How to Stay Safe and Sound During the World Cup

As promised, today I am posting on how to stay safe if you are coming to Brazil, and Sao Paulo in particular, for the World Cup.

My partner in “crime,” Brazil in My Eyes, posted last week on the topic. If you plan to come to Brazil during the Cup, please take a look at this important advice.

Personal Security at the World Cup – Brazil

In addition, here are 10 more tactics for staying out of trouble during the Cup:

1. Don’t assume you know the rules

You may think you know how to stay safe. You’ve traveled the world, and you’re no fool, right? Well, unless you’ve spent any extended time in Brazil, assume that you don’t know the rules. The principles of cause and effect just do not play out the same here. Heed the advice of Brazil in My Eyes, as well as the information within our Safe in Sao Paulo series to really be certain to avoid any crime.

2. Use a taxi stand to get your taxi from the airport

Once you walk out of customs into the receiving area at Guarulhos, you will see a number of places offering taxi services. These are not like the pricey limo service stands that you might find in a US airport. These are selling taxi services. You tell them where you are going, pay the fare with your credit card and they will give you a ticket. In the standard taxi line, you simply give the ticket/receipt to the driver and go. The primary benefit of this is that there is a record of you and a record of your taxi driver (if he or she wants to get paid), just in case there are any incidents, plus there is no question about what the fare is going to be. Taxi stands look like this:


3. Don’t be a hero

Us Americans have grown up on the idea that the hero always wins. Everyone should be a hero. This model does not work in Brazil. That does not mean you shouldn’t assist someone who is in trouble. But change the way you might go about doing it, especially during the Cup when emotions run high on everything from a favorite futebol team to the notion that visitors are financially supporting political corruption by being here. Know the emergency numbers and seek out security or police if you see a problem. But don’t go into a hero mentality unless you have the backup of some seriously sinister-looking sidekicks.

4. Don’t be a tough guy

Just because you’ve survived a few bar brawls back in Baltimore, Bristol or Brampton, does not mean that things will go down the same in Brazil. Don’t get drunk and into a fight. Just don’t do it. You don’t know who you are insulting and how many others are in the bar with him or her (I’m talking to the women too). In addition, there is a scary, group vigilantly movement on the rise in this country (more on this in my next post) and you don’t want to be the victim of it. It is irrational and barbaric and not the way you want to go down.

5. Have maps on hand

If you know where you are going to want to go and what you are going to want to see before you leave your country, print out as many maps in advance as you can from Google Maps. Do it by each taxi or metro or walking trip you think you’ll take, so you have an easily readable paper in hand from destination A to B to C. You can’t necessarily rely on the business service center at your hotel. And while I agree to have your smart phone available for impromptu directions, I’m not confident that the 3G system, which regularly fails on a normal day, will be at peak performance during the World Cup season.

6. Don’t assume anything about the people who work in your hotel

Don’t assume that nice young man who took your bags to your room won’t have his friend waiting outside the hotel in an alley for you to steal your Rolex. It’s happened to friends of mine – Brazilians even. Just be wary of what you flash to the staff.

7. Make copies of everything

The time and cash it takes to make certified copies of your passport and any other ID you need is well worth it. Make copies of the front and back of all the credit cards you intend to bring. Leave a set of everything in your hotel safe – but also leave a copies for someone back home if you are extra paranoid safety-oriented. You never know when you might need your mom to make a call for you.

8. Stop signs, crosswalks and street lights are not a pedestrian’s friend

Brazilian drivers ruthlessly ignore stop signs and treat crosswalks like street art on a regular day. During the Cup when everyone will be jockeying for position on the jammed roads, these traffic controls will mean even less. Walk with caution.

9. Don’t dress to impress

Brazil in My Eyes recommends not flaunting your opposing team shirt outside the stadium. But even when you are not attending a game, don’t dress to attract attention. Because attention you might get and not for the reasons you were hoping. It’s better to go low key than flashy when walking around the cities during the Cup.

10. Avoid all risk to injury

Your friends might think it’s funny if you try and climb the Bandeiras Monument in Ibirapuera Park or try and feed some of the local wildlife your pão de queijo.

Bandeiras Monument  Sao Paulo, Brazil

But if you live in São Paulo, you know that almost no one bothers to get out of the way of an ambulance.  Add in World Cup traffic, and you are looking at what could feel like the longest ride of your life if you are in pain.

For those coming, the bottom line is that if you plan ahead and don’t assume anything, you will be free to enjoy the country during this exciting event.



Gallery | This entry was posted in Crazy Adventures, Foreigner Insights, Safe in Sao Paulo, Tourist Info, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to How to Stay Safe and Sound During the World Cup

  1. tropicalsmog says:

    Great post. I’d add to also have a sense of humor about things and let go of expectations. I feel like people’s preconceived notions about Brazil are very polarized — either it’s a magical, tropical paradise or it’s a violent, drug-ridden hellhole.
    Also, learn at least a few Portuguese phrases! Do not assume everyone speaks English because they don’t.

  2. Yes! Having a sense of humor is key. Definitely have a sense of humor. And learning some phrases is great advice too. No, not everyone speaks English – although I have a feeling they are going to be expected to… HA. Thanks for the comment.

  3. workmomad says:

    I only wish I could visit Sao Paola – during the world cup or any time!


  4. M. A. Franco says:

    Thank you for the insight! Please let me know when you publish your post on the Brazilian. I look forward to reading your post on the vigilantly movement that is on the raise in Brazil.


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