Travel has always been a positive way to expand the mind and to get a different take on life. Of course, it will also give you lot of fun memories to look back on and amazing life experiences to enjoy.
One big question to answer though is exactly where you will travel too. While visiting locations around the US is always great, it can be an enjoyable change to go further afield. Doing so allows you to experience cultures that are completely different from your own. One place you may have thought about heading to is Russia. After all, this is a country with some fabulous tourist attractions, like Moscow, with its Saint Basil’s cathedral, and the lovely St Petersburg. It is fair to say that relations between the US and Russia are at present somewhat strained. Under Vladimir Putin, it seems Russia has begun a new online Cold War against the US.
Is Russia safe to visit?
Currently, the US Government ranks Russia at Level 2 in terms of safety – that basically means it is okay to travel there but with increased caution.
The reason behind this is the state of modern Russia under Putin along with the currently tense diplomatic relations between the two countries. Modern Russia can be a challenging place for people to live, with minority rights being unprotected and state control still playing a big part in daily life.
The respected academic Angela Stent is an expert on US-Russian politics and her recent book about Putin is worth a look before travelling to Russia.
An expert on foreign policy in this part of the world, Stent is worth taking note of when assessing the safety of travel to Putin’s Russia. However, many of the issues that Russian citizens may face on a daily basis do not apply to tourists. Russia has in many ways become more welcoming to outsiders in recent years. This was shown at the recent 2018 World Cup which was held at various sites around the country. Many people from around the world travelled to Russia for this event and reported no issues at all. That is not to say there are no potential problems to think about though. Pickpocketing and random enforcement of local laws can still be an issue as can crooked Police asking for on the spot fines for made up offences. Naturally this means that doing what you can to stay safe on a trip to Russia is crucial. Here are a few tips.
Pick your destination carefully
Russia is a huge country with great diversity of cultures and topography. While this gives you a lot of choice in where to travel in the country, you must exercise caution. The Crimea and the North Caucasus areas for example are still volatile and are not somewhere that is safe to visit. When visiting Russia you need to stick to the major cities where tourism is well-established and there are no conflicts.
Book travel insurance
Getting travel insurance cover in place is vital when visiting any other country, and it applies particularly when visiting Russia . It will cover you against a whole host of things from cancelled flights to stolen property, and as Russia has a reputation for pickpockets in tourist areas, it is definitely worth taking out.
Only use official taxis
A scam that many tourists have reported is being ripped off by unofficial taxi operators. With that in mind, be sure to only pick up a taxi from a licensed stand. If you do not do this then you could end up being asked for outrageous amounts for the final fare. If you argue or refuse to pay, it has been known for threats of violence to be used.
Travel with someone else
Russia is a safe place to visit in general if you head to major tourist cities. However, it is best to travel with at least one other person if you can. Although solo travel is becoming more popular and can be fine, you are leaving yourself open to increased risk. Having someone else around is another pair of eyes to watch out for scams and to help you back home safely if you have one drink too many.
Visiting Russia is safe but exercise caution
To answer the original question, travelling to Russia is not that risky but must be done carefully. Heading to dangerous regions where trouble has flared before or to isolated towns where tourism is not established is generally a bad move. One other thing you would need to do before leaving is to check the US-Russia political situation and give it a miss if things are overly tense. The best idea here is to follow the official US Government guidelines.