Category Archives: Transportation

Finding the Best Airfare Options from the US to Turkey

Flying long distances doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, distance doesn’t determine the price.  If you shop around and use a few tricks, your flights from the states to Turkey can be less expensive than a flight within the US. We found round-trip airfare from New York to Istanbul for as low as $549.

Let’s say you want to fly to Turkey in Spring or Fall, hitting the beaches while the water’s warm, but avoiding peak tourism season. Here’s what you can do to find the best flight prices (and save your money for sailing and seafood):

ITA Website

Tip No. 1Use ITA Matrix

ITA Matrix was originally created by computer scientists at MIT and was later bought out by Google.  It scans almost every available flight to find you the best deal.  You can set numerous parameters, such as flight time, specific dates or date ranges, and flight preferences (nonstop, one stop, multiple stops; multi-city; no overnights).  ITA is actually used by other discount booking websites such as Kayak – and thus it is much faster more comprehensive, and often delivers up cheaper flights.  You can find a much more detailed introduction to ITA here.  There are, however, two drawback to ITA:  that tickets cannot be purchased directly – you must search the flight you found on Google Flights, call Priceline, call the airline company or use Hipmunk (how to do that here and here); and the ITA database does not always include minor or in-country air companies.  It will not show results for Turkey’s budged airline, Pegasus Airlines.  Thus, if you want to book cheap tickets within Turkey, you may want to go directly to the Pegasus website.  Also, the JFK-IST flight is always a few dollars cheaper on Google Flights.

Quick Tutorial Video: Use HipMunk to Book ITA Flights

There are also free app versions of ITA (though with fewer options than the full site) available for google play and apple.

To give an example of how ITA works, we ran the the same flights (JFK-Istanbul and Chicago O’Hare-IST) Sep 1st-24th through ITA, Google Flights, Kayak, and Turkish Airlines. The lowest prices listed were as follows:

JFK-IST ITA: $630*                      ORD – IST ITA: $719

             Google: $619                                                 Google: $749

             Turkish Airlines: $833                    Turkish Airlines: $883

             Kayak: $730                                        Kayak: $806

            Hipmunk w/o ITA: $626                         Hipmunk w/o ITA: $826

*Please note that all prices quoted here are purely for reference, and may change

Tip No. 2: Be Flexible with Your Flight Times & Dates

With ITA Matrix you can select flexible dates (ex. April 30 +- 2 days) or a range, called a “calender of low fares” (ex: leave April 15 to one month later, stay 9-13 days).  The more flexible you can be with your travel dates, the more likely you are to hit upon times lower in demand (and thus far less expensive).

Examples:

April 30-May 10: $807

April 30-May 10+- 2 days: $679

Departing between April 15 and May 15, staying for 9-14 days: $594; Depart 1 week earlier: $549

We found that the cheapest RT JFK-IST flights are generally in early April and October:

Tip No. 3: Book In Advance If Traveling During Peak Season

It’s generally recommended that you book 5 weeks-100 days out when traveling internationally.  As seats are filled, prices go up.

Tip No. 4: Fly Out of Major Hubs/Experiment with Different City Options IMG_5128

Flying out of some US cities is far more expensive than flying out of other cities.  Generally, it is cheapest to fly out of JFK on the East Coast and Chicago O’Hare in the Midwest. If you can, visit friends or take the train to a major hub airport.  Do know that if you book a separate flight on a different airline to a hub airport, and your first flight is delayed enough that you miss the second leg of your journey, the airline most likely will not reschedule your flight without fines.  Thus it is recommended that you allow sufficient time between flights, or take a mode of transportation that is not frequently subject to delays.

Second, consider just booking a flight from a major US hub to Istanbul.  If you have the time, spend a day resting, recovering from jetlag, and exploring in Istanbul, and then either take a cheap domestic flight (like Pegasus) or the bus to your final destination.  Buses in Turkey are quite comfortable, directly connect most cities, and will most often take you to the city center (whereas the airport may be a 50km trip from town).

While the April 19-29 JFK-IST ticket is $594, the JFK-Antalya fare is $741, and JFK-Dalaman is $1,038. For comparisson, a round-trip Pegasus IST-Antalya flight is $46 including taxes, and IST-Dalaman is $55.

Tip No. 5: Change Your Sales City

A longer article explaining this trick can be found here. Basically, you may see lower prices if you change your sales city to Istanbul or another in-country location and make sure the currency is “Default (Currency of the Sales City)”.  If you change your sales city to IST, but keep the sales currency in USD you will see the same price as quoted for a US Sales City. This trick seem to especially work when booking flights earlier in advance. The results will show in Turkish Lira (YTL), but you can easily convert the amount and compare prices. If using the app, click “more options” to change your Sales City.

Example with JFK-IST flights:

USD April 19-29  $594      June 1-10: $730        Sep 1-24: $719

YTL April 19-29 1,521 ($587)  June 1-10: 1,868 ($729.40)     Sep 1-24: 1.613 ($629.83)

Before buying tickets in a different currency, however, check with your bank to see if they will charge you for converting money from USD.

Tip No. 6: Buy Two Separate One-Way Tickets

Planning to stay for a while and not sure when you’re going to return? Instead of buying a roundtrip ticket and then changing your flight back (and incurring hefty airline fees), just buy a one-way ticket.  In April, JFK-IST one way tickets go for as low as $321. When you decide when you want to fly back, book your return ticket using the methods above, or (after checking ITA prices) with a local travel agent.  In-country travel agents sometimes have deals with the major airlines and are able to find you fares that are even cheaper than those listed online. However, do first compare one-way and round-trip ticket prices.  For some airlines, the cost to move a return ticket date is significantly cheaper than buying two separate tickets.

