If you’ve been considering traveling to Russia from the USA for the first time, you must have come across stories on some of the extremes in the country that make visiting it feel crazy. Many people in the U.S. consider Russia to be a country with a closed-door policy. The political differences between the two nations serve to discourage a good number of Americans from visiting Russia. The truth is that Russia is not as scary as it is often portrayed in the American media. The country has taken steps over the years to lessen restrictions and ease on the travel requirements for potential visitors. It is also home to great destinations that are worth the adventure. All you need is the appropriate knowledge concerning the country to visit. Here are the things you need to know before you begin packing for Russia.
People from countries outside the former Soviet Union need a visa to enter Russia. The application procedure for a Russian visa is quite simple. However, you’ll need a formal invitation from a Russian citizen or licensed tour operator to acquire one. There are also of people exploring the loopholes associated with arrival via cruise ship. Such persons are often granted access but have a maximum of 72 hours within which they can operate visa-free as long as they have a laid out plan with a travel agent. While this is not enough time to explore the vast country, it offers a chance for you to have a taste of the country.
Russians are commonly known for a bit of bluntness. You should expect poor observance of queues, invasion of personal space, angry shouting, and pushing. Such actions do not necessarily point to arrogance. It is all about cultural difference. Don’t be surprised when people stare at you blankly for smiling in public. Friendliness to strangers is perceived as being American and insincere. In private, however, you’ll find Russians to be friendly a lot especially to people they are familiar with. The trick to befriending Russians is patience. If you rush things, they may become suspicious and keep off.
Avoid Political Discussions
Russia is politically charged. Unlike in the U.S. where many people are unaware of the events happening on the political scene, Russians treat politics as an integral everyday subject that affects their lives directly. Avoid expressing your feelings about their president or the American president. If you encounter questions on other political figures in the country, circumvent them as much as possible. You could excuse yourself by informing them that you’ve little to no understanding of such issues as you’re not from around.
The budget plans you may have made based on your research may not be enough to ensure a smooth experience while in the country. It‘s always good practice to have some extra cash for back up. Also worth noting is that Russia is still trying to work on its cashless economy just as is the case around the world. A significant proportion of businesses in the country do not accept cards. Be sure to have enough cash on you. Prices also tend to be higher for non-locals, especially at the tourist attraction sites which may be top on your list of the places you intend to visit. For Moscow to Vladivostok train tours look for companies that are affordable with a vast knowledge of their cities and country.
Learn Some Russian Phrases
Russians are poor in English, and most will not understand you when you talk to them in your native language. Take your time to learn some of the most common phrases used routinely in the day to day conversations. Consider maintaining a word phrasebook where you can always refer and record any new words you come across in case you’re stuck during a conversation.