1. Passport copy
One of the most frequently used items while travelling is your passport. You’ll need it to check-in anywhere, enter a night club or even to buy a bus ticket. Simply make a photocopy of the front and back of the ID page of your passport, put them back to back and cover it with transparent tape to make it look laminated and keep ik safe from liquids. This way you can keep your real passport safe at your accommodation. It's important to notice that while it's usually accepted everywhere, at the airport you will need to show your original.
2. Travel debit/credit cards
These are some examples of the best (free) debit or credit travel cards and their benefits:
– Bunq: Free credit card, no currency exchange costs, free payments and ability to change CVC code any time you want. Costs: €0.99 per atm withdrawal. This one has been our favorite so far; it is accepted anywhere, money transfers to the card arrive within seconds, and the Bunq app works very smoothly.
– N26: A debit card with unlimited free ATM withdrawals worldwide, no currency exchange costs, free payments and travel insurance. Costs: €16,90/month, €4,90/month or free from monthly costs depending on the amount of free cash withdrawals and included insurance.
– Revolut: The standard credit card is free of charge, enabling to exchange money without hidden fees, free payments at the market exchange rate and no ATM costs for withdrawals up to $300 p/month. There is also a premium and metal card with more features.
Be aware that sometimes your bank will block your card, sometimes your card won’t work in an ATM, and you could also lose it or have it stolen. Bring at least two debit/credit cards with you that are linked to different accounts, which you keep in different locations. Tell your bank you're travelling, or at least fill in your travel plans in online banking to make your cards active in South-America (to avoid transactions being blocked by your bank).
3. Accommodation discounts
Travelling together? Or meeting people along the way? Share and use each others referral links on travel websites such as Booking.com or Brazilian booking platform Hoteis.com. This way you both get rewarded with travel credit or money in your account. Another great option for cheap accommodation is Hostelworld, offering low-cost, short-term shared sociable lodging where guests can rent a bed, usually in a dormitory or private room.
4. Onward flight tickets
Tourists from most countries are allowed to enter the country without a visa, hence on a free 90 day tourist stamp. To prove you leave the country within this time period, you often have to show proof of onward travel: a bus or plane ticket out of the country. However, if you travel without plans, you don’t want to book this beforehand. Here’s your solution: Onward Ticket. This website allows you to 'rent' a plane ticket for $12 and is valid for 48+ hours.
5. Bus travel
Travelling by bus usually takes a long time in a big country like Brazil, but it enables you to see a lot of the country and it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable! Choose leito or cama (Portuguese for bed) to get big, comfy 160-180° reclining chairs. During the day you’ll see more of your trip, but travel at night to save money on accommodation. Busca Ônibus is the best booking platform to reserve your next trip and find out about all national routes.
6. International calls
Making the occasional international or intercontinental call can be very expensive. Sometimes you might find yourself in the need of calling your insurance agency, embassy or any kind of customer service abroad. Here’s a great solution: Rebtel. A free and easy to use application that offers very cheap international calls. Use this link to get $5 for free! Because they connect your call through local phone lines, you don’t have to rely on an internet connection or worry about your call dropping. Instead, you’re avoiding crazy international rates while getting the quality of a local call.
7. Flight bag
Use a flight bag for your backpack! It keeps your backpack clean and safe during bus or plane travel. Also, when you end up with more stuff – such as souvenirs – that don’t fit in your backpack, you can fit them along in the flight bag. These bags tend to fit a lot more than just your backpack – available in different sizes, usually 55-100L – and fold up light and tiny.
8. Learning Portuguese
If there’s anything that will make your travel experience in Brazil even better, it’s being able to interact with the locals. A great way to start the learning journey still from home or while travelling, is through a website called Preply: here you’ll find thousands of local tutors that offer cheap classes through Skype.
9. Car rental
Renting a car can be a great experience, as you'll be able to cover of a lot of ground and have a great sense of freedom. However, car renting can also leave a nasty taste when afterwards you're charged for damages on the car that you didn't cause or even fines that are created from thin air. Yes, this happens! Be careful with renting from small agencies that seem cheaper than the big boys such as Localiza, Movida and Unidas. On rentcars you can find and compare car rentals. A good idea might be to get a international driver's license already from home, since your national license is only valid in Brazil for three months.
