The Rio Olympic Games may not take place until August 2016, but anyone hoping to attend the event in person should start planning their trip now. With more than half a million people expected to attend, a trip to the Olympics is going to require a significant amount of preparation. Check some of the big items off the to-do list now, and you’ll arrive in Rio de Janeiro as a gold medalist in trip planning. Here’s how to get started.
1. Buy event tickets
Every country has its own official ticket source for the Olympics. In the U.S., that source is CoSport. Individual tickets went on sale back in May, which means tickets are now selling fast. In order to initiate the purchasing process, you’ll need to create an account on cosport.com.
There, you’ll be able to search for and purchase tickets on CoSport’s website. (Keep in mind that each account can purchase no more than 48 tickets.) Because ticket inventory is constantly being updated on the site, it’s a good idea to check back often to see if tickets for the events you want to attend have become available. If you have specific requests pertaining to group purchasing, accessibility needs, and so on, then contact CoSport before purchasing tickets.
If you’re still not seeing the tickets you want, you can try eBay, Craigslist, and other sites. But keep in mind that purchasing through these platforms can be riskier than going through the official reseller.
One important note: When purchasing tickets for different events, remember to allow for travel time between venues. CoSport recommends scheduling at least two or three hours between events that take place on the same day within the same city.
2. Purchase your flight
Think strategically before booking your flight to Rio. You’ll do your wallet a favor by trying not to fly at the same time as the majority of the spectators, like within a few days before the Opening Ceremony and on the day after the Closing Ceremony.
Instead, plan to fly in or out while the games are underway, or schedule in a few extra days of sightseeing on either side of the games. That way, when you do fly, the crowds and prices should be (at least slightly) less astronomical.
3. Book lodging
Because hotel space in Rio is limited, it’s a good idea to book a hotel or hostel as soon as possible. While it might be tempting to take advantage of the offers for rental apartments online, Olympic representatives have warned visitors to be wary of staying anywhere that hasn’t been certified by a government agency. Your best bet is to book an area hotel, stat.
4. Obtain a visa
Currently, U.S. visitors to Brazil are required to obtain a visa prior to entering the country (to the tune of $160). However, there have been rumors that Brazil may waive the visa requirement for U.S. citizens who attend the Olympic Games.
The safest bet is still to go ahead and secure a visa. (Keep in mind that the process can take several weeks.) But if you want to hold out for the chance of saving the visa fees, then keep following the news to find out what Brazil’s tourism minister ultimately decides. If you have questions, contact the nearest Brazilian embassy or consulate.
While you’re at it, make sure your passport is up to date.
5. Get the lay of the land
Before landing in Rio, learn what you can about the Olympic stadium and events as well as the surrounding areas. Developing familiarity with the Olympic venues and local customs will make the entire trip go more smoothly. Specifically, it’s helpful to know the following.
- The competition venues are grouped in four main clusters: Deodoro, Maracana, Barra (the location of the Olympic Park), and Copacabana. Within these clusters, events will be assigned to different zones. Remember that if you want to see several events on the same day, you’ll need to budget time for moving between the different venues.
- Public transportation on municipal and rapid transit buses is complimentary for visitors traveling to or from an Olympic venue and who are in possession of a valid ticket. Once you’re in Rio, check rio2016.com frequently for the most up-to-date information regarding public transportation.
- Brazil’s monetary unit is the real. Rio can be an expensive city to begin with, and you can also expect many vendors to impose a 30 percent mark-up during the games. It’s a good idea to start saving for the trip now.
- August is the end of winter in Brazil, so you’ll want to pack accordingly. Because Rio is located near the coast, expect exceptionally mild winter temperatures; daytime highs can pass 80 degrees while nights are typically in the 60s.
- Rio is the second largest city in Brazil, and it’s known for its relaxed beach culture, tropical forests, and intercultural music and food scenes. The primary language is Portuguese. If you’re able, plan to explore the local culture while staying in the area.
6. Make preparations
Even though it’s too early to finalize many plans, it’s helpful to start prepping for the more minor details of the trip far in advance. Start creating an itinerary, figure out what sightseeing you want to do in Rio or surrounding areas, and think about security restrictions and what you’ll need during the days that you’re attending the games. The official website for the Rio Olympics, rio2016.com, offers a wealth of information to help you plan the details of your trip.
By doing as much as you can to prepare for a trip to the 2016 Olympics in advance, you’ll spare yourself the last-minute stresses that come with procrastinating on trip planning. While the rest of the world is scrambling to secure visas and book hotels, you can sit back, relax, and get excited for the games to begin.