Your Guide to Experiencing All of Brazil – Rain forests to Relaxation in Rio

Brazil for Bunnies – How to Experience Life and Culture in Brazil

The exploration of the Amazon rainforest is almost always a part of the itinerary when going to Brazil, but the country has a lot more to offer. Brazil is brimming with life and culture, from its festivals where it becomes almost irresistible to dance to the beat to cities and architecture that seem untouched by the passage of time. There is always a reason to come back for more.

Brazil Travel 101

With all the stuff happening in Brazil, it is a wonder that accommodation is very affordable. Staying in a hostel dorm room can set someone back for only 15 to 30 BRL. A private room with a a comfortable  bed is a little more than 40 BRL, while a family room in a budget hotel is about 70 to 100 BRL. A homestay room costs 30 to 50 BRL.

A meal with a few courses and a beverage in a local restaurant can add up to 14 BRL. Travellers not staying in Rio can eat for 35 BRL in a simple but nicely decorated restaurant. Weekly groceries, on the other hand, can amount to 103 BRL. Travel costs are equally cheap. Travelling by bus can cost about 10 BRL for every hour. Travelling by train is perfect for tourists as a steam train can take them through a scenic route from Sao Jao del Rei to Tiradantes, or back.

Travelling on a Budget

The peak season carries inflated prices with it, so when on a budget, tourists should not come to Brazil during Rio Carnival when prices are three times the usual, or from December to March where a swarm of tourists are in the country to escape winter. As taxi drivers often refuse to drive tourists around using a meter, it is advisable to agree on a price with the driver before getting in the cab, or take the bus otherwise.

What to Do in Brazil

Begin the Amazon exploration with a tour of the Amazonia National Park which covers 40 % of the country’s landmass. Trekking, kayaking, river tours, hiking, and birdwatching are just a few activities in the park. Of course there is the Rio Carnival celebration that beckons thousands of tourists every year. Visitors can stay in Rio de Janiero and climb up to the Corcovado to see Christ the Redeemer, visit museums after they have come down, and finally party along the beach in the night. Other things that visitors can do or see in Brazil include:

  • Fútbol
  • Dancing Capoeira
  • The Manaus Opera House
  • The Manaus Municipal Market
  • Salvador or the “capital of happiness”
  • Brasilia, known for its modernist architecture

Visitors who crave for wildlife watching should include The Pantanal in the itinerary as it holds the largest wetlands in the world and houses 11,000 animal species. What is a Brazil tour without a visit to the beautifuil beaches of Reclife. There is no better way to spend your nights than spending it in Sao Paulo, which is a city that boasts of its world class nightlife, food, and, of course, music. Brazil is a very lively and tourist-friendly country, and many who came to the country have thought of coming back for more adventures in the rainforest, the cities, the beaches, and the night life.


How Useful is the Extra Cruise Travel Insurance, Really?

Cruises are the epicenter of many imaginative stories, and people who have actually spent their time on one and have had a great time win big in terms of having memories to treasure. A cruise travel insurance plan is offered as an extra cost when booking your cruise vacation. However, before getting the cruise line travel insurance, you may want to weigh your options first.

You May Not Get a Reimbursement

Reimbursement is often a part of the coverage of any insurance plan, so you think a cruise line insurance will reimburse you when you cancel your trip. Perhaps your insurance does include coverage for cancelling your trip, but it does not mean the reimbursement includes flight, accommodation, and other costs in which the cruise line is not a part of. The worst part is that the cruise line may not reimburse you with money but instead give reward credits or points.

You May Find the Coverage Lacking

You do not always get full coverage when you cancel your trip, or require medical attention or evacuation while on board. Before you let your imagination run wild, read the fine print first. For instance, a medical cost coverage may have a maximum limit, as opposed to full coverage.

Strict Policies

A cruise line may not be lenient when you cancel your trip. You may think that trip cancellation includes reasons that are not medical related, but it is not always the case. Instead of understanding your situation, an agent or representative of the cruise line may engage you in a blame game and tell you that you should have done this or done that.

Ambiguous Payment Details

A cruise line may have a website, but when you search for a web page that particularly discusses the payment information, you either find vague details or none at all. Then there are websites that direct you to a call centre to get the payment information, only for you to end up going around in circles when you make the call.

The disadvantages of getting a cruise line travel insurance as an extra to your cruise trip cost can sometimes outweigh the advantages. Having a third party policy is your best option to make sure you enjoy your own cruise trip knowing that you have a full insurance coverage.


Travel Tales That Will Make You Squirm

When you’re preparing for a holiday you usually prepare a list of essentials that you would hate to forget. Sun glasses, flip flops, sunscreen, hat, camera, phone charger, travel pillow but not enough people have travel insurance on their list. Now I don’t want to preach about the boring side of being practical, you’ve probably heard it before, so today I’m going to entertain you/scare you with a few tales from typical holiday makers that we’ve spoken to and stories we’ve read online to see if we can’t scare some sense into you.

