We had four goals for our time in Europe: 1) spend time with our friends Tammy and Aaron Oesting who are also on a RTW trip 2) carefully schedule our itinerary around Shengen rules 3) visit places we’d never been and 4) make our remaining money last. After several weeks of research and Skype conversations, we decided that Turkey would be the perfect country for our friends-who-are-family-reunion, getting out of the Shengen zone, experiencing an entirely new culture and economizing.
We spent 16 nights in the small, but historically-significant town of Selcuk and 10 in cosmopolitan Istanbul. Our lodging costs were $4,725, happily coming in $720 under budget. Taking it slow in our “Garden House” in Selcuk was an excellent way for us to save money, the nightly rate worked out to be just $132. Istanbul, on the other hand, rivaled other European capitals at $259 per night.
Transportation costs were also very low, especially compared to Greece. We only spent $605. The bulk of this was our ferry tickets from Samos, $252, and three plane tickets, $109, from Izmir to Istanbul for the girls. (Rodrigo and Marco rode to Istanbul with the Oestings in their trusty camper, “Charlie”.)
Back home one of our favorite things to do with Tammy and Aaron is to plan, cook, and eat multi-course meals. Turkey was no different, we had fun times at local grocery stores and street markets shopping for ingredients for Greek, Turkish and Moroccan cuisine. Our portion of the food costs totaled $1,302. Read more about our time with the Oestings!
Our love affair with antiquity continued in Turkey. We visited the ancient cities of Ephesus and Hierapolis, toured several museums, and explored the early Christian monuments of St. John’s Basilica and Mary’s house. In Istanbul we took a Bosporus tour and saw the world-famous whirling dervishes. The kids, however, were ready for something not so educational, so we took a day trip to Aqua Fantasy, a modern, giant water-park near Selcuk. These experiences added up to $640. (Note: we also visited several mosques in Istanbul, including the Blue Mosque, the Suleymaniye Mosque and the New Mosque, but these were cost-free.)
Throughout the trip we have avoided buying stuff, typically opting to buy experiences instead of souvenirs. In Turkey, however, we couldn’t help but shop in the centuries-old Grand Bazaar. Colorful Turkish lamps, rich cotton towels, and a few pieces of jewelry were haggled over, purchased, and shipped home. These were the bulk of our Other expenses, $605. Medical was $0.
In Turkey we really experienced the financial benefits of slow travel, matching our projected costs. (To be exact, we came in under budget by $63.) Beyond meeting our budget goals, we had an amazing time with our friends. We loved sharing the responsibilities of itinerary-planning and cooking, enjoyed long conversations and rowdy game-nights, and helped each other think about next-steps for our future travels and careers. We also gained new insights about Turkey and modern, secular Islam. It’s an overused term, but the experience truly was priceless.
Total Cost: $7,877
Cost per day: $302.96
Cost per person per day: $60.59