Rio de Janeiro - Brazil ( © tpsdave ) Skyscanner’s Brazilian team, Mateus Rocha and Maria Holt, along with experienced Brazil trav...

15 safety tips for Brazil, how to avoid trouble on your travels

Rio de Janeiro - Brazil (© tpsdave)

Skyscanner’s Brazilian team, Mateus Rocha and Maria Holt, along with experienced Brazil traveller, Marie-Sophie Jammes, offer up their advice on how to ensure your trip to Brazil is safe and trouble free.

The spotlight is on Brazil with hundreds of thousands heading there for the World Cup. According to the FCO, most tourists experience a trouble-free stay in Brazil, but levels of crime and violence are comparatively high, particularly in major cities, so read these tips on staying safe and keeping out of trouble to help your Brazil trip go smoothly.

1.  At the airport, book your taxi from inside via an agency
There’s a risk of criminal taxi drivers robbing you straight from the airport with all your luggage. There have been incidents where the taxi is apparently held up and both driver and passenger robbed, but the cab driver is in on it, and will pick up his cut later. Booking from a reputable agency inside the airport will cost a little more, but is a much safer bet.

2. Don’t flash your cash (or swing your bling)
Do not go out with your expensive watch, flashy jewellery and the latest smartphone on display. In fact, if you can’t afford to lose it, it’s best to leave it at home. Instead, take that old indestructible Nokia and the watch you got free with a box of cereal, and only enough cash for that day.

3. Carry a decoy wallet and stash your cash in your underwear
Take a small wallet with a small amount of cash and some old cards that can be given up in the unlikely event of a robbery. Use your underwear as a purse (note: this may not work for coins!), and don’t carry valuables in your pockets as pick-pockets are common.

4.  On buses, sit close to the driver
Robberies on the buses can happen, try to seat by the exit or closer to the driver which are safer than at the back.

5. Avoid cash machines (ATMs) in the streets
Instead use ones inside the banks or inside the shopping centres.

6. Don’t hang your bag/backpack on the chair whilst dining
Put it under the table and loop a strap round your leg or chair leg.

7. Consider couch-surfing
It’s a great way to meet locals, learn their habits (see tip #8), and get even MORE tips for travelling around Brazil.

8. Dress and act like a local
Ditch the hiking boots, and wear shorts, t-shirts and havaianas (a Brazilian brand of flip-flops). Brazilians wear them to go everywhere; from the beach to the pub. Also try to appear that you know where you are and what’s going on, rather than gawping at a map and looking lost.

9.  Learn some lingo
It’s worth putting in the time to learn some Portuguese before you go as it really helps to have at least some idea of what’s being said around you. For more tips on learning languages read our 7 secrets to learning a language fast.

10. Avoid narrow and empty streets after dark
As with most cities, don’t wander off the beaten path, especially at night. Stick to well-lit, well-populated places.

11. Carry your camera in an old plastic bag
If you really must take a camera (it’s Brazil! Of course you want to take pictures!) then carry it in an old supermarket bag to disguise it. Budding snappers should also read our 10 tips for travel photographers.

12.  Live the Brazilian way
Share your beer, eat in the street and enjoy yourself, but be aware: Brazilians don’t buy rounds of drinks for each other, so don’t be surprised if you’re not offered a drink after getting them in for your newfound friends.

13. Get local knowledge
Ask at the reception of your accommodation if the place you’re planning to go is safe. This mugging map gives information of where people have been robbed and serves as a guide of where to be extra careful. It’s currently only in Portuguese, but an English version is on its way.

14. Be extra-vigilant on the beaches
Crowded beaches can be a hotspot for criminals. Sometimes groups of thieves carry out ‘arrastão’ (trawling); they cause panic so everyone runs, leaving behind all their belongings. Don’t take anything more than your bikini, towel and a minimal amount of money.

15. Don’t forget to get travel insurance!
Not the most exciting tip, but an important one nonetheless. Read our travel insurance advice.