10 top tips for travelling to Rio
The sporting escapades are underway in Brazil. Whether you are going to see them for yourself or simply want to soak up the samba atmosphere along the Copacabana, here are ten quick tips for travelling to one of the world’s most stirring cities.
1. Get travel insurance
Sometimes things out of your control put an unexpected twist on a carefully planned getaway. A decent travel insurance policy gives you the peace of mind that you won’t be left hideously out of pocket if your luck turns.
Take the time to make sure your policy is right for you. What’s the maximum payout for lost cash? Does it cover any medical conditions you are living with? Are you covered for the sports and activities you’d like to try? (Hey, you don’t have to be an elite athlete to get the pulse racing in Brazil.) Five minutes of research may not be exciting, but it’s worth it to get the right policy.
2. Bone-up on Brazil
It always pays to research your destination before you leave. But what if something unexpected happens while you’re away? The comfort of home can suddenly feel a very, very long way away. For up-to-the-minute advice on what to do if disaster strikes, sign up for email alerts on your destination from the UK government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office. No brainer. The FCO also has specific advice for Rio.
3. Check your passport
Rules is rules. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months from the date you touch down in Brazil. Go and have a quick check and, if necessary, apply for a fresh passport pronto. Getting turned around at the airport would be devastating!
4. Don’t count on last-minute deals
Last-minute hotel deals are a great way to bag a bargain. But as you can imagine, Rio is going to be kind of busy this summer. Don’t count on last-minute deals this time. If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet, do it now. Otherwise you may end up in staying in Brazil’s rural wilderness. Speaking of which...
5. Check if you need vaccinations
If you are staying in Rio, you don’t need any vaccinations. But if you are venturing further afield and exploring more of Brazil, you may need a jab for yellow fever. The NHS’s Fit For Travel website will tell you exactly what vaccinations you need for your adventures.
6. Prep your Portuguese
The majority of South America speaks Spanish. Brazil is the black sheep that speaks Portuguese - and it makes sense to learn a few basics. English is not as widely spoken as you might think.
7. Avoid the taps
Brazil is a tropical country and it's easy to get dehydrated. But be wary of glugging from your hotel tap. Rio has some pretty outdated and leaky water delivery systems. You will likely be fine with the tap, but if you want to be certain of dodging traveller’s tum go for bottled water.
8. Don’t get caught out of pocket
Visa and MasterCard are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and stores. Just remember to let your bank know that you intend to use your card abroad before you leave - you should be able to do so via online banking. There are plenty of ATMs too if you run out of cash. Note that the Brazilian Banks Federation has installed a number of ATMs that spill pink ink on the notes if the ATM has been tampered with. These notes will not be accepted anywhere. If you withdraw money and find a pink note, go into the bank straight away and they'll change it for you. If that's not possible, head for the nearest police station.
9. Think twice before lighting up
Smoking in public is highly restricted in Brazil. Lighting up is banned in all public places including airports, restrooms, supermarkets, restaurants and bars.
10. Taking medication? Take your prescription too.
If you're on medication make sure you take at least a photocopy of your prescription on holiday with you. Drug laws are severe in Brazil and if you think your prescription drugs are harmless, think again. Without a prescription you could face the same charges as someone found carrying cocaine or heroin. Scary!
Have a great holiday, sip a caipirinha or two for us and don’t forget to sort your travel insurance!