Visa Series Part One: Getting Your Tourist Visa for Brazil

Visa Series Part One: Getting Your Tourist Visa for Brazil

Tourist visa for Brazil

It’s no secret that Brazilian bureaucracy can be, at best, confusing. We’ve tried to cut through the mass of information when it comes to visas by giving you a fully comprehensive list of how you can get certain visas and what documents you need. This visa series will cover tourist, work, permanent residency (including the process of getting married and a stable union), visa under special circumstances, and even getting citizenship. In part one, we will start with the most basic of visas – the tourist visa.

You have your country’s relations with Brazil to thank for the simplicity (or hardship) of getting your tourist visa. Brazil’s visa system is reciprocal.

What does this mean?

Basically, it means that is your home country requires Brazilian nationals to get a visa to visit there, then you will need one to visit Brazil. Some countries like the US, Canada, and Australia need their citizens to apply for a visa prior to going to Brazil. Others, such as the UK, New Zealand, France, and Germany, can just show up in Brazil and be given a stamp in the passport with approval to stay there for up to 90 days. This can be extended which will take a look at in a moment.

Tourist visa for Brazil

Who Does Not Need To Apply Beforehand For A Tourist Visa?

For most South American countries, it is actually possible to enter Brazil for up to 90 days with just an ID card from their country. Other countries need a valid passport. Anyone who has a passport from the following 76 countries (‘anyone’ assuming that you are not an internationally wanted criminal) don’t need to apply for a tourist visa before coming to Brazil. These countries are:

Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cypress, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Macau, Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Saint Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vatican, and finally, Venezuela.

If you have any doubts, it’s best to check with the Brazilian embassy or the consulate in your home country to get advice on your visa status.

NOTE: even if you don’t need to apply for a tourist visa beforehand, you will still need to show a proof of departure within the 90 days after your arrival date. This can be a flight, a boat, or a bus out of the country. If you extend your visa, that’s ok – simply don’t take the flight or bus. You will lose it, but not having a proof of departure is prohibited.

Tourist visa for Brazil

What If I Need To Apply For A Visa Before?

So, what if you are not in one of the 76 countries listed above? It means you will have to arrange your visa beforehand. If you don’t, it’s worth noting that visas are not issued on arrival and you will not be allowed to enter Brazil, no matter how much you beg or no matter what you say. You would have to go back home and apply for your visa there.

Tourist visas are issued by the Brazilian diplomatic offices. They are valid as soon as you enter Brazil and are valid for 90 days. Some are renewable for an additional 90 days. NOTE: Not all visas are allowed to be extended. Some European countries are not allowed to extend the 90 days. Again, check with the Brazilian consulate in your home country to see if it’s possible to extend the tourist visa once you are in Brazil.

The majority of Brazilian embassies and consulates will process the visa application between five and ten days.

What documents do you need?

You will need a passport-size photograph, a round-trip or onward ticket, and a valid passport.

Once you are accepted, your visa will be valid for 90 days with the possibility of renewing again. Some visas are valid for Americans for up to ten years, but this is a work visa or a specific kind of visa. This does not relate to tourist visas.

Other Important Bits Of Information

If you are under the age of 18, you will need a notarised letter of authorisation from a parent or legal guardian.

There are two important pieces of paper that you should know about when travelling to Brazil.

First, the Brazilian Travel Visa. This is a piece of paper that authorises a passport holder from a non-visa exempt country to enter Brazil.

Secondly, there is the Arrival Card (Cartão de Entrada). This is a piece of paper that you will receive when you arrive at it authorises your stay for a certain period. It will never be more than 90 days, but less can be given by the Federal Police Agent if he or she wishes.

All tourists must fill out this card when entering Brazil. The immigration officials will keep one-half, and you keep the other. Don’t lose this card otherwise you may need to pay a fine. When you leave Brazil, your half will be taken by the immigration officials and then they will stamp your passport.

