10 tips for independent travelers in Brazil

A collection of motorcycle road trips across Brazil (and some other stuff):

10 tips for independent travelers in Brazil

Here are 10 useful things to keep in mind when you are planning to take a trip in Brazil off the beatten track:


  •  Driver’s Licence: If you’re going to drive, you need an international driverslicence, or a translated and authorized copy of your local licence. A translation is only valid for 6 months. If your international licence doesn’t have portugese, it has to be translated too.
  • Use a SPOT tracking device : once outside an agglomeration, you can be almost certain that cellphone coverage is unavailable..
  • Learn Portuguese: Brazilians are very friendly, open and hospitable people. Being able to speak and understand at least basic portugese (preferably a little more than that), will bring great enhancement to your trip. Especially in the remote, non touristic and poorer areas, you will NOT find people who speak anything else than portugese
  • Be friendly and humble when you meet local (usually poor and simle) people. They will respect you for it.
  • Avoid the bigger roads. They are loaded with trucks. BIG ONES, up to 30m and 60 tons. These things are fast, loaded to the maximum (probably over capacity in some cases), loaded badly, causing them to tip over to one side and a lot of them drive dangerousely. They will overtake at high speeds with poor or no visibility on oncoming traffic or block the entire road on ascents when they are supposed to keep to the right side….
  • DON’T drive after dark. It is dangerous because of the stuff you can encounter on the road. Farm animals, cars or trucks with no lights or no brakes. Also, driving at night will make you miss out on a lot of great scenery…
  • Make sure you have enough cash with you. Lots of remote places don’t accept cards.
  • Carry different credit cards. Sometimes they accept only one kind (like VISA or MASTER). Also sometimes international cards are  not accepted.
  •  Start watching out for a gas station once your tank is below half, and preferably choose one of the big brands (BR, SHELL, TEXACO, ESSO…) . You never know when you’re going to find the next one. Once, I was forced to buy gasoline from a local, who had stored it in 2L plastic bottles in his garage. He charged me double of the normal price.
  • Hitchhikers : The safest thing to do is to NOT pick them up. Especially in poorer areas, LOTS of people are trying to get a free ride. I myself – trusting my gut feeling – picked up hitchikers on 4 occasions. A little old man on a jungle road, An elderly woman on her way to her family, a worker on his way home, and another elderly lady with a little boy. All  these people were really nice and gave me good advice about the places that I was planning to go to. If you trust your gut feeling, go for it, if you don’t, better not pick up anybody.


Hope this was useful – All comments welcome.


Written and contributed by Raf