Traveling in Russian-speaking countries can be confusing if you can’t read the signs or understand the instructions you’re given. Learning a few useful travel-related words and phrases in Russian before you begin traveling can save you time and reduce your frustration level.
Here are a few general travel-related terms that everyone should know before making the big trip.
pasport (pahs-puhrt) (passport)
pogranichnik (puhg-ruh-neech-neek) (border official)
tamozhyennyj dosmotr (tuh-moh-zhih-nihy dahs-mohtr) (Customs)
chyemodan (chee-mah-dahn) (suitcase)
ruchnoj bagazh (rooch-nohy buh-gahsh) (carryon)
ryegistratsiya (ree-geest-rah-tsih-ye) (check-in)
bilyety (bee-lye-tih) (tickets)
Remember that in Russian the schedules for planes, trains, buses, and tours commonly use the 24-hour clock.
Train travel is the most common form of long distance transportation in Russia.
Different types of trains available:
- elyektrichka (eh-leek-treech-kuh) (a suburban train)
- skorostnoj poyezd (skuh-rahs-nohy poh-ehst) (a low-speed train)
- skoryj poyezd (skoh-rihy poh-ehst) (a faster and more expensive train)
- firmyennyj poyezd (feer-mee-nihy poh-eehst) (a premium train [literally: company train])
You can kupit‘ bilyety (koo-peet‘ bee-lye-tih) (buy tickets) directly at the railway station, at a travel agency, or in a zhyelyeznodorozhnyye kassy (zhih-lyez-nuh-dah-rohzh-nih-ee kah-sih) (railway ticket office).
- Mnye nuzhyen bilyet v (mnye noo-zheen bee-lyet v) (I need a ticket to) + the name of the city
- Na kakoye chislo? (nuh kuh-koh-eh chees-loh?) (For what date?)
- Vam kupye ili platskart? (vahm koo-peh ee-lee pluhts-kahrt?) (Would you like a compartment car or a reserved berth?)
- V odnu storonu ili tuda i obratno? (v ahd-noo stoh-ruh-noo ee-lee too-dah ee ah-braht-nuh?) (One way or round trip?)
You can also tell the ticket salesperson what kind of seat you prefer:
vyerkhnyaya polka (vyerkh-nee-ye pohl-kuh) (top fold-down bed)
nizhnyaya polka (neezh-nye-ye pohl-kuh) (bottom fold-down bed)
Staying at a hotel
Although many of the larger hotels in Russian-speaking countries have English-speaking staff, you rarely find that in the smaller hotels and in the smaller towns. The following words and phrases can help you make or change your hotel reservations.
ryegistratsionnaya kartochka (ree-gee-struh-tsih-oh-nuh-ye kahr-tuhch-kuh) (registration form)
klyuch ot komnaty (klyuch aht kohm-nuh-tih) (key to your room)
ryegistratsiya (ree-gee-strah-tsih-ye) (check-in)
nomyer komnaty (noh-meer kohm-nuh-tih) (room number)
In Russia, room numbers aren’t set by floor number. For example, room 235 could actually be on any floor of the hotel. Before you risepshn (ree-sehp-shn) (check-in), ask: Na kakom etazhye moy nomyer? (nuh kuh-kohm eh-tuh-zheh mohy noh-meer) (On what floor is my room?)
kartochka gostya (kahr-tuhch-kuh gohs-t‘uh) (hotel guest card)
visitka (vee-zeet-kuh) (hotel guest card)
dezhurnij administrator (dee-zhoor-nihy ahd-mee-neest-rah-tuhr) (receptionist)
gostinitsa (gahs-tee-nee-tsuh) (hotel [literally: a place for the guests])
otel‘ (ah-tehl‘) (hotel).
Both gostinitsa and otel‘ can be used to describe a luxury hotel, but only gostinitsa can be used when talking about a smaller inn.
The following phrases can help you make or change your hotel reservations.
- Ya khotyel/khotyela [m/f] by zabronirovat’ nomyer (ya khah-t‘ehl/khah-t‘eh-luh bih zuh-brah-nee-ruh-vuht‘ noh-meer) (I would like to make a reservation for a room).
- Vy khotitye odnomyestnyj nomyer ili dvukhmyestnyj nomyer? (vih khah-tee-tee uhd-nah-m‘ehst-nihy ee-lee dvookh-m‘ehst-nihy noh-meer?) (Do you want a single or double accommodation?)
- V nomyere yest’ vannaya, dush, i tualyet? (v noh-mee-r‘eh yest‘ vah-nuh-yuh, doosh, ee too-uh-lyet?) (Is there a bathtub, shower, and toilet in the room?)
- Skol’ko stoit nomyer? (skohl‘-kuh stoh-eet noh-m‘ehr?) (How much is the room?)
- Eto vklyuchayet zavtrak? (eh-tuh fklyoo-chah-eht zahf-truhk?) (Does it include breakfast?)
- U myenya zabronirovan nomyer (oo mee-nya zuh-brah-nee-ruh-vuhn noh-meer) (I have a room reserved).
- Ya vypisyvayus’. (ya vih-pee-sih-vuh-yoos‘) (I am checking out.)
- Kakiye kryeditnyye kartochnki vy prinimayetye? (kuh-kee-ee kree-deet-nih-eh kahr-tuhch-kee vih pree-nee-mah-ee-tee) (What credit cards do you take?)