Anton – Sydney and BBQs

Anton is a kiwi who I used to work with in Auckland. He loved to travel and lived for his twice annual vacations that he usually spent in beach side locations to create maximum friend envy on Facebook. This year he and a bunch of friends had hired a yacht for a week in the Whitsundays in Australia to explore the islands. One of those fully catered epic trips with a skipper, food and alcohol. They would pull into beaches and coves to explore untouched locations and party alongside other boats. Now this part of the trip went off without a hitch. Next he went down to Sydney to visit some friends in Bondi, where a lot of Kiwis live. They were having a BBQ in the backyard of his friends place and playing some cricket, a typical day, when Anton’s friend let the bat slip playing a shot. The bat flew into his face, cut his lip really badly and cracked a tooth. No travel insurance and an emergency dental procedure in Sydney cost Anton $2400 along with a sore mouth for the rest of his holiday. This wasn’t a trip to Guatemala, the Congo or Iceland, just a few beers with friends in Sydney.

Maria – Thailand + Motorbikes

Maria is a Melbourne based mother of two that went on a two week holiday with her husband to Phuket in Thailand in 2015. She ditched the kids with her sister and jetted off to full catered resort deal in Phuket for two weeks of well-deserved rest and recreation. Massages, pedicures and tasty food were all she had planned. After a week of sunning and eating, Maria and her husband grew a little restless and decided it would be fun to rent some motorbikes to explore the coastline, pop into some beaches and have some fun. It wasn’t in their plans, but everyone was doing it. The beaches were fantastic, the scenery cool and it was a fun afternoon. On the way home it started to rain a little, but instead of stopping they wanted to get back to the hotel. Coming around a corner at what seemed a respectable speed, Maria’s back tire slipped out and she and her scooter slid into a ditch. The bike was banged up but worst of all, Maria’s leg was stuck under the bike, she had fractured her ankle. Off to hospital. No travel insurance. $1100 in hospital fees and $400 in bike damages, just from a little spill.

Georgia – Mexico and Cuba

Georgia is a friend of a friend who wanted to get to Cuba before the US lifted the trade embargo and the island nation changed for ever. Like many others do, she booked to go through Mexico where she planned to holiday for a week first in the Caribbean sun before flying off to Havana. This story has no unsightly injuries or scary tales, it’s actually something that happens to people every hour of the day all over the world. Missed flights and lost luggage. One part Georgia’s fault and one part the airlines. The nett result was chaos though. Flying from LAX to Cancoon her luggage got lost, after waiting and checking for several days, it just never turned up. Georgia likes to dress nicely, her suitcase had a lot of designer clothes, new sun glasses and shoes. She went shopping in Mexico for replacements, but with no travel insurance nor optional air ticket insurance with the airline, she estimate her loss to be north of $4000 in clothes and shoes. The icing on the cake came when she missed her flight from Cuba to Mexico due to a string of errors, the last of which was a broken bedside alarm clock. Cost of a new flight last minute $450.

Quentin – Mexico and Muggings

Quentin was a 23 year old young Australian that had just graduated from university. He was chomping at the bit to get started on his big South and Central American trip that he had been planning for months. From LA he landing in Mexico city where he would work his way south all the way to Argentina, an epic 6 month journey was about to begin. Day two, walking home from some local site seeing around beautiful Mexico city, Quentin finds himself in a quiet street, he’s turned off the wrong way, but nothing untoward, it’s all part of the fun. A minute later he gets a tap on the shoulder, two young guys, one with a knife are mugging him for his stuff. He does the right thing and doesn’t put up a fight. They take his Cannon slr camera, iPhone4 (new at the time) and wallet with $200 USD in it. Total cost of items $2100. This story is all the more familiar as it’s mine. I was the numb nut who took all that valuable stuff on me around a ‘safe’ part of town. Some basic travel insurance, which I ironically booked online the next day, would’ve covered the losses. I chalk it all up to a learning experience and don’t hold a thing against Mexico. That place is sensational. I also got my wallet stolen when I was traveling around Brazil, but I love that country even more.

It’s more about minimizing your dumb mistakes and travel insurance and little bit of common sense go a long way to helping in these situations.

7 Things You Need to Know Before You Visit Bali

  1. Warm Temperature Is an Understatement

Considering Bali a warm holiday destination in spite of it having a year-round temperature of 32 degrees is downplaying the island’s power to make you bathe in sweat. Due to the intense heat, it is advisable to wear cotton fabrics and flip flops when enjoy a stroll around Bali on your holiday. If you can’t stand blistering hot temperatures, you can visit Bali in the months May to July when temperature is a little cooler.

  1. Bask in Culture

In Bali you can travel back in time by viewing ancient rituals and festivals that have been well preserved to this day. The ancient temples of Bali, along with the ceremonies and sacred offerings practiced in the area, gives you a glimpse of a bygone era, and the best part is that you can see such cultural traditions anywhere in Bali.

