General Travel Information
For information on traveling through Russia, go to the Moscow page.
Also check out the Cities web page for information about each city, which may include information about hotels, transportation, and restaurants.
On this page you will find:
US State Department Consular Information Sheet on Kazakhstan , updated on August 2007. It contains information on visas, safety and security, crime, medical issues, etc.
Apply for a passport early; they are valid for 10 years (5 for children under 16 years), so there is no reason not to do it as soon as you have decided to adopt internationally. Go to Passport Services for information, fees, and to download an application. Passports must be valid for six months beyond your expected travel dates. It takes around 6 weeks to obtain a passport through routine processing, and 2 weeks (plus additional fees and mailing costs) for expedited service. If a child is traveling with only one parent, you will either need a notarized letter from the absent parent giving permission for the child to travel internationally or provide prrof that you are the only parent.
Kazakhstan Consulate in New York: visas, legalization, adoption, about Kazakhstan, links to resources.
Center for Disease Control (CDC) : for information concerning health issues and recommended immunizations for travel. And yes, most people update their routine immunizations (MMR, DPT, influenza in the winter) as well as get the Hepatitis a & B vaccines.
Transportation Security Administration For Travelers : Prohibited and permitted items, Travel preparation, Security procedures, special considerations.
Traveler's Insurance: Check with your medical insurance company to see what would be covered should something happen while you are gone. Below are companies that offer supplemental medical, evacuation, and baggage insurance. Be sure to read carefully to see what is and is not covered.
Customs forms, in Russian and English, should be given to you on your flight in. I recommend that you grab a few extras, as this is the only time you will see it in English. Declare all your money, they may ask to see it. If you are traveling with someone else, and carrying a large quantity as is common with adoptions, split the money between you. Be sure that neither person will end up leaving the country with more than is on the customs form because this is illegal. When you go through customs in the airport, they will stamp the form and give it back to you. DO NOT LOSE THIS; you will need it to leave the country. I have a scanned copy of the Kazakhstan customs form for you to print and take with you and reference, in case they have Russian-only forms available.
On the way home, once you have gotten your luggage after going through immigration, you will then go through US Customs. On the plane they should have given you a declaration form to fill out. This is much easier to do if you have kept a list of everything that you have bought to bring home; keep receipts for expensive items. For information on customs, go to US Customs . Of particular interest is "Know Before You Go" (general customs information) and "GSP and the Traveler" (Generalized System of Preferences, which describes duty-free items from certain countries, including Kazakhstan and Russia; look for it under Duty Free Exemption).
Want to know how far away you live from Kazakhstan? Go to Distance Calculator and enter your city and where you are going in Kazakhstan, and you will get the distance in miles "as the crow flies". Might be interesting information to put in your child's lifebook.
The only travel guide I have found covering Kazakhstan is Lonely Planet Central Asia , published in August 2007.
Kwikpoint international translator. Has pictures that you can point to, no translation required! They have many other travel products. Look in their Travel Advise section for articles on Phones & Communication, Health Issues, Packing, Photography, Safety & Security, and country guides which give specific information on health risks, security concerns, social customs, and weather notes. Magellan's Electrical Wizard walks you through taking and using electrical appliances, and recommends products based upon your needs. Another good source for travel items is Travel Smith , especially for clothes. I have ordered, and returned things, from both of these companies with no problems.
Traveling with kids
Worried about jet lag? Read this review of research on melatonin on the Medscape website. (You will need to register to see the article, but registration is free.)
Are you concerned about your personal safety while traveling?
Create a personalized Emergency card containing local contact information, calling card and airline phone numbers, etc. I have also created a picture with the word "Embassy" and the phone number.
Search for a hotel with Expedia.com . They list hotels in many cities.
These general hotel sites vary in their descriptions of the hotels, from nothing to lots of information. For hotels in a specific city, check out the Cities page. Also look in the Travel Agencies page. Please fill out the hotel survey and I will be add the information to each city's listing.
Watch out for C° vs. F°. The links below are for Kazakhstan.