Before you leave home...


Pack as light as possible. Bring practical clothes that you can wash easily. Summers are warm, humid and dusty; however, bring an umbrella or raincoat. Winters are cold and damp 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: aspirins, throat lozenges, antibiotics for minor infections, lip salve, vitamins, etc.
See also: Travel Health Board

Personal Articles

Many personal items are now available, and cost about the same as in America. Bring cosmetics, lotions, toothpaste, chapstick, razors, Kleenex, feminine products, shampoo, soap, deodorants, detergent, a tlat bathtub stopper, a sewing kit, Scotch and wrapping tape, an extra pair of glasses, all contact lens solutions and cleansers, sunglasses, an extra roil of toilet paper, 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 America. 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 and hard to find, it is best to bring whatever you plan to use. Also, plan on developing the film when you return home, due to the expensive costs in Russia.


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 leave home.

Gift-giving is a fact of Russian hospitality. Bring reading material, a few current magazines, etc., to share with Russian friends; English and other foreign language materials are nearly impossible to find outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. 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 latter are great for children).

Health Insurance

Be sure you have adequate health insurance for coverage overseas. Check with your health insurance agency on how this will be treated in Russia. In case of evacuation for medical reasons, you should understand what coverage you have.
See also: Travel Health Board


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. In addition, upon arrival in Nizhni Novgorod the local OVIR (Office of Visa Registration for Foreigners) authorities do require a certificate of a recent HIV-negative test (if you plan to stay in Russia for more than 2 months).
See also: Travel Health Board

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 apply to the local OVIR to obtain a re-entry visa for you. 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.
See also: Obtaining a Visa for Russia.