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For a Brazilian Vacation, 7 Rules to Save By

Rio de Janeiro.
Felipe Dana/Associated Press
Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil is too expensive for budget travelers. Or is it?

Evidence in the affirmative is strong. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are now the most expensive cities in the Western Hemisphere, by some measures. The dollar that used to get you 3 or almost 4 Brazilian reais at various points in the last decade now gets you just 2. Flying to Brazil from New York takes at least nine hours and can easily run $1,000.

But there is no need to be intimidated.

By following just a few guidelines, a trip to this country of astonishing cultural, geographical, economic, ecological, musical and culinary diversity might just be affordable. Or at least more affordable than you think.

Here are the Frugal Traveler’s Seven Rules for making every dollar (or every real, for that matter) count.


It’s just plain dumb to book a flight to Brazil through big online travel companies or the airlines’ sites. Yes, dumb — as in feeding-cash-to-a-paper-shredder dumb. Instead, to find much lower fares, check with consolidators (agencies that negotiate with airlines for special rates) that specialize in Brazil. I generally call [OTHER PROVIDER], but this time, for variety’s sake, I tested a competitor, AirProjects.com. Searching online for a 10-day trip from New York to Rio de Janeiro four weeks out, I found a $923 (taxes and fees included) nonstop fare on the Brazilian carrier TAM. Repeating the search on Kayak and Expedia, the best prices were $998 with a layover or $1,109 for nonstop.