What’s the first thing about international travel that can be a bit scary?   Missing the plane…..which is what almost happened to me.

I have just completed a trip abroad to the beautiful country of Turkey. This was my very first international trip and I learned much about international traveling.

ONE: Dealing with the ticket

I had no idea that I would need to reprint my final destination ticket to Turkey from my New York layover. I thought it was automatically done when I set up my ticket traveling from Tampa. Ha! Need I say more?

To make a long story short, I was sitting in JFK with a 3 hour layover thinking I had all this time to just chill and people watch.  I must have goofed off for two hours before I really started to look at the monitors. Everything said Jet Blue and no Turkish Airlines, so I went to an information counter and found out I needed to switch terminals.

Ugg! I had no idea that I needed to switch terminals, go to a Turkish airlines ticket counter and get another ticket printed, and then another security checkpoint, etc etc etc.  You get the picture.

Funny, I did not have to get a ticket reprinted on my way back from Turkey, so it says a little something about the USA and how they do things. Coming back everything went easy peasy…..except for the long flight.

TWO: Maneuvering through the airports

So once I was settled into my seat on the Turkish Airlines, I was able to relax and kick back. I must say the food was enjoyable, the wine was complimentary and I really enjoyed the hot Turkish towels they handed out. Everyone was pleasant and although I do not speak Turkish, I found I was able to communicate with the majority of the travelers because they knew English.

Once I was off the plane in Istanbul, I maneuvered through passport control etc. pretty smoothly, thanks to my daughter who gave me a very detailed email as to what to expect. I had already purchased my Visa before traveling over, so I did not have to stand at the Visa counter either. Although this cost me more to do, I had peace of mind knowing that I would not get refused into the country :)

My final destination was to Adana and my daughter was frantic because I could not get my phone to work and therefore could not contact her.  As this was my first trip abroad, she was a tad bit apprehensive about me traveling alone.

THREE: Suggestions

  1. Try to purchase a sim card for your phone in the country you are going to so that you do not have to pay for expensive phone service abroad.  My problem was that I was not able to hook up to the wireless in the airport to use my Viber or What’s app. Once I switched to a prepaid sim card, I was fine.
  2. Take the time to learn some of the language before traveling.  I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who knew both English and Turkish; however in the airports not everyone is as accommodating.
  3. Make copies of your passport, visa, and leave copies at home with a family member or friend.
  4. Enroll in the Step program at the US Embassy.
  5. Consider purchasing travel insurance.  This not only covers if your luggage is lost, but also covers if you have any emergency medical situation.
  6. Bring a converter charger for your electronics and download any new apps onto your phone that you might need.  I downloaded the google translate app and the currency converter app.
  7. Carry local cash and go to ATM in the country you are visiting. Do not use airport conversion centers as you will be charged higher fees.
  8. Notify your bank and credit cards when you are traveling out of the country.  My credit union only allowed me to withdraw in smaller increments. Know your limits!
  9. Bring an extra set of clothes in your carry on just in case your luggage gets lost.
  10. Beware of the extra charges on luggage.  Make sure they are not over the weight allowance and consider purchasing some new clothes while abroad.  They had great bargain prices in Turkey:)

FINALLY…..after almost two long years, I was able to see my daughter :) (Note: she lives in Qatar)

I was ecstatic to see her, her fiance and his family.  I was greeted warmly with a kiss on each cheek and much hugging.   The drive to Tarsus did not take too long and before you know it I was sipping a nice cup of hot tea with all.  It was chilly and the family has a nice warm wood stove that we could cozy up to.

Tarsus is a historic city in south-central Turkey, 20 km inland from the Mediterranean Sea.  It is part of the Adana-Mersin Metropolitan Area, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in Turkey with a population of 3 million. With a history going back over 2,000 years, Tarsus has long been an important stop for traders, a focal point of many civilizations including the Roman Empire, when Tarsus was capital of the province of Cilicia, the scene of the first meeting between Mark Antony and Cleopatra, and the birthplace of  Paul the Apostle.  (via ~Wiki)

There are so many neat things about visiting a different country. I made this long journey because my daughter was getting married in Tarsus.  Wedding details to follow in next blog posting :)

The food is amazing and I was treated to some really great cuisine by the family at some wonderful restaurants.  The hotel I stayed at had character and charm and was fairly close to everything.  I did some shopping at the souk which are little markets and at the big mall called Tarsu which is very modern. The clothing is at such great prices! Next time I travel, I think I will not pack as much and just purchase what I need.

It was interesting to watch the driving…it is crazy and the roads are narrow. We took excursions to Mersin, and into the mountains at the family’s other home and I was able to experience much of the culture. The time flew by fast and although I was there for 10 days, it felt like just a few.  One thing that I did not have time to do, was visit a Turkish Bath House…..but I was able to snag some great looking Turkish Bath Towels. Check out the shop locket below!  I plan on doing this next time I visit :)

Stay tuned for the next blog featuring the highlights of the wedding!

Check out the gallery of photos below.

What’s your favorite part about traveling?

Share with a comment :)

joie de vivre





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