Planning a trip to Brazil during the most epic time of year? We got you covered on how to pack for this trip of sheer debauchery and revelry. The good thing about visiting Brazil during Carnaval season is that it's as hot as a sauna and you won't need to pack a lot. The less clothing, the better. Here we'll break down all the do's and don'ts of what to pack for your Carnaval experience!
Rio Blocos (Street Parties)
- First things first: As a general rule of thumb, only wear out to Carnival street parties (blocos) what you are willing to lose (not that anything bad should actually happen, but it's best to be prepared). Closed (private, exclusive) parties, such as Camarote N. 1, may be a different story, but please tread with caution.
- Second things second: for street parties, you do want to wear closed-toed shoes. No matter how much you wear Havaianas in Brazil the other 355 days of the year, protecting your toes in the crowds is important at the Carnival dates! That said, it's advisable to only wear shoes that you're OK with getting destroyed. There will be a mixture of dirt, sand, mud, confetti, and other things on the ground. So don't wear you're Jordans or Louis V's because they are going to get wrecked!
- F'real tho, I would advise against Haviana's or flip flops during blocos. I made the mistake of wearing mine and was paranoid about getting stepped on the entire time.
- Ladies--buy a cheap pair of tennis shoes from Amazon you don't care to see after Carnaval. They will get destroyed and disposed.
- Men--it is recommended you wear Native shoes the whole time in street parties because you can wear them without socks and wash them, as well as wear them in the ocean. It is recommend to check out a pair of closed-toed, breathable rubber shoes that do not look entirely wack for Carnival, and Native is a good option.
- Costumes for blocos are something you should definitely consider! It's fair game to pack identifiable headgear, wigs, hats, masks, cool sunglasses, colorful stuff, light-up accessories, and anything else extra for this holiday. While you are able to buy some of this on the ground in Rio, packing some from home in the US can save you some time and energy once you're on the ground. Think of your costumes if you were planning to go to a sexy Halloween day party in the tropics. Here are some ideas:
- Ladies: cute head pieces - cat ears, flower crowns, etc., glitter and face jewels, body suits and swimsuits paired with tutus and skirts/wraps.
- Men: think an Indian head dress, Viking helmet or other themed hat, and crazy wig of some sort because Carnaval is all about not giving AF--and neither should you!
You can check out this Amazon page for more options on what to wear to Rio Carnaval.
Jewelry in Rio
- To the question "should I wear jewelry during Carnival?" As any local will tell you, the answer is unequivocally NO. There are pickpockets out there. Carnival is about being light and easy, so just leave the flashy watches and necklaces at home.
- An alternative, for the ladies, think face jewels and glitter.
The less clothing, the better
- Remember that Brazilians in general--men and women--tend to be more comfortable wearing less clothing because it is very hot and humid, and fitness is part of the local repertoire. This is a core part of the tropical mindset in the country, and especially in the beachy cities like Rio and Salvador where Carnival is king.
- Clothing for men in Rio tends to be casual: shorts, jeans, jean shorts, board shorts, t-shirts, v necks, polos, tanks, no shirt, Havaianas or other sandals. This is with the exception of the night out to a fancy private event, like Camarote N.1, where men could wear a nicer pair of jeans and good sneakers.
- For women, it will be casual but cute during the day--skirts, shorts, jean shorts, tank tops, light shirts, etc--and more dressed up at night.
- Everyone should have a pair of Havaianas (or just buy them in Brazil for cheaper).
- Sunglasses are a must for beach days, but again, think twice about which ones you're willing to loose in a crowd, etc.
- Please note: Rio has been known for rain showers in recent summers, and tropical summer storms may continue periodically any time from January through April. So not a bad idea to pack a light rain layer and/or small umbrella.
Nights Out in Rio
- For the ladies: Yes to the common question of "should I pack cocktail dresses and heels?". One thing this city knows how to do is have BALLER parties. The Carioca ladies dress to the nines when they hit the town. You will want to have options as far as evening attire goes.
- Similarly for men, packing a few nice, well-fitted shirts and pants that are all fit for humid days.
- Depending on which Camarote you might partake in, you will be given a t-shirt before the event that you will need to pick up in Rio. The trend is for women to cut up their t-shirts, tie them in sexy ways, and decorate them with jewels, tassels, etc. We attended Camarote N.1 and they had a t-shirt design center where the advanced ticket pick up was. As far as to what to pack for bottoms, ladies - think more club attire for your bottoms. Cute skirts, shorts, and heels.
- For men, wearing the Camarote-specific t-shirt is more casual, but as mentioned, a great pair of shorts or jeans, nice sneakers or loafers, and fresh hair are all recommended!