Traveling to Istanbul and how to avoid roaming charges
May 15, 2024

Traveling to Istanbul and how to avoid roaming charges

Istanbul is a city that bridges two continents and is surrounded by history, culture, and modernity. You will see majestic mosques and ancient palaces,bustling markets and vibrant neighborhoods. Istanbul offers a captivating blend of old-world charm and contemporary allure. Whether you’re strolling through the historic streets of Sultanahmet or enjoying the delicious flavors of Turkish cuisine, each moment in this fascinating city is a treasure waiting to be discovered.

The best time to visit Istanbul is in Spring (April to May) and Fall (September to mid-November) when the weather is mild and tourist crowds are less. 

Summer (June to August) is the peak season with hot and humid weather. Be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices. 

Winter (December to February) is an off-peak season, and the city experiences colder temperatures and occasional rain or snow. It is great for indoor attractions and museums..

The currency is the Turkish Lira (TRY). While some places may accept major foreign currencies, it is best to have Turkish Lira for day-to-day expenses. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks, ATMs throughout the city, or exchange offices. Major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger shops, but might not be accepted at smaller shops and restaurants, where you will need cash. ATMs are available throughout the city and accept international debit and credit cards for cash withdrawals in Turkish Lira.

Turkish is the official language and English is spoken in busy tourist areas. Learning a few basic Turkish phrases can be helpful and appreciated, like “Merhaba” (Hello) and “Teşekkür ederim” (Thank you). 

Plan accordingly for places you want to visit and familiarize yourself with Turkish culture and etiquette, such as dressing modestly in religious sites, removing shoes when entering homes, and respecting local customs.

The most important meal in Turkey is most likely Turkish Breakfast (Kahvaltı). A traditional Turkish breakfast features various savory and sweet items, like olives, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, honey, jams, and various bread types, accompanied by Turkish tea or freshly brewed coffee. Or go out for some Meze, a meal in which your table shares a mixture or assortment of dishes. Don’t forget to visit some of the local Street Food options, which are delicious! 

Visa requirements for Istanbul vary based on your purpose of travel and visa agreement with Turkey. It is important to check the specific visa requirements based on your country of residence before making travel plans. Click here to see whether you need a visa for Turkey.

If a visa is required, you will be asked to submit certain documents when you apply for a Turkish visa. These may include a completed visa application form, a valid passport, proof of your travel itinerary with a return ticket, and evidence of sufficient funds to cover your expenses during your stay. Additionally, you must provide a recent visa photo that meets the specific photo requirements set by the Turkish authorities.

Please note that regardless of your country of residence, if you plan to stay more than 90 days, you must apply for a residence permit. This applies to all travelers wanting to extend their stay beyond the permitted visa-free period.

Travel insurance is a mandatory requirement if you need a visa to enter Turkey. Some countries, like certain EU countries, have visa-free entry for up to 30 days, while others can apply for an e-Visa online. If you are exempt from obtaining a visa for Turkey, travel insurance is not mandatory but highly recommended. 

If you have a medical emergency in Istanbul, call 112 for immediate assistance. The city has reputable hospitals, just make sure to carry the necessary medical information (allergies, prescriptions, etc.).

Istanbul offers an extensive public transportation system with buses, trams, metro lines, and ferries. Public transportation is generally the most efficient way to navigate the city, and the Istanbulkart ensures easy access to various modes of transportation. The Istanbulkart is a rechargeable contactless card offering discounted fares and convenience for multiple passengers. The metro system and trams provide connections between neighborhoods and tourist attractions, while buses cover diverse routes. Take the Ferry for a scenic way to cross between the European and Asian sides of the city.

You can also take taxis, dolmuş (shared minivans), and cable cars as transportation options. 

Like any big city, be mindful of your surroundings and take usual safety precautions. Stick to well-lit and populated areas, especially at night.

While WiFi is offered through various hotspot connections in Istanbul, the easiest way to stay connected while visiting Istanbul is with the eSIM from Red Bull MOBILE.

Download the Red Bull Mobile Data App to avoid expensive roaming fees and stay connected with your family and friends or for your business needs. 

eSIMs also allow for more flexible mobile plans, as users can switch carriers or plans without needing to physically swap SIM cards. This can be especially useful for international travel, as users can switch to a local carrier or data plan without needing to purchase a new SIM card. 

How do you get an eSIM? 

With an eSIM you do not need to physically swap out SIM cards to stay connected to the internet and avoid expensive roaming charges. 

Simply download the Red Bull MOBILE Data app, choose your data plan for your destination, and follow the instructions on how to activate the Red Bull MOBILE eSIM data plan. Your device will prompt you to set up your eSIM, which typically involves selecting a mobile plan and confirming your activation. Once your account is activated you are ready to connect to the world without any basic or roaming fees. You will be able to email, chat, set up video conferencing and use your social media accounts. Connecting with your family and friends around the globe is instantaneous. 

You don’t have to switch out SIM cards, just switch to your eSIM plan for data on your device while traveling and when you get back you just switch to your regular SIM card. 

Are there more advantages to an eSIM other than traveling around the globe? 

One of the many advantages of an eSIMs is that it can support multiple profiles, allowing you to use different carriers or plans on the same device. This can be useful if you travel frequently or have different needs for different situations. You could use it to separate your business account from your personal account for emails and phone calls by switching between those profiles. Please note, you can only use one profile at a time.

Another advantage of an eSIM is that you can access the Red Bull MOBILE Data app wherever you are. So if your travel plans change or you decide to go to a new country simply log in to the app, and choose a new destination and bundle, and you are all set! 

Do all devices support eSIM? 

Not all devices support eSIM, so you should check if your device is compatible with eSIM technology. You can usually find this information in the device specifications under Settings. 

iOS devices: Go to Settings > Mobile Data or Cellular Data, if you have the Add Mobile Plan or Add Data Plan option, your iPhone supports eSIM. 

Supported devices include iPhone XS, XR and newer models 

Android devices: Go to Settings > Connections > SIM card manager. If you have the “Add mobile plan” option, your smartphone supports eSIM. 

The majority of newer Android smartphones are supported including the Samsung Galaxy S20 or newer models, Google Pixel 3 or newer models, Huawei P40 and many more. 

It’s worth noting that the exact steps to use an eSIM may vary slightly depending on your device and mobile carrier. So, it’s always a good idea to refer to the specific instructions provided by your carrier and device manufacturer. 

Here are some tips on how to avoid expensive fees with eSIM for traveling: 

Turn off automatic app updates: To avoid unnecessary data usage, turn off automatic app updates on your phone. This can be done in your phone’s settings. 

Turn off background data: Many apps use data in the background even when you’re not actively using them. To avoid unnecessary data usage, turn off background data for apps that you don’t need.

Use a data monitoring app: Download a data monitoring app that can help you keep track of your data usage. This can help you avoid exceeding your data plan and incurring additional fees. 

By following these tips, you can avoid expensive fees with eSIM for traveling and stay connected without breaking the bank.


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