Before you leave home
Pack as lightly as possible. Bring practical clothes that you can
wash easily. Summers are warm and dusty; however, bring an umbrella or raincoat.
Winters are cold and dry with temperatures as low as -30 C. Interiors are usually
well-heated, so it is wise to dress in layers. It is best to bring clothes which
are comfortable and you enjoy wearing. You definitely need good walking shoes
that you don't mind getting dirty.
Keep your passport, visa, important papers, tickets, and
money in a safe place at all times. NEVER pack them in luggage to be checked.
Make photocopies of the passport ID page, the visa, credit cards, etc.,
and keep the copies in a separate location in case of a loss. You will
need to show your passport should you wish to visit an embassy or consulate.
It is only necessary to bring flu and common cold medicines, prescription
drugs and remedies. Those recommended are: aspirin, throat lozenges, antibiotics
for minor infections, lip salve, vitamins, etc.
See also: Travel
Many personal items are now available locally and cost about the
same as in America. Bring cosmetics, lotions, toothpaste, chapstick, razors, Kleenex,
feminine products, shampoo, soap, deodorants, detergent, a flat bathtub stopper,
a sewing kit, Scotch and wrapping tape, an extra pair of glasses, all contact
lens solutions and cleaners, sunglasses, an extra roil of toilet paper, an alarm
clock, extra small screws for glasses, and a pocket flashlight.
The Russian diet is quite heavy and does not have much variety
during the winter. Many fruit juices, chocolate bars and sweets are available.
Consider bringing dried fruits, nuts, granola bars, powdered milk, Cup-A-Soup,
instant coffee and other snack foods. Another option is to bring plenty
of cash, since many items are available for the same prices you would pay
in western countries. You are strongly advised not to drink water unless
it has been boiled; this also applies to water for brushing your teeth.
Since film is expensive in Russia, it is best to bring whatever
you plan to use. Film processing is also expensive here, so plan on developing
the film when you return home.
A Russian phrasebook and a pocket dictionary are necessities
when trying to find your way around the country's monuments and tourist
sights. Try to master the Cyrillic alphabet and a few phrases before you
Gift-giving is a fact of Russian hospitality. Bring reading material,
a few current magazines, etc., to share with Russian friends. Bring a small
supply of gifts for new Russian friends you meet: paperbacks, fashion magazines,
T-shirts, cassettes, perfume, felt pens, colognes, perfumed soap, baseball cards,
chewing gum, etc. (the last two are great for children).
Be sure you have adequate health insurance coverage for overseas.
Check with your health insurance company on how your coverage will be treated
in Russia. In case of evacuation for medical reasons, you should understand what
coverage you have.
See also: Travel
Check with your doctor or visa service office for current
requirements. It may be necessary to update immunization for childhood
diseases, including a tetanus shot. As of August 1994, the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention recommends having current polio and DPT vaccines.
See also: Travel
Passports, Visas, Customs
You must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond your
planned stay overseas. Be sure to allow enough time to get a new one, if necessary.
You will need a tourist visa which can be booked through your travel agent. This
visa will be valid only within Russia. Should you wish to visit another republic
(e.g., Ukraine or Lithuania), you will need to contact those consulates to get
separate visas. The tourist visa is a single entry visa. Should you wish to visit
another republic during your time in Russia, you will need to apply to the local
OVIR to obtain a re-entry visa. The same procedure applies for extending your
visa or making other changes. Foreigners must register with the local OVIR within
72 hours after arriving in a community.