Planning a trip to an unknown or known from short TV news and old books destination is always a big and difficult task even for an experience traveler. To make things easier I am glad to offer you a few tips on how to take the most of your time in Siberia and avoid possible troubles.
Like any other travel to a foreign state, your trip to Russia is sure to begin with a set of documents. If you make use of a travel agency, they will give you the necessary information on what papers you may need. But in case you organize everything yourself, contact the Russian embassy or consulate in your country. Anyway, you will need a visa and an international passport. When the process of getting the necessary documents is over, make sure that you keep all your important papers in a place where you can easily rich them and where they will be safely kept during the trip. You can't foresee what may happen to your luggage or when airport staff or a police officer may ask you to show your identification card. Speaking about surprises that you may come across while on the road, don't forget to purchase travel insurance. It will give you some extra reasons to feel safe in an unknown country.
Now, when all your documents are ready, go to the next stage of your preparations which is packing a suitcase. It will be very useful, if you find out more about a type of climate in the chosen destination. We assure you, in Siberia it is far from being tropical. Planning a winter vacation, you'd better take a couple of your warmest sweaters, jacket and shoes that are comfortable for long walks on the snow and ice. Of course, any kind of tour includes transfers, but walking is always a preferred way of learning the ultimate beauty of the destination. And sometimes it can be the safest way of getting around the neighborhood.
Other important items in your suitcase should be medicine. Your stomach may be unaccustomed to foreign food and your body may feel uncomfortable changing a time zone or climate. By the way, Siberia is rather a long-haul destination. So, to have as little discomfort as possible, choose a flight route with minimum of changes. Schedule and itinerary of transfers and hotel reservation details are also necessary to be learnt beforehand. As for transfers, if your itinerary includes an unavoidable train ride, many foreigners who have already experienced it, advice to book a first class or deluxe berth. Well, it's not the most important thing, but you may just feel more at ease travelling alone in your cabin or with just one companion, than in a common carriage.
When going to such exotic place like Siberia, never count on your own. To find somebody (preferably a professional tour agent or any other person working in the local travel industry) is a very good idea for two reasons. First, this professional is sure to know the region a lot better than you do. And second, her or his English is definitely better than your Russian. If you are not going to follow this advice, try and find phone numbers of the services you may need to use. For example, a police office, ambulance and the embassy of your country, even if it is situated far from the place you are going to visit.
The last but not the least important of my tips is to learn at least some Russian. It's not necessary to speak fluently, but knowing how to ask for a drink or a meal or for help to find a way somewhere may come in handy.
I do hope that the information above will prove useful and you will seriously consider a vacation in my beautiful and unique region of Siberia in Russia.