Over the years I’ve traveled far and wide and way off the beaten path to find the best places to stay before they get known and are discovered by package-type tourists. In the process I’ve become a dab hand at packing for Brazil in every season/weather zone and knowing what to take on a hidden pousada trip, bearing in mind that there are often no shops close by, let alone bank ATMs.
Here are my top 10 tips to start with:
1) Travel light and only with luggage, you can easily carry yourself. Access to many of the hidden pousadas is along dirt tracks, cobbled streets, or sand, none of which are conducive to rolling your luggage, and you may not find anyone around to help.
2) Make your main luggage expandable carry-on size, hardback with top and side handles so your belongings are protected from the elements when they chuck it on the top of a landrover, or onto a tiny boat. Always carry a computer or other electronics in your hand!
3) Make your other luggage a large tote that can fit a daysack (with pockets for water, mosquito repellent, and anti-itch cream) and fold away beach/pool bag (with suntan cream and aftersun and hat). Often it is better to leave your main luggage at one main pousada and take off with just a backpack for a couple of days.
4) Bring waterproof plastic bags to hold money and other essentials that you can attach to swimming things, particularly if traveling alone and want/need to swim. (Recently I had to wade chest-deep to an island where you had to pay on arrival and I would have loved to have had my camera with me as well as the R$5!!)
5) Leave your crown jewels and high heels behind (yes guys!) and bring flip-flops for the beach; trainers if you’re going to the mountains. And if possible take all the clothes you’ll need for the time you’ll be away as facilities for washing clothes are very limited.
6) Adopt a layered look for degrees of warmth and rain. I take a sweater (for planes and buses where the aircon is frequently set too high), a light or heavy down jacket (depending on the time of year and place I’m going to) plus a rain jacket with a hood, and the requisite British umbrella!
7) Also take all the money you are likely to need in cash for the time you are going as it will almost always be difficult/impossible to find an ATM . Money should be taken in reais. (NB If paying for your pousada by credit card. make sure you have told your provider you will be in Brazil and test it in your arrival city BEFORE leaving on your trip.)
8) Take reading material and/or films already downloaded onto your Ipad or kindle. Both in pousadas and on night buses the light is frequently too dim for reading real books.
9) Take a good torch/flashlight and ensure you have one downloaded on your phone as a backup. There are no lights on the beaches and mountains of off-beat Brazil, just the moon and lots of stars.
10) And lastly don’t forget to bring a camera, preferably with a long zoom so you don’t need to carry binoculars as well. My Panasonic Lumix has a 24x zoom and takes extraordinary photos as well as being easy to use. Highly recommended.
Enjoy your Brazil pousada trip and hopefully, I’ll meet you somewhere along the lesser-traveled road!