What to Pack for Russia as a Long-Term Visitor
What to pack for Russia can be a daunting task. The good news is that shopping in Russia improves every year with more and more stores opening and greater options to choose from. However, there are still a few things that you either can’t find or that the quality and quantity to choose from is simply better in the USA.
- Vanilla extract – You can find vanilla powder and sometimes vanilla extract in small vials, but I prefer to a couple of bottles of it in the USA where you get more vanilla for your buck!
- Brown sugar – Loose, dry brown sugar exists here but not packed and moist brown sugar.
- Box mixes – There aren’t any box mixes here such as cake, brownies, cookies, helping hand or hamburger helper. So if you like to have those on hand, buy several and send them in your container, have them mailed to you or pack them in your suitcase for special occasions.
- Orbit gum – There is orbit gum here but it’s more similar to Chiclets and doesn’t retain the flavor for long. If you’re a gum addict (like me) then you’ll want to bring this with you.
- Chewy cookies
- Graham Crackers – However, marshmallows you can find!
- Salad dressing – There aren’t many options here and there’s no Olive Garden dressing.
- Banana peppers – You can find some jalapeno peppers in some of the bigger stores but not banana peppers.
- Cheese – Sanctions make it hard to find good and fair-priced cheese here. You might want to think of how to bring over parmesan cheese and cheddar or buy in Europe.
- Chips and Salsa are lacking in quality and availability.
- Tequila and whiskey – Tequila is especially hard to find and way over-priced when you do find it and whiskey is just over-priced.
- Sheet sets and comforters – You can go out to Timbuktu IKEA for this, but the selection is slim and you can find the same quality at a cheaper price with more options at Walmart. In any case, you can’t buy a sheet set with a flat and fitted sheet together in Russia, but you can buy them separately at IKEA. Also Russians prefer duvets to comforters so if you prefer comforters, it’s best to bring your own.
- Dorm-room type furniture – Plastic, cheap 3-drawer containers and other types of cheap furniture are hard to find and more expensive here.
- Holiday decor – You can find decor for Halloween and Christmas and even some for Easter. Be aware that their Easter is often celebrated on a different day so there may not be any decorations out in time for our Easter. If you like to decorate for Valentine’s Day, 4th of July or Thanksgiving, then you might want to pack, mail or bring back some decorations for that.
- Essential oils – You can find some here but the selection is way better in the states.
- Scented candles – There is a small selection of options at IKEA and select other stores. However, they are cheap and there is a HUGE variety at Walmart. So if you like candles, pack those!
- Souvenirs – Magnets, candy bars and other trinkets are always good to have on hand to give to friends, helpers, etc.
- Upright vacuum cleaner – This is going to seem REALLY weird, but I hate those drag around vacuum cleaners and that’s almost all that exists here. Of course you can buy a Dyson upright vacuum but I’d prefer to go to Walmart and just get a dirt cheap dirt sucker that sits upright and takes up less space in my apartment.
Beauty and Hygiene
- Makeup – You can find several big name brands here like Smashbox, Clinic, Mac and Bobby Brown. You can even find NYX cosmetics here. If you have a special brand that you prefer, it’s good to look ahead and make sure you can find it here.
- Cotton balls – You can find cotton pads here but not the balls.
- Dry shampoo – You can find dry shampoo here if you look hard. It’s easy to get a big bottle of Lush brand powdered dry shampoo, but the spray dry shampoo is harder to come by and doesn’t last as long.
- Neutrogena products – You can find the hand cream but it’s harder to find the face wash, especially the hydro gel kind.
- Mucinex – This combination of medicine doesn’t exist here.
- Witch Hazel – You can buy it on a special website but you can’t find it in shops.
- Rubbing alcohol – They don’t sell this in stores because people bought it to drink.
- Birth control – Some of the same kinds exist here like Belara and Nuva Ring, but it’s best to check in advance or to bring your own supply. Some pharmacists will give you a year supply if they know you and know that you can’t come back and the mail is faulty.
- Prescription meds – This is a no brainer. You could ask a local in advance if they have your medicine but plan to bring a large supply. The mail isn’t that reliable here and although it should take 10 days, it often takes much longer.
- Pepto Bismal – There are other stomach calming medicines but I have not found one I like better than Pepto.
- Miralax – An equivalent hasn’t been found.
Sport / Leisure / Clothes
- Clothes in general – The USA has a larger variety of cheap clothes that are better quality than the small variety of cheap clothes here. It’s better to buy your day-to-day clothes in the USA.
- Packs of cotton socks/underwear/undershirts – You can’t find a pack of cotton socks here. Mostly cotton socks like Hanes are sold by the pair. Thin socks are mostly the norm and they are sold in packs of 5. Winter socks can also be bought mostly by the pair.
- Jeans – More variety in the USA.
- Winter gear – If you have winter gear already such as skis, snow suits, ice skates, etc…. pack it because you can definitely make use of it here!
- Carseats – Cheaper and better to buy in the USA and bring over.
- Books or Kindle – I prefer to have a non-electronic book in my hand, but there’s not that good of a selection here. Pack them with you, pick them up in the airport, or switch to Kindle.
- Bigger shoe sizes – Size 16 is hard to find anyways but it’s best to order bigger shoes in the USA.
Hard to Find Items You Don’t Have to Pack for Russia
Some hard to find items you can order online and not need to add it to your list of what to pack for Russia. These few items are either hard to find or too expensive, but iHerb is a great website that has a lot of these items and it’s really easy to order from them. You can choose from several different delivery options and it’s generally very convenient.
- Maple syrup – While you can find maple syrup in some stores, it’s usually in a small bottle and costs and arm and a leg. On iHerb, you can order a big, cheap bottle of maple syrup.
- Chocolate chips for baking
- Coconut oil
- Alternative flours such as coconut and almond, etc.
- Many types of medicines, makeup and other supplements and dietary foods.