Russia Travel Tips
Here we'll talk about Russia travel tips. If you travel to Russia to meet Russian women, there are many little odds and ends that you need to know about that just don't fit into any one big category, so we'll consider them here.
The first of our Russia travel tips is BRING YOUR OWN MEDS! Unless you have traveled to some places "off the beaten path", you might not think about this, but you are not likely to find Advil, Alleve, Imodium, or Pepto Bismal in your corner convenience store in Kharkov, Ukraine... or probably anywhere in Kharkov, or anywhere in Ukraine. So bring everything you might need. Those examples would be a good start: Advil or Alleve for headaches or fever, Imodium for diarrhea, and Pepto Bismal for upset stomach. I would also suggest asking a doctor to prescribe a good general antibiotic like Cipro for whatever bug you might get. Otherwise a bad stomach bug could wipe out your whole trip! (ALERT: I am NOT a doctor, and only a doctor can legally prescribe Cipro).
I know this topic may seem a little out of place here since you are probably beyond 8 years old, but no good list of Russia travel tips would be complete if it did not warn you about taking care in choosing the shoes you will bring.
The reason: Depending on the city and type of tour you will be taking, chances are really good that you are going to log 2-8 miles a day on your feet in your regular shoes. So make sure that your main shoes are comfortable and that your feet are used to walking long distances in them.
The downside of failing to follow this advice is that you could end up there with some very painful blisters that will detract from your experience. Better to get those blisters out of the way at home where you at least have convenient access to simple treatment options.
I guess this leads me to a related point... In that "medicines" section above I should have also recommended packing your favorite blister treatment supplies.
And to cap off our Russia travel tips we need to talk about CASH!
When I travel domestically or to other nearby countries (Mexico, Caribbean, etc.) I can bring a few hundred dollars in cash "just in case" but plan on paying for EVERYTHING with my credit card. In Russia/Ukraine it's more the opposite.
Places there do take credit cards, but in my experience there's around a 10% failure rate. "Failure" means that the credit card terminal comes back saying your card failed, or it prompts you for a PIN even though you haven't set up a PIN for that account, or that the establishment's credit card processing is down at the moment.
So it's always good to have cash.
As you may have read in "Russian Customs" section of this site, most countries like Russia and Ukraine allow you to take up to $10000 USD cash into their country without declaration and up to $3000 USD cash out, so plan to bring enough cash to pay for your full lodging, ground transport, and agency costs (if applicable), and an average of $100-$150 per day for food, dates, translations, taxis, etc., and then have less than $3000 USD cash remaining in the end.
Figure all that out and add at least $1000 as a buffer. You can just plan to deposit the remainder back into your bank account if you don't use it, but better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!
IMPORTANT: When you are getting this cash together before your trip, make sure it is all in the form of crisp, unmarked, clean, new bills, preferably $100s bills. I say this because the places where you exchange USD for local currency hold your bills up to a special light and inspect them for any markings, folds, etc., and reject them if they are not perfect.
While you are there you will routinely visit currency exchanges to trade your $100s for local currency. Almost any bank will do this, but many more facilities do this. You may just ask your guides or lady friends what they recommend. But I would recommend that you never have less than the equivalent of $200 USD at any given time.
Here's why... When you are at a restaurant you usually don't know what your date wants. And depending on the date, she may look at you as someone for whom price is no object. So when she orders pineapple juice, the waitress ALWAYS asks, "Fresh?". Of course your date says "Da" (Russian for "Yes"). It turns out that in Ukraine fresh pineapple juice runs around $5 USD PER GLASS, with no free refills! So when the waitress comes back and sees your date's empty glass and asks, "Would you like more?", your date will probably just say "Da, spasiba..." ("Yes, thank you"). So already you have spent $10 USD ON JUICE... JUST FOR HER! That's when you start ordering water, bread, and butter for yourself if you didn't have a little cash reserve on hand! You can move on to more "cost effective dates" afterwards, but you still need the cash to cover this date!
*** Reviewed/Updated March 2019 ***