Essential Travel Tips for the Rio Olympics

With all eyes set on Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 summer Olympics, Brazil can expect millions of guests with visitors from abroad gathering in the stadium to watch the best athletes compete. Visitors may check out the numerous attractions and activities, from visiting popular destinations like Corcovado and Sugarloaf, to basking on the Ipanema beach, in between the Olympic events. However, a word of advice is necessary for visitors; tread cautiously! Following the countless controversies surrounding the event and rising instances of crime in the lead-up to the games, tourists and visitors should bear in mind the following tips once they step into Rio. Poverty is rampant in Brazil and the people in Brazil are currently facing the worst recession since the 1930s. The mass influx of the visitors and tourists can only mean that more wide-eyed tourists will become prime targets for petty street crime and anyone travelling to Rio should hence stay alert and take note of the following tips.

• Leave your valuables behind in the hotel. Or better yet, leave them at home and bring only the necessities. You don’t want to risk losing your GoPro or RayBans when you are out and about on the beach.

• Travel in a group or with your friends, and do not stray alone. You may prefer walking off the beaten path to explore new sightings but this isn’t the time or place to do so. Even athletes are not spared from the crime of being kidnapped to having their property stolen.

• Avoid using your expensive smartphones on the street and use it only when you are indoor, or bring along a physical map if you need to navigate. The same goes for iPads, laptops, cameras, tablets, credit cards, jewelry, and even passports.

• In light of the Zika virus outbreak, travellers should bring along their mosquito repellent at all times! Ensure that you have applied sufficient repellent before you head off to the games.

• Public transportation in Brazil is unreliable and few taxis are trustworthy.The yellow taxis may overcharge you if you do not remind them to switch on their meter and travelling by the subway can cost you hours of waiting time. For assurance, use Uber or other private transportation services to get to your destinations. Game-goers may consider purchasing a special Olympic Card that was introduced by the city, which will grant them unlimited access to buses, ferries, trains, and more without the need to spend too much on transportation services.

• Avoid purchasing souvenirs in airports, as they are known to be massively marked-up.

• Bring a bottle of water or snacks before entering the stadium unless you are willing to pay for overpriced food items.

• Be wary of your surroundings when you are using your ATM, and only use the ATM in the day, in less secluded areas. ATM theft charges in Brazil is one of the highest where cameras and ATM skimmers record your card details and your PIN, so use them at your own risk. To avoid the risk, visitors may exchange their local currency for the Brazil currency(Real) at home before heading out to Brazil. If you are based in a destination where the Get4x service is available you might like to use the app to find a good exchange rate at home. Note that you should not bring too much cash with you when you are travelling in Brazil and bring only the necessary amount on your person. R$100 is more than enough for small purchases on any day if you do not wish to splurge.

• If you decide to exchange your currency in Brazil, you may want exchange your currencies at the banks or airports. A cheaper alternative would be to look out for any outlets with the sign “Casa de Câmbio” to engage the service of a traditional money changer.

Follow these tips and you may not have to risk getting scammed, and come home unscathed. Read more about the latest happenings in the city to be aware of what’s happening amid the volatile turmoil and remain alert when you are there. The above are just some of the tips for visitors descending on Rio but they do not guarantee your safety.

Fortunately, the city and organising committee have been stepping up on their efforts to ensure the safety of athletes and visitors by deploying more than 85,000 troop personnels to patrol the Olympic venues, and last-minute goers may still secure tickets, as many participants and fans have decided to bow out due to the bad headlines. Likewise for most of your travelling plans, a little planning can go a long way toward making your trip safe and comfortable, no matter where you are heading to.


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