How NOT to backpack around Brazil

Ever heard of the phrase “life’s too short”? Of course you have, (Everyone has that pushy friend that says it when they want to get you to go out). Thankfully, this blog is not about going out (partly because there wouldn’t be much to write as I don’t remember) instead I’m going to tell you about my trip to Brazil and give you advice on how NOT to backpack.

Julia my friend from work managed to convince me to go backpacking around brazil this summer for 5 weeks by reciting the line ‘life’s too short’. I thought about it, and agreed, after all, travelling for 5 weeks is a lot better than working for 5 weeks. So, on the 4th July we set off on our travels.

We arrived in Rio after a 13-hour flight from London, we were so excited to finally be in Brazil and believe it or not, we had an amazing flight.

Top tip – Board the plane last. Honestly you will have the best flight ever (although the food is still going to be gross) if you’re the last person to board, you are able to see what seats are free, and if you’re extremely lucky like we were, you’ll get a whole row to yourself to sprawl across. This definitely made the flight more bearable.

I have a few Do’s and Do not’s that I would like to share with you all.

Photos from our first week in Brazil. Believe me that backpack is a lot heavier than it looks.

Do make sure to book your accommodation in advance. Do not walk around on youfirst day, with an 18kg backpack for 3 hours. Believe me your legs get tired and if you’re anything like me you end up very hangry.

Do find out exactly where your hostel is and make sure it is legit. Do not walk up and down the same street 40 odd times to find out the hostel you’re looking for had actually closed down 3 years ago. Duhh.

Do get your phone unlocked before you go away so that any local sim card will work. Do not leave it until you arrive in Brazil and find out you can’t get a local sim card that will work. After going around five phone companies trying their sims in our phones and having no luck, we accepted that our phone bills were going to be sky high (sorry mum).

Do check the dates that certain attractions are open. Do not travel for 30 minutes and arrive on the ONLY day they are closed (typical).

I did not enjoy the train as much as picture one would lead you to believe. Picture 4 was rough.

Do download the Uber app and get Ubers absolutely everywhere. They are so cheap and convenient. Do not try and navigate yourself around Brazil without a map and just hope for the best. Believe me, before we discovered just how handy and cheap Ubers were, our journey to get somewhere was at least 5 times longer.

Do make sure you plan your trips well and have a way home. Do not get stranded at the top of Christ the redeemer. There are no taxis that can get you home and it’s a very, very, very long walk down.

Do make sure that you have a good time when you go out to a bar and stay sober enough to make it home, with your belongings is a bonus. Do not get too drunk and lose your purse in an Uber. Yes, this did happen to me. Caipirinha’s are not your friend, they may taste delicious (especially the raspberry ones) but they are dangerous. I finally got my purse back 2 days later, after many calls to Uber.

Do make sure you travel around and get to see all parts of Brazil. Do not book an 8-hour bus journey when you are hungover. 8 hours feels like 80 hours.

A few pictures from our time in the Amazon. it was AMAZING.

Do go to the Amazon, it is one of the best places in the world. We experienced so many things here and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Do not book a ‘floating’ hostel. Yes, floating hostels are actually a thing. Our Uber driver dropped us off in the middle of the amazon forest and told us ‘we had arrived at our destination’ all for us to get out of the car and find an empty warehouse. He quickly sped off so we were stranded with no 3g, wifi or signal. Eventually we made it Bear Grylls would be proud.

Do make your own meals in hostel kitchens, it makes it a lot cheaper. Do not give yourself food poisoning, especially when you do it 6 hours before your flight. This might be a case to too much information but I’m glad aeroplanes have toilets.

Picture one is the dish that gave us food poisoning (bet you aren’t surprised).

Do check the weather forecast before going to sugar loaf. Do not rock up on the one and only day it seems to be lashing down.

Do make sure you have enough time between your connecting flights. Do not leave yourself one hour between the two flights. We were travelling home on the day that British Airways had an absolute nightmare. Once we landed, we couldn’t get off the plane for 40 minutes therefor had 20minutes to sprint through the airport to get to the other side to board your plane and find out you’ve also lost boarding pass for the second time in a day.

Yes, we were only away for five weeks and yes, we had quite a number of disasters, probably too many. But do not regret my time travelling? No, not at all. I had the most amazing experience and after all ‘life’s too short’ so make the most of it while you can.

Thanks for reading and please do learn from my mistakes.


Molly Stevenson is a final year BSC in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Instagram: @molly_stevensonn ; Facebook: Molly Stevenson ; LinkedIn: