and the Selcuk/South Aegean area. We got permission from school principals to take our two boys -- ages 10 and 13 -- out during school the first and second weeks of May (we emphasized the educational aspect of the trip, hardly a stretch). Both boys kept journals and took photos, and each is putting together a report or presentation for their classes when they return. I'm convinced this was the way to go, traveling with kids. In May the crowds were down, lines were short, etc.

The boys seemed to thoroughly enjoy almost everything we did, and we did not find it necessary to pursue activities oriented specifically for children. The kids said their highlights were the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara (both the ferry ride and the bike ride around Buyukada), Ephesus, and the the Hagia Sophia and the Cistern in Sultanhamet. My older son loved Istanbul’s Archaeology museum and the Ephesus museum in Selcuk.

And we had fun simply walking from site to site through Istanbul, dealing with persistent carpet salesman, etc. We’d see some of the same ones repeatedly, and they became a cast of characters for us (we weren’t in the market for a carpet). We all had a great time trying to speak Turkish, and the kids were enchanted by the calls to prayer, as were my wife and I.

Also, if you have kids and you go to Selcuk in the late spring or summer I recommend Hotel Kalehan, which has a pool (it's also recommended on the TTP site). We took one afternoon “off,” just swimming, playing card games by the pool. It just gave us a chance to chill out and catch our breaths – it helped to carve out a little time for the boys to do their own thing. The kids did bring their gameboys (and books) – it gave them their own thing to do when we would return to the rooms, and let me and my wife have some moments to ourselves.

For the historic sites, I thought it helped to get the kids up to speed a bit with the history of the place so they were at least somewhat knowledgeable about the Byzantines and Ottomans. That way the experiences fit into a storyline for them. I read to them at night about some of this before we went. And of course, they’ll reinvent places on their own. My 10-year-old had a blast exploring St. John’s Basilica in Selcuk and the ruins at Priene. Nooks and crannies between stones make these places a great hide-and-seek arena (of course you have to make sure they don’t annoy people or trample sacred spots). And two of the things he talks about the most was a goose that hissed at us strangely at the Temple of Artemis and the "awesome" ice cream on the island of Buyukuda. So you never know what will resonate with kids...

If you’re traveling with children, I would not recommend the Dolmabahce Palace tour – or if you want to take it, just realize you may have fidgety kids on your hands. The tour of the main building was fairly interesting, but we thought the harem tour (which was optional) got pretty tedious, and our guide was verbose and hard to understand. Also, the Grand Bazaar wasn't a big hit, but probably we stayed too long. My 13-year-old, in particular was ready to go after an hour.

A side note – my 10-year old son has long bright blonde hair (we weren’t mistaken for locals), and he must have had his hair rubbed or face tweaked eight or 10 times by perfect strangers as we walked around the city. It was hilarious, and it didn’t bother him a bit. We really stood out – I’d almost swear we were the only American family in Turkey that week… but that just added to the flavor.
Last edited by wilson on Mon May 21, 2007 12:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by steve » Fri May 18, 2007 11:09 pm

Okay, hands up - I'm not a kid. I've not yet made it to the Princes Islands, but they sound brilliant! I'd be very grateful if you have any further detail about this part of your trip.

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Post by wilson » Sat May 19, 2007 1:07 am

The islands were great -- and it helped that the weather was ideal. The ferry leaves from Kabatas (take the tram from Sultanhamet north of the Golden Horn to the end of the line). The ferry stops at four of the islands, but you'll want to go to Büyükada, which means "big island" -- it is the largest one. It's the fourth and last stop.

We had a great time renting bikes and exploring the island. There are very few cars on the island (we heard there were no cars, but there are quite a few service vehicles around the central busy part of the island). You can also ride horse-drawn carriages around the island, but we didn't do that. The best bike route we found was on the right side of the island from where you get off the ferry (I guess that's the west side, but I'm not sure). Take your bike up a steep slope to the right to a beautiful large wooden white house at a sort of square and turn right. This road takes you past very impressive homes and stunning views of the sea. Bring some form of photo ID -- I had to leave one with the rental place while we had the bikes.

You'd enjoy walking the island as well, and on the left side of the island there are some quaint little side streets with outdoor markets, local shops that don't look touristy.

Some advice for getting on the ferry -- get there at least 30 minutes early and get close to the glass door if you want an outside seat or at least a seat with a view. It gets crowded, and I'm sure it will be worse in the summer that it was for us in early May. TTP recommends not going on weekends, and I'd guess that's good advice. The one downside is that the ferry ride is lengthy (I'd say about 45 mins too long, but it's only an issue on the way back, when you're tired). It stops on the Asian side and then makes the three stops before Büyükada. It's fun though -- nice views, gulls flying along side the boat -- bring some bread to toss to them (they make some very acrobatic catches). And don't know if this will happen to you, but our section of the ferry got pretty rowdy on the return. Crowds of young people with guitars started competing with one another, singing songs and chanting soccer cheers, taking shots. My wife, my 10-year-old and I thought it was cool, but it was a little too much for my 13-year-old.

When we went there were ferries leaving at 10:30, noon and 2, or something like that. We left at 10:30 and returned at 4:30. That seemed like the right amount of time.

Lots of places to eat on the island, and we had some great ice cream too.

I heard that the third island is pretty good too -- Heybeliada. But no first-hand experience there.

Hope this helps!
Last edited by wilson on Mon May 21, 2007 12:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by carrie » Sat May 19, 2007 1:23 pm

Hi Wilson,

Thanks for your wonderful and well written travel report...great ideas for those travelling with the children.. 8) It will be a real help to other families travelling to Turkey.

Carrie

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Post by winelady » Thu May 24, 2007 12:15 am

I'd like to add my thanks as well. I'll be in Istanbul for a week with my three kids and I'll keep your comments in mind.

Cheers!
BRW
Richmond, VA USA
http://www.westhoven.net

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Princes Islands (Adalar), Istanbul

Post by turkeytom » Thu May 24, 2007 1:39 am

I went to the islands last Sunday. Great trip! I'm revising and expanding the islands pages now; they should be on TTP soon.

Some cautions: the IDO ferry company doesn't institute its summer schedule until June 18th (when Turkish schools go on vacation), so nice warm days in May and the first half of June find far too many people wanting to take far too few ferries.

I took the mid-morning Sunday ferry. It says it can carry 1500 people. I'll bet there were more. Standing room only! Way too crowded. So if possible, take an early ferry. Same for returning from the islands in the afternoon.

More info coming soon!

Tom Brosnahan


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