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Travel tips for FIFA World Cup

It’s that time again! The 2018 FIFA Football World Cup Russia is on and players from 32 countries are taking centre stage in Russia. If you do plan on joining the other 2.5 million ticketholders attending the matches, we’ve got a few tips to help you out.

fifa world cup trophy

FIFA Football World Cup, Russia 2018

Starting on Thursday 14 June 2018, this month long spectacle is held across 12 venues in 11 cities - the biggest of these being Moscow and St Petersburg. As the capital of Russia, Moscow is home to two stadiums, with the final being held at the Luzhniki stadium on 15 July 2018. St. Petersburg will host a semi-final and third place play-off.

General Travel Tips

For some, the thought of going to Russia can be a little unnerving. But with some planning, you’re journey can go smoothly and here are some tips to help:

  • Be smart - take a heightened level of situational awareness and of your surroundings and try to maintain a low-profile.
  • Take extra care of your possessions (e.g. credit cards, wallets/purses) and be vigilant when travelling in crowded areas.
  • As always take care when travelling at night or alone due to greater potential for crime.
  • Cash is a must when travelling through Russia - it can be difficult to find ATM’s outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg
  • Upon entering Russia, you must sign their migrant card and keep hold of it when exiting Russia. Any unsigned passports may not be permitted entry.
  • Leaving the country with antiques can get you arrested, so be sure to seek out certificates from the Ministry of Culture.
  • Do not photograph military establishments and strategically important sites as this is not permitted and can lead to arrest.

russian cathedral

Security

Criminality:  In the host cities travellers are more at risk of petty crimes in busy areas and can be actively targeted. Hotel room theft is also not uncommon. This low level criminality is a long term challenge for travellers to Russia. Visitors should take extra caution in bars and nightclubs where violent crimes have been reported. Criminals tend to spike drinks and drug travellers. They have also been known to take strangers back to their lodge only to drug, rob and/or assault them.

Cyber Security:  Russia is a well-known and documented nation to be instigators of cybercrime. There is a large risk that underprepared travellers will be targeted by these cyber criminals. Unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots should be avoided as these are especially risky.

Terrorism: The World Cup is a prominent event that the Islamic State have been vocal in wanting to target. Russia has implemented advanced security mechanisms to mitigate and prioritise terrorist threats. With these threats, it is important that travellers remain alert to their surroundings and keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour.

Hooliganism: Russian football fans are extremely passionate and hooliganism has been a long-standing issue in Russian football. Russian fans are at times singled out for their intent to carry out violence. Russian authorities have started to crack down on this sort of hooliganism, and strong penalties can apply for minor offences. Foreign hooligans or those in their presence are likely to be met with firm responses.

Scams to watch out for

ATM Skimmer: Be careful when using ATMs. Make sure the slot for inserting your card has nothing attached to it. Try to use ATMs inside banks if possible.

Ticker Scammers: As with any big event, scammers can prey on those wanting to watch a World Cup game. Avoid advertisements, websites and emails that promise “free tickets” and ask you to put credit card details in to verify your identity. Search for the company website for credibility rather than clicking links from unsolicited emails.

The Money Drop: Often seen around the Red Square in Moscow, this planned scam could happen in a variety of ways. Usually it plays out in the following way: As you are walking amongst other tourists, somebody is running between you and another person and accidentally drops some money. Another person also sees the money and begins to pick it up. He will offer to share it 50-50 as the owner is far out of sight. Minutes later, the owner of the money along with some other guys will ask for the money back in full. Holding only half you will need to make up the rest in order to leave.

Fake drivers: Seen outside of popular tourist areas such as airports and many 4-5 star hotels, fake drivers may appear associated to companies but are not. Some drivers may appear to be designated drivers for you but will demand money en route to your destination. Drivers may also avoid switching their meters on. Travellers should ask their hotel to order a reputable taxi instead of getting one off the street. Travellers should not accept unexpected trips or detours, because if pre-arranged drivers have been organised then journey management plans should be followed. 

russian flag

General Medical Tips

There are moderate levels of health concerns when visiting Russia. Consider taking a little extra precaution before and during your stay in Russia.

  • Russian summers are warm but can be unexpectedly hot for those use to the cooler climates. Even so, it is important to wear sun protection. Sun creams with SPF 30+ or above 4 star UVA protection should be used. Cover your ears, face, neck and other exposed areas with sun cream and reapply throughout the day.
  • Consider checking in with your doctor at least 6-8 weeks before arriving in Russia and ensure you are up to date with all routine vaccinations and any other vaccinations that your doctor recommends.
  • If taking long-term prescription medication, you should ensure that the import of such medicine does not contravene any local laws. Be sure to have enough medication to last the entire length of your stay and carry the prescription.
  • Avoid drinking tap water and ice, and do not eat uncooked foods such as salads. Bottled water is widely available.

Local Etiquette

Russians are known to be fairly reserved people, which can be confused with rudeness by foreigners. Here are some local etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  • Staring is common while phrases like ‘excuse me’ and ‘thank you’ are not.
  • Some hand gestures such as the ‘OK’ sign are considered to be very rude.
  • Learning a bit of Russian can go a long way in helping you in a social or business setting.
  • Tipping is not mandatory but a tip of 10% is common in restaurants. In less formal settings such as cafes, servers can be told to ‘keep the change’.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup is set to be another amazing spectacle with over 2 million fans from around the world ready to cheer in the stand. Millions more are expected to tune into television programs broadcasting the matches. Be prepared, plan ahead and enjoy what this World Cup has to offer if you are travelling to Russia.

russia city lights

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