One of the most common questions I get asked is what should women pack for a holiday in Turkey?
What to take?
What to leave?
What do I need?
What do the locals dress like?
The task is even more daunting if you have not been to the country before, but three big tips will affect and help you decide when visiting Turkey.
- The time of year you are travelling
- Whereabouts in the country you are going
- What activities you plan to do
Putting the obvious aside like packing passports, money, medicine, and underwear, let’s discuss the three tips further by answering the most frequent questions asked about what should women pack for a holiday in Turkey.
What Should Women Wear in Turkey?
From May to October, the famous holiday resorts like Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris and Antalya have an extremely relaxed dress code. Western clothing styles have heavily influenced the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and a walk down the street at night can even resemble a fashion show. Pack tank tops, t-shirts, shorts, and sandals for the daytime and your typical summer attire for eveningwear.
If you plan to get away from the holiday resorts and more, so if you are travelling to the east of Turkey, it is time to reconsider your wardrobe because this part of the country and small villages are more conservative. For these types of journeys, I like wearing cotton trousers or the calf cargo pants, along with t-shirts that cover my shoulders.
When visiting Istanbul, this is another occasion, when I bring out the calf cargo pants and a pair of trainers (sports shoes for my American friends) because exploring Istanbul involves a lot of walking. Istanbul is a cosmopolitan and diverse city but also a major hub for business and locals. It is as not as informal as the holiday resorts so to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb, again opt for conservative clothing.
For all of the above regions, however, July and August are the hottest months of the year and at times, can be unbearable with the heat, both during the day and night-time. Bear this in mind when packing and ditch any heavy clothing, instead opting for loose, thin, and comfortable items.
Is it Ok to Wear a Bikini in Turkey?
Women wearing bikinis/swimsuits are seen in all the major beach resorts but at the same time do not be surprised to see the odd Turkish woman wearing the fully covered bathing costume. Having said that, don’t walk up the street wearing just your bikini, like I’ve seen some women do. It will get you unwanted attention from the biggest of sleazebags. The other topic that you need to consider carefully is sunbathing topless. I say don’t do it but read this article and other women say it is fine.
Do I Need to Bring a Jacket?
From December to March, the weather is cold, especially in Istanbul when snow or rainfall is likely. It starts to heat up in April, but there may still be the odd day when you need a jacket. Evening times is perhaps the biggest shocker because from October to May, you will need a jacket at night even if it has been sunny during the day.
I Want to Visit a Mosque
If you intend on visiting a mosque, pack a pair of trousers or calf cargo pants, a t-shirt that covers your shoulders and a headscarf. If you do not own one, most little shops near major mosques sell them or mosques that are used to receiving plenty of foreign tourists, also hand them out.
What Toiletries Should You Pack?
Needless to say, deodorant is a must, as is your shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste. However extra hair care protection is advisable, especially if you are planning a beach holiday. The sun, sand, salty sea water and even the calcium-loaded water in hotels takes its toll on hair, and you can end up with a frizzy mess of dry straw on your head.
If I am out swimming, on the beach or on a boat, I take along a leave-in conditioner to comb through. It actually does a good job because the heat also makes it penetrate the hair and at night-time, once you’ve washed it, you should have silky smooth hair. During the humid months of July and August, hair can end up frizzy at nighttime, but I find Argan oil controls this.
Lastly, when discussing what should women pack for a holiday in Turkey, be sparse with the make-up, because during the summer months and especially in July and August, your foundation will slide off your face quicker than a mudslide in a rain storm. Minimise wherever possible. I reduce my makeup bag down to blusher, lipstick, and mascara. Finally, if you are one of those people who always seem to go over your luggage allowance, you might want to read this article with tips by flight attendants on how to pack lightly.