I thought I’d keep adding to a list of things I’m learning about how to prepare for travel here in Russia.  I hope it helps.

  • When flying: drink lots of water; this dramatically helps my jet-jag recovery time.  Taking Melatonin at the start of the flight helps me, but it doesn’t have the same effect for everyone.  Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Bring lip balm–it’s very dry in a plane.  Bring ear plugs–many airlines offer them, but bring some just in case.
  • Travel/camp towels are great (I got mine at REI).  They are super absorbent, pack into a small space, and dry quickly.  Get a large one.
  • Speaking of: bring quick-drying clothing.  Nylon is good, cotton is not.  I’ve done a lot of laundry in a sink, and it helps to have things that dry fast (I’ve learned this the hard way).  Also, you might get caught in a rainstorm and want to dry out quickly.
  • Bring a small calculator–you’ll be able to figure out the money exchange rate when buying at the market.
  • Pack light.  This will leave more room for supplies for the kids.
  • Check with your airline to see what the weight limit is per piece of luggage.  Also get them to allow one or two extra checked bags per person–tell them what you’re doing and keep moving up the chain of command if you’re told you can’t get free or reduced rates.
  • Pack a change of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on; it’s common to have checked bags get delayed, and you’ll want to freshen up after the trip.
  • Bring new or very clean $20 bills or larger denominations.  It’s hard to change dirty, wrinkled, or old bills here; there should be no writing or discoloration.  Ask for sequentially numbered bills at your bank.
  • Money belts that go under your clothing work well; I usually use a leg wallet.  Find a hidden compartment on your luggage to put your money there when you get to Russia.
  • Things I think you should definitely bring: camera, bug juice, a hat, a team medical kit, some clothes detergent, vitamins, water-proof shoes, good socks (get hiking socks at an camping supply store), shampoo, tooth brush and paste, floss, deodorant, layers of clothing, a water-proof wind breaker, a warm shirt, a small flashlight, a notebook and pens, an easy-going disposition, a decent watch, a travel clock with new batteries, hand sanitizer, toilet paper (get the small travel rolls at Wal-Mart), maybe a team water purifier if you’re staying in a camp (you’ll be able to buy water, but it’s good to have a small unit; I have one called First Need), transformer and adapters if needed (it’s 220 volts here, and the outlets are different), a self-less heart and dependence on God.
  • Things to leave at home: bulky towels and coats, fancy clothes, anything of great value, vanity (now that I think about it, don’t even keep this at home; it’s too much trouble).
  • Good gifts to bring for new friends: American flags, stuffed animals, pocket knives, toiletry kits, perfume, nice soaps, toothbrushes and toothpaste, pictures of your home state, coffee mugs with a cool logo, ball caps, coffee (for adults), sweets (for me), small toys, colorful stickers, school supplies.
  • Bring a picture album of your family and friends in America–but be careful not have pictures of your house or valuable items; kids here can feel really bad if they compare their life with yours in these areas.  So, talk about relationships and activities, not about what you own.
  • Buy a Berlitz Russian Phrase Book and Dictionary (ISBN #2-8315-6238-4).  Invaluable when trying to pick up some of the language or talk with kids.
  • Remember, as a follower of Christ, your life is not your own. Since the Lord has called you to minister here, He will provide what you need when you need it.

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