Lesson learned at the Cost of a Visit to Istanbul

TAROM Airplanes in Bucharest

Early morning at the airport in Bucharest.

I am taking the scenic route flying from Romania to Uganda today. My journey started in Timisoara before dawn. I hopped on to plane with the first stop in Bucharest. I landed just as the sun appeared on the horizon while at flying altitude. A quick coffee at the airport and I took to the skies again. Second stop – Istanbul.

My transit time in Istanbul is 8 hours. Before I arrived here I had my mind made up, I wanted to get out of the airport and visit the city for a few hours. Unfortunately, I am not in the city walking on historic streets, sipping Turkish coffee at a local cafe, and falling in love with the place. Why? It’s because I second guessed my intuition.

After taking care of ground handling matters I inquired about getting a transit visa and transportation to the city. I was told that the visa costs US$60 on my Canadian passport and the round trip fare for the taxi is roughly €50. In total a 3-4 hour visit would cost me $130-140. Whenever I am dealing with travel costs my brain immediately jumps to budget mode. While it’s an excellent quality to have (to be budget-conscious), when traveling the world one must also take in to consideration the true cost of opportunity. Did I have the money? Yes. Did I plan to be out in the city? Yes. Most importantly – would I have gained something valuable from the experience? YES, YES, and YES!!!

Some people may say, boo-hoo – so you didn’t get to go out, many people don’t even have the luxury of the option. It’s important to remember what matters is the journey and not the destination. I might have missed having those 140 bucks another time – but maybe not. I know that whenever I have made the choice to “go out” I have often had an amazing time and never thought about the money later. By the time I realized what I was missing out on, it was too late. A couple of big flights had arrived causing huge line-ups at the visa and immigration counter. Even if I went ahead with the plan at this point I would have had an hour, max 2, to get to the city and return in time to catch my next flight.

Lesson learned.

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