A brief visit to Turkey is enough to help most of you women get out of your comfort zone and take longer trips to countries around the Middle East. I have several close friends in Jordan, Israel and even a few I know living in Iraq. The concern is usually that there will be no freedom traveling around the country as a female. That has not been my experience. Moving around the country in Turkey has been easy, and relatively safe. I follow three rules that I believe keep me safe:
- Get in by midnight
- I try to either plan my travel during the day to make it to my hotel by midnight. If I am going to be out later I will plan to share taxis and travel with friends. The more I visit the same places. I spent a lot of late nights out in Turkey but had girl friends out with me until two and three. The bars with live music don’t really get interesting until later in the evening but I always had a friend or two to go home with and often times invited my girl friends to stay with me at my place as it was more central to the evening party scene. If I am traveling alone without friends though I like to be in bed by 11 knowing that the majority of crime in general comes later in the evenings.
- If I’m not going to be in by midnight and I’m still traveling I prefer buses over taxis and I move at a speed much faster than the normal human being walks. This does not keep me free from tails but allows me to differentiate those following me from those just lurking in general.
- Get out and make friends
- The more female friends I make in a place the safer the location becomes. The best way to make female friends is to look for other college age students and for some language schools in the region. Staying a night in a clean hostel has been one place I’ve had some success meeting up with other likewise female travelers.
- If you have the money you can buy some great guides for the day through a travel agency like http://www.gotourturkey.com/ or someplace like them.
- Do a little research
- Spend a few hours looking at pictures of women from the region you intend to visit. If the women are fully covered in the photos from that region don’t make yourself uncomfortable but leave the spaghetti straps at home and wear something that covers your shoulder. Bring a scarf, and while none of these things guarantee safety they will help you stand out a little less. Standing out is your worst enemy when trying to avoid the wolves that try to prey on the solo female traveler. You can do it but you do have to be willing to compromise at times. The girls in Turkey while wearing very tight cloths make sure that their chests are covered up to their neck and down to their ankles at most times. Their arms may be seen up to the shoulder but they would not reveal their cleavage or bottoms. Special undershirts are worn by many to insure these parts of their bodies are not seen by the passers by.