The countdown to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games is on! Millions of tourists are set to flock to the shores of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil during the month of August to witness some of the world’s greatest athletes in competition. My Olympic cheery was popped in 2012 when I attended the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, it was by far one of my most memorable travel experiences. London during the Olympics was an electric affair! It was a melting pot of cultures and it took place in one of the most incredible and historic cities in the world! It was everythang!
While in London, I remembered visiting the Brazil Olympic display, it was amazing. It invoked the spirit of Brazil and its people. I was sold; I’m going to Rio! Fast forward to the present and a girl is stressed! The high hopes that I built up for Brazil has evaporated into thin air. I am worried that the country bit off more than it can chew, but like they say in showbiz, the show must go on.
If you’re heading south to Rio this summer to soak up some of the action, here are a few major tips to surviving the 2016 Summer Olympics.
- Zika – While it is technically winter in Brazil and there should be less mosquitos biting, it doesn’t ease my mind one bit! Ensure that you pack and travel with your mosquito repellant at all times. From my research, purchasing spray with DEET is the best choice as it is long lasting and more effective against mosquitos. If you’re more of a ‘natural’ person, coconut oils and jasmine oils are said to work well against these pesky little creatures. While I’m known to experiment, I’m packing the OFF with deet!
- Olympic Tickets – If you are going to the Summer Games, and you don’t have tickets by now, I assume you’re not actually going to the games. I assume you’re going to soak up some of the festivities and enjoy Rio’s historical sights and sounds. You might be in luck though. If this was any other year, Olympic tickets would be hard to come across but because of the challenges taking place in Rio, there are lots of tickets still available. Tickets are usually distributed based on the country that you are from and through Olympic federations or associations. There are always scalpers of course, but they make me nervous. Try your luck here though!
- Crime – A friend of mine visited Brazil in the off season. They were told by the hotel to leave all valuables in their hotel rooms. A few of the hotel guests were mugged on the streets. I will tell you do not take anything to Brazil that you will cry about if stolen. This is the reality of traveling to a country where poverty is rampant; Brazil is also in a recession. There will be increased pick pocketing and muggings going on as the Summer Games will present the perfect storm. If you’ve never watched “Focus” with Will Smith, do so before your vacation. As with any place that you are visiting, travel with due care and caution. Be vigilant. Stay in groups. While I love going off the beaten path, this isn’t the place, or the time.
- Hotels – Rio has a shortage of hotels. Most of the 40,000 hotel rooms available in the city were booked out from last year. The alternatives are home-sharing rentals like AirBnB and HomeAway. If you do decide to go this route, I would advise staying in popular tourist areas like Copacabana and Ipanema. I’ve surfed through the AirBnB options and they look pretty modern and comfy.
- Transportation – Uber has suffered major blows in Brazil, but the on-demand taxi/car service will be available during the Summer Olympics. I can’t begin to imagine what the surge will look like. Other alternatives for what is sure to be a hot mess summer are regular cabs, or you can download the taxi app, Easy Taxi. There is also the subway in Rio called the Metro Rio. I’ll warn you now, it is not your modern day subway. It has only two lines and not that many stations, so prepare for large crowds and long wait times. Give yourself maximum 2-3 hours head start to get to any destination during the Summer Games.
Let the games begin!