It is good to read in books or see in movies about characters who wake up wanting to visit a new place and by nightfall reach their preferred exotic destination. In reality, things work very differently. Not only do you need to plan an overseas trip in advance but you also need to learn many things about the country. In reality, you cannot simply wake up one morning wanting to visit a new country. You have to plan ahead, visit the country’s consulate to get your visa approved, plan the towns and cities you intend to visit, book accommodation, consider food and drinks and manage your finance. In fact, the nitty-gritty is numerous and you must devote considerable time in planning if you want to make the most of your overseas trip.
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If you are planning a trip to Brazil then there are many things you must keep in mind. Two of the primary concerns for anyone traveling to Brazil should be currency and accommodation. If these two things are not in place your trip to Brazil can turn out to be harrowing and quite a nightmare. In this article, we shall talk about how you can manage your finances, where you can convert your currency etc. We shall also highlight a few accommodation options that you must know about.
Currency – Things You Need to Keep in Mind
Brazil’s currency is called Real, pronounced as ‘hey-al’. The plural is Reais which is pronounced as “hey-ice”. It is abbreviated as BRL while the sign is R$. As in any other place, having the country’s currency at all times is necessary. Before you enter Brazil, you will need to convert your country’s currency into US Dollar. Once you are in Brazil you will need to exchange the USD to Reais. If you are unaware about the exchange rates applicable during your time of visit, you can simply check the rates online.
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Where Can You Change Your Money
You can easily change your money in any one of the leading banks of Brazil. Alternatively, you can also exchange through an authorized currency dealer. You must understand that you will get the best exchange rates in nationalized banks whereas currency dealers will take in more profit while exchanging your money. However, you will find that many shops in Rio and Sao Paulo let you buy stuff using the US dollar, especially when they know that you are buying a considerable amount of things.
Using ATMs and Cards
If you are wary of keeping too much cash with you while in Brazil (as you most likely may feel), you can use your debit cards conveniently. ATMs can easily be found all over the country, even in small villages and deserted outposts. While most ATMs accept MasterCard and Visa cards, some may refuse foreign cards. It is best to know beforehand whether your card will be accepted in most ATMs in Brazil. You must also know that you will be charged an additional international transaction fee every time you swipe your card.
Since theft and pick-pocketing is not uncommon in Brazil it is important that you are cautious while using ATMs. Prefer to walk into ATMs that are located inside a bank or shopping mall. Try avoiding stand-alone ATMs that are right next to the road. Always cover the keypad with your hands while typing your pin and do not let any stranger enter the booth while you are inside. It is also often suggested that a foreign national should preferably not use an ATM booth at night and even if he has to, he should not be taking out too much money. In most cases, due to security reasons, ATMs across Brazil stay closed from 10 PM to 6 AM. If they are open then the transaction amount is limited at night.
You can alternatively use credit cards – a safer option of going cashless in Brazil. Most shops, hotels, and restaurants accept credit cards and are only likely to charge some additional fees for international transactions. Many banks offer international credit cards that have a substantially lower transaction fee. You could check with your bank in your country to see if you can get one of these for your visit to Brazil.
Always be alert while using your credit card in Brazil as you can easily be duped without realizing. Never let anyone take your card from you, even in the pretext of completing your payment. You must understand that credit card skimming is very common.
Accommodation – Things You Need to Keep in Mind
Since Brazil is slowing becoming an international tourist destination worth its money, accommodation facilities are quite up-to-the-mark. You can easily find comfortable lodging options in almost every nook and corner of the country. There are numerous accommodation options to choose from – right from hostels to small hotels, inns, and B&Bs to expensive resorts. There is something for every type of traveler – basic accommodation to luxurious ones. Naturally, the rates differ from place to place and season to season. In peak tourist seasons not only is it difficult to find accommodation in Rio de Janeiro and other cities but the rates invariably touch the roof. Booking in advance may cut cost to a certain extent. You can get a basic room near the bus station or a luxurious apartment near the beach according to your requirement.
You can find all types of hotels in Brazil, especially in tourist hotspots of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Most hotels in the country have star ratings (ranging between one and five) according to a Brazilian classification system though it doesn’t mean that a hotel without a rating is bad. In fact, the accreditation is based on some bureaucratic requirements that not all good and perfectly liveable hotels meet. There are different types of rooms and their price range vary significantly.
- Quarto – It is a type of room which doesn’t come with an attached bathroom.
- Apartamento – A room having only a shower cubicle and not a bath.
- Apartamento de Luxo – It is a room which a stocked-up refrigerator.
- Casal – A double-bedded room.
- Solteiro – It is a single room.
Most rooms (except quarto) have general facilities such as a telephone, AC, cable TV and fan. Nowadays most hotels also offer free wi-fi internet, if not in the room then definitely in the lobby.
They are known by various names – Pensões, pousadas or posts. They are categorized as the type of accommodation which is essentially family-run hotels – or in simple terms bed and breakfast inns. You can get varying types of Pousadas – right from basic types of luxurious ones. Pousadas are very common among foreigners as they have a more familial feel allowing the tourist to feel at home. If you want to experience the Brazilian way of life, renting a room in a pousada may just do the trick.
Backpackers who travel from one country to another on a shoestring budget usually look out for hostels as they are cheaper. Hostels are increasingly becoming popular in Brazil though some traditional youth hostels or Albergue de juventude have been around for decades. If you do not want to spend too much on accommodation yet are looking for comfortable and hygienic beds, you can opt for hostels. They are especially common in beach destinations and metropolitan areas.
Camping isn’t very popular in Brazil though there are a few campgrounds that let you put up your tent. Most of these campgrounds are run by the Camping Clube do Brasil. They have adequate facilities and if you are used to camping, it is definitely an option in Brazil.
Resorts are fast coming up in major tourist destinations of Brazil. You can experience luxurious living with the best facilities in these resorts. You will find lots of resorts on the northern coast of Sao Paulo and the eastern coast of Rio de Janeiro.
It is advisable that you decide your accommodation options beforehand, especially if you are visiting the country during the carnival time or around the New Year. It can get difficult to rent a room without prior bookings. You must also understand how the rooms are charged – whether food is inclusive to room rent or you have to pay extra. Is Internet usage charged extra? What is the service tax applicable in the country? These are just some of the questions you must have answers to before you book a room.
See also: Brazil’s 8 Top Events
Traveling to Brazil can be an exhilarating experience – the memories of which can last you a lifetime. If you plan meticulously you can make the most of the trip without spending more than you expect to. When you are in the know-how of things you can easily get the best deal.