10. Healthy food
Do you also prefer nutrient-rich food over cake for breakfast? Or have a vegetarian option for a change? Take some Tupperware or resealable bags with you that don’t take any space when empty, but can be filled with nuts, seeds, oatmeal, herbs, etc. to make a healthy breakfast shake for example. Some hostels, Airbnb rentals or bed & breakfast offer a kitchen with blender and cooking gear. However, you can also carry a compact portable blender to take with you wherever you go.
11. Amazon apparel
If you plan on visiting the Amazon rainforest, wetlands, or one of Brazil's National Parks, what would be the best outfit? You’ll find most of these environmentments to be warm, humid and filled with unpleasant insects like mosquitoes and ticks. To stay protected, cool and comfortable, dress long, fast drying and light hiking clothes. Lightweight – to move comfortably – and light colored – to avoid mosquitoes.
12. Get a CPF number
The CPF number is the Brazilian individual taxpayer registry identification. It is issued to both Brazilian citizens and foreigners. A CPF is required not only to purchase real estate, but many other things such as opening a bank account, and also as a foreign tourist it might be very helpful to get your CPF. Mostly to be able to buy bus or plane tickets through platforms that require CPF; if you don't have one, you get redirected to a platform that charges more or you won't be able to buy the ticket at all. Furthermore, you'll need it to enter into general contract in Brazil, for example when you want to rent a property for a couple of months, to get utility services, and even to connect to WIFI in some public places. In how to get a CPF you'll find a step by step explanation on how to get your CPF.
13. Facebook groups
Facebook groups can be incredibly helpful when travelling and in doubt about where to stay, what to do, where to eat, etc. Groups such as foreigners in Brazil or Brazil travel community have thousands of members and are very acitve. Groups can be used to meet like-minded travellers as well when travelling alone, or to ask fellow countrymen for help in emergencies.
"Not just an app but a friend in all your adventures." This Maps.me app saved my life more times than I can count. Of course it's nice to get lost on your holiday and spontaneously stumble upon new places. But it's also nice to find your way back home at the end of the day. In Brazil's vast nature it's easy to get lost and dangerous to be stuck in the middle of the Amazon at night or other places without cell reception. Beforehand download the maps of the country, or parts of the country, in order to use them later offline. Another great feature is to be able to bookmark all the places you have visited and later to be able to find back that great hostel, tasty restaurant or unmissable tourist spot.
15. Beware of the season
Brazil's immeasurable beauty is home to countless rivers, and, along with high annual rainfall and dramatic changes in elevation, thousands of waterfalls. Of which a lot are open to visitation. Be aware that there's a dry season and rain season that might differ from place to place. The dry season is usually characterized by lower temperatures and, not surprisingly, dry weather, while the rain season is wet, humid and warm. Consequently waterfalls are usually more beautiful and impressive during the rain season because there's simply more water coming down the streams.
But a danger lurks here, called cabeça d'agua or tromba d'agua, which can be explaned as "a meteorological phenomenon caused by the rapid and sudden increase in the water level in rivers. It occurs when a large amount of rain falls on top of a waterfall or along a stream." When this occurs, bathers are surprised by the force of water, which rises quickly, causing several deaths every year. The best thing to do is to check the weather before planning your trip and ask if there's a risk of this phenomenon in the area you're visiting.
16. Uber and alternatives
Uber is a very pleasant and effective way to get around, also in Brazil. It is cheaper, faster and safer than travelling by taxi, and almost always available nearby. If not, try the Brazilian alternative called 99, which is even cheaper, depending on where you are. Use this link to get a discount on your first ride.
Another alternative is BlaBlaCar: the world’s leading community-based travel network enabling members to share a ride. Car owners who are about to travel a certain route, can offer empty seats on the platform and you'll only pay for gas. BlaBlaCar facilitates to fill empty seats on the road, connecting members looking to carpool and making travel more affordable, sociable and convenient.
17. Back up to the cloud
The worst thing you can lose during your holiday is your travel memories: pictures, video's and other media from your phone or camera. So back everything up in the cloud every once in a while, and don't walk around with an external hard drive that you can loose and takes up space in your luggage. Mega.nz is a great cloud service offering up to 40gb of free storage, allowing you to backup your valuable memories and enjoy your holiday stress-free.
18. Extending your (tourist) visa
Extending your tourist visa can be desirable when travelling a country like Brazil that's the size of a continent. Before you know it your 3-months visa is about to expire and you only have seen like 2% of everything you wanted to see and experience in Brazil. People with certain nationalities can actually extend their tourist visa with another three months, while others cannot. Read all about it in how to extend your tourist visa.