How To Extend The Tourist Visa

Your tourist visa automatically grants you a 90-day stay from whichever country you are coming from. These 90 days begin the moment you arrive in Brazil. During these 90 days, you can leave and return to Brazil multiple times – just remember though, that the days are not cumulative, so if you leave for 20 days for example during those 90 days, you lose those 20 days. You can’t just add them onto the end of the 90 days.

When the 90 days comes to an end, you can go to the Federal Police and extend the visa for another 90 days. Usually, this happens and I have never heard of a case where they didn’t extend the visa for a further 90 days. However, whether the Federal Police extend it or not is entirely up to them and they can refuse your application or give you fewer days without needing to give you any reason why.

You don’t need to leave Brazil to extend your visa. The maximum time you can stay in Brazil is a total of 180 days per year. The year is calculated based on the first day you arrive in Brazil. From the moment you arrive, you have one year from that date to use your 180 days.

Here is the process of extending your visa.

This information came directly from the boss itself – the Federal Police website. You can only extend tourist visas at Galeão International Airport.

What documents do you need?

  • The ’Prorrogação de Prazo de Estada’ form from the website. Get it from here.
  • A valid form of travel documentation such as passport or an identity card (identity card is applicable only for citizens of Mercosur)
  • Entry and Exit card received and completed upon arrival in Brazil
  • Proof of accommodation, proof that you can support yourself while you stay here.
  • You will also need to pay a fee which you can pay at any bank, lottery houses, post offices, and bank correspondents or through GRU (Union Collection Guide). Get this here.
  • Click – ‘pessoas e entidades estrangeiras’ – and then fill out your name, current address in Rio de Janeiro, your mother’s name, your father’s name. For the part where it says ‘Unidade Arrecadadora’, use RJ (105-8). For the part where it says ‘Código da Receita STN’, use the code 140090 Fee Request For Extension of Stay Deadline. It costs R$110.44.

And that’s it! Simply present all of these documents – including the proof of payment of the fee – and you should get your extension.

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Tourist visa for Brazil

Is Rio de Janeiro Safe?

Is Rio de Janeiro Safe?

Is Rio de Janeiro safe? Rio can be an extremely scary place to visit but not because of the reason that you might be thinking.

It seems like the words Rio de Janeiro have become synonymous with the word dangerous. And many people repeatedly ask the question: Is Rio de Janeiro safe? Is Rio de Janeiro safe?!

I first visited Rio around 4 years ago and stayed with a friend in Barra, a neighbourhood or barrio in the West Zone of Rio. Many individuals will tell you that people from Barra live an incredibly sheltered life – the apartment buildings are housed in security patrolled complexes that are usually located near beaches and act like little mini cities – they have gyms, restaurants and even night clubs. In short, there is no reason to leave! But this sheltered visit also made me terrified when I decided to step out of the “Barra bubble.” I would constantly ask question: is Rio de Janeiro safe? When my friend unexpectedly left to visit his mother, I checked into a hostel in Copacabana and my fear became overwhelming [this might have also been due to the fact that I was mugged two weeks prior in Chile]. As I entered into the hostel, I instantly noticed the long of safety precautions near the reception desk. A list that primarily read like this:

Don’t walk here. Don’t do this. Don’t go here. Don’t, don’t, don’t and don’t. My fear was so intense that I decided to skip town for the weekend and relax on the beach in Buzios

 

Fast forward 4 years. I am living in Sao Paulo and making plans to visit Rio for the second time. As I started to plan our trip, the don’ts started to reappear coupled with horrific stories of muggings and robberies. When my friend and I arrived at the Rio bus station, fear had already consumed us. We decided to walk [at night] the 5 minutes away from the station to catch an UBER. At one point we got so scared that we deliberately ran in front of traffic to escape a “possible”robber [who looked quite perplexed at our strange sprint into moving traffic]. Fear had a tight hold on us for the next couple of days. 

