The Trip

The first thing you will realize upon arrival in the country where you are adopting is that the living conditions in most regions are not what you are used to in the United States. (In some areas, you’ll find the conditions are quite bleak.) If you have spent some time in the third world or in other Eastern European countries, you should be able to adjust fairly easily. If not, you might be in for some culture shock. But don’t worry, anyone can adjust to life in Russia. Just keep an open mind and attitude, and you’ll be amazed at how simple it is to feel comfortable there. One of the best ways to mentally prepare yourself for a trip to Russia is to think of it like a camping trip. All of the facilities will be less comfortable (and sometimes downright primitive), but nevertheless, it’s a great adventure!


When packing, it’s probably best to keep the image of the camping trip in mind rather than an image of a fancy European vacation. You’ll find that your survival gear will be much more important to you than your new outfits. When packing clothes, it’s best to pack lightly to leave room for more important things. Lay out everything you plan to pack and then put half of it back in the closet; most people pack more clothes than they need. Choose versatile clothing that can be mixed and matched so that you can create more outfits without taking up too much space. Throw in a small bottle of detergent and a flat drain stopper so you can wash clothes in the sink. Make sure the clothes and shoes you choose are comfortable. You may do a lot of walking.

The weather in the areas you may be traveling to is comparable to the Midwest or North East of the United States.

Survival Gear

Suggested Bags and Belts:
A money belt to be worn under clothes (for credit cards and excess financial essentials). A waist pack to be worn outside clothes (this is safer than a pocketbook or backpack). Keep whatever money or extras you need just for the day in there. A suitcase with an inside frame that can be tilted and pulled on two wheels is easiest for getting through airports. Make sure your suitcase can be locked! Bring one carry-on bag.

You’ll need more than enough of your prescription medications, especially if you stay longer than planned. Toiletries, to include everything you use on an everyday basis. Don’t forget feminine hygiene products.

Over-the-counter medicines:
One way to pack your over-the-counter medicines is to go to your local drugstore and walk up and down the aisles, selecting one or more of everything you think you may need for your trip. That way you won’t forget anything. For example:

* 1 cold and flu medicine

* 1 diarrhea medicine

* 1 bottle of Tylenol

* 1 packet of vitamin C drops

Having medications in your suitcase will make you feel mentally secure and prepared while traveling, even if you never use any of it. Also, while in the country, be careful not to drink any water which is not boiled first.

Box of hand wipes:
The living conditions in some regions can be very unsanitary, especially bathrooms. Try to wash your hands as much as possible to prevent infection. There may be times when washing your hands with soap and water is not an option.  It’s good to keep hand wipes or hand sanitizer in your waist pack.

Packets of pocket Kleenex:
Unfortunately a lot of public bathrooms don’t stock toilet paper, despite requiring you to pay to use the facilities. It’s good to keep Kleenex on hand.

Non-perishable food:
Sometimes you might find that you’re in a hurry and you miss a meal. Or, you may just be too tired to go out and get something. Simply, you may get sick of native food! Packing some energy bars or granola bars or other non-perishable food items may help in those situations.

An electric converter may be necessary for low voltage devices. Note: It will probably be easier to buy a hairdryer in Moscow when you arrive than to use a converter. Converters can be dangerous to use, especially with hairdryers. A hairdryer may be the one exception to wait and buy when you get there.