19. Dry bag
Dry bags are amazing for keeping your valuables safe on boat trips, crossing rivers or visiting waterfalls, and for protecting any electronics you have in your daypack when it starts to rain. You can also take it to the beach when travelling solo, so that you can even take your stuff with you in the ocean and not have to worry someone’s going to steal your belongings. **amazon affiliate link**
20. Space saver bags
Space saving bags, or luggage organizers, are a great way to bring structure to your bag or suitcase and safe space. Even more so when using vacuum-sealed versions of them, which work really well with clothes in it. Put your clothes in the bag, roll it up to push out the air and you're left with a package half the size it was before.
21. Repellent and toiletries
Mosquitos may be the single most annoying thing that exist. As a repellent don't use chemical products with DEET, which is not that effective and burns your skin. Rather use citronella essential oil, repellents mostly made out of citronella, or natural insect repellents that the locals use. As an additional benefit, 100% pure citronella essential oil, which is the most effective, comes in a small jar of which you only need a few drops.
When it comes to other toiletries such as shampoo or sunscreen, their packaging is generally a lot bigger as you use a lot more than just a few drops. This might take up a lot of space in your luggage, as well as the possibility to having to toss it in the trash when carrying in your hand luggage and going through customs. However, there is such a thing as solid toiletries. We are all familiar with a bar of soap instead of using shower gel, but there's also solid shampoo and conditioner, and even solid sunscreen!
Keep everything valuable in your daypack, such as your passport, laptop, camera, debit/credit cards and cash. Everything you won't be upset over to lose you can keep in your backpack or suitcase, that will be kept in the luggage hold during bus and plane travel. But in all cases keep your daypack at your side and only take distance from it when kept in a locker in your hostel or hotel room. Also invest in a luggage lock to be able to lock your daypack when you want to be able to take a nap on a bus ride.
Bring some spare passport photos, along with copies of important documents such as your passport, birth certificate, visa and debit/credit cards, or make a scan and keep them in the cloud. You might need them to apply for a (new) visa or to get a new passport when it expires. If your luggage gets stolen, you can always still access them, take your copies to your embassy as proof that you’re who you say you are. Plus, you’ll still be able to buy flights home or pay for accommodation to keep travelling.
24. Cash is king
Cash is still king in Brazil. Some places only accept cash, such as entrance fees for attractions in the middle of nature, parking lots or merchants on the beach. While other places will offer discounts when paying in cash or "a vista", which means payment up front, without installments. These discounts usually range between 10-20%, just by paying in cash.
25. Travel towel
A travel towel is a quick-drying and lightweight towel usually made from microfiber, which also folds up really small! This is definitely an unmissable item in your backpack. Hostels usually don't offer towels with your stay and if they do they charge you for it. Bringing your own bath towel would take up way to much space, and a microfiber towel actually does a great job.
26. Buy a one-way ticket
Because you'll fall in love with Brazil and don't want to return! And apart from that it gives you the freedom to be spontaneous, change your mind and extend your trip, if needed. You can't get that kind of freedom with a round-trip ticket, and with many budget airline around knowadays, it won't be that much more expensive as well. Of course it will be more expensive, but it's 100% worth it.
27. Google Translate camera
We all know Google Translate, which offers basic translations and aids in chatting in foreign languages, but did you know that it can translate pictures you make with your phone? It's a great feature for translating restaurant menus, signs, documents or anything else you need to read. Simply press the camera icon inside the app, aim it at the text and it will be translated in real-time.
28. Check your passport's validity
This sounds really obvious, but it's important to know you won't be able to travel if you have less than six months validity on your passport. Sometimes it might be possible to get an emergency passport at the airport of origin, but it might cause you to miss your flight.
29. Book incognito
When looking to book flights online, for the love of god use an incognito, or private, window in your browser! The site's algoritm will know that you are looking to buy a ticket and, through cookies that are saved on your computer, gradually increase the prices in the hours or days you are looking for flights or accommodation.
Instagram in Brazil is huge! You'll see that even pets have Instagram pages, who have friends that are also pets. The same goes for businesses and venues, they all have Instagram pages showing off their restaurant, venue, parties, menus, addresses and phone numbers. You can even get in quick contact with the local farm that offers access to trails and waterfalls in the region.
Another great advantage of Instagram is being able to discover places to travel to through pictures and stories from locals or travellers who were there before you. Following certain travel pages, such as the ikigaibrazil.travel page, may also inspire you to discover places you might never had heard of otherwise and find the best spots for taking photos.