The slightest look from a stranger made our hearts beat faster and clutch our bags closer. We jumped when someone walked too close and we power walked through most of our journeys in the city.

My friend left only three days into her journey in Rio and as I started to venture out by myself, something happened. I began to relax and I fell in love with Rio. I realize that my irrational fear was primarily the outcome of an overhyped representation portrayed by international media. This portrayal is often strengthened by erroneous word of mouth marketing that focuses primarily on the bad [robberies] instead of good. But the question still remains: is Rio de Janeiro safe? Not exactly. But is any major city really safe? Rio is a breathtakingly beautiful city that should be explored, BUT with some specific precautions:

Be Careful with Taxis

A couple of days ago a friend of mine posted a comment in one of the Facebook groups. Apparently a friend of hers had gotten into a yellow car that resembled a taxi. The driver then pulled out a gun, robbed her and then dumped her in Centro. If you plan on taking a taxi, make sure the markings are correct. If you want to be sure that you are taking a licensed taxi, you can also download the 99taxi application – an app that is quite similar to UBER. I would also recommend trying to get an estimate of the ride before starting on your journey. 

UBER all the way

Numerous stories have been popping up around the world about drivers who see a person looking down at their phone at the side of the street, assume that they are waiting for an UBER and tell that person that they are an UBER car. This also happens in Rio. So, it is INCREDIBLY important for you to check the licence plate of the car before getting in. Also there have been reports of UBER drivers using WAZE, an application that shows the fastest route to a destination. The problem with WAZE is that it sometimes the quickest way to your destination is through dangerous favelas, ones where traveller’s should never be seen entering. Sometimes the driver will ask you if you have a preferred route, this would be the perfect time to tell him that you’d rather have him stick to the main streets instead of the back roads. If you don’t speak Portuguese, UBER in Rio also have the option of UBER English [although it is more expensive]. 

 

Is Rio de Janeiro safe? Read Hannah’s story about her experience using UBER and the 5 lessons she learned from behind held up a gunpoint in a Brazilian favela!

Not All Favelas are Created Equal.

Favela’s can be a scary place, especially if you are in the wrong one at the wrong time. But that doesn’t mean you should never enter into a favela [remember there are over 1000 favelas in Rio]. Favelas are vibrant communities filled with friendly people, gorgeous views, interesting shops/restaurants and inspiring local initiatives. There are some favelas, like Vidigal, that you can enter without a guide. In fact, the probability of you being robbed in Vidigal is near zero as there is an unwritten rule in most favelas] that you don’t rob people within the favela. In the end, there are numerous incredibly interesting tours and projects that you can visit in many of the favelas, like taking a tour through Santa Marta, enjoying a surf lesson in Rocinha and/or an organic food workshop in Babilonia. My only advice is to book tours with locals [so that all money is invested back into the community] and avoid the jeep “zoo-type” tours.

Beach time

Rio’s beaches are stunning, but they are a hotbed for criminal activity. If you take your eyes off your things for just one minute, they can disappear. Just. Like. That. The robbers on Copacabana and Ipanema are pros, so don’t think that you can outsmart them. Bring only what you need to the beach and always keep an eye on your belongs. Also refrain from taking out your phone as snatch-and-grabs are also very common in the more touristy areas.  Lately, some younger folks have taken to conducting arrastões, where they literally comb the beaches by surrounding unsuspecting beachgoers in large numbers and create diversions while they pilfer their belongings.

