International tourism prevailed over domestic ones, moreover Russians tend to avoid travel agencies and arrange their holiday, transportation and accommodation while on tour on theur own. There is a considerable number of websites, forums and blogs providing the advice and instruction on how to travel abroad and save up on the travel agency. There are around 3 million of independent travelers in Russia that have an experience of getting a visa, biking tickets and hotel room online, doing sights without a guide. Russians frequently use the possibilities of social networks to seek for travel companions to feel safer and not alone. Swapping homes for a new vacation experience and saving money is not typical for the country nationals.
Russians are avid car travelers. First of all it the budget travel often preferred when the whole family starts on a journey. In addition car travels grant independence, freedom of choice, saving up on hotels or a chance to choose budget hotels or motels on the way. Avoiding travels agents' commissions and unpleasant companions is an additional plus. Touring Europe by car is what younger Russians choose as it lets them see much for reasonable money. Car hire could be expensive for Russians, especially if one rents a car in one country and leaves in another. Many travel on own cars getting European car insurance along with other necessary documents like EU visa to be able to cross the borders of several countries on the way, and medical insurance.
Travelling by train remains best way to get around Russia. The extensive rail network links nearly every city and town of the country. It is owned by Russian Railways (RZhD). There are a lot of options to arrange a trip to cover the distance overnight by train. The fees are comparatively not as expensive as air travel thus many Russians continue to use trains even for trips of 2 days or more. Travelling by train is considered to be the safest way, besides Russian trains enjoy the reputation of one of the safest in the world, even though regular trains may lack comfort.
There are standard and "firmenny" trains, the latter ones are generally cleaner, more expensive, and serve meals. There are 4 classes: seating trains, 3rd class or "platzcart" (~ 50 people in a common carriage), 2nd class or "kupe" (4-berth compartments), and 1st class or "spalny vagon" (sleeping carriage with 2-bed compartments).
Russia already has a high-speed train called the Sapsan which was introduced in 2009. It connects Moscow to St. Petersburg at up to 250 km/h. The new Moscow – Ekaterinburg line is expected to be built by 2018. The train tickets are bought in advance either in the booking office or online.
Russian fares vary by season. Higher fares are charged at Easter, New Year, July & August. Lower fares are in January & February. Higher fares are charged for the fast high-quality 'firmeny' train. Lower fares - for slower unnamed low-quality trains. For example in 2011, Moscow-St Petersburg trip on a top-quality 'firmeny' sleeper train such as train 1/2 'Red Arrow' cost around 3140 roubles ($99). On a lower quality Moscow-St Petersburg overnight train, you can find kupé tickets for 1640 - 2330 rubles ($51-73), platskartny berths for 720 – 1130 ($24-35).
Russia is a vast country and travelling by air is essential. There are several major airlines in Russia. Based at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow Aeroflot remains the leading air carrier in the RF since the day of its foundation in 1923. Aeroflot provides both domestic and international flights. Sibir airlines is the second most important in Russia, after Aeroflot. Based in Novosibirsk. It has great offers for domestic flights in Russia, as well as some international flights, especially to Germany and Asia (China, Korea, Mongolia). Russia airlines are based in two airports: Vnukovo in Moscow and Pulkovo in St Petersburg. Some others are, Utair, Pulkovo and Transaero Airlines. Local airlines, such as SkyExpress, have daily cheap flights between Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Rostov, Ekaterinburg and other destinations.
The air fare varies depending on the company, time of the year and destination. The prices for international flights have gone up since 1 June 2011 as some Russian airlines introduced fuel surcharge. Some popular route prices one was are as follows: Moscow - St. Petersburg – starting from $80 Moscow – Novosibirsk- starting from $220; Moscow – Irkutsk – starting from $300; Moscow – Vladivostok- starting from $500; Moscow – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky – starting from $450; Moscow-Sochi – starting from 110. (fuel surcharge, service and airport charge is not included) The flights however are now cheaper for some categories of people in Russia. In spring 2011 Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency signed contracts with Russian airlines to engage in subsidized air travel between Russia's Far Eastern cities and cities in the European part of Russia. 12 Airlines have engaged in subsidized air travel between Moscow, St Petersburg, and Sochi to cities in Russia's Far East. Russian citizens up to 23 years old and over 60 years old are entitled to subsidized air travel.
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