  1. Wear a Sarong to Blend In

If you are visiting one of the temples in Bali, do not forget to wear a sarong and sash which is customary attire inside the sacred place. Buy a sarong and sash in Bali and wear them in a way that the sarong covers the area below the knee, while the sash is wrapped around the waist.

  1. You Can Afford to Drink like a Fish

You can enjoy a drinking spree without making a dent in your budget in Bali as it offers cheap beers and cocktails. The best cocktails you can find in Bali are in beach clubs, bars, and restaurants, and you are in for a surprise upon discovering how affordable they are, but before you get accustomed to the idea that Bali has the cheapest alcoholic drinks, know that drinks that are too cheap even for Bali standards may give you a nasty hangover in the morning, if not a cause to visit a hospital.

  1. Eating Nasi Goreng is an Adventure in Itself

When you eat the Indonesian fried rice, nasi goreng you may reach a conclusion that while the dish is an acquired taste, there is a certain appeal to it. You can also try other Balinese dishes that are not as unusual as the fried rice, such as the babi guling which is Indonesia’s suckling pig or sate lembat which is a mixture of crushed meat, coconut, sugar and spices

You might also like to read: Why Your Excuses About Travel Insurance are All Wrong

  1. Bali Truly Has Wonderful Scenery

A five to six-hour flight from Australia to Bali is a very small price you have to pay to find picture-perfect views, such as the rice terraces. You do not have to visit the main tourist areas to see the quaint charm of Bali because the local scene itself is full of areas deserving of a painter’s attention, such as an idyllic farm where animals are seen grazing, or local plants with majestic mountains as the background.

  1. You Instantly Become a Millionaire in Bali

If you go by the rules of Indonesia’s currency, you are automatically a millionaire in Bali, as your $AU100 is equivalent to 1 million Rupiah upon conversion. It is common to see foreigners paying in millions of cash (in Rupiah) when in Bali. You are smart enough not to be surprised when hearing locals talk about what seems like large sums of money when in Bali, whether they are talking in English or you are able to understand the local language. However, it is alright to allow yourself to be happy in the knowledge that wherever you go, you have a wallet full of millions with you—as you are in Bali. Because food and beverage in Bali are cheap, you can certainly afford to be a big spender even just for a night.

Why Your Excuses About Travel Insurance are All Wrong

The cost of having a travel insurance policy is often disregarded for other expenses, let’s say, a new backpack or a new pair of flip flops. If you do the same thing, it is because you have reasons that may seem legitimate at first but can leave you in a rut in the end.

Alibi #1 I’m Invincible

You are optimistic and you don’t really buy into the whole Murphy’s Law concept. In your years of travelling you have not encountered any problem, so why bother, right? But can you really predict the future? Predicting next week’s weather is difficult enough. Similarly, it is difficult to anticipate a lost luggage or flight delay, or staying invincible against accidents and diseases when you travel. Travel insurance gives you coverage when unforeseen circumstances happen.

Alibi # 2 My Insurance at Home Will Have My Back

Before you go to the next it-destination thinking your domestic insurance would give you coverage, read the fine print first. In many cases, domestic health insurance and credit card policies do not offer full coverage when you are in another country. A delayed flight could result to wasting your hotel booking and land transport privileges, and there is no chance that you will get reimbursed by your domestic health insurance.

Alibi # 3 I Heard Horror Stories from People Trying to Collect from a Travel Insurance Company

It is true that travel insurance policies are not perfect, and there are some that are downright horrible. However you can easily avoid them by doing a little research and asking fellow travellers, so in case you lose your luggage in a layover flight, you do not spend your entire holiday arguing with your insurance provider for reimbursement.

Alibi #4 I Don’t Need a Travel Insurance Because I’m Not into Extreme Sports

You scoff at those adrenaline junkies you see on television while thinking that they should double up on their insurance. Given that your next trip destination is within the confines of an event hall and not in some exotic jungle, you may still need an insurance policy. Maybe life-and-death situations are out of the question but who can say you will not get mugged on your way back to the hotel after spending a nice evening at a seminar about home security?

Alibi #5 I Can Afford Hospital Bills Abroad

While it is true that there are hospitals in developing countries that have lower costs for providing medical attention, it is still not safe to rely on your own funds—unless you are a pro who knows the costs for every medical condition in all the hospitals in your travel destination, and you can include hospital stays, doctor’s consultation fees, and laboratory processes. Hospital bills can be relatively cheaper in another land besides your own, but it is not as cheap as having a witch doctor heal you with jungle leaves mixed with saliva.

Alibi #6 But I Have to Pay for the Plane Ticket and Hotel

Of course you need to pay for your flight and hotel accommodation first. But it is not advisable to hold off paying for the travel insurance until the last minute. One benefit of having a travel insurance policy is you are covered even before your flight date. With a decent travel insurance, you can cancel your trip for a good reason and get a reimbursement for all your bookings.

Having the good old travel insurance as part of your travel cost provides you with a peace of mind that you get coverage in case of unforeseen circumstances. You may not find a use for your insurance all the time, but there will come a time that you’ll need it.