Ask Harriet: Getting a Turkish visa here or there

From the time I was a girl, I always knew I wanted to travel. But I didn’t get to experience my first international journey until I graduated from Kent State in 1972. Listening to a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer in Turkey was one of the experiences that had a profound effect on me, and helped inspire my life’s work. In fact, Alan and I are so enamored with Turkey that we support nearly a dozen schools there through Grand Circle Foundation. Reading our Travel Forums, it appears you love Turkey just as much as we do. 

I’m sorry to see Crossroads of Turkey is no longer offered. I took it in October, 2011, and found it to be one of the most interesting tours I have ever been on. The ancient ruins are the best and the food is very tasty.

—username mertziek in the GCT forum

Thank you for your feedback, and we’re glad you enjoyed your trip to this beautiful, ancient land! After listening to valuable input from travelers like you, I’m excited to report that Grand Circle will once again offer Crossroads of Turkey, with departures starting in September.

From spice markets and palaces to the Turquoise Coast and beautiful Byzantine architecture, we’ve included all of your favorite highlights, in addition to exciting ways to maximize your discoveries with pre- and post-trip extensions to Athens and Urfa and Adana, Turkey. As the region is the crossroads of Europe and Asia, it’s got quite a combination of flavors to be enjoyed. Learn how to make authentic Turkish specialties with instructions from an Antalyan chef, such as eggplant salad and halva (a dessert made from honey and semolina) as part of our exclusive Discovery Series events.

One thing to note: You will need a visa to travel to Turkey. For valuable information about saving time—and money—read on:

Ask Harriet

Q: What is the experience like trying to obtain a visa through the Turkish consulate in Boston? Thanks!

—username momo in the GCT Forum

A: Great question. This is really a matter of preference, and you can get a visa in the United States before you leave or obtain it upon your arrival at the Istanbul airport.

If you choose to purchase before you depart, we recommend using a visa servicing company like PVS International. Sometimes, the rules of the consulates can vary from site to site and, occasionally, on the clerk. It is much easier to have a service process your visa paperwork and obtain it on your behalf. You’re also grandfathered in if there are any last-minute regulatory changes in Turkey. However, obtaining a visa in advance is considerably more expensive: $100 per person, plus mailing fees.

If you choose to obtain your visa onsite, you will disembark from your flight and line up for the stamp. You will need to pay the fee in U.S. dollars ($20 as of May 2012). Be sure your passport is valid for six months from the date of your departure. The fee and rules for obtaining a visa are subject to change without notice. It is always best to check with your local consulate two weeks before your departure to verify the on-site fees and processes.

Like a solid packing strategy, planning in advance can help you experience more of life on the ground, and no one likes waiting in line—in any country! I like to obtain my visas in advance, but I’d like to hear from other travelers.

Have you ever been to Turkey, and what was your visa experience? Did you find it easier to get a visa here, or was it smooth sailing once you were there? Visit our Traveler Forum to connect with other travelers, and share your own experience!

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