Courtesy: Punctuality, courteousness, and patience will be required of all tour participants.
Arrival Day: You will be taking an overnight flight from New York City’s JFK Airport and will arrive in Moscow the next morning. Tours A & C will change planes and travel on to Saratov the same day. Tours B & D will visit sites in Moscow on the day of arrival. Arrival day can be exhausting. The best way to adjust to the time change is to adapt your behavior to the local time of day. Upon arrival at the hotel in either Saratov or Volgograd, we will have dinner together and make an early evening of it. After a full night’s sleep, everyone should feel well rested and ready to explore!
Packing Suggestions: Pack light! Participants will be responsible for loading their luggage on and off buses, through airports, and into hotels.
1) Pack comfortable shoes and a small umbrella or raincoat, and bring sun screen.
2) Leave valuable jewelry at home.
3) Keep all prescription medication in its original container. Customs officials may want to verify that a container’s contents match its label.
4) If you use prescription medication, bring a copy of the prescription for safekeeping.
5) Travelers who wear contact lenses or glasses should bring a back-up pair and a copy of their prescription.
6) Electrical current in Russia is 220V. Sockets are standard European-size for double round-pin plugs. Bring a converter if you’re bringing any electrical equipment or appliance.
Restrooms & Convenience Stores: We will be traveling to very small towns (i.e., the former colonies) that do not have public restrooms or convenience stores. To put it bluntly, there are plenty of bushes and trees but no port-o-potties. You may find it useful to bring a small carry-on (like a backpack) for the daily bus trips that fill it each day with necessities like medications, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, sun screen, and bottled water.
Tipping: Standard tips for meals, tour guides, and local hosts are included in the tour price and will be disbursed by Volga German Tours. Additional tips are discouraged because it upsets negotiated rates for both current and future tours. For the 4 meals when you will be on your own, standard tipping is 10-15% and should be made in cash directly to the waiter (even when using a credit card).
Currency and Spending Money: The currency in Russia is the Ruble. Most restaurants and shops will accept Visa and Mastercard. However, you must contact your credit card company prior to departure and inform them of your travel plans so that your card will work in Russia. Debit cards will work in most bank ATM machines as well, but you must also inform your bank about the dates you will be out of the U.S. We will stop at an ATM shortly after your arrival in Russia and you can withdraw local currency (Rubles) at that time. Travelers’ Cheques are not recommended.
Cell phones: If you want your cell phone to work in Russia, you will need to make arrangements for this with your provider before you leave North America. Cell coverage is good in the cities, but there are some areas, such as when we are out visiting the former colonies, where cell service is not available.
Time Zones: For Tours A & B, we will be 7 hours ahead of Eastern Time (New York); 8 hours ahead of Central Time (Chicago); 9 hours ahead of Mountain Time (Denver), and 10 hours ahead of Pacific Time (Seattle). For Tours C & D, the same applies for Volgograd, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, but for Saratov & most of the colonies we will be 8 hours ahead of Eastern Time (New York); 9 hours ahead of Central Time (Chicago); 10 hours ahead of Mountain Time (Denver), and 11 hours ahead of Pacific Time (Seattle).