Watch out for the nightlife

Is Rio de Janeiro safe during the night time? Once the sun goes down and the drinks start getting stronger, the delinquents come out to play. A friend of mine went out in Lapa where him and his friend got pretty tipsy. They exited the bar at around 2 am and walked a couple of steps before two women came up to them and began to flirt. They loved the attention as the girls touched their arms before suddenly walking away and getting into a cab. My friend put his hand in his pocket and voila, his phone was gone. Once you started getting tipsy, especially in places like Lapa, make sure to stay in crowded areas and be very wary of pickpockets. Also avoid flashing large amounts of cash and try to avoid taking out money from ATMs [it’s always safer to take out money at bank locations during opening hours]. Do not wander to far get a taxi, instead use 99taxis, UBER or ask the bar/restaurant to call you a cab that will pick you up from your location. If you plan on drinking at one of the beach kiosks, make sure to avoid getting the gringo price, ALWAYS ask the price before ordering the drink or you’ll end up with a R$18 caipirinha like me. Finally AVOID walking drunk and/or by yourself on the beach sidewalks of Copa or Ipanema during the early hours. 

safety in Rio

Practice calculated paranoia

Many of the things that I did that might seem “unsafe,” I did with calculated paranoia. There were nights where I drank a bottle of wine with a carioca friend on the beach in Copacabana and/or took a bus to some strange part of town in the North Zone to party underneath a bridge! I took these risks primarily because I was in a group made up of cariocas and/or Brazilians, I would never take this risk if I wasn’t with someone who 1) knew how to speak Portuguese and 2) knew where we were going. Even though I’ve taken these risks that doesn’t mean I have fooled myself into thinking Rio Janeiro is safe. In short, never let your guard down. 

Be Careful in Centro

The centre has one of the best parties on Monday night at a place called Pedro do Sal. As you arrive, there is music thumping in an open-air courtyard as local vendors are pouring cheap cachaca in large plastic cups. The centre is a fun place to go, but I would recommend against wandering around by yourself and to always be wary of your surroundings. I also wouldn’t recommend solo female travellers to stay in the Centro.

Ditch the iPhone / Samsung

iPhones and Samsung are easy money in Brazil. Given the byzantine tax regime and absurd markups on luxury goods, iPhones and Samsungs start at around USD$1,000 in Brazil. Either bring a toned-down phone for your trip, or just keep it in your pocket until you’re indoors.

rio safety

Stop acting like a tourist

One of the reasons I love Brazil is that even as a blond, blue-eyed and fair-skinned gringa, I can still blend in. I always felt uncomfortable living in Santiago, Chile because I stood out from the crowd. I was easily labelled as “the foreigner.” But in Brazil, that label is harder to come by. This means that if I act accordingly, I might pass for a Brazilian and therefore be less of a target. As a result I avoid pulling out maps, looking confused [even when I am lost], speaking loudly in English, wearing flashy clothes, jewelry/camera equipment and trying my best to blend into the crowd.

Lighten up on that death grip

The easiest way to spot someone who has a lot to loose [and who is probably a tourist] is a person who is anxiously clutching their bag and/or purse. Fear is a dead giveaway. To ease this fear, I personally bought travel safety purses [a big and small one] that come with extra features like slash-proof handles and locks that give me that sense of security without having to police my bag 24-7.

My last piece of advice?

Try to stay on the southern side of the city. Walk with a purpose and avoid looking like a victim. Never ask a stranger back to your hotel room. If someone spills something on you do not let them clean it. This is a common ruse to steal your wallet. DO try to learn some Portuguese words or phrases as the locals will appreciate the effort. And finally, know where you are going and how to get there before leaving for your destination.

Rio safety

So is Rio de Janeiro safe? You can mitigate most the risks if you take the necessary steps. None of this is to say that you’re guaranteed a stress-free and scot-free visit with a few simple steps. But being a first time visitor to Rio is so much more rewarding if you can find ways to not feel paranoid all the time. Stop asking the question is Rio de Janeiro safe and just enjoy the city. There’s no doubt you’ll want to come back. And when you do, you’ll be wiser, more street smart, and in a position to be a little more adventuresome. But do yourself a favour and wait until next time.

