Russian Phrases For Dummies
Book image
Explore Book Buy On Amazon

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 are commonly uses the 24-hour clock. For every hour after 12 noon, just add an hour. So 1 p.m. becomes 13, and 8 p.m. becomes 20.

While traveling in a foreign country, you often need to make or change your travel arrangements. Whether you are scheduling a flight or a train trip, the following words can help you with changing travel arrangements in a Russian-speaking country.

Traveling by air

While traveling in a foreign country, you often need to make or change your travel arrangements. When you arrive at the aeroport (ah-eh-rah-pohrt) airport), the following words will help you navigate:

bilyet (bee-lyet) (ticket)
pasportnyj kontrol' (pahs-puhrt-nihy kahnt-rohl') (passport control)
informatsionnoye tablo (een-fuhr-muh-tsih-oh-nuh-ye tahb-loh) (departures and arrivals display)
myesto u okna (myes-tuh oo ahk-nah) (window seat)
myesto u prokhoda (myes-tuh oo prah-khoh-duh) (aisle seat)
myetalloiskatyel' (mee-tah-luh-ees-kah-teel') (metal detector)
nomyer ryejsa (noh-meer ryey-suh) (flight number)
otpravlyeniye (uht-pruhv-lye-nee-eh) (departures)
chyemodan (chee-mah-dahn) (suitcase)
posadochnyj talon (pah-sah-duhch-nihy tuh-lohn) (boarding pass)
pribytiye (pree-bih-tee-eh) (arrivals)
ruchnoj bagazh (rooch-nohy buh-gahsh) (carryon)
ryegistratsiya (ree-geest-rah-tsih-ye) (check-in)
sluzhba byezopasnosti (sloozh-buh bee-zah-pahs-nuhs-tee) (security service)

Here are some questions you may hear or ask as you check in:

  • Vy budyetye sdavat' bagazh? (vih boo-dee-tee zdah-vaht' buh-gahsh?) (Are you checking any luggage?)

  • Vy ostavlyali vash bagazh byez prismotra? (vih ahs-tahv-lya-lee vahsh buh-gahsh byes pree-smoh-truh?) (Have you left your luggage unattended?)

  • Kakoj u myenya nomyer vykhoda? (kuh-kohy oo mee-nya noh-meer vih-khuh-duh?) (What's my gate number?)

  • Eto ryejs v . . . ? (eh-tuh ryeys v . . . ?) (Is this the flight to . . . ?)

  • Tsyel' priyezda? (tsehl' pree-yez-duh) (The purpose of your visit?)

  • Chto dyeklariruyete? (shtoh deek-luh-ree-roo-ee-tee) (What would you like to declare?)

Traveling by train

Train travel is the most common form of long distance transportation in Russia. If you're going to travel by train, you'll want to understand the 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) or nizhnyaya polka (neezh-nye-ye pohl-kuh) (bottom fold-down bed). On elyektrichki (eh-leek-treech-kee) (suburban trains), which don't have fold-down beds, seats aren't assigned.

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?)

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Andrew Kaufman, PhD, is currently a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Virginia. He holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University, and he has recognized success as both a published scholar and an innovative, award-winning teacher of Russian language, literature, and culture at some of the country’s top universities. To learn more about Dr. Kaufman, please visit his website at

Serafima Gettys, PhD, earned her doctorate degree in Foreign Language Education from Gertzen State Pedagogical University, Leningrad, USSR. She is currently a Coordinator of the Foreign Language Program at Lewis University, where she also teaches Russian. Prior to coming to Lewis University, she taught Russian at Stanford University. Gettys is also a member of a number of professional language associations.

Nina Wieda is a doctoral student in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern University in Chicago. A trained linguist with an MA in Social Sciences, Nina also has a book of poetry published in Russian, and a number of scholarly articles on Chekhov and contemporary drama published in English.

This article can be found in the category: