6 Essential Safety Tips for Women Traveling in Turkey

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Is Turkey safe for women? We share our common sense tips, plus a few handy bits of advice for women to feel and stay safe in Turkey.

A woman stands in the water at Pamukkale, Turkey Photo © Getty Images/Kit Tan / EyeEm

Drawing on experience

The best advice often comes from those who have been through the thick and thin of it – so we spoke to Jade Peters about her experiences as a woman traveling alone, and how best to navigate the sometimes sketchy streets of Istanbul.

Jade is a detective for the NSW Police Force in Australia. For her, being on-guard is etched into her muscle memory, so let's draw from her approach:

  • When I travel on my own I do find I have to be more alert and aware of what's going on around me. Being employed as a detective for an extended period has made this quite natural – but it might not be for many others out there
  • My number one tip is that when I go out, I remember to get the business card of where I am staying before I leave to show to the cab driver/tuk tuk driver/donkey owner how exactly to get me back to my accommodation safely later in the day
  • I make sure now that someone knows where I am, and give them an idea on when they are next likely to hear from me – just in case something goes wrong. I always take my phone with me for emergencies when I'm on my own, too
  • It's just about trying to maintain a balance between having a great time and keeping myself safe.

Should women be extra cautious in Turkey?

Jade says, "I really really like Istanbul, it is a feast for the eyes and the senses; a charismatic metropolis bursting with energy and an unrivalled appetite for life. But it's not chaotic hustle and bustle, its clean, organized and above all fun. The people are very friendly, and I'm not getting hassled anywhere near as much as I was elsewhere in the Middle East."

Although Jade's advice might bring a sigh of relief to travelers who may be hesitant to visit Turkey, there are always things to consider when you are on the road.

Here are our essential safety tips for women to stay safe while traveling alone or with friends.

Before leaving for Turkey

  • Pack as light as possible. As a lone woman, you'll be less vulnerable and more independent if you're not weighed down by heavy luggage
  • Rather than residential details, put an office address (without the company name) on your luggage tags
  • Before traveling, find out the general dress code for the country. Once you arrive, take note of what local women wear to get an idea of appropriate attire
  • While on your flight, talk to women flight attendants who are either from or know the country to obtain advice on areas to avoid
  • Try to avoid being loud and announcing your final destination or length of stay to fellow passengers, as the information may be overheard.

Accommodation in Turkey

  • Try to stay in a hotel or guesthouse on a residential street that has a number of restaurants and late-night stores located on it. This is far more safe than staying in a corporate area that will be quiet at night and less secure – but also, you have a much shorter walk back to your accommodation after dinner
  • When checking in, use only your initials and surname; avoid titles such as Ms or Mrs
  • Enquire about staff services that escort guests to their room late at night
  • If the door to your room is open or unlocked when you return, do not enter. Instead, go back to the front desk and ask a member of staff to accompany you to the room (unless you're in a hostel, where the doors are always open).

Getting around Turkey

  • Never let on that you are traveling alone; inform inquisitive strangers that you are expecting your friend or meeting your partner
  • If you feel a car is following you when you are walking, do a quick turn and walk in the opposite direction
  • If you are traveling alone and don't want any company, there are certain measures that can be put into practice. If you are on a bus, coach or train, sit on the outside seat, placing your handbag, coat and jacket on the window seat. If you are in a bar or restaurant, place your coat on the back of the seat opposite you to make it look as if you have company.

Avoiding unwanted attention in Turkey

Women traveling alone may find themselves the focus of insistent male attention. These advances can make you feel uncomfortable, if not fearful for your safety. The following advice may help prevent unwanted attention:

  • Avoid wearing provocative, figure-hugging clothing
  • If you are confronted with unwelcome attention, it is advised that you remain calm and remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible. You might also wish to approach the nearest police officer or security guard
  • In the event of verbal harassment, particularly by male bystanders, it is recommended that you pretend you cannot understand what they are saying. You might also ignore them or speak in a foreign language they are not likely to understand
  • Unwanted attention can be avoided by wearing a wedding ring. Avoiding eye contact with men is a good way to prevent any problems or hassles; wearing dark glasses can help with this and can give you a confidence boost as well
  • Act confidently. Know where you are going and what you are doing, and walk with assurance. Confidence can be a major deterrent of criminal activities, such as petty theft and harassment.

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1 Comment

  • Scb222 said

    It's all abt dress code. I lived in turkey for over 3 yrs. Never had a problem, even out late at night. Dont flirt while drinking & dress modestly.

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