How to Save Money on Russian Travel
Hotels that cater to western travelers in the major cities can be very expensive ($100-250 per night). You can save a significant amount of money by staying in a hotel that caters to the local Russian population but you may find the amenities lacking. The best value can be obtained from renting an apartment which can provide you additional space for comfort and entertaining.
Apartments are either occasional or permanent rentals. Occasional rentals are vacated by the owner so that it can be rented for a short period of time, usually one to three weeks. These occasional rentals are done as a means of extra money for the owner and are often times very inexpensive if you are in a smaller city ($10-$20 per day). You can find apartments through listings on the internet, marriage agencies that service that city or through your lady who can contact a local broker. Your lady may also know of someone (a friend or relative) who would be interested in renting you their apartment for the length of your stay.
The price for an apartment rental will vary according to the size, location and amenities within the apartment. Location can be a major consideration so make sure you have a clear understanding of the apartmentís location. You may have to refer to a map to determine where it is relative to the city center, metro stations, points of interest and your ladyís location. An inexpensive hotel or apartment may be in a more distant location from the city center so factor in the extra cost of transportation, time and inconvenience when selecting your lodging.
Some Russian hotels are actually converted apartment buildings. Each unit is a one, two or three room apartment. These conversions can be done with Russian or European style furnishings and might include such amenities as a microwave, large television, video cassette recorder, clothes washing machine and thick upholstered furniture. When choosing a hotel or apartment ask if it is furnished in a Russian or Western style. The Western style may cost more but it will be more comfortable and convenient.
When selecting an apartment specify the number of bedrooms you want based on what you really need.
Using the local public transportation system is extremely cost effective when you need to move from one part of the city to another. The major cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg have extensive metro systems that only charge one low rate for travel of any distance. Other cities may have limited rail systems. Most all cities have an effective bus system that is very inexpensive although not necessarily very comfortable.
When it comes to ground transportation it is usually a trade off between expense and comfort. The more you are willing to pay the quicker or more comfortably you can get to your destination. You may find that private taxis are not as expensive as your home town so if you let your Russian speaking companion negotiate the rate and you will be able to enjoy the direct ride of a taxi more affordably.
One of the major benefits of having an apartment is the fact that you can cook your own meals and save on the expense of dining out for every meal. Keep this in balance with the realization that you are in a foreign country . . . you shouldnít miss out on the opportunities to experience the local food. Think of your ĎDinning Iní as an opportunity for convenience and practicality. For example you may want to eat your breakfast at home before venturing out into the city where you can enjoy lunch and dinner in the local restaurants.
Consider dining in as an event in your courtship with your lady. You may want to cook a meal for her is you are so inclined and she may want to cook a meal for you. Having a kitchen will make this possible and practical. If you do plan to cook or bake a special receipt for your lady you should consider bringing with you any special ingredients and utensils necessary for the preparation. Unfortunately the quality and quantity of what tools will be available for you in the kitchen may be a mystery until you get there. Donít expect more than the basics.
You may think it odd that I suggest you cook for your lady. Let me suggest to you that any woman would love to be pampered by a man. Such an experience may be foreign to your Russian lady so you can make a big impression if you are able to do something like this. It need not be elaborate if you are not comfortable in the kitchen. Think of a simple but tasty dessert you can make while you are there and offer it with hot tea. This simple gesture could increase your success if done with sincerity.
You can purchase all your food once you get to Russia. It will cost about the same as you are used to. If you have personal favorites that you canít live without then you should consider bringing it with you if you can. Consider brining enough easy to pack food to take care of your needs for a day or two until you get yourself organized in your new location.