Rio de Janeiro was one of our favourite travel destinations of 2018. It had been on both of our bucket-lists for quite some time, and we were both extremely excited to finally be able to tick it off!
Rio de Janeiro is one of those rare places where multiple landscapes meet. The sprawling jungle borders the city on one side, and the beautiful beaches the other. There was also something special about being there and seeing all those iconic sights first hand – Christ the Redeemer, Sugarloaf Mountain, Copacabana Beach – it is a destination that really offers so much. If you are on limited time, check out this one day city tour as the best way to tick off those must-dos.
For a destination with so many different landscapes and activities on offer, you might think that packing is a bit of a nightmare! We were pretty well covered seeing as we travel with EVERYTHING that we own, and so we have put together this ‘Rio de Janeiro Packing List’ to make your packing experience that much easier.
Hopefully you find this helpful!
Rio de Janeiro Packing List: The Essentials
A good quality suitcase or backpack for your checked luggage, and a sizeable carry-on bag are pretty essential regardless of where you are travelling to. We would always advise to look at which options provide the most security, especially as most travellers use their carry-on bag for passport, money, phone etc.
- Suitcases: These Antler suitcases were our go-to choice for a number of reasons. Firstly, they come in a range of sizes meaning that we had plenty of room for all of our worldly possessions. Secondly, they have built in TSA approved, code-operated locks (no danger of losing the keys!). And finally, we loved the range of colours. With all the flights that we take, it’s important to be able to spot your own suitcase on the baggage belt!
- Backpacks: If you are visiting Rio de Janeiro as part of a multi-stop trip and moving on frequently, you might prefer a backpack rather than a suitcase. There are three main things to consider when choosing a backpack: capacity, features (pockets etc) and most importantly – fit. We recommend Osprey, as they are a reputable company with a wide range of options.
- Carry on: We recommend ‘anti-theft’ style backpacks, such as this example. Most zips are positioned against your back, making them less accessible for pickpockets! Make sure to choose a backpack that is splash-proof, especially if you are carrying electronics in your carry-on – Rio de Janeiro is a tropical destination.
- Packing cubes: These have to be one of THE best purchases we have ever made! We use one packing cube for each type of clothing – one cube for t-shirts, one for swimwear etc, making it super easy to find that outfit you want without having to unpack everything! Best of all, they fit very neatly into our suitcases. We like these packing cubes – they don’t need to cost a fortune!
Rio de Janeiro Packing List: Clothes
I don’t think I need to tell you to pack daily underwear and socks. I’d like to think that would be a given for any holiday you take. But when it comes to the rest of your wardrobe, we wanted to give you a little bit of advice.
Rio de Janeiro has a tropical climate pretty much year-round. Temperatures can reach as high as 30°C during the summer months between November to March. However, the summer is also the wet season, meaning it will be hot and muggy. The winter months of May to October will be cooler and dry, but temperatures rarely drop below 21°C (70.5 °F). This will definitely affect what you pack.
- Swimwear – Even if you travel during the winter months, it’s still pleasant enough to hit the beach. We visited Rio de Janeiro in May, and spent more than a few days being beach bums. So definitely pack a few pairs of swimwear. One thing to bear in mind, the local swimwear of choice is definitely speedos, so these are our recommended swimwear option. We love the fun styles at JJ Malibu (we have a lot of their clothing). Take a look and take a 20% discount on your JJ Malibu order with the code GLOBETROTTER at checkout.
- Daytime wear – This obviously depends on how you want to spend your days (sightseeing, around the pool, beach days etc). Like we already said, it can get pretty hot, so we would advise a good selection of shorts, T-shirts and tank-tops/vests. Even during the winter months, the daily temperature is probably still a little hot to wear full-length pants. Rio de Janeiro is a casual place, so tank-tops and shorts are perfectly acceptable on most of the sightseeing trips you will do.
- Evening wear – Temperatures can drop on an evening during the winter months, so if this is when you visit definitely pack a few sweaters/jumpers, cardigans, and a light jacket. You might fancy switching to full length pants during the winter months too.
- Waterproofs – You can expect a few showers during the summer months. Whilst it’s unlikely to rain all day every day, it can come down pretty heavy at times. If you still want to be out and about and making the most of your sightseeing opportunities, you need a decent waterproof. We recommend a light waterproof to keep you covered.