And Always Remember: Ask Airlines and Agents to Match Prices

As you probably noticed above, prices can be substantially different between different websites. Found a lower price on ITA, but don’t feel comfortable using HipMunk? If there is a price discrepancy, call the airline (or Priceline or your preferred travel agency) and ask if they can match the price.  Oftentimes they will, especially if they value you as a return customer.

Have any other tips or tricks? Please share in the comments section below!

Please keep in mind that the above figures (found on March 24th and 25th, 2015) are used to provide examples, and are not meant to be taken as definitive prices.  Airline prices are always subject to change; experiment with different dates, sales cities, and websites to find the best fare. 

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A Veteran’s Take on Retirement in Turkey

Below is a selection from very thorough and measured assessment of retiring in Turkey written by Colin Guest, a British man who has lived in the country for over two decades.  You can read the full (rather lengthy) in Retirement and Good Living.  Even though this is a fairly recent review, several Turkish laws that he mentioned have since changed – make sure to check the most recent health insurance, residence permit and property purchasing laws before making any plans!

The article is quite extensive, so here’s the summary of his thoughts:

In general, I think Turkey is a good place to retire. What with beautiful weather, and living costs being quite reasonable, one can enjoy a relaxing and healthy lifestyle here. Also, Turkish people are well known for being very hospitable and friendly. If you happen to have a problem, there is usually someone who will help you out. It is also quite safe to walk around here. As for crime, apart from once catching someone trying to pick my pocket, I have never had any problems whilst living here.

Retirement in Turkey

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 Colin Guest

Retire in TurkeyAs a retired Englishman, one who has lived in Turkey for over 25 years, I have no hesitation in recommending it as a place to retire. Down on the Mediterranean Coast, where I lived until getting remarried in 2012, there is an average of 300+ days of sunshine a year. This compared to living in the UK where sunshine is at a premium, is reason alone to retire here. However, I must point out that normally, during July and August, the temperatures can be very high. At these times, it is advisable to think about taking a holiday to somewhere cooler.

As for buying or renting property here, costs I think are quite reasonable compared to some other countries. As an example, one can rent a good-sized 3-bedroom apartment in the city of Antalya for around £280 ($456) per month. Smaller apartments are of course much cheaper. These prices, however, can vary considerably; depending on which area you choose to live. In Istanbul for instance, housing costs are far higher than in other areas of Turkey. Buying property here is very easy. Although you do not require using an Avukat (lawyer) to buy a property, I highly recommend you use one. Just think for a minute, would you buy a property in England (or the US) without using a solicitor. The answer is a definite NO! Therefore, before buying a property, use an Avukat. If possible, use one who is recommended by someone you know who purchased a property.

One thing to be aware of about buying property here is the inheritance law. This unlike in the UK is somewhat different. In the event of your death, if you have children, they are automatically entitled to a share of any property that is in your name….Retire in Turkey

Medical care here in Turkey is very good. In fact, patients come to Turkey to have operations, unlike in the UK; there are no waiting lists here. Also, costs for operations are quite reasonable compared to the UK. I have had two operations here, and was well satisfied with both the operations and aftercare received. There are many first class hospitals in Turkey, fitted with the latest technology and staffed by English speaking doctors. SGK….  is a Turkish health organization, which you can join as long as you do not receive a pension from England. The monthly costs for this is around 285 TL (£81, $132). As a member of SGK you are entitled to receive free health care in Government hospitals, as well as obtaining prescription medicines at greatly reduced costs…

Transport here is both cheap and efficient, with most buses air-conditioned. As an example of costs, a ticket from the city of Antalya to Kemer, a distance of approximately 50km, is around £2 ($3.25). Apart from buses, Antalya has a metro system, which is inexpensive to use. In Istanbul, one has a wide range of available transportation. There are buses, metro lines and ferries. You can also use a Dolmus, which are basically mini buses that carry around 10 persons. These are both a cheap and efficient way of getting around to various places. All taxis here are fitted with meters….

There are many new shopping centers throughout the country. You can now buy most things except pork, which is only available in a few places. When shopping outside of the major shopping centers, you can try to barter down the cost. In many places this is expected, especially in tourist areas and open markets. Some of the best buys in Turkey include gold & silver jewelry, which is of excellent quality and design. Leather is also of high quality and of the latest fashion. Turkish carpets are known worldwide for being of high quality. However, when buying one, you should always barter down the cost.

There are many water sports available if you decide to live on the Mediterranean or Aegean Coast. There are also many excellent marinas, both in the large cities and hidden away in numerous well sheltered bays. For the golfer, there are over 12 top quality golf courses in Belek designed by a world known professional golfers. This is approximately a 30 minutes’ drive East down the coast from Antalya International airport. There is also a course in Bodrum, with three courses in Istanbul. Films are available in English, in most cinemas throughout Turkey. By using a satellite TV system, you are able to view English films and several International News channels.

Retire in TurkeyIf you are over 65, and want to get married to a Turkish person, the process is quite involved and requires various forms and signatures.

A word of warning. If you are thinking of working here, you must have a work permit. If you are caught working without one, you will be deported. Also, never go into business without first consulting an Avukat (lawyer). I myself have not had a problem re this, although my late wife and some friends lost money by not consulting an Avukat, before parting with their money.

In general, I think Turkey is a good place to retire. What with beautiful weather, and living costs being quite reasonable, one can enjoy a relaxing and healthy lifestyle here. Also, Turkish people are well known for being very hospitable and friendly. If you happen to have a problem, there is usually someone who will help you out. It is also quite safe to walk around here. As for crime, apart from once catching someone trying to pick my pocket, I have never had any problems whilst living here.

You can read more about the author on Author’s Den and buy Colin’s full e-book here

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