Brazil is a home of beautiful beaches, awesome landscapes; soulful musical culture and you are assured of a welcoming smile. You might even be kissed by a total stranger so, be joyful and enjoy. However, this city has its own ugly side. There some areas that have street-smart thieves, drug lords, and small-time criminals. Tourists are mostly the primary targets. So, it’s important to be cautious – here are some helpful safety tips that will make your visit easier.
1. Means of Travel
Ensure that you select and verify legitimate travel companies before you book with them. Always be alert when using public transport like buses, small crimes occur during rush-hour like robberies, and hijacking. Metro systems are safer in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Licensed taxis can be found in recognized taxi ranks within the city. You will find a taxi licensed desks in most airports. Brazil has modified facilities for the disabled travelers in most cities which offer easy entry to buses and lifts tube areas.
Due to high accident rate, Brazil has a zero tolerance policy on driving when drunk. When caught you will be prosecuted by suspension for a year or sentenced to jail for 3 years.
On public beaches in Rio de Janeiro, thefts are common. This includes a big group of thieves who target an area of the beach. Always be aware of your environment and don’t take valuables to the beach.
If you have a car, have the keys ready for quick and easier entry. This prevents car theft and carjacking. Keep your car doors locked and windows closed all times and especially when in traffic.
Favelas are small towns with high level of poverty and crime rate. They are in all major cities in Brazil. UPP (Unidade de Policia Pacificadora) is a peace-making police force put up in several of these towns in Rio de Janeiro. This has improved security in these areas but favelas are dangerous and very unpredictable areas. Be alert when you visit these areas even with organized tourist companies because attacks are also made against the police.
4. Pick up a map
Knowing and understanding your surroundings is a good way to safety. It is advised to search your hotel or apartment online or find a physical map to help you get around. Plan the route you will take before living your room and enter a coffee shop or restaurant if you need to verify your coordinates. Avoid empty streets and always order a taxi by phone.
5. Learn the language of the land
Portuguese is the national language in Brazil. Ensure that you learn the basics that can help you brief the police or dealing with a thief. So as to be fluent, learn the language before you travel to Brazil. You may go to college, install language software or use online classes. The Brazilian are thrilled to see someone expressing interest to learn their language.
6. Look like a local
Camouflaging and looking like a local will keep you out of trouble. When taking a walk wear jeans and sneakers and let your beach wear indicate the beach since the temperature in Rio de Janeiro go as high as 90 degrees. The thieves expect you to wear Hawaiian shirts and cutoffs which are an indication that you are a tourist. Find some denim clothes to wear and they won’t notice a thing.
7. Go easy on jewellery
Do not wear expensive jewellery, clothes, and watches. Do not carry large sums of cash and keep your phones and cameras away. Leave all your important documents like passports in a safe place but carry something that can ID you at all times like your driving license. Go to the beach to relax and have fun but do not take any valuables. In case you are attacked, do not resist your attackers they may be using drugs or armed just hand over any valuables you might have carried.
8. Avoid ATMs use credit cards
ATMs are major targets for robbers. For this reason, these machines have an anti-theft device that marks the notes with a pink color if the ATM was tampered with or damaged. Consult the bank directly if you get such notes after withdrawal to get it changed. Ensure you get a bank statement from the ATM if you withdraw during off bank hours and take it to the police station and get a police report.
Phone and ATM card cloning are common. Be aware of where your card is all the time and don’t use it if you are suspicious. Notify your bank before you travel this will prevent your card from being blocked. Most bars, restaurants, and even taxicabs accept credit cards. Use ATM in gas stations or inside shopping malls and avoid withdrawing when the sun goes down.
Carry a decoy wallet with some $20 notes just to help get out of a tricky situation if it occurs.
9. Always order your own drink and stay alert
When you visit the samba spots ensure you go easy on drinks to avoid being sloshed. Ladies, ensure you buy your own drink and always keep watch on your drink this will keep you from being a target of rape or sexual offenses which involve date rape drugs. This can also happen to men – write your address down and let the manager of the bar or restaurant call a trustworthy taxi when you are done.
10. Beaches and Swimming
Besides a large group of thieves attacking the beach, it is wise you enquire from a local on the safety of the beach. There are times when the currents are very strong which may cause you to drown. Sharks are also found in some of the beaches and being aware of what you will be facing is a good precaution rather than heading in blindly.
Have a good trip and travel!