So have you been to Rio? Do you think Rio de Janeiro is safe? Why or why not! Leave your answers in the comment section below

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Beach Essentials: What To Take With You To The Beach In Rio De Janeiro

Beach Essentials: What To Take With You To The Beach In Rio De Janeiro

Rio beach essentials checklist

Rio’s long, sweeping coastlines with scenic backdrops and a tropical climate make for an ideal beach day. Head there early in the morning to get a good spot on the beach and you’ll find yourself content to laze away the whole day sunbathing, people watching and perhaps enjoying a caipirinha or two. Pack right for the beach will make sure you can enjoy the day there without the need to leave early. After years of Rio living, here’s what we’ve learned to always take with us to the beach.

  • Beach bag. A loose, tote bag is a popular choice as not only are they practical to fling everything inside, they also look great to finish off that gorgeous beach-chic look that we all love. The downside to them (we’re sorry for the bad news!) is that they are an easy target for pick-pocketers. The wide opening is easy for nimble hands to slip in and take valuables or even to grab off the beach whilst you’re basking in Rio’s tropical sun. We recommend getting a safety bag and our personal favourite is the Travelon collection (we use them ourselves every day in Rio!). They are cut-proof, come with a lockable zip, and have an attachment so you can keep your bag tied to the beach umbrella to avoid anyone taking it whilst you’re there. The designs are gorgeous, come in so many different colours and styles, plus are great value for money.
  • Kunga. A kunga is a beach towel. If don’t have one before you come to Rio, then wait until you get here to buy one. The beach vendors sell them everywhere and you can pick one up at the beach. It’s cheap (about R$20 – R$50) and makes a great souvenir too. The colour and pattern options are endless – you’ll love them!
  • A good book. For a long day at the beach, a good book is often the best company. To dive a little deeper into Brazilian culture, we’d recommend these two great books from the diverse world of Brazilian literature. The first is Captains of the Sands by Jorge Amado. Arguably one of his greatest books, Captains of the Sands tells the story of a gang of kids aged between 7 and 15 years old and their lives on the streets of Salvador. Amado weaves in significant cultural aspects into the novel such as capoeira and Candomble. The other great book is the source of inspiration for the award-winning film, City of God. City of God was originally a novel by Paulo Lins and offers an eye-opening and often jaw-dropping glimpse into the life of the City of God favela between the 1960s and 1990s.
  • Kaftan or loose vest top. Kaftan or a loose vest top and shorts combo are the perfect clothes option for going to the beach. It’s so hot that light, airy clothing is the most comfortable. A popular fashion trend for going to the beach is a bikini top teamed with high-waisted shorts (denim or a loose, floaty number), flip-flops and, of course, finished with a pair of shaded sunglasses.
  • Sun screen. This is an essential! We asked a local dermatologist what we should be wearing as we both have fair skin and she recommended at least factor 60 for your face and factor 30 for your body. Rio’s summer sun is a wonderful pick-me-up, especially when coming from wintry climates, yet it can get scorching!
  • Hair brush. Just one dip in the sea and hair can become a mane a lion would be proud of (especially Sarah’s!). A hair brush is our essential to keep you looking beach-glam and ready to stop by that beach bar for a chilled beer or a refreshing coconut after a day of sunbathing.
  • Conditioner. After going into the sea, we usually put conditioner in our hair to stop it drying up and getting damaged in the sun. A great leave-in conditioner is the Creme of Nature Argan Oil from Morocco Strength and Shine Leave-in Conditioner. Not only does it smell amazing – cocoa butter and vanilla mix – it also helps detangle hair, which is great for knotty hair after a dip in the ocean! It uses certified organic argan oil from Morocco as well and personally, it really worked on our hair.
  • Money. Take some notes with you to buy snacks and drinks at the beach, plus one credit or debit card (try leaving a spare at the place where you’re staying). The beach stalls (known as barracas) let you keep a tab and many accept card payments. This is great to avoid carrying larger sums of money – yet super easy to keep the caipirinhas flowing! Beach vendors patrol the sandy shores all throughout the day, taking the relentless hot sun in their stride. Try the mate or Globo biscuits – this is a classic drink and snack combination in Rio!
  • Water. It’s all too easy to keep sipping on those delicious caipirinhas (we know, we’ve been there), yet make sure to drink some water in between to avoid dehydration and keep pesky headaches at bay.
  • Sunglasses. There are beach vendors that sell sunglasses on the beach (usually around R$30) but these are unlikely to be SPF protected and they don’t last long. There is a Rio de Janeiro-based brand that we love. They’re on the pricey side, but they’re ideal if you’re looking to invest in a pair of sunglasses that will last. Zerezes strives to improve its environmental impact by producing sunglasses from sustainable materials whilst not losing sight of a fresh, modern style. The lenses are SPF protected too.
  • Straw hat or baseball hat. Not only do these look great, they are good to provide some light shade to protect your face and stop your scalp from burning.

