Stay Safe In Brazil
You know how you tell people you want to visit Brazil and they look at you in horror because they’ve heard so many terrible things about the country.
“Oh no, Brazil is dangerous and you will get kidnapped and murdered!”
“I heard Rio is full of transsexuals and AIDS!”
“Don’t ride the bus, they hijack it and rob people on it everyday!”
“You will be a target and they will rob you if you go out at night!”
And please don’t tell them you are traveling to Brazil alone. My mother and grandmother can’t believe I have the “bravery” to travel to a foreign country by myself.
It’s so scary according to them.
But guess what?
It’s not really that scary.
You can visit Brazil and go to cities like
- Rio de Janeiro
- São Paulo
- Porto Alegre
And have a vacation without any incidents. Yes, Brazil has crime. But your chances of being involved in it during a week trip?
I’ve met white women traveling around Brazil by themselves. If these girls aren’t afraid of visiting Brazil, why should you?
So, how do you stay safe in Brazil?
Just use common sense and a few Rio In A Week tips below.
Common Sense Ain’t So Common
The biggest reason foreigners get into trouble in Brazil is because of lack of common sense and awareness. Little things such as:
- Don’t carry big wads of cash in your hand
- Don’t carry a big camera taking pictures and video late at night
- Don’t leave your belongings unattended anywhere
- Don’t walk around in unfamiliar areas drunk or high
- Don’t let women you just met around personal belongings
Now I admit, I’ve broken a couple of these cardinal sins in the past.
Quick tip: Never get sloppy drunk at Barra Music when you have to get back to Zona Sul by yourself.
But luckily, I’ve never been robbed, kidnapped or gotten into any scuffles in Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. Bad things happen, but so far so good.
In 2012, my American roommate was looking for me outside after a night out. He didn’t know I was already home. He was somewhat drunk and was robbed while searching for me.
Lesson: Don’t walk around Brazil drunk by yourself.
Always remember that you are in a foreign country. Even if you are in a big group, you are still outnumbered by hundreds of Brazilians in any given situation so respect their culture and home.
Use the same common sense that you would use in Washington D.C. or Chicago.
Carry Yourself With Confidence
Your body says a lot about how you feel. Always walk around Brazil with confidence (not to be confused with cockiness). Criminals know when they have an opportunity to take advantage of someone.
- Keep your head up
- Even if you don’t know where you are, act like you do
- Walk with a sense of purpose at a moderate pace
- Make confident eye contact with people, but don’t look creepy
I have no doubt in my mind that just doing these few things has saved me in a few situations. In America and possibly even in Brazil.
Eye contact is a strong sign of confidence. You can tell a lot about someone based on his/her eye contact.
In Brazil, you have to be careful about looking at some people in the eye, especially street vendors because that is a go ahead for them to sell you something.
But never look down when a sketchy guy is approaching you while walking. No matter where you are, predators can smell prey.
Treat Women Like Other Strangers
I know many guys meet women in Brazil and let the women’s femininity cloud their judgment.
Your common sense is running away, bud
When you meet a Brazilian woman, treat her like you would treat a Brazilian man. Make her earn your trust. By that I mean,
- Don’t tell her in-depth information about yourself
- Avoid trying to impress her
- Don’t go along with her to an unfamiliar, isolated place
- Don’t get sloppy drunk or let her give you a drink (date rape drugs anyone?)
If you are pretty drunk, try to be aware of women who are a little too into you. Why?
I had a friend who went to a club in Lapa.
He got really drunk and started dancing with two Brazilian women. He thought he hit the jackpot.
While dancing, he felt hands in his pockets and looked down. The women were looking for their jackpot.
Many men have a fantasy of meeting two Brazilian chicks in the club, taking them home and having a little fun. But unless you are Snoop Dogg or Justin Bieber, that scenario is very unlikely to happen, so use common sense if you want to stay safe in Brazil.
Even around the ladies.
Favelas can go either way. Some are pretty safe, some are hot with crime and shootings. You might be surprised that you will personally find more trouble outside favelas than inside them.
I enjoy going to favelas because of the cheap prices and being around down to earth Brazilians. That’s not to say Brazilians who don’t live in favelas are fake or unfriendly, but I’ve met some of my best friends who looked out for me in favelas.
I can personally vouch for these Rio de Janeiro favelas as being pretty safe for the average tourist:
- Rio das Pedras
I’ve spent the most time in Rocinha and Rio das Pedras. Vidigal is the closet favela to Copacabana/Ipanema and it’s pretty tourist-friendly.
If you are a first time visitor to Rio, see if you can meet locals and check out a party in one of the favelas listed above, but always keep your wits there.
More tips on how to stay safe in Brazil:
- Leave the Jordans at home and wear cheaper footwear like Converses or be a Brazilian and wear flip-flops. You’ll avoid the shoe cleaners and look more Brazilian.
- Learning just a little Portuguese will help you feel more confident in navigating Brazil.
- Local friends make any trip better and more safe.
- Copy your passport and leave the physical in your room
- If you are one of those traditional tourist types, stay in the South Zone areas and avoid less touristy places. Basically, don’t go past Leblon and don’t go further north than Lapa.
So, you can see.
The underlying message throughout this article is
USE COMMON SENSE
That’s it. So, stay safe in Brazil and have fun.
Glossary of Emergency Terms and Phrases