Travelling to Russia this spring/summer?

We fly into Moscow on 13 May from Vienna, and leave from St Petersburg 25 May. No visa yet, still in process at Russian consulate in DC; but not really anticipating any issues getting that. Return trip home from Helsinki. Based on current events, I am wondering if I should be working on a Plan B.
Is anyone else planning a trip to Russia this summer, and having second thoughts on their itinerary now?

I hate to go to a Plan B. This trip to Russia has already been postponed from 2012 to 2013, then 2013 to 2014, and I am starting to feel a little jinxed. My mother will be with me, she is 85, so I have to think about her safety.. She just wants to go wherever I go!

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

The U. S. has not yet imposed sanctions upon the Russian Federation. If it does, Russia will become the seventh nation currently sanctioned.

How would you feel about traveling to one of the other six?

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1674 posts

Does your heart long to go to Russia, or is it just somewhere you'd like to go? Do you have family connections, or a love of Russian literature, or a love of little nesting dolls? Would it be more stress to press on with the trip, or to plan a different one? Will you feel more or less comfortable taking a political stand? Do you want to have those conversations with people who find out your destination?

A few thoughts-

*Don't book any non-refundable hotels.
*Are your flights all booked together? If you cancel the Russian flights, what happens to the others?
*If you do plan to go to Russia, you should still have a back up plan.

I have never wanted to go to Russia, but you do, so that's fine with me. I'd apply these same criteria to any location that may have political unrest or actions I oppose.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10077 posts

If the US and the EU impose any kind of sanctions, expect the usual reciprocal response from Russia. I wouldn't worry so much about safety as I would about arbitrary bureaucratic harrassment. Personally, in the present circumstances, I wouldn't fork over any money in advanced to visit Russia. And with the capital controls Putin & Co. have erected to prevent currency leaving the country lately, paying up front is probably going to be one of the few options for seeing Russia in the near future.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
794 posts

@ Ed: Have no interest in those other countries, so not sure what your point is.

@Karen - YES - You figured it out. I want a set of authentic matryoshka dolls - however did you guess?
Actually, I have a passion for Russian ballet and music, and Imperial Russian history up to 16 July 1918. St Petersburg, the Hermitage, The Marensky, Tsarkoe Selo, all places I have dreamed of seeing.. Moscow, too, maybe not as much but don't want to travel all that way and not see the Kremlin and the GUM department store.

Tom, Everything in Russia is already paid for, but I am sure the tour fee could just be applied again to a tour at a future date. Like I said, we had to postpone in 2012 and 2013 due to a house fire and then a out of state relocation.
I am sure the Vienna-Moscow leg of the flight could be dropped from the reservation for a change fee. -- or we might just be able to postpone using the flight for up to 364 days, again with a change fee.

I guess I will start looking at some train schedules and see what I can find in Central Europe to fill up my 20 remaining days. Would like to try to keep Tallin Estonia on the itinerary; it may be gobbled up by next summer. Better get there while I can!

My biggest worry at this moment? I don't have my Russian visa yet. It is still in process at the Russian consulate in DC. Anyone want to take a guess where my PASSPORT is at this very moment???
Yep. You got it!! THAT is what is making me the most nervous right now.

Until that passport is back in my hands, I won't need a Plan B

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
2198 posts

Elaine,

I had planned on going in early Sept of this year, but now im dumping Russia, not due to the idiots in play, but due to my work or maybe the lack of it. It was just going to be a week there, but it was sort of out of my way, so im cutting my trip short 1 week and saving the $$ for what maybe some unemployment.

but if it was me, i would plan on going. if you do get screwed out of it, you can always practice your "winging it".

happy trails.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10077 posts

Elaine,

Because, to put it mildly, relations between Russian and the EU and US have vastly changed in the past month, processing of your visa is probably on hold while the embassy awaits further instructions from the Kremlin.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1674 posts

Not to be too alarmist, but is it possible a Russian consulate would keep American passports just to mess with us? Is it possible in such a case to get a second passport issued? I'd look into it.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
9110 posts

Once sanctions start, they reciprocate, then there's rereciprocation.

You can always have a second passport. That's the only way to keep going if one is out for renewal or getting a visa.

Posted by Val
Long Beach, USA
195 posts

I cannot give advice about going this Summer. But I visited St-Petersburgh last June and felt completely safe.
And I was travelling alone. I would go back in a heartbeat. LOVED it. Sadly, my time was limited since I took the ferry from Helsinki and did it visa-free.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
794 posts

Safety Concerns : Only a 2-3 on a scale of 10 at this moment I never thought this situation could escalate and deteriorate so quickly? .It is impossible to predict what the situation could be in 5 -6 weeks. If we had just let them win the Gold Medal in Hockey, that might have been enough for him.

IF the visa does get approved ( Hey -- I was NOT on today's sanction list!!!!!), I plan on continuing with the trip as planned. We will be on a 13 day escorted river cruise between MOS - ST P with 5 nights in small villages between and I am sure it will be safe and we will not get caught up in any skirmishes or tank maneuvers, unless Vlad decides to use the White Knights as an excuse to move into Estonia.
I think we will just take it day by day, but in the meantime, I am going to start making some alternative travel plans.

I will have to call Lufthansa and see what my options are for making changes to the second and return legs of my flight, or, I 'll have to plan a trip that will allow me to train my way north from Vienna to Tallin so I can get my flight home from Helsinki on 5/29. Wherever will I go??? So many choices...so much reading to do in so little time. And I will be on a tight budget because so much of my travel budget is already tied up in this tour. Another challenge!

TravellAllRussia is the Tour company we are using. They are located in DC, and they hand carry passports and applications to Russian consulate on a daily basis. They say they have a very good relationship with Consulate workers, they're all Russian themselves, and have an almost 100% success rate, so I will follow up with them and not panic yet about my passport.

I may end up taking some pre-vacation time off to plan this "new" vacation. PLEASE offer me some suggestions.(I like history/museums/castles/cathedrals/ all in moderation; don't care about beer or wine;/concentration camp visits are OK/city girl/LOVE train travel - time is NOT wasted time/ no air travel - intra Europe - that is wasted time)
Current itinerary:
Arrive Vienna 5/3.

Depart Vienna 5/13
Moscow - Start Plan B here:
Slovenia - 5/13 - 5/16.(This is my Current #1 on future travel list but may be going in wtong direction for this trip)
.Suggestions
.Suggestions
.Suggestions
.Suggestions
Would like to keep Tallin 5/27 - Ferry to
Helsinki 5/29 - Charlotte

Truly appreciate any ideas and suggestions. Benn planning this trip since 2011. This trip is just jinxed...every year something happened....I am determined to get this done this year. THANKS

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1171 posts

Personally, I think that you will be in good hands. I went to Russia solo, but in my research I had come across many good, solid comments about All Russia. Putin is a bully and humble tourists are not his target... simplistic, but accurate. I would keep my sights on the original plan, if it were me, and only not go if travel into Russia is actually banned (which would greatly surprise me).

The huge advantage that you have is that May and that part of Europe would be great for a footloose, no reservations, wander through Slovenia, into Hungary, Slovakia and Poland, to Tallinn. I'd just leave it as that... a Plan B with a loose itinerary, an rough idea of train/bus schedules, and a list of accommodation recs - no more than that.