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May 28, 2009

Turkey travel with toddler - a good idea after all

After 10 days traveling in Turkey with our 16-month old son, we found that going to far-away countries with a toddler is not as difficult as many people believe. Yes, we also had our own concerns, and we had set our expectations that we might have a rough time. Yet, we had decided that it would be worth the effort since we were very eager to visit Turkey.
As it turns out, most of our concerns weren’t justified, and we found that Daniel had a great time in Turkey. Below are a few things we have learned in our trip.

Jetlag: Interestingly enough, it was easier for Daniel to adjust after this complex trip than after a “simple” journey to Germany. After a 26-hour journey (2 flights and one 2.5 hour car drive) and a jump of 10 time zones, internal rhythm is typically quite upset for everyone, big and small. We flew with the night flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt, so Daniel had a good night of sleep behind him when we landed in Germany. From then, we paced his naps until the following evening, alternating with games and new, exciting experiences around our hotel (see below). To our biggest surprise, he slept for 12 hours during that first night, waking up at 9am the next day! The adults had a much harder time! Since then, Daniel has pretty much followed his normal routine, although his wake-up time went back to the normal 6-7am time after a few days, to our big disappointment.
Health: I was personally most concerned about Daniel’s ability to adjust to new food. We only had a few crackers with us, and we were planning on giving Daniel local food for most of the trip. Would he like the new food? Could he get sick? As it turns out, Turkish food is perfect for babies: a lot of fresh fruit, very tasty bread, well-cooked meat and fish dishes. Daniel enjoyed the food (although I have to admit he ate only mostly bread) and didn’t seem to have any problem adjusting. On a related note, the weather in Turkey is great for babies too: warm and neither humid nor dry. It makes it easy to dress them… just don’t forget sunscreen.
Entertainment: To be honest, we hadn’t put much thought into entertainment options for Daniel during this trip. We had bought a few of his favorite books and toys, but were limited in our luggage allowance. Most of our sightseeing program was geared towards architecture and history, things our 16-month old doesn’t quite appreciate yet. However, I think that Daniel had a great time in Turkey. 2 words: animals and vehicles. We visited mostly rural parts of Turkey, which was a perfect fit for Daniel’s current interests. There were farm animals everywhere in the villages we visited, and the roads were a collection of tractors, trucks, and buses, things we hardly see in the Bay Area. It was really an endless adventure for him, and he couldn’t seem to get enough. His favorite past time at night is now to see pictures of the donkeys, buses, etc… we saw earlier in the day. The books we brought from home are not really asked any more.
Friends: One of the great things about Turkey is that people love kids. Everywhere we went, Daniel became a highlight. He made friends quickly, with people inviting him to visit their farms or sit on their motorcycles, playing ball with him or sharing food with him. He loved the attention and being able to discover new things through these new friends. We loved it too, as it allowed us to find spontaneous baby-sitters when having dinner for instance.

Daniel getting to know the animals in the Turkish village


Daniel enjoying a motorcycle ride

Daniel and his new friends


Overall, this was a great trip. We got to visit the Turkish places we wanted (South Aegean Coast and Cappadocia), got some rest, and we think Daniel enjoyed it a lot too. He definitely learned a lot, just judging from his new vocabulary and games. We will consider doing these types of trips with him again, and hopefully next time, we won’t have to worry as much about how he does.

8 comments:

  1. Isabelle,

    Hello...Great Blog!! I would like to get some advice from you on traveling to Turkey with toddlers. My husband and I are going to Turkey next month and we have 2 1/2 year old twins. How did you keep your son entertained on all those plane trips? What advice can you give me to make traveling easier?

    We are also raising our children to be multi lingual. They are learning Turkish, French, Italian and a little German. Thanks for the advice on the language website.

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  2. Deb,

    Thanks for your nice comments.

    To your question about entertaining toddlers on the flight, we used a combination of new books, and new toys (vehicles, stackable pieces). We had about 3 small books and 2 sets of small toys (we travel with hand-luggage). Fortunately, we found that we didn't need much after all. Daniel loved to play peek-a-boo with passengers, watch through the window, and he could get entertained with things we could find on the plane (opening and closing the tray table for hours, "reading" the airline magazine, playing with other kids).

    If you have an iPhone or iPod, iPhone games for toddlers are great outside of the plane ("Peek-a-boo barn" and "Wheels on the bus" work well at 18 months at least... I am sure there are plenty of others that are great for older toddlers too).

    I hope this helps. I don't have experience with twins, but from what I have seen from 2+ year-olds on planes, I think you will be fine. It looks like they are at the age where they can sit for a good period of time and they might also be able to play with each other.

    Have a great trip... Turkey is really great with toddlers, I think. Would love to hear how things go.

    How do you find raising kids with multiple languages? Do you have a blog/website?

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  3. I have just found your blog. We have been travelling around the world with our 20month old for seven months. We would love to travel to Turkey in January but are concerned about the huge distances on buses to reach the cappadocia's. Did you drive? Any feedback on transport with a toddler would be fantastic.

    Great blog. Ours is www.geeyourebrave.blogspot.com

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  4. Hello and thanks for visiting. I can definitely recommend Cappadocia, we enjoyed it a lot. We ended up flying from Izmir to Kayseri. We used SunExpress, which was decently cheap, and had much better service than we expected.
    We don't have a lot of experience with long bus rides, but we have been flying intercontinental flights with Daniel a few times: also challenging. What worked for us was flying during night time and bringing a few new toys. The great thing is that, at this age, toddlers are interested in anything they come across. We ended up not using all the toys, but spending quite some time "reading" the plane magazine, playing peek-a-boo with other passengers, etc... I am sure it will all work out ok.

    I am so impressed and jealous that you were able to travel a lot with your little girl. I hope you have a great trip.

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  5. Cappadocia is a finest place in turkey.Turks named here as Cappadocia , which means “fairy chimneys”. We are going second time, but this time it is very cheaper as we got Good package deals to Turkey in comparison to last time.

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  6. Hi,
    Thanks for your blog. It is really high content and informative post. It is rich in information.



    One stop shop for Turkey travel deals

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  7. Hi there, first of all nice blog and congratulations for your trip. We have a 21 months old baby girl and planning on going to Turkey in mid may for around 16 days. The idea is to fly to Izmir and get a car there to visit the west Aegean coast and then Cappadocia before returning the car to Ankara and take a flight back from there. Do you think it's a reasonable time to visit this parts of turkey without spending hours in the car or rushing everything? Also, I was curious to know if you slept in B&B, hostels or what? I'm wondering how easy it is to find a baby cot in these places, or do you have to get the baby sleeping in your bed?
    thanks in advance for our info
    Giovanni

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