My Thoughts on Traveling to Turkey after the Recent Bombing

In light of Tuesday’s terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, it’s understandable that those dreaming of travel to Turkey are concerned about their safety. I would not fault someone for thinking now is not the time to vacation in Turkey.

Hagia Sophia
But personally, I would travel to Turkey tomorrow with no more concern than if I were traveling in the USA. The tragedy of 41 innocent people being killed during the Istanbul airport bombing is heartbreaking. But so are the more than 30 people killed every day, on average, in gun homicides in the USA.

Turkey is a huge country of 80 million people that faces some serious challenges. And being an ally of Europe and the USA while being on the border of so much sadness in the Middle East (and recently coming to terms with a friendly agreement with Israel) all combines to put Turkey in the target of terrorist groups.

Should I react by not traveling there and, in doing so, contribute to Turkey’s economic hardship? Is traveling there after the recent bombing reckless from a personal safety point of view? Should I embolden the terrorists by reacting the way they want me to? How you answer depends on your perspective. But I choose to answer with a hearty “no.”



14 Replies to “My Thoughts on Traveling to Turkey after the Recent Bombing”

  1. I still consider the automobile drive to the airport to be the most dangerous part of any overseas journey…

  2. We had a wonderful visit with Alp in last August’s 13 day Turkey tour.

    I just wrote to our group members that I’d return to Turkey in a heartbeat.

    Ira Serkes

  3. I would go in a heartbeat – beautiful country and wonderful people. I follow your advice “turn off the news and go”.

  4. By way of fair balance, the New York Times also published the following: Attack in Instanbul Is the Latest in a Year of Terror in Turkey. 14 major attacks killing 280 people. In total transparency, when an op-ed blog is posted one should disclose that Turkey is a member of the European Union, the latter being a Rick Steves’ paid sponsor.

  5. I would go regardless. We love the country and can’t wait to see our beloved guide Mert Tanner. Turkey is a critical ally.

  6. Turkey is one of my favorite countries and Istanbul is one of my favorite cities. I am so sad that the bombings that might deter people from visiting this beautiful country. I have traveled throughout Turkey and to Istanbul three times.
    I understand the concerns regarding safety. It is sad and difficult when these things happen but we cannot allow such actions to take away the joy of travel.

  7. There is a ridiculous level of gun violence in the US, but there is hardly any where I live. There is a recently high level of terrorism in Turkey, some by Daesh and some by Kurds after Erdogan broke the cease fire, and a number of those incidents have been in tourist areas.

    I will be spending a couple of nights in Istanbul later this year, on the way to Tashkent. I will not revisit the main tourist sights (this will be my sixth visit), and I had already decided back in the spring not to visit eastern Turkey on the way to Central Asia.

    I am not going to stop traveling, but there are a lot of countries in the world.

  8. I have to say that Turkey is not a member of the European Union. It wants to be, but its acceptance has not yet been approved due to concerns over the country’s human rights’ abuses.

    The EU countries are:

    Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

    Note that while the UK has voted to leave the EU, until that act is official (at least two years’ from now), it is still a member … legally, if not politically.

  9. I have traveled to Turkey twice in the last 3 years and find it a fascinating place to travel. Your comparison to the terrorist attacks and gun violence in the US is a good one. My granddaughter who spent 2 summers in Ismer says that her Turkish friends ask questions such as these: “Arent you afraid to go to the movies? Do they actually have armed guards at your schools? Why is there so much violence in the US?”

  10. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities. I still plan to visit.

    And people should do their research before they comment. Turkey is not a member of the EU.

  11. Whenever a tragedy like this occurs, a comparison is often drawn between terror attacks and non-terror gun violence in the USA. There is one difference, though, that I don’t think is often mentioned. I recently lived in the city of Chicago (well known for its gun violence) for 10+ years. I never worried about my personal safety because I avoided the areas that are most affected by gun violence. Gun violence in neighborhoods like the one I lived in (somewhat affluent) has been declining over the years, while poor neighborhoods are becoming more dangerous. Where are the terror attacks in foreign countries taking place? “Dangerous neighborhoods,” or places that tourists would visit? If you’re planning a trip overseas, I think it’s an important distinction to make. I’m not saying that it’s right/good/fair for poor US neighborhoods to be statistically more dangerous than more affluent neighborhoods, but that’s how it is. My concern about visiting Istanbul now stems from the fact that terror attacks have been occurring at places that I, as a tourist, would visit (the main airport, central Istanbul, etc.). This is why the terror attack vs. US gun violence comparison doesn’t ring true with me. I know there are exceptions—who would have thought that Orlando would be the site of a terror attack?—but I’m looking at this from a general perspective.
    By the way, I’m not some narrow-minded idiot who sits around watching the news 24/7 and is afraid to leave my house. I would gladly travel to Europe tomorrow if I could. I’m just pointing out a difference between US gun violence and terror attacks. (And yes, I realize that no country, including the US, is immune from terror attacks.)

  12. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
    – Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North
    American Review. And then there are Rick Steves “apples vs oranges”
    statistics – repeated one blog after another after another.

    Regardless of where he acquired his 30 gun deaths per day “data”,
    FBI statistics show 75 % of U.S. victims knew their shooter;
    the killer’s agenda” was NOT socio-political or religious or a suicidal
    route to Paradise. Most victims are Black males, not bystanders at a
    tourist location. Rick Steves doesn’t mention these numbers.

    For a contrasting body count, over 400,000 hospitalized
    people die each year from preventable medical screw ups.
    But they don’t support Rick Steves’ reassurances, either.
    So his mantra of “Ain’t-Gonna-Be-Terrorized-by-No-Bad-Guys –
    Americans-MUST-‘keep-on-traveling'” continues. As he
    sees it, you’re more likely to get shot at home, so sign up for
    a tour, any tour. Just please sign up. It’s what Rick would do.

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