Before You Leave
Do not forget to bring your airline tickets, Russian visa and passport. Make photocopies of all your travel documents, such as passport, Russian visa and airline tickets, and place these in a separate bag other than the one in which you will carry the originals.
Flight from the U.S.
We suggest that you use a carry-on bag for important documents (passport, etc.), and some things that you might use on the flight (books, magazines, clothing, medications, cosmetics, etc.). Russian airports "film-safe" X-rays may damage your film. Develop film before leaving the country in one of the several one-hour Kodak outlets, or carry undeveloped film in your pocket for hand inspection at the airport.
What to Bring with You
Bring any medications that you use in their original containers, cosmetics you regularly use, film (also available at local shops in Russia), personal hygiene products, special items (i.e., extra pair of contact lenses), personal dietary preferences (i.e., low fat breakfast cereal, sugar substitutes, etc.). Consider bringing the following items: vitamins, munchies, energy bars, Band-Aids, antiseptic, insect repellent, sunglasses and sunscreen. Bring a student-style backpack to carry camera equipment, tissues, bottled water, etc. On your return, it can either be folded into your suitcase or used, if the suitcases are filled.
During the time of your visit, temperatures may range from 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so bring some warm clothing, as well as outfits for warm weather. A light rain coat or an umbrella will also be helpful, as it can rain unexpectedly. Your shoes should be very comfortable and well broken-in. We suggest that you bring at least two (2) pairs of shoes. Although casual clothing is appropriate at all times during the tour, you may want to dress up for dinner or the theater.
Many of the locations we will visit on the tour are working churches and monasteries. Sports clothing, such as sweats and shorts, are not appropriate. Orthodox women are required to a head covering, such as a scarf, and must avoid wearing pants. However, for non-Orthodox women this will not be required.
Electrical and Electronic Devices
The standard for electrical sockets in Russian hotels is 220 volts, and require a round, continental-type, plug or adapter that can be purchased in any travel supply store.
We do not recommend drinking tap water. Use bottled water for drinking, and even for brushing your teeth. Bottled water can be purchased in your hotel. On the street, drink cold beverages that are bottled or canned. Avoid purchasing alcohol from kiosks. Name-brand bottles may have been emptied of their original contents and refilled with homebrew. Wash hands often with soap and water, especially before meals. Do not eat food purchased from street vendors. To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep your feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot. You may want to avoid drinking beverages with ice, however in practice we have never experienced problems. Do not handle animals. No vaccinations are mandatory for entry into Russia.
Tipping is not required in Russia, however, a great way to show appreciation for a well performed service and has become widely accepted. An appropriate tip amount should be about 10% for most services. Our tour guides and interpreters have the rigorous task of interpreting details about, theology, symbolism and technical information about icon and wall painting to our tour members. They deserve a generous tip from tour participants and we heartily encourage it.