- Footwear – With the different landscapes in Rio, be prepared and make sure you pack a range of footwear options. We would advise at least a pair of flip-flops – check out these Havaianas to really fit in, suitable hiking footwear, and some nicer shoes for an evening.
Rio de Janeiro Packing List: Accessories/Electronics
As well as being the perfect destination for a beach bum, with the choice of both Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, there are still plenty of adventure activities available to fill your time. Make sure you have the right equipment with you to capture these moments to help you remember. Don’t forget – Rio is a tropical destination so make sure your belongings are protected from the elements. Our top choices are:
- High quality camera: The scenery in Rio de Janeiro is absolutely incredible. The views from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer are spectacular. You will need a quality camera to best be able to show off to family and friends back home. The views stretch for miles, so it’s also important to have a camera with a good zoom lens. We chose a Sony camera which was perfect for us since they offer quality compact cameras instead of having to carry around one of the larger ones. However, this might not be a problem for you if this is your main trip, so why not treat yourself to a DSLR.
- Go Pro: Rio de Janeiro is really popular for surfing, hang-gliding, rock-climbing, hiking and even scuba-diving. You want to make sure you can capture all these experiences, and a Go-Pro is definitely the best way to do this! Recent models are shock proof and waterproof, so perfect for most adventure activities. Take a look at the Go Pro Hero 7 Black!
- Go Pro Accessories: If you do opt to travel with a Go-Pro, it’s worth investing in a few accessories to get the best use out of it. We recommend a strong selfie stick, a spare battery (you don’t even want to think about it!) and some extra mounts.
- Tripods: Travelling with a tripod isn’t necessary, but depends on how creative you want to be with those Insta pics. They are also super useful if you are travelling alone and hate asking a stranger to take 86 photos of you until they get it just right. We have two that we use frequently – a ‘Gorilla Grip’ style small tripod, which wraps around anything you can grab with your own hands (perfect for those creative photos in hard to reach places a normal tripod can’t go), and a standard tripod. We like this one too as it allows us to get photos from different heights, and allows us to be snap-happy until it’s spot-on. Very important for us!
- Power Adaptor: We have lost count of how many times we used to forget this when we went on holiday. For this trip, a universal adaptor that works pretty much anywhere was the best option.
- Phone protector: This is super important considering how valuable mobile phones are nowadays. We used this phone protector when we were in Rio de Janeiro, and it was perfect for being at the beach, around the pool and when we were hiking.
- Power bank: Imagine standing at the foot of Christ the Redeemer, preparing to take that Insta-perfect selfie, and your battery running out. Doesn’t even bear thinking about does it. Make sure you pack a power bank – your phone camera will be getting a LOT of use!
- Memory cards: I absolutely hate having to go through and choose which photos to delete in order to take new ones. I never want to delete any! And so I now have a memory card with a huge storage meaning I can be as snap-happy as I like. Just make sure to check the compatability with the intended device!
- Hard drive: This is something only worth packing if you are travelling for a long time. It’s something definitely worth investing in to make sure you don’t lose any photos or videos. Make backing up those memories a priority for when you return home! We use a 2TB Hard Drive which should last a long time!
Rio de Janeiro Packing List: Other Useful Items
These often tend to be the items that you most wish you had when the time comes!
- First aid kit: We never travel without compact first aid kits! These can be picked up for a good price.
- Insect repellent: It’s tropical and humid in Rio! Don’t come home looking like a mosquitos favourite snack. Insect repellent is a travel essential!
- Binoculars: The views in Rio stretch for miles and miles. A small pair of binoculars can be really handy, and much better than using a camera or your phone.
- Sarongs: We prefer sarongs on the beach as they dry much quicker than thick beach towels. And when you’re home alone, they’re extremely comfortable and airy to wear around the hotel! Check out these sarongs.
- Portuguese phrases: Even if you make do with hello, goodbye, please and thankyou – the locals will appreciate your effort! Get a basic phrasebook like this one.
- Dry bag: These are great for boat trips, as they stop your valuables (and clothes) from getting wet. But we also like to use ours for the beach, to keep everything sand-