An Extraordinary Resource: Turkey Travel Planner

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Heading to Turkey? There is a plethora of information - and guidebooks - out there to help you plan your trip.  But how do you know what and whom to trust? We've recently found a website that seems to cover it all - and  extraordinarily well.


The site? Turkey Travel Planner, by Tom Brosnahan. Truly a complete Turkey knowledge base, the site includes maps, photos, where and when to go, where to stay, money, transportation, itineraries, guided tours, unusual trips, forms - and best of all, an option for consulting with Tom Brosnahan. Tom is an unstoppable traveler and writer - he's written over 40 guidebooks for Berlitz, Frommer's, and Lonely Planet. He's written his own memoir, Turkey: Bright Sun, Strong Tea.  He also publishes travel articles for various magazines and you know, when you're researching the site, that he knows his subject, and can relate even the tiniest nuances of Turkish culture well.

One of the coolest things about Turkey Travel Planner is great amount of detail given to just about any topic you'd need covered when planning a trip to Turkey. Interested in Seljuk Architecture? Covered. Prefer to find a travel agent to handle the planning? Detailed recommendations abound.


Want to laugh? Check out the Funny Stuff, including wacky menus from Turkey (Spit, anyone?)...The site is comprehensive and is an extraordinary travel and planning resource. 


We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with Tom about Turkey Travel's what he had to say.



WE: Please tell us about Turkey Travel Planner...

TB: Founded in 2002, is: "...just about the best site...on visiting Turkey" Washington Post, February 20, 2009. Click here for  more press comment...  With over 3700 pages, and 11,000 Forum messages, it receives 2.7 million visits annually from 210+ countries.



WE: What led you to start Turkey Travel Planner?

TB: I went to Turkey in 1967 as a Peace Corps teacher of English. I discovered that Turkey was beautiful, friendly, and inexpensive—a perfect tourist destination—so I wrote my first travel guidebook, "Turkey on $5 a Day," as a Peace Corps project. It was published by Frommer's in 1972. I brought out six revised and expanded editions of the book over the years, and followed it in 1985 with the Lonely Planet Turkey guide, then the Lonely Planet Istanbul guide. The advent of the World Wide Web in the 1990s was a miracle for guidebook authors: we could now write and publish directly to the entire world! I switched all my writing to the Web in 2002 and began work on (TTP).



WE:  How important is it to experience cultures so different from one's own?

TB: For me personally, in 1967, it was very important. I wanted to understand how the world worked. Today it's many times more important for everyone, because the world is now so inter-dependent. What happens in one country is bound to affect many others. Getting to know other countries, peoples, cultures and religions won't solve all the world's problems, but it certainly helps to ameliorate them. Just as importantly, it gives us a different view of our own society. Seeing it through other's eyes gives us plenty of clues on how we can make our own lives better.



WE: How is TTP different from other travel guide/Turkey travel sites?

TB: During my decades as a travel guidebook author, my duty was to collect hard-to-find information and organize it in a way that made it most useful, accessible, educational and entertaining for travelers. Nowadays the challenge is not too little information, but too much information. Any traveler looking to plan a trip is overwhelmed with information, good and bad. I was lucky that my years writing guidebooks trained me how to organize travel information in an efficient and "personal" way, the way travelers prefer it.

The best travel information is always personal: one traveler asking another to guide the way. Most travel websites are database-driven, like machines, with information generated by editors or amateur contributors. These sites can be helpful, but they lack clarity, ease-of-use and personality. On my websites, every page is written by hand, by me, from personal research, with my photographs to illustrate just what I want. I believe my websites come as close as possible to preserving the usefulness, efficiency, educational and entertainment values, in short, the quality and personality, of a good guidebook.



WE: Intercultural learning is so critical for understanding the world and its people. How can travelers create true intercultural learning for themselves in Turkey?

TB: Just visiting a different country, traveling in it, meeting its people, trying its cuisine, browsing in its bazaars, is an education in itself, but oftentimes the most telling intercultural experiences come unexpectedly, by surprise. A TTP traveler told me of an evening when, alone in a Cappadocian hotel (it was winter low-season), he got to chatting with the staff about his interest in Turkish music, and before he knew it they grabbed some traditional instruments and a bottle of wine, and gave him an impromptu concert-and-commentary that lasted well into the night. Unforgettable!



WE: How can travelers give back, while visiting Turkey?

TB: Just traveling in Turkey, or anywhere really, is a gift to the people of that country. Tourism is very, very important to the Turkish economy, but foreign travelers bring more than money. They bring an acquaintance with their own countries, they broaden the outlook of Turks they meet, and indeed they broaden their own outlook toward greater tolerance. Both visitors and locals discover that people in other countries are not the two-dimensional cut-outs of stereotypes, but people much like themselves, with families, and jobs, and joys, and problems, kindnesses and appreciation of beauties. This is no idle rhapsodizing. For a century, the Western stereotype of "the Turk," created for political purposes at the end of the 1800s, impeded real understanding between Turkey and countries in Western Europe and North America. (The movie "Midnight Express," made for political purposes, was a typical expression of this overtly racist stereotype.) When people get to know one another, stereotypes evaporate, and real cooperation and mutual benefit are possible.



WE: Thanks so much, Tom - what an illuminating interview. I have truly enjoyed delving deepply into your site, and highly recommend it to any traveler! When we head to Turkey, we'll be sure to utilize your great knowledge (and knowledge base!). You've created an incredible resource for travelers - thank you.


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