Thinking of going on vacation with a young child? Here’s how we managed on our trip to Turkey with a toddler.
Just before Max turned 2 years old we decided to take advantage of his ability to fly for free by taking a trip to Turkey. It wasn’t as completely out of the blue as it might seem. We were living in Ireland at the time and our good friend was getting married in Turkey.
His wedding was going to be a “small” 250-person affair and children weren’t invited. So he asked us to skip the wedding and come for a visit instead.
Traveling with a toddler
Our trip with Max was our second visit to Turkey. The first time we’d cycled down from Budapest on a tandem bicycle. At that time we were young, underemployed, and (most importantly) kid-free. Our luggage consisted of pannier bags containing two sets of cycling clothes and two sets of “off-bike clothes”. We stayed up late, explored the nightclub scene, and spent our days doing all the touristy stuff.
Traveling with Max was an entirely different experience. Our luggage expanded to include a whole, moveable household of stuff, including a stroller, car seat, portable crib, two suitcases, and a diaper bag. (To be fair, one suitcase was full of gifts, but it was still a lot of stuff!)
Our days were defined by Max’s nap schedule and featured more playgrounds and fewer museums. Our nights’ involved an earlier bedtime so that we could get enough sleep before our lark of a child woke us up at dawn with the morning call to prayer.
Visiting with Friends
Honestly, staying with a local is my favorite way to travel. Not because staying in someone’s spare room is free, but rather because it’s the best way to get a real in-depth experience with the local culture. Not only were we treated to great food, but we also got to check out all the sights and sounds with a built-in tour guide.
Obviously, we spent quite a bit of time catching up and visiting with our friend in Istanbul. That was the whole point of the trip! We also were lucky enough to stay with his mother in Çeşme, in an apartment on the beach. And we spent several nights in hotels in Izmir and Selçuk.
Turkey with a Toddler
Here are a few notes about traveling in Turkey with a toddler:
- We were in Turkey in early June. The weather was so hot, by our Irish standards, that Max broke out in a heat rash. So we had to refine our schedule for late nights and early mornings, with a long mid-day nap for all of us.
- While the adults struggled to sleep on the overnight sleeper train between Istanbul and Izmir, Max had no problem. We were able to set up his little travel cot on the floor of the compartment, and he was perfectly comfortable. He was an easy-going sort of toddler.
- Max was incredibly popular. Whenever we went to the playground, older children would help him play. If we walked into a bakery, Max would be given an extra treat. Our friend’s 78-year-old grandmother absolutely adored him. And even though she didn’t speak a word of English, the two of them had a ton of fun playing together.
Taking care of young children is always a lot of work. And taking them on holiday is actually just as much work, if not more. You always have to think about food, water, entertainment, naps. And it certainly wasn’t easy to find a package of diapers in Izmir!
However, there was something special about traveling with Max at that age. It changed the rhythm of our trip. Pulled the focus away from museums and heritage sites to parks and playgrounds. In the end, the trip was exactly what we wanted.