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Travelzoo Experience: Tips for Surviving Carnival

One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.

For my first Travelzoo Experience I booked roundtrip flights on TAM Airlines from New York to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I chose Rio de Janeiro because I love South America vacations, but never visited Brazil. The country’s world famous Carnival celebration was scheduled for February. I knew Carnival would be an ideal time for me to tour the city and surrounding areas as well as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in a unique and unparalleled cultural experience.

Tips for Surviving Carnival

Arrive Early: Plan your itinerary to begin before Carnival is in full swing. This gives newcomers an opportunity to acclimate themselves with the sprawling city before mobs of party-goers descend on the streets. Many of Rio’s shops and tourist attractions are closed during the celebrations so their employees can participate. Coming to town a few days ahead allows you to check these off your bucket list.

Where to Party: Save some cash and meet locals by joining street parties called blocos instead of watching Carnival at Sambadrome. Follow the crowds or listen for the music of, foot parades of local dancers companies competing for followers of a truck top samba band.

How to Party:

  • Dress: Less is definitely more when it comes to outfit choices for Carnival. Locals sport anything from flip flops and bikinis to outrageous group costumes. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure it’s colorful – save your best black jeans for NYC, not Rio.
  • Dance: Even if you didn’t master the steps to samba, don’t be afraid to head for the middle of the crowd. Brazilians are extremely friendly and will teach lyrics and dance moves to anyone willing to learn and have a good time.
  • Drink: The national drink of Brazil is the Caipirinha – a lethal combination of cachaça with sugar and lime. The sweet drink hits hard, so drink slowly and alternate with water.

Staying Hydrated: Carnival takes place in February, the peak of Brazil’s summer, when daily temperatures hit 90 before lunchtime. Juice shops dot the city blocks and offer an extensive menu of refreshments for thirty party-goers, including açaí (Ah-sai-ee). Beachside, snag a água de coco, a green coconut opened with a machete and served with a straw.

Emergencies: When traveling in groups, it’s easy to lose companions in the mob on Avenida Atlantica – the seaside highway separating the beaches of Copabana and Leme from the neighborhoods. Before heading out, designate one of the 13 numbered postos (lifeguard towers) to meet if severed from your friends.

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Tips by

Deal Expert, New York
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
See more Tips from
Elisabeth Barker