Write: Melih Uslu Photos: Ahmet Bilal Arslan
Ankara Travelers’ Group President Timur Özkan, who says he can travel through at least two countries per year for the price of two cups of coffee a day, explains how being a sharing traveler makes one very happy.
While setting aside time for hobbies gets continually harder in the intense work schedules of today, for some, it becomes a passion. For Timur Özkan, President of the Ankara Travelers’ Group, traveling and sharing his experiences is a lifestyle. Özkan also strives to take part in efforts concerning Ankara tourism. He serves in non-governmental organizations and tries to be more knowledgeable and spread more knowledge about the capital.
Özkan took his first trip abroad at age twenty-eight by car to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. So far, in addition to more than one hundred countries, he has traveled all over Turkey. “If I had the mind I do now, I first would have traveled to the distant, difficult lands. One can always go to Europe,” says Özkan. He opposes certain established prejudices about travel—Özkan says statements like “A lot of money is needed to travel” and “One should travel Turkey before moving on to the world” are not true, explaining that it is not as expensive to travel properly as is thought. He says he can travel through at least two countries per year for the price of two cups of coffee a day, proving this seemingly unbelievable claim with a simple calculation: “Today, two cups of coffee adds up to nine TL. If you multiply this by thirty, it makes 270 per month, and then by twelve, 3,240 TL. With this money, it is possible to travel around two or three countries in Europe, or six or seven in the Far East.” Özkan says the most significant expense in travel is plane tickets and notes that this can be reduced via early reservations. He explains that long tours that can be extended to a few months, instead of short trips of three to five days abroad, further reduce the daily amount spent. Özkan states that he is able to travel in Asian countries like India, Thailand, and Vietnam for weeks on twenty to thirty US dollars a day, noting that this is how European travelers generally travel too.
Timur Özkan founded the Ankara Travelers’ Group (AGG) in 2005. With the aim of establishing a platform of communications about travelers, the group is known for the travel books it publishes, the photography exhibitions it opens, and thethematic Ankara tours it runs. The group currently has close to five hundred members from all over the world, and the only condition of membership is to love Ankara and travel. There are no dues to be paid, no requirement to travel in a certain number of countries, and no age limit. Being Ankara-born or an Ankara resident is not required either; anyone who likes Ankara and travel can be a member of this group. AGG is a lovely example of how social work can be done without having the legal status of an association or foundation, and they have started receiving interest as a model. The İzmir Travelers’ Group founded last year now has close to one hundred members. Özkan states that they want to lead the way for similar groups to be founded everywhere in Turkey. He believes travel groups will soon be established especially in the Black Sea, Antalya, and Eskişehir.
The Ankara Travelers are also noted for their travel books. When the three volumes of their “Ankara Travelers” books—which include travel writing from Turkey, Ankara, and the rest of the world—received great interest, they created books about Russia and the Caucasus, Egypt and the Middle East, and China and Far East Asia in their “Traveler’s Eye” series. According to Özkan, they uncovered the potential of more than one hundred travel writers with these books. On top of these, in 2008, they prepared a comprehensive travel books anthology in 2008. Another important event of the Ankara Travelers is their photography exhibitions, which now have become a tradition. Group members participate in the exhibitions held in the Çankaya Municipality Contemporary Arts Center with photographs they take from various regions around the world, Turkey, and Ankara. The photographs were put on sale in the first three exhibitions, with their winnings being donated to LÖSEV, a foundation for children with leukemia, but they were not considered for sale in later years to be exhibited once again. AS of 2010, the Ankara Travelers have been exhibiting their photographs abroad too, opening exhibits first in Birmingham, USA under the headline “Spotlight on Turkey,” and then in Moscow, the capital of Russia, with the title “There’s Nobody Like You… Turkey.” Repeats of these exhibitions abroad, which were opened to support the promotion of Turkey, are now being discussed…
HOW TO BE A MEMBER
To join the Ankara Travelers’ Group, all you must do is apply online at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ankaraligezginler.