Updated: Mar 2
Evan Jordan, an assistant professor of tourism at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, clews the important keys of the better travel experience: learn about the place in advance even you are going to spend a day there, memorize a few words of the local language (here are helpful words), book a tour with a local, read up about dress codes before you visit a cultural or religious site.
Going to Russia is really better to prepare a little. Many of my tourists share what they have read in books and seen in movies. Wait a minute! You need to start with yourself: who you are and what you want to do. I always ask where are from my guests and what kind of group they are, a tour for a family with children 5-7 years old is very different from a tour for active seniors. Of course, a trip to Russia is a big deal, you want to see as much as possible, one of my St Petersburg tours offers maximum activity just in two days. Also check out the article with the best places to visit in St. Petersburg.
What strikes my cruise tourists first of all is the contrast between the past and the present. For example, the port building is a modern pavilion with air conditioning, in the distance you can see a skyscraper resembling a sailing boat, as soon as we leave the city on the left and on the right .. are Soviet high-rise buildings of the boring grey color. Often my tourists are people who are personally familiar with the cold war period, they submit a passport for verification to a Russian who does not smile and does not even speak English. Russia today is a fairly comfortable country to live in, where grocery stores are open 24 hours, life is seething with great evens on weekends, goods are delivered from online stores the next day, it is safe to walk the streets, and tourists are very welcome. But no one is talking about it in the news. Can recommend you to read about the most popular questions I got.
Well, now you know what to expect and what you want to see. You already know what words to learn. I hope that you have already chosen a suitable tour with the St Petersburg guide. It remains to determine the dress code. What you can't do in St. Petersburg is to bare yourself to take off the T-shirt, this will cause negotiation with police and a fine. The dress code of the Museum: quite free, you can even wear shorts, women do not recommend wearing heels because of the wooden parquet. The working Orthodox churches: preferably not to wear shorts, men should remove headwear, women should cover bare shoulders and when entering must wear a headscarf and a long skirt (if lady is in short dress), for men it's required not keep hands in pockets. Theater: better not to wear jeans, of course you can wear a tie or bow tie, but this is not necessary as well as tuxedos. Many local women wear gowns and high heel shoes but even smart casual is acceptable. Restaurants: about the same like the theatre dress code.
The only region of Russia where there works a strict dress code even for tourists is Chechnya, but I doubt that this is part of your trip. Nevertheless, when visiting a mosque (in St. Petersburg, this is a very beautiful building), women should look modest and decent: non-tight clothing with long sleeves, no bare knees.
What else should you pack in suitcase? Umbrella - the weather changes often even in summer, and now in winter it rains instead of snow. Take clothes for warm and cold weather, for example, a thin down jacket and a sweater will be useful for evening ride on rivers and canals. A windproof jacket is a must! As a local I have 4 pieces, so that it is not boring. A sun hat can also come in handy, last June was a heat wave of about 90 Fahrenheit. For excursions, take shoes that are comfortable, you will have to walk a lot. And finally, during the Moscow and St Petersburg tours, you will see fashionable young people, hipsters, girls in the morning wearing high heels plus evening makeup, and a lot of people who do not care about fashion, so whatever you wear we are glad to see you!