Travel Advice \ Health & Safety
Every language has a name for a bad day or luck. It's the "Murphy's law" say people in the US. The translation is simple: "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong". In Russia, people say "zakon podlosti" which means "the law of a dirty trick". Bad days happen. It is a part of our life. You just dont want it happened in the middle of Mongolia or Siberia. Cancellation and Interruption insurance is a start. Protect your investment first. An emergency abroad can be extremely expensive. Medical and health should cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad. Are some insurances better than others? A basic travel and health coverage will cost between 6-8%. Cheaper policies will usually have less cover – for some the price seems most important, but is it worth the initial saving? We recommend to start your research from calling your current healthcare provider at home. Check on reimbursement policy for medical expenses abroad. Make sure to ask what proof (receipts, name of the doctors, letterhead, etc) you need to supply to process the claim. For travel and basic medical insurance we recommend Access America. For emergency medical and evacuation insurance, we recommend SOS International.
Unless you will be traveling to rural areas, particulary in Central Asia, Mongolia, China, there are no specific requirments for vaccinations. Yes, it is a good idea to make sure you are up to date with diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and tetanus. If you will be in the provinces, it is recommended that you are immunized against hepatitis A and typhoid and receive immuno-globulin injections. Tick-borne encephalitis and lyme disease have been reported in Siberia. For information on vaccinations and other health precautions, US travelers may call the toll-free numbers of the international travelers hotline of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), may use the CDC autofax service at 1-888-CDC-FAXX, (1-888-232-3299), or may access the CDC home page on the Internet here
For tips on flying safely with laptops, cell phones, and other battery-operated devices, please check this page here.
The general perception about hospitals in Russia, Central Asia, China, Mongolia as the worst nightmare is still there. It is probably for the best that you hope for the worst, but few words on current situation might help. The health system of East European countries, Russia, Mongolia and China are no longer a state monopoly. This means that private clinics and doctors are available, definitely in capitals and larger cities. It is not always easy to find them right away. Local Embassies and Consulate offices will have an up-to-date list of physicians and clinics for you. You can also get information from International Trade organizations, major International hotels, western managed restaurants, or bars. Finding somebody who speaks your language is the bottom line.
The type of crime that is of concern to tourists is still rather isolated and can be avoided in great part with common sense. The most common ones against foreigners are pickpocketing and bag-snatching. Travelers should be especially cautious when taking public transportation, and in crowded public areas such as markets, the Central Post Offices, popular tourist sites. When going out at night and taking taxis, stay in a group. Avoid walking alone through the city after dark. On the trains, make sure your valuables safely packed away. Walkers, be careful when crossing the roads. Russia, Mongolia and China are known for bad driving habits. Use over and underpasses where you can.
Terrorist activity has escalated in Central Asia and remains an issue in Chechnya Republic (southern Russia) and Caucasus (Georgia). In the border areas near Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgystan violence can still flare and some areas are mined. For more information, we recommend to visit Travel Warnings (US department of State) for up-to-date information.