The Suitcase

Image credit: flickr

I’ve posted before on what not to buy in Russia since there can tend to be a big sticker shock on both expensive and inexpensive items in Russia. However, I very rarely do much more than complain about how expensive things are and end up forgetting to buy them in America. No more! This year I’m taking charge and making a valiant attempt to predict what I’ll be using in Moscow during the upcoming months. Maybe this will help someone new when figuring out what to bring to Moscow.

Small ticket items

This is the trickier bit as, even after four years in Moscow, it’s always a little hard to predict what specialty products I can find and at what prices. Here’s what I know 100% is worth bringing:

Food. For all you US citizens, you’re going to want peanut butter (about 100-150% more expensive) and Reece’s peanut butter cups (I’ve heard rumors they’re becoming available!). I’ve heard of people bringing maple syrup as it’s also very expensive. If you like baking, it’s worth tossing in a set of measuring cups, food dyes, and/or cupcake liners, neither of which I’ve seen in Moscow.

Cosmetics. Maybe this is just of more concern to me because I’m vain, but seriously: if you ever think you might wear makeup while in Moscow, bring it from home. When I was in Kaliningrad in 2009, even Maybelline was touted as a ‘luxury’ brand! Prices are extremely high for everything and new products usually arrive in Russia months after they’ve been released in the UK or US. For me personally, makeup is the one thing I do tend to spend a lot of money on since I use it every day. Buy. It. At. Home. My two must-have high end products are the Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner ($30 in US; around $50 in Russia) and Kiehl’s ultra facial cream ($26 in the US; I spent about $65 on it). Don’t buy nice cosmetics in Russia – learn from my idiocy.

Clothes. Whether you’re shopping at H&M or Gucci, I promise you prices will be much, much higher in Moscow. Buy at home.

Big ticket items

Electronics. Again, do as I say, not as I do. I bought my first DSLR and two tablets in Russia (OK, I bought one in Kyrgyzstan). They were significantly more expensive but I went ahead anyway because I didn’t foresee going home within the next few months so it was just logical to spend the extra money. (DO NOT SHIP FROM ABROAD TO RUSSIA! Packages have taken from 1 to 3 months to arrive for me. Don’t trust Pochta Rossii or Russian customs with your mail!). That being said, I finally had the foresight to realize I’d need a new camera in the upcoming year, so I went ahead and got the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. Yay! I may or may not be staring at the front door, willing the post man into existence right now.

Medicines. It may not be big ticket, but it is really important. While the Russian healthcare system has a lot of problems, the availability of drugs is actually pretty decent. You won’t often find American brand names but the generics will be readily available. However, it’s probably not worth your time trying to navigate a doctor’s office and apteka (pharmacy, chemist) if you have a very specific need. Bring it from home! (I’d also suggest this for birth control if you’re doing a pill – you can easily ask your doctor to write a year’s prescription for you.)

Because I’m still stuck on the peanut butter, what’s the one snack you’d bring along with you if you knew you couldn’t get it otherwise?

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