Traveling Through Turkey in a

Campervan/RV

In recent years, the number of people traveling with or even living in converted vans or RVs has skyrocketed. With the newfound ease of working remotely and the freedom that traveling in your own little house provides, camper vans’ recent popularity is unsurprising. However, there are still many unknowns when venturing to a whole new country that can be intimidating for even the most experienced ‘vanlifers’.

The concept of camper vans and RVs isn’t as popular in Turkey as in other western countries, but recognition is quickly growing. Nevertheless, RV campsites and dump stations are still almost non-existent throughout the country. Don’t worry though, with the few simple solutions highlighted in this article, you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge you’ll need for a pleasant cross-country road trip.

 

Essentials First

Showers and Toilets

Like we said, Turkey is almost void of special facilities catering to RVs and camper vans. However, there are many public bathrooms available throughout the country. Almost every settlement, even the smallest of villages, has a local mosque, and almost every mosque has bathrooms that are open to the public.

You’ll also find public restrooms at most touristic destinations or parks or other outdoor areas commonly used by locals for picnic or recreation. However, these public toilets can often be too much for the average person to stomach. If you are looking for something cleaner, most Opet, Shell, or Petrol Ofis gas stations offer stalls a bit more focused on cleanliness. Showers, however, are a different story. Other than the occasional paid campsite or guest house with shared facilities, it can be difficult to find a hot shower. You’ll find cold showers on many government-owned beaches, but using shampoo and soap in most of these is not allowed (although this rule is rarely enforced). Your best option is a camping shower if you plan to sleep out in nature at any point during your trip. Just make sure you’re completely alone before stripping down (to a swimsuit please) and always watch out for omnipresent shepherds and villagers.

 

Always be ready

Fuel

We usually try to get fuel from one of the larger chains mentioned in the previous paragraph (Opet, Shell, PO) as their regulations are stricter. While the gas found at small chain stations is usually okay, we’ve had a couple experiences with poor quality fuel from these kinds of places. Since it’s less pure this gas produces horrible smelling exhaust and can clog up your fuel filter quicker.

 

Never miss a chance

WATER

Finding a place to fill up your water tank is almost never a problem in Turkey. If you’ve been to Turkey before, you’ve probably noticed the ubiquitous fountains that dot the roadside. The water of almost all of these stone fountains is funneled from a spring or good, clean source and is fine to drink. These fountains are usually built in honor of a deceased relative (many have a plaque with the name of the person) and are located on the side of roads, paths, in villages, or on the pastures previously mentioned.

You’ll also find water at every mosque, but since this water sometimes comes from the normal network of tap water its flavor leaves something to be desired. It’s perfect for cooking or washing though and is still safe to drink if you have no other option. The same goes for all tap water in Turkey: it usually tastes bad but is almost always safe to drink. Most fountains will have a normal tap that fits a standard hose you can use to fill up your water tank (if your tank is not removable). Some flow constantly however and don’t have anything to attach a hose to, these are more common in wetter parts of the country.

 

Important!

Parking & Sleeping

Since camper vans are relatively rare in Turkey, rules preventing you from parking overnight are also uncommon. If you’re in a pinch you can park on almost any pullout or shoulder without being disturbed, as long as you’re far away enough from any villages or anyone’s property so as not to incite suspicion.

Many foreign visitors to Turkey come for the countries amazing beaches and parking on or near most of them is definitely an option. Of course, you’ll want to seek out smaller or more unknown beaches, preferably without any businesses offering paid camping, to avoid less-than-friendly reactions from locals. (You can always take advantage of local facilities and stay in one of these paid campsites as well.) Keep in mind that the roads leading to many remote beaches are very rough and sometimes require a vehicle with four-wheel drive. Most of these beaches also lack a source of water or any facilities, so come prepared. In addition to beaches, many other bodies of water (lakes, streams, waterfalls) will also have some good places to park.

Another good thing to look for if you’re in an area unfamiliar to you is for a nearby nature park or recreation area (tabiat parki, mesire alan).

If you’re on the road, you can also park for the night near the road-side fountains that dot the country (lesser traveled roads preferred, of course). The parking lots of gas stations are also decent options.

Please note that you should never camp near an ancient city or any ruins (unless extremely remote) as you are almost sure to be mistaken for a treasure hunter and have to explain yourself to police in the middle of the night.

Last but not least

Safety

The rates of petty crime in Turkey are extremely low; stealing and break-ins are very rare so it’s unlikely that you’ll have something stolen or your car damaged while in the country. The only thing you may encounter is curious locals invading your personal space (asking too many questions, looking inside your van, etc.); they are usually harmless though.

You can find more information about the driving rules and customs in Turkey in our blog post ‘Driving in Turkey: Foreigners on the Road’.

Safety

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