Rio Beach Essentials Checklist

The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist For Rio De Janeiro In The Winter

The Ultimate Travel Packing Checklist For Rio De Janeiro In The Winter

Packing for winter in Rio de Janeiro

After Rio’s relentless summer of scorching hot days and balmy, sweaty nights, the city’s winter can be refreshingly welcome. This time of the year is all about breezy, sunny days, pleasant trips to the beach, and chilly evenings where a delicious glass of red wine is the perfect way to round off a day exploring. The temperature rarely drops below 15-degrees Celsius, yet it can feel cold for those ready for roasting tropical days. Here are our essentials for winter in Rio de Janeiro.

The Bare Essentials

 

  • Passport and flight number
  • A ticket out of Brazil – you will need this if you are coming in on a restricted visa, such as a tourist visa. It can be a flight or a bus out, you just need to prove that you will be leaving before your visa expires.
  • Copy of your passport or driving license – it’s a requirement in Brazil to carry ID around with you everywhere
  • Visa – check as some countries, such as Canada, are required to apply for a visa before entering Brazil
  • Socks and a jacket – flights get cold.
  • A good travel read – I would recommend this one – The Slum by Aluísio Azevedo. It is one of the most critically acclaimed Brazilian novels and is considered Azevedo’s defining masterpiece. With intricate detail and colourful descriptions of the interweaved lives in Rio’s society, it is perfect to get you feeling the city’s dynamic energy and vibe.

Clothes

 

Rio’s classic casual look still applies when winter arrives, yet just the number of layers changes. Flip flops will be swapped for ankle boots or trainers, and strappy tops will be replaced by long sleeves. Cariocas (people born in Rio) tend to feel the cold a lot more than Northern Europeans or Americans used to intense winters and it’s not unusual to see them dressed up with tights, scarves, and long boots. Yet the warm, sunny days with gentle breezes are still the norm so don’t fold away your sarong and bikini just yet!

  • Waterproof jacket – it may rain when you go. It won’t be the same intensity as the summer tropical showers but it will get colder and last a bit longer.
  • Sleeveless tops and t-shirts – it may be winter yet some days will still feel hot like summer
  • Long sleeve tops and thin jumpers – the evenings get cooler and there can be a chill in the air
  • One thicker jacket or hoodie. 
  • Light dresses
  • Swimwear. It’s winter yet thankfully, beach days are aplenty. Leave the beach towel at home and buy a kunga in Brazil – a Brazilian beach towel that comes in gorgeous tropical prints and bright, exotic colours and makes the perfect souvenir to remember those special moments in Rio. Wear the swimwear you feel most comfortable in, as being on the beach in Brazil is all about feeling good and enjoying the day. If you want to dress like a local, then buy a Brazilian bikini in Rio, famed for their smaller bottoms. For the men, Speedos are the preferred beach attire.
  • Flip flops, trainers, ankle boots (leave the heels at home). For flip-flops, the best place to buy them is Havaianas, a Brazilian brand and store that has tropical patterns, vibrant colours, and are good quality.
  • Leggings. A trusty pair of leggings can be incredibly versatile and is perfect for hikes on cooler days.
  • One pair of jeans
  • Big comfy t-shirt to sleep in
  • Wrap.  One thing we found incredibly useful while travelling is the wrap from Icebreaker. The one we bought has lasted 3 years already and it can be dressed up or dressed down, washed in the washing machine, and doesn’t need ironing. It’s mostly made with the ultralight merino wool.

