You’ve bought your ticket for the Olympics, but every time you check the news you wonder if you’ve made the right decision! Corruption, violence, viruses, political unrest, you name it and you’ll find it there. But don’t despair, I’m pretty sure that from this chaos, an amazing event will emerge.
Still, it’s important to read up on the precautions you’ve got to take and if you follow through, you’re probably going to be all right. I mean Rio de Janeiro is not perfect, but you have to believe there’s a silver lining to all this craziness.
So, what can you do in order to minimize your sorrows?
1. Blend In
I have to tell you the Cariocas can identify a tourist from miles away, so your disguise must be good. You can’t change your body features, but you can try to dress more like a local and that makes a difference.
We all have our travel outfits with the waterproof sandals, quick dry trousers and walking boots. Just don’t wear them all at the same time! Remember: Rio de Janeiro is hot, so boardies and T-shirt or a just a dress for the ladies will do the trick.
2. Stay Alert
You shouldn’t be super paranoid and don’t take any belongings anywhere, that’s not the point. The idea is that you know what’s going on around you. So before you take your wallet from your pocket, just check if someone’s looking more interested than he should.
If something doesn’t seem right, follow your guts. You might take the wrong street and end up in a deserted area with odd looking people. Just turn back the way you came or hail a taxi (or Uber) if you feel you might be in trouble.
3. Ask Questions
If you’re not sure where you’re going or if a specific area is dangerous or not, just ask! Unfortunately, Rio de Janeiro is not the type of city you want to be adventurous in, especially in the evenings.
Brazilians are a warm bunch and they’ll do what they can to help you and make sure you’re safe. Ideally, you should speak a bit of Portuguese as the majority of the population don’t speak English. But we gesticulate a lot and I’m certain you’ll get your point across.
4. Don’t Take More Than You Need
This goes without saying, but I thought I should reinforce the advice. If you’re not withdrawing money from an ATM or paying something by card, just don’t take them. If you’re just going out for a light meal, don’t take more money than you need.
The same goes for your gadgets. If you’re just going to the beach for some sunbathing, there’s no point in taking your expensive camera with you. Or unless you’re going to do some work in a cafe, don’t walk with your laptop or tablet needlessly.
However, if you must take important documents or your card with you, put them inside a money belt or secret pocket. Rio de Janeiro is definitely the place to “be better safe than sorry!”
5. Have a Nice Time
Rarely do people want to hurt you. If you’re unlucky to be the victim of a mugging, just remember to give your money and belongings away. They usually want it fast and painlessly, so if you decide to become a hero, you’ll probably pay the price.
Sometimes things go wrong and when they do you’ll have two options: sulk and moan for the rest of the trip or shrug it off and make the most of it. Which one will you choose?
You’re not going to Rio just to see the Olympics, you want to experience the culture, try our food and drinks, and enjoy the sunny beaches. The media portrays the city as a war zone where if you blink for too long you might lose your head! That’s not the case!
We have bad things going on, I know, but we also have amazing things to offer. If you go to Rio, accept that it’s not perfect and you might be disappointed. But look on the bright side and enjoy it to the fullest!
Guilherme is a Brazilian freelance travel writer. He is the Co-Founder of the Slow Spirit Blog, where he writes about a minimalist, sustainable travel lifestyle.