Travel for most people is a scary ordeal… well not the actual travelling part, but the preparations and bookings required. This used to panic me immensely, and I would always end up contacting an agent and booking a group tour. Whilst these are awesome and take the pressure off of planning anything really, I found in the past that there would be so much that I wanted to do in a city, but had to get onto a bus and travel to the next city. And because it was a group tour, I was pretty much bound to an entire group of people.
A few years ago, I took the plunge and booked my first international flight to the stunning Istanbul in Turkey. The flight booking was easy enough, but then came the accommodation aspect. This scared me a heck of a lot because I had no idea where to begin!
Back then (which believe it or not was not longer than 5 years ago), I didn’t even know about booking. com (if you are going to be booking, please remember to use my affiliate link : https://www.booking.com/index.html?aid=1318834), expedia, hotels.com etc! Can you believe it???And being as inexperienced and as naïve as I was, we ended up staying at a three star hotel (which had all the feelings of urgh) in the most inconvenient part of town. Everyday we had to take a train to get to restaurants and for general sightseeing. To be totally fair, it was not the worst hotel in the world… the breakfast had a decent spread and we spent every morning lingering at our table taking in the stunning city views from the rooftop.
Whilst in Istanbul, our concierge (who was also the receptionist) arranged a few half day tours for us. And even went out of his way to arrange a day trip to Cappadocia for me. Yes, plane tickets and everything.
If anything, I genuinely regret not having done more research for this trip, but in that same breath it was the first time I had taken a chance like this. I have the fondest memories of the trip to Istanbul because that was where, after life had really had its way with me, that I rekindled my confidence in myself.
Having had a long time in the city, I will able to linger at coffee shops and rooftop restaurants without a time limit, and not to forget we had ample time to stroll through the bazaars. I knew at that point that this freedom to just be and take in a city would change the way I will be traveling in future.
I have without a doubt grown so much since this trip, not just as a person, but in terms of my planning and processes when it comes to putting together a trip. Apart from the other trips I have gone ahead and booked in this manner since then, the biggest trip I have put together was when Ash and I spent a month in Asia last December. We covered Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Hong Kong and we where totally happy with all the arrangements (all flights + accommodation + some tours all booked by myself #personalwin).
I have always known that I will have to see the world, and this is proving to best way for me to do so. Are you planning to take a trip in the near future… give me a call or pop me an email and I will gladly give you all the information I possible can to make your travels more affordable (whilst still keeping it luxurious)!
Seeing as this trip was such a long time ago, and my photos are no where near post-worthy, I have sourced some photos of the city for you to enjoy.