Ten Things to Do Before Traveling to the Rio Olympics

Ten Things to Do Before Traveling to the Rio Olympics



The summer Olympics in Rio are less than a month away. My husband and I received our tickets yesterday and are very excited to attend our first Olympic games.



New records will be set, athletes will become national heroes and the world will watch history unfold. At this point, we don’t know what teams and athletes will be competing in our ticketed events but being there to witness it all firsthand will, no doubt, be thrilling.

Our excitement, however, is tempered with each news report about Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is a city plagued with violent crime, recession, horrifying levels of water contamination, political crisis, and to top it off, Zika virus.

If we were anxiety-prone we surely would have lost a few nights sleep thinking about the worst case scenarios. Instead, we are focusing our attention on making our visit a safe and memorable one.

Below are the things we are doing to prepare for the Rio Olympics and suggestions for fellow travelers:


  1. Register with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

Before traveling to any foreign country we visit the US Department of State website to register our travel dates and contact information with the nearest embassy. Providing this information will enable the US Embassy and/or family to contact us in the event of an emergency. The site also provides travel warnings and entry requirements for Brazil, including Olympic visitor information.




  1. Buy Travel Insurance

A small investment in travel insurance can buy piece of mind in the event of unexpected sickness, theft, travel cancellations, or worse. We stay protected with World Nomads, a favorite among long-term travelers.  Get a quote for your trip and check out the Brazil travel safety tips.


world nomads insurance


  1. Stock up on Mosquito Repellent

The best way to protect against the Zika virus is to prevent mosquito bites. The Aedes mosquitoes that carry the virus bite during the day when skin is more likely to be exposed to the sun. Skip the drugstore mosquito repellents and go for a heavy duty DEET repellent. For extra protection, consider spraying your clothes with permethrin.


maxi deet spray


  1. Buy Theft Proof Travel Gear

Stash your cash and valuables somewhere safe and concealed while out and about. Consider buying a slash proof purse like this one I just purchased.  Zipper locks, slash proof straps, RFID blocking pockets and cross body design have made me loyal to the Travelon brand while traveling.


travelon purse


While money belts quite common, we are opting a unique design like this belt.  It looks no different than an everyday belt but has a secret zipper where you can stash some emergency cash.  The buckle can be easily adjusted for long airplane rides.  Best of all, you don’t have to take it off for airport security screenings!


pacsafe belt


If you want to keep your cash out of sight but still easily accessible, check out this tank top from Clever Travel Companion.  Two hidden side pockets are generously sized, similar in size to front pockets in women’s jeans, and will hold all your necessities right under your arms.  Zippers tuck under flaps to stay out of sight and will not set off airport metal detectors.


clever tank


  1. Learn Basic Portuguese

Having to translate the Portuguese communication from our Airbnb host over the past year tipped me off to the fact that most Brazilians don’t speak English. Perhaps more enterprising vendors will have learned some basic English in anticipation of wooing Olympic tourists but don’t count on it.

Come to Rio armed with some basic Portuguese phrases you can learn through a free smartphone app like Duolingo, by watching YouTube videos or studying a travel guide. Make sure to download Google Translate on your phone as a fallback, it even works offline if you download in advance.


learn portugese for rio


  1. Stock up on patriotic gear

Flaunting the fact that we are American is something we will not be doing on the streets of Rio for safety reasons.  However, we will be showing our American pride when attending events and watching Team USA in the privacy of our Airbnb.  We also have some New York City postcards and American flag can koozies to share with new friends we meet along the way.


USA Soccer Fans


  1. Keep Valuables at Home

Just as athletes go for the gold, so do the thieves. Work under the assumption that anything you travel with may be lost or stolen. Therefore, bring nothing you can’t bear to lose. My luxury watch, diamond engagement ring, and wedding band will be residing in our safe deposit box while I am away.





  1. Photocopy Your Passport

Your passport is something you can’t leave home but you will want to safeguard it in the hotel room safe or locked luggage. You are required to carry identification with you at all times so photocopy the identification page of your passport and carry this instead of the real thing.




  1. Set Travel Notifications on Credit and Debit Cards

Picture yourself buying some Havaianas at the airport as soon as you touch down in Rio and having your credit card frozen for suspected fraud. What a nightmare if you only have one credit card with you and no easy way to get in touch with your bank.  Before leaving home, search your bank website for the section where you can set a travel notification and inform them of your plans.


Travel Notifications


  1. Download Olympic Smartphone Apps

Follow all the Olympic action, results, and news by downloading the following Olympic Apps to your smartphone:


Name of App

App Icon

App Developer


US in Rio


USinRIO 100 US Embassy in Brazil – Rio 2016 Contains know before you go travel information, emergency numbers, embassy info and useful links
Team USA App



team usa 100 The United State Olympic Committee presented by Smuckers Features the latest breaking news, photos and videos on Team USA including real time results tracker.
NBC Olympics



nbc olympics 100 NBCUniversal Media, LLC Watch highlights, get breaking news and medal counts, and check TV listings
Rio 2016



rio 2016 100 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games – Rio 2016 Spectator Guide, schedule of events, venue descriptions.
NBC Sports



nbc sports 100 NBCUniversal Media, LLC NBC is the official US broadcast provider of the Olympics. The Sports App will live stream 4,500 hours of Olympic events for authenticated pay TV subscribers.
The Olympics – Official App for the Olympic Games



the olympics official app 100 International Olympics Committee Covers all Olympic games past and present. Read more about your favorite events, athletes, and countries plus see photos, videos and news.
Rio 2016 Social Hub



olympic hub 100 International Olympics Committee Aggregates verified social media feeds of teams and athletes in one place.


I am optimistic that Rio will live up to its nickname of the Marvelous City during the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Safe travels to all fellow fans hitting the road to Rio.


If you have any tips or care to share how you are preparing for the games we’d love to hear!


If you like this article, PIN IT!


Olympics Pinterest



2 Responses

  1. Caught wind of your travel blog and checking it out. The posts and pictures are great. Glad you are following your passion.

    We will watch for you in the audience at the Olympics. 😉

    • Passport Penguin

      Thanks so much Doug! I am glad you found the blog so you can follow along on our adventures.

Leave a Reply