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6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Travelling to Russia For The World Cup

World Cup 2018 from the stands

We can all agree that the FIFA World Cup is one of the most talked about and highly awaited events in the world. Now that it’s here, I can’t contain my excitement, which is why I jumped on the opportunity to attend five group stage matches. I’m sure that like me, you’re all eager to see how the tournament will play out, and who will win the coveted trophy.

But, unfortunately for us fans traveling this year, the World Cup won’t come cheap. For even just a short trip, we should expect to cough up more money than planned – I know I already have!
So, before you can sit back and get hyped for the matches, it’s important to take care of a few logistics so you don’t go over budget and spend more than expected. You’ll need to consider things like flights, accommodation, match tickets, passes, transportation, and so on.

Here in Russia, I’m experiencing all the fun and craziness that comes along with the World Cup, as well as, picking up some tips and key information that I wish I had before I flew out.
So, let’s jump into some categories that will help you out with budgeting and hopefully save you a few Euros.

Flights

Your flights will be one of the biggest expenses, especially if you’re coming from far. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as flight prices usually jump up before any big sporting event.

If like me, you didn’t book your tickets in advance, then expect the last minute booking to be more expensive – especially as on average flights will be 20%-30% more expensive this summer.

But, if you opt to purchase a connection flight, and fly to Moscow rather than the other host cities you’ll find the prices drastically improved.

Moscow is flat out the cheapest host city to fly to, and as most international flights connect through Moscow. So, it seems like the best bet. Check out websites like Skyscanner, and Jetradar for cheap flight ticket deals.

Tickets

If you still didn’t get any World Cup tickets, then what are you waiting for? Tickets to most matches are already sold out, so you need to get your hands on your last minute tickets ASAP. I made sure to purchase mine in advance from FIFA’s official website, and you can still apply for the last minute sales phase – bear in mind that these are the leftover tickets.
Also, depending on how many tickets you purchase and where you live – Russian residents are being offered cheaper prices – prices will vary. So, take into consideration how many matches you wish to attend, and budget accordingly.
A word of caution: security is very strict, and every fan attending a match must hold a Fan-ID – you can’t use someone else’s. You can only obtain a Fan-ID once you have your ticket confirmation.
If you have already purchased your own ticket, and are interested in obtaining more, then look for tickets in Facebook groups, forums, or seller sites such as Viagogo. You can also check out ticket comparison sites, like SeatPick to find the best seats and prices.

Fan ID Card

Argentina fans world cup

These guys took care of their Fan ID Cards, so they managed to get into the stadium!

The Fan-ID is an identification card required for every fan attending the World Cup. When you enter the stadium, security will scan the card, alongside your ticket. The Fan-ID will also provide you with a visa-free entry to Russia at the time of the World Cup, free transportation by train between host cities, and free public transportation on matchdays. You may enter Russia using your Fan-ID from 4 June until 15 July. You must leave by 25 July.

Please don’t forget to apply for the Fan-ID card, I can’t tell you how many fans I’ve seen attempting to get in – and failing – without one.

To get it is very simple, just log into the World Cup Fan-ID website and enter your credentials and a photo.

Application approval takes a few days, and prior to the World Cup, your Fan-ID card will be mailed to the address you provided – free of charge. You can also get a Fan ID at one of the Fan-ID distribution centers.

Accommodation

Just like the tickets and flights, from the vast amount of people, accommodation will book up very quickly! So, don’t waste any time! Let me tell you something, the best time to book is right now. Holding off will only decrease your chances of finding a hotel or hostel in a decent price range.

If you haven’t booked in advance, I recommend you check out sites like Booking.com to see what deals are available. You can count on there being more accommodation options available in big cities like Moscow, St.Petersburg, Kazan, and Sochu. However, you’ll find yourself paying more in the smaller host cities.

Don’t worry too much, as thankfully Russia has set a cap on the maximum hotel rates in the 11 host cities. Meaning, hotels won’t be hiking up the prices and taking advantage of the World Cup situation.

If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend you look at the lower star hotels, hostels or even Airbnb. I found my hostel in Moscow for 17 Euros a night – a decent price for my budget.

Note: You must have a valid passport, Fan ID or visa, and a migration card to check into any hotel or hostel this summer – so don’t forget those!

Transportation

When you land in Moscow the first thing you will have to pay for is for transportation to your hotel – unless you booked a hotel with transfer shuttles included.

I didn’t, and after considering the various options, I decided to take a Gett taxi down to the city center. The Uber from the Domodedovo airport in Moscow has a fixed price of 850 Rubles (11.48 Euros). There is Wifi in the airport, and even with no data, I had no problem ordering the Uber.

Of course, if you don’t want to request a Gett, you can always hail down a cab on the street, or order one – but expect to pay significantly more. Also, if you plan to do so, I suggest asking the diver how much the journey will cost, as you can find yourself spending a lot more on travel than you initially planned.

If you are attending more than one match, then expect to travel across multiple cities. Luckily for us fans, Russia is offering free train and bus travel between host cities for ticket holders or those with a FAN ID. This has been a real treat and cut back my expenses significantly.

Entertainment and Sightseeing

Moscow at its best

Moscow has so much to offer, no matter what you’re looking for

Of course, the World Cup is most popular this summer, but I’m making sure to get the full experience during my time here. I’ve realized that there’s so much to do here in Russia – especially in the big cities – from attractions to museums, and fascinating culture.

I checked out the Hermitage museum in St.Petersburg, and I’m so glad I didn’t miss out on this cool museum – and of course a souvenir or two.

So, no matter where your interests lie, there are so many incredible places to immerse yourself in, as well as, enjoy the world cup. It would be a shame to miss out on the culture, as believe me, it will truly add to your experience.

But, remember: if you’re planning on doing some sightseeing, I recommend checking out what there is to do, and how much it will cost before you come out here. That way, you won’t make my mistake and find yourself stuck between, wanting to experience the culture and a price I didn’t plan for or missing out on some cool things due to not adding it to the budget.

So, my biggest tip for you is to check out what there is to do before your trip, and budget accordingly.

Conclusion

There are many elements that need to be taken into consideration before you fly-off to Russia. Be sure to consider each one of these categories when calculating your budget, as you don’t want an overextended budget to end up ruining your fun this summer.

Remember, the World Cup is on! This crazy event only happens once every four years, and before you know it, it’ll be over. Nobody wants to miss the greatest football event on the planet! So, forget the FOMO and budget hard, to enjoy this event to the fullest.