Adventures Abroad

Adventures Abroad
Machu Picchu

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

So You Want To Go To Russia?

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be heading to Russia in March. After a long and tedious process to follow all the rules, I decided it was time to share the 7 steps for a smooth sailing to Russia. Word to the wise, follow these steps because I went through a much more difficult process to get my visa submitted and trust me, you do not want to follow that path.

Step 1: Passport

Please make sure your passport is up-to-date and has at least 2 side-by-side visa pages. This is a requirement not just for Russia, but almost any country you may step foot in. If not, order a new passport and have it expedited for about $180 and you will receive it within 2 weeks.

Step 2: Flights

Book your flights! As of right now, Russia is not too pricey to fly to. I think B and I are flying 12-14 hours with a layover in another country. Tickets alone are roughly $750. Best to book a package deal (flight + hotel) with Expedia or Travelocity. I think B and I are paying about $1300 per person for flights and hotels--not to bad, huh?

Step 3: Lodging

Backpackers be aware that this is not a country for spontaneity! Russia requires that you be INVITED to their country. Yes, you read that right. Russia has a two-step process that I will go into details about in step 4-6. Like I said in step 2, try to book a package deal. I suggest calling Expedia or Travelocity and ask them for assistance with booking if you plan to bounce around like B and I. We called Expedia and booked flights and two fabulous looking 5 star hotels in Moscow and St. Petersburg—I will give you the names and reviews upon my return to the states. B and I are flying into Moscow and out of St. Petersburg—we plan to book a train between the two cities.

Step 4: Requesting Your Invitation

The best part about booking with a proper hotel is that they will send you an invitation to Russia. Once you book your hotel(s), please email the hotel(s) and ask for the proper documents for "Visa Support." Yes, if you are staying at more than one hotel, then you will need multiple invitations. The hotel(s) will either send you a Word document that requires extensive information and copies of your passport or they will just ask you to fill in your information on an online application. The hotels in Russia are quite quick at returning emails. I think the longest I waited for a reply was 48 hours and that was due to a weekend. Once you receive the invitation, please review that the information is correct and print a copy out.

Step 5: Visa Photos

Get 2 passport photos for your visa! This will probably cost you about $12-$13 at a photography place or CVS.

Step 6: Requesting Your Visa

This process is a little more tedious and nerve-racking. Please make sure that you are careful and detail oriented when filling out the online visa application: Click for Visa Application . Okay, once you spend about 20 minutes to an hour filling it out, submit and print it! Next, you will need to figure out the rules for the embassy or consulate you have chosen. The Russian Embassy requires that you book an appointment and bring a money order with your documents. However, the consulate is considered an expedited process and may cost a little bit more ($30), but they do not require an appointment. Also, you can pay with cash or a money order at the consulate—No credit cards are accepted at the embassy and/or consulate.

Step 7: The Waiting Game

I wish you luck! I find out next week if I really will be entering Russia. (Stay tuned for an update!)
**Total Expected Cost For 2 People in Russia for 10 Days: $3012 USD
-Flights and 5 Star Hotels: $1300 pp
-Passport Photos: $12 pp
-Visa Support/Invitation: Free
-Visa Expedited: $194 pp
-Passport if needed: $180 (not included in price above)

 Check back for the following posts:
  • How to Plan a Girls' Trip to Iceland!
  • A Review of Moscow
  • A Review of St. Petersburg
  • Russian Cuisine

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