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Visa, visa, visa
Make SURE you have your visa before you travel, make sure that it is valid during the exact dates of your travel, and make sure that you carry it with you wherever you go in case of random police checks.
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RublesBring some cash with you, as you will likely need it. There will probably be ATMs in the airport (or wherever you are arriving) but it’s possible in Russia that they’ll be out of order – don’t take that risk. It’s quite difficult to pay by credit card in Russia (and practically impossible to pay by debit card), so having cash is essential. I recommend arriving with at least 1000 Rubles (about $30 U.S. dollars) in cash. Make sure the bills are in good condition, as it’s quite common in Russia for people (even banks) to reject damaged bills.
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If you’re traveling to Moscow or St. Petersburg and are planning on seeing the tourist attractions, make sure you have a good way of securing your money. Either wear a money belt or get a small bag that sits close to your body with a secure closure – and keep an eye on it!
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SouvenirsIf you are going to be staying with a host family, or interacting extensively with Russian people in general, it’s nice to bring some small souvenirs from your country (mugs, t-shirts, keychains and so on). This is a small gesture that will be greatly appreciated.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Toilet paperRussian toilets are notoriously dirty and unkempt, and you will often not find toilet paper inside. Carry some with you (or a small pack of tissues).
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If you’ll be taking the train
Bring a small can of Lysol and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. This is for the train toilets. They may be the worst of all Russian toilets.
Be sure to also check out my packing list for Russia train travel before you go.
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A scarf:In general, it’s good to bring layers. A scarf will be particularly useful for covering your head if you’re a woman planning to visit religious monuments. This is usually not obligatory but it is appreciated.
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Russian weather is quite unpredictable, and even if you’re traveling at the height of summer I would advise you to bring an umbrella, especially to St. Petersburg or northern Russia.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Prescription drugs and contact lens solutionThese things can, of course, be bought in Russia but it is quite difficult. I recommend just bringing your own with you.
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Make sure your bags are easy to carryif you’re planning on taking the metro, try to avoid oversized rolly suitcases and the like. Many metro stations don’t have escalators but they do have huge staircases that must be climbed to change, get into, and out of stations.
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Power converterThis one is kind of obvious but I always forget it myself. Bring a converter if you’re planning on using any non-European electronics in Russia.
If you’re packing your bags to go to Russia, there are a few absolute essentials that you must take with you that you may not have thought of yet. I’m not going to remind you to pack socks and underwear, but take a look at this list before you go to make sure that you will not run into any problems while in Russia: