In the next few weeks I’ll be traveling to Russia for about a week on business.
While there, I'd like to spend some time, although it won’t be much time, seeing as much of the city and culture as possible.
I’m finding that everyone I’ve told about my upcoming business trip (family, friends and to my surprise my Russian business counterparts) who seem to have more concern over my security than I do.
I’m extremely security conscious while traveling out of the country, but I’ve never been to Russia, so I’m hoping to gain some insight from other travelers who’ve been to Russia, in regard to traveling and “getting lost in the city while exploring” by myself.
My hosts had me push back my departure date one time already saying that they couldn’t make it on that date of my arrival to pick me up. To which I replied, “I’ll get a rental car, take a taxi or hop on a train if necessary.”
I was told, not advised, that my Russian hosts felt my life would be at risk in doing so and basically demanded I reschedule the flight; which I did as not to cause an issue with new business contacts before we’ve even meet in person.
Has the security level for Americans truly degraded to the point that I shouldn’t be taking in the beauty of Moscow on my own, as I try to do in every city I visit, whether traveling on vacation or on business?
I can understand there being an extra level of awareness required; but has it truly become so “dangerous” for American travelers that this is good advice I should be listening to, or has the media caused such a frenzy that’s it’s fueling fears causing this type of reaction?
based on all the comments and answers given; the 2 most common warnings, so to speak, to watch out for have been:
Pickpocketing - Some good advice on making copies of my documents, bring a second form of ID in case the first if stolen, don’t “flash your cash” and always “watch my six” or rather always having a high level of situational awareness as to avoid having someone steal my things.
The “tourist price” - When a local who’s offering a service or an item for sale, takes advantage of a tourist due to: a general lack of knowledge of what’s common practice or pricing for the region. Or sometimes the inability of a tourist to speak in the native tongue; this is leveraged against a tourist to markup the prices significantly; sometimes 10 times or 20 times above the actual non tourist price
- The Traffic - An additional trend among responses that has a majority of comments agreeing that this is indeed an area of concern for personal safety while traveling through Russia.
All 3 of these are fairly common items on the list of things to watch out for when traveling internationally. Again, this will not prevent me from enjoying a tour around the city, by myself, and getting to take in the town and the culture on my upcoming business trip to Russia.
Thus far, it does appear to be a situation where because of recent events and the “spin” or “over hype” of the national news; there are a lot of misinformation, and general lack of facts creating a negative, self perpetuating, image being created of a non existent threat or risk.