Toiletries and other things

In addition to your everyday basics – shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, makeup etc – don’t forget the following items

  • Suncream – some days will be hot and sunny. Take factor 60 for your face and at least factor 30 for your body (that’s what a dermatologist recommended to us)
  • Travel towel. These are great to use, especially if staying in hostels or if you’re travelling around a lot. We’ve tried Travelon towel which is great, yet it has to be aired out quickly otherwise they start smelling pretty bad. We’ve heard that Sea to Summit has a great travel towel called DryLite, which dries quickly and has an antibacterial treatment that impedes the growth of rather unwelcome bacteria.
  • Liner with a pouch for a blow-up pillow. One liner that has been tried and tested by Now in Rio is the Sea to Summit liner which is a 100% natural silk and cotton liner with a pillow insert. We absolutely love it for its durability and comfort.
  • Inflatable pillow. Again by Sea and Summit, their Sea to Summit inflatable pillow comes highly recommended by us. We love it.
  • Neck pillow. These are great for not only long bus journeys or long-haul flights, but also as a backup pillow when staying at hostels. One brand we personally love is the  Eagle Creek neck pillow.
  • Reflective sleeping bag. This will keep you cosy and warm. One that we’ve personally used ourselves and absolutely love for its quality and great value for money is the SOL Escape Bivvy. It keeps you warm and dry, and is incredibly durable too.
  • Drawstring bag – handy to have if you go hiking
  • Morning-after pill and contraception. One for the ladies. If you think you will be sexually active during your trip to Rio, then these are some things to consider. Condoms are easy to buy from pharmacies and if there is one thing Rio is not short on, it’s pharmacies. It’s best to bring your favourite contraceptive pill with you to Rio as the brands differ widely from country to country and may play havoc with your hormones. The morning-after pill is available at pharmacies too – just ask for the pilula de dia seguinte – but there is some grey areas regarding whether it is available for sale freely or needs a prescription. It’s best to play it safe and take the morning-after pill with you as a back-up plan B.
  • In terms of medicine, everything you need you can find in Rio. If you need to take medicine for allergies or yeast infections, we would recommend taking your own preferred or prescribed medicine from home as it’s easier and safer to guarantee you have the correct treatment. If you are taking prescriptions for anything else, then take a copy of the prescription with you so you can show at the pharmacy.

Out and About in Rio

  • Water – always have a bottle of water with you. Dehydration leads to headaches that can ruin a day!
  • Cash
  • One card – try leaving another one at the hotel/hostel/wherever you’re staying
  • A copy of your passport – leave the real deal at home.
  • Travel safety bag. If safety is playing on your mind, then we recommend using a travel safety bag to ease your concerns and protect your belongings. One brand we use on a daily basis here and we absolutely love is Travelon. They have a range of anti-theft bags, accessories, and wallets, among other things. We love the tote bag which is slash proof, has locks for the zips, and has a protective screening that prevents potential hackers accessing your credit card details. Check out this list here for a great selection of Travelon bags – you’ll see they have a huge range of different styles and designs.
  • *Camera and Phone. We always get asked this – is it safe to take my phone out with me? While petty theft is an issue in Rio, it’s not as common as the media would like you to think. Just use common sense – don’t walk around at night alone with an expensive phone, use when you need to then leave it in your bag, and keep aware of your surroundings. It’s fine to take some photos and selfies.

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Packing for winter in Rio de Janeiro