What Should I Know Before Travelling to Russia?
Though Russia is one of the most famous (and certainly the largest) country on earth or many it is still considered to be one of the final frontiers of travel. It's Soviet past, century-long ‘closed door’ policy and occasionally hostile relationships with other countries serve to put many off – but it shouldn’t. Russia is one of the most beautiful, complex and fascinating countries on earth and well-prepared travellers will have an unforgettable experience. To ensure that you’re one of them, here are a few things you should know before travelling to Russia.
Being the largest country on earth and spanning across two continents, Russia’s [url=https://waytorussia.net/Travel/VisaSupport.html]visa policy[/url] is rigorous for the vast majority of nationalities. Most will need to apply for a visa before arrival and should allow for at least two months before departure. Most visa applications also require a visit to the nearest Russian embassy or visa service, as well as an invitation from a licenced tourism operator.
Citizens from 54 nations are not required to obtain a visa prior to visit Russia as long as the length of their trip is within the visa waiver limit listed here. As always, it's important to make sure you have up-to-date information regarding your visa status for entry into any country.
Geo-blocking is extremely prevalent in Russia, where the large, dispersed population requires strong government control. This means that when you travel to Russia, you might find that some of your favourites sites are blocked or restricted, and in any case, will likely appear in Russian!
An easy way to get past this is to download a VPN before travelling to Russia. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is software that encrypts and delocalises your IP address, meaning that your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can’t track where you are, or what you’re doing. This also means that you can click on any one of the sometimes 200 or more VPN network locations and immediately browse the internet of that country. So, if your country’s version of Netflix isn’t coming up whilst you’re in Russia, simply click on a VPN server from your country (or from a different one, if you fancy shopping around) and you’re able to bypass the restrictions placed on the website for the country that you’re in. Smart, right?
Ask for the weather
Russia is famous for its cold, long winters, so it should come as no surprise to you that you should invest in some serious thermal gear if you plan on travelling to Russia during this time. It is important to note that as well as bitter cold or typical winter temperatures falling to −10 °C (14 °F), the weather in Russia is wet and humid too. Therefore, travellers should be aware that waterproofs and multiple layers would do as much good as one heavy coat, and shoes with grip are necessary for navigating slippery city streets.
Summer too is wet, though obviously much warmer. Whilst in the north of the country and Siberia, it is common for some mountain tops and even lakes to stay frozen for ten months of the year, in most of the country during May to September, and 30 °C (86 °F). Having said that, in certain parts of the country, seasons can change from one moment to another, so stick a few layers and a waterproof in your bag for emergencies.
Learn a few basic phrases
Even in the larger cities, English is not widely spoken in Russia, and learning a few key phrases is key. The first hurdle to get around is the different alphabet; in Russia, the Cyrillic alphabet is used, which might look daunting to those used to the Roman alphabet, but is easily picked up in a few days of practice. After that, you can read signs, addresses and names easily! After all, Russian is a predominantly phonetic language (unlike English), so once you've mastered the alphabet, pronunciation will come easily.
Next, is learning a few key phrases. Russians have a reputation for being unfriendly, but this is, like all stereotypes are, misleading. The people of Russia are some of the kindest, warmest and friendliest on earth – just give them a chance to show you! Learning just a few keywords and phrases is hugely appreciated and will earn you tonnes of respect, as most travellers don’t bother.
Russia is a sprawling, tantalising fairytale, waiting to be explored. With a little preparation, travelling around Russia will undoubtedly be one of the most rewarding travel experiences anyone could hope for.
All that’s left to say is До свидания, и счастливого пути! (Do svidaniya, i schastlivogo puti) – goodbye, and have a safe journey!