Ever the "do-it-yourself-er," I decided time was too short to successfully complete arrangements to travel to Russia. However, one of my potential travel companions was unencumbered by the need to "do it herself."
As the saga continues to unfold, here is her story. She opted to use a travel agent, who in turn engaged a visa service: CIBT, the same service used by the employer of another travel companion.
She picks up the story: "Had I known, I would have gone straight to CIBT and saved $40. The travel agent prepared my stuff on Tuesday and sent it to CIBT; it arrived on Wednesday. On Thursday, CIBT (NOT the travel agent) called to tell me I was still missing something - I had to have a letter from the hotel, in addition to the invitation from the host company. CIBT offered to get it for $94, which I declined. The companion traveling on business got it for free and I e-mailed them a PDF Friday morning. The CIBT rep I spoke to, who was in San Francisco, said they would submit it to the consulate on Monday, and requested 4-day processing, so it would be ready Friday. So now I am waiting to hear if I am approved."
Understand that the Friday referred to is ONE WEEK before the anticipate departure. As adventuresome as I am, that's cutting it a little too close for comfort.
"In the meantime, I have been researching to make sure my own health care coverage works in Russia. (EDITOR'S NOTE: see original post) I am also buying travel insurance in case all this falls through! Haven't yet gotten to do the fun stuff like research tourist attractions, but will ASAP."
More to follow. Stay tuned.
Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.