People tend to assume a vacation to Brazil must be expensive, but that is far from the truth with so many ways to budget your trip. HOW you travel is key. The main credo is to go against the tourist grain. Pick different cities, or different places in cities, at different times. Try alternative accommodations and transportations (travel apps make it easier), and you will not only experience Brazil on a budget, but most likely leave the country with a more authentic and unique experience than people who stay at four-star chain hotels in Copacabana.
By following our guidelines, a trip to this astonishing tropical country might be much more affordable than you think.
1. TRAVEL WHEN BRAZILIANS DON’T
International travel to Brazil is relatively low, that means the tourism industry is dependent on the enormous domestic market, which has a particular quirk: Brazilians all seem to travel at the same time- during January and June school vacations, Carnival (February-March), and on national holidays that become long weekends no matter which day they fall. January 10th is the magic date that the Brazilian summer stops being so expensive. Locals have emptied their bank accounts to be on the beach during New Year’s and must begin to save for Carnival. Prices drop appreciably, and small-hotel owners are open to negotiations. So plan it wisely.
2. AVOID MAJOR DESTINATIONS
Rio, São Paulo and Salvador tend to be more expensive and challenging to negotiate prices on accommodation, for example. It’s just the same as any other big city. Even if you want the true urban experience, there are ways to save. Stay in Rio but in a less tourist-ridden neighborhood (Flamengo and Tijuca are good ones). You can also expend a few days and move on to a cheaper destination around, visiting one of numerous other fascinating small towns. It will save you money without sacrificing a memorable trip. Insider’s tip: go to Paraty, 3 hours driving from the always-crowded Rio de Janeiro.
3. TRY ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATIONS
Small, independent hotels and inns ― common in Brazil ― are way cheaper than chain hotels that cater to business travelers and they often contain apartment-style suites with compact kitchens and living rooms.
Sleeping in someone’s spare bedroom or on the living room couch is also an option, by far one of the cheapest ways to travel and meet locals. You can organize a homestay through sites like CouchSurfing.com. If you love pets and don’t mind taking care of your host’s place while traveling, try housesitting websites like TrustedHousesitters.com – not popular in Brazil yet but you can find great offers when they do show up sporadically. The website charges a fee but then you stay for free housesitting a local’s place.
4. DON’T GO TOO FAR
Brazil’s dimensions are huge and the distance between touristic destinations like Rio and Salvador is 752 miles, a 2 hour flight. Instead, tour through the country by exploring different cities around your main destination. It will give you a better taste of the local culture and save you some money on transportation. Also, at the end you can say you know pretty well a certain part of Brazil.
5. SPLIT EXPENSES
Are you taking a road trip and need someone to split expenses? BlaBlaCar.com is an innovative way to find a ride- present in more than 20 countries, including Brazil. The app’s users must have a Facebook account and be traveling from city to city (not available for short distances). The app sets the costs and the amount is transferred to the driver’s bank account. BlaBlaCar does not recommend making profits on the ride and the company charges up to 15% of the costs. Driving from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, for example, costs around R$ 180 (US$ 60) but splitting with 2 passengers, it costs only R$ 60 (US$20) each. Great deal!
6. EAT WHERE LOCALS EAT
Don’t go to those restaurants around the sights. Instead, ask locals where they eat and don’t be afraid of trying Brazilian street food like coxinha (chicken croquette), pastel (crispy fried pie with assorted fillings), and acarajé (black-eyed pea fritters). Want to eat not like but with locals? Try MealSharing.com, a website where hosts sell affordable meals from their home. It’s a great way to try homemade food and make friends.
7. CHECK OUT ATTRACTIONS DEALS
Many places, such as museums and national parks, offer discounts or a free visit day. Check out their online calendar and plan your visit according to the deals. You can also enjoy sightseeing with a tour guide at FreeWalkerTours.com, paying only tips. In this case, don’t be cheap 😉