Brazil Travel Costs
On occasion, it felt like being in Florida. That’s what happens when you’re spending so much money, an inevitability for the cost of travel in northeast Brazil.
I knew going on the trip would be a bit expensive. I already paid 416, 000 Colombian pesos (about $208) for my Visa, a necessity for Americans.
That was a surprise. But what surprised me more was part of the context of my expenses.
I’ll go through what you should expect to spend when drafting your vacation budget for northeast Brazil, both the costs we all think about and the ones that snuck up on me, so you’re better prepared.
Let’s get started with the obvious.
Your primary costs are likely to be five things: buses, food, lodging, nightlife, recreation/tours.
The buses I’m talking about are the ones you take to get from one state to another, the longer trips, at least four hours or more.
I can’t quite make sense of the interstate buses. Case in point, I paid 96 reals (about $39) for a bus from Natal to Fortaleza that was comfortable but nothing special. I paid 74 reals (about $30) for a bus from Recife to Natal that was much nicer.
Perhaps the difference came from the fact that the Fortaleza trip took one and a half hours longer. But I would think the difference in the quality of the buses would have made it a wash.
Again, it’s like being in Florida.
High food costs, at least, typically can be avoided, depending on where and how much you eat.
You’ll probably be eating out a lot so let’s admit that to get it out-of-the-way. Most hostels don’t offer the space or equipment to make a great meal, and you’ll want to eat the Brazilian cuisine anyway. It’s good.
Just take the time to check different restaurants before making a decision. You can often find a good meal for under 30 reals (less than $12), which is a good price in Brazil.
It can be exponentially more if you pick the nicest restaurant all the time, and that doesn’t always mean the best food.
I’m not saying it won’t be good, but a lot of these smaller, independent places make the original recipe for a good price, not some trussed-up version of it that allows them to add another 20 reals ($8) to the bill.
Here’s where it gets tricky: eating at those churrasco-style restaurants, where you fill your plate then bring it to a scale.
You’re picking among so many good offerings, rice and beans, maybe 10 veggie options, and sometimes up to a dozen different meats that will mean not only filling your plate, but making a mountain.
I avoided the mountain when I was in Pipa, but I still paid 44 reals (about $17). That’s expensive.
To put it in perspective, I found a restaurant in Recife that does rodizio, but with sushi. That means you pay a set price, in this case 40 reals ($16), and you can eat all the sushi you want.
Another example to drive the point home: many of my favorite Latin restaurants in Florida during my seven years living there usually charged no more than $12 for a meal, and that includes Amazon Grill, a Brazilian place where I would weigh my plate before I ate as well.
Like food, lodging costs are necessary unless you have a friend you can stay with or you don’t mind sleeping in the street.
Nightlife always comes with a significant cost, but it depends how much you go out and how much you consume when you do go out.
I’m at the point where nightlife is not too important to me, where a good night ends at midnight after a few drinks and a nice meal, maybe some dancing afterward too.