As much as I am an obsessive planner (I’m ridiculous, I know), random things are just so much fun. While planning is a necessity when travelling – airline booking, bnb, visa, etc. – the rest, you can YOLO it.
So, the people I traveled with to Istanbul were ALL random – Imo (a very dear friend) and I have talked about going to Istanbul sometime ago, but we actually only went down with it sometime in January – a random message on Facebook (How’s March for Istanbul? Are you free?) – so I went on and fixed my dates and filed for a leave from work, and the rest is history. I casually asked Peachy if she still wants to tag along (she has mentioned that she wanted to come with me), and she said if it will not be that expensive, she will come. I promised her we’re on a budget trip, a backpacker of sort and we will work on it. I’m a budget traveler, because luxury is for those who can afford it – I can’t, but that does not mean I can’t travel. So, we narrowed down our details: 4 days, 3 nights in Istanbul. Imo’s friend will also tag along, that made us four in this trip – 2 from Singapore and 2 from the UAE, and we will all meet in Istanbul. We booked our flights via Qatar Airways and used Airbnb to find an amazing yet affordable apartment to rent – which Imo did, and we were all set. Peachy and I needed a pre-arranged visa to Turkey, which we secured hassle-free, Imo got an E-visa and his friend Ghani didn’t need a visa because he’s Singaporean. With our logistics in place, I went bananas and put together our itinerary (see below) and my travel buddies found it informative, yet ridiculous – I know I’m over-the-top, but whatever, we had so much fun, duh.
Breakdown of Travel Expenses
Return Airfare (AUH-IST-AUH) – AED 1015 (via Qatar Airways)
Airbnb – AED 300 (100 AED per night x 3 nights)
Pocket Money – AED 670 (500 Turkish Lira)
Travel Insurance – AED 50
Turkish Visa – AED 220
Taxi to and from AUH Airport – AED 60
Total cost of trip: AED 2,315
A trip will not be complete without Instagram-worthy photos. And thanks to having amazing friends, they let me borrow their precious cameras. The non-selfie photos were all taken by 2 Nikon DSLRs – a D5300 with a wide angle lens and a D3200; the selfies were taken with a GoPro Hero4 Silver – which also doubled as a video camera; the ever reliable iPhone photography definitely was not left out, but for now, those photos are shelved.
Weather and Travel Fashion
The title of the travel video – Chasing Winter – is actually on point because we were there towards the tail-end of Winter in Istanbul – temperature ranged from 4-7 degrees Centigrade, yet feels like 2-5 degrees. We were literally freezing. We brought clothes that we can layer: Cotton shirts, knitwear, coats, tights, warmers, scarves, bonnets, gloves – unless you have a warmer underneath, it’s not advisable to wear jeans (got this from Imo). I’m wearing 3 layers every time we’re out – trick is to wear warm footwear and you’ll be fine (got this from Imo too!), hence the knee-high boots; I wore two socks each foot when I wore sneakers – comfort and fashion should compliment each other. Again, those Instagram-worthy photos should be fashionably on point. The first thing I prepared for before any of this was (you got it right), the wardrobe. I’m a budget traveler but I realized, I can’t be a backpacker – I just can’t.
(I suggest you through the itinerary below and come back)
I’ve always traveled DIY. Contrary to popular belief, it’s cheaper and is much more exciting. I research everything since I’m on a budget, I look for the cheapest ways to explore – take public transportation and walk. Perhaps the best thing about DIY is freedom – you are free to wander and get lost. It also requires discipline – my travel buddies and I agree on a call time and we were all punctual 100% of the time. No one was dragged out of bed. One piece of advise, you can DIY travel if you have there 3 things: 1) Time management 2) Sense of direction – you know how to read a map and follow directions, 3) Adrenaline. If you have all of these, you’re good and all set.
That’s basically it. The poetic thoughts and lost in translation experience of a lifetime piece will have to wait a little longer – procrastination and isolation is my language.
Itinerary here: TURKEY 2016