Progress in Planning: Our Next Big Trip- Russia

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People always ask me if I have a list of countries I’d like to visit. While I don’t actually keep a physical list, I frequently make mental notes of places that I really want to visit. Russia has long been among the of top places that I’d like to visit.

Over the years I have mentioned going to Russia to Kim many times. She’s never been too interested. In late November lots of cheap fares to Russia started making their rounds online. I was seeing some great pricing from Airfare Watchdog and The Flight Deal being reported through their e-mails and Twitter.

I decided to first look into availability and then ask Kim if she’d like to head over to Russia for Spring break in late March. To my surprise, Kim said yes! She was curious about the weather and which cities we would visit and was happy with the plan.

For our trip to Russia we will have 8 days (not including getting there/ back) to explore and wander around. We will be spending four nights in Moscow and four in Saint Petersburg.

The weather will be chilly with the average temperature during the day in the mid- high 30’s in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. I really enjoy visiting Europe during the winter and think the weather will be comfortable for sightseeing and beneficial in another way.
There should be little to no tourists around which should make visiting the sites really enjoyable.

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Trip Planning:

The Flights:

International: New York- Moscow & Saint Petersburg- New York
Due to some great, low fares, I decided to pay for our international flights rather than use our miles.

All of the airfares sales to Russia I was seeing reported were round trip flights.
(New York to Moscow or Saint Petersburg, Moscow or Saint Petersburg- New York)

However, I was looking to visit both cities so I did a little searching and found even cheaper prices going from New York- Moscow (direct) and Saint Petersburg- New York (with a short stop in Paris).

I booked the flights at KLM.com even though we will not be flying with KLM.
We are flying Delta to Moscow and Air France on the trip home from Saint Petersburg.
This itinerary cost us $512.36 each and Lucas’ trip as a lap baby is $68.40.

Domestic: Moscow to Saint Petersburg:
I’ve heard that the train ride from Moscow to Saint Petersburg is a very nice trip. With our visit to Russia not being a long one, we were looking to save some time.

Thanks to receiving the Chase British Airways credit card for a second time each, Kim and I had a good amount of Avios points at our disposal.

For 4,500 Avios points and $8.58 tax for each of us, we had a flight booked with OneWorld partner S7. Lucas gets to fly for free as a lap baby on domestic flights.
We chose to fly late at night to have a full day to do more sightseeing.

Lodging/ Hotels: Club Carlson properties

Moscow:
Moscow is a very expensive city but you can find some budget options and hostels if you look around. After doing some searching, it turned out that our best option was to stay at two hotels for our four nights.

Kim and I each got a Club Carlson credit card in December. The card comes with an amazing perk. If you use your Gold Points to book 2 or more consecutive award nights, your last night is free. (So booking two night stays with points only costs one night.)
We had planned to each book two nights at the same hotel, but there was no availability for nights 3 & 4 so we decided to break up our stays.

  • Hotel 1- Days 1-2: Radisson Royal Hotel Moscow: cost 50,000 Gold Points, 2nd night free. If we wanted to pay for this hotel it would cost $507 per night (the last time I checked).
  • Hotel 2- Days 3-4: Park Inn Sadu Moscow: cost 44,000 Gold Points, 2nd night free. Price to pay for the room was $439 per night (the last time I checked).

Saint Petersburg:
The hotels were much more reasonably priced in St Pete. We found a bunch of budget options as well as some nice hotels from Club Carlson. The hotels were priced too high to use our valuable points so we decided to pay for this portion of our lodging.

  • Park Inn Nevsky St Petersburg: Using my corporate code our stay comes out to $371.22 + tax for four nights. Without the code, each night would cost $163.47. Booking with Gold Points was 38,000 points.

Next up is working on getting our Visas to Russia. This has been a work in progress and is not an easy thing to do on your own. Rather than over-pay a travel agency, Kim and I have been figuring it out on our own. We are almost done with the process and I plan to write about it once we are done.

I’ve been doing some reading into Moscow and Saint Petersburg. If anyone has been to either place before and has any suggestions for things to do, see or experience, please let me know!

3 thoughts on “Progress in Planning: Our Next Big Trip- Russia

  1. Michael: Two MUST sees in St. Pete are the Hermitage and by hydrofoil(1/2 hr. ride) to reach it, Peterhof Palace. The canal boat ride is also interesting as it goes through many neighborhoods and by famous buildings. You will find admission to attractions extremely expensive as compared to what the locals pay. Restaurants on the other hand, can be reasonable if you look around. And yes, dress warm!!! — Rich A.

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