It’s one of the world’s largest sporting events, the FIFA World Cup, that sends spectators into a soccer frenzy. This year the cup will be held in Russia with thousands of tourists set to descend on its 11 host cities. While many soccer fans will be concentrating on the game’s goals, penalties and passes there are other risks travellers need to consider due to the country’s political tensions and the ongoing threat of terrorism.
“Crime, violence and corruption are very real dangers in this destination and we can’t stress enough the importance of ensuring travellers are adequately prepared before they depart,” says Aimee McGuinness, Global Assistance chief underwriting officer of one of big insurance company. There is also a limited availability of quality medical facilities. In addition, medical and hospital expenses have been one of the top three most common claims for travellers in Russia since 2015.
“The standard of healthcare facilities in Russia is in stark contrast to that of US and in the instance that someone becomes injured or falls seriously ill, medical evacuation to receive the necessary care is likely. Costs for overseas treatment and repatriation can become exorbitant so we urge all travellers to purchase comprehensive travel insurance to ensure they’re covered for any issues that may arise.” If you are already heading to or are planning a trip to Russia this year, here are some tips for you to consider:
- Ensure your visa is in order
Visas are an absolute must for all travellers entering Russia and must be secured in advance, as you are unable to obtain a visa upon arrival. Start the application process at least a month before your trip and consider asking a travel agency to help if uncertain.
- You can be stopped by the Russian police
Police checks on tourists are extremely common in Russia. Carry your passport, visa and migration card on your person at all times — some police officers will not accept photocopies and you can be detained and face a substantial fine.
- Always book your taxi in advance
They may look official but there are many taxis that are not licensed by local authorities. Only use official taxi companies which can be easily booked at your hotel, hostel and even at airports. Learning a few phrases will help you get by on the Moscow Metro.
- Learn your ABC’s
It may seem tricky, but learning and understanding the Cyrillic alphabet will repay you in more ways than one. Not only will you be able to navigate the infamous Moscow Metro stations, but you’ll be able to decode street signs and maps, reducing the chance of getting lost. It’ll even help when ordering off menus.
- Your personal safety comes first
Aussies know how to celebrate and sometimes we can find ourselves in sticky situations. Try to avoid venturing out on your own, always keep aware of your environment and surround yourself with friends and travel buddies. Violence and theft are common around popular tourist attractions, so if something does happen, the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre (CEC) of your country.
- Don’t forget your travel insurance
Travel insurance is always a travel essential, but the importance of having 24/7 assistance and comprehensive cover for issues that may arise is heightened for a trip to Russia. Regardless of how healthy you are, unexpected things can still happen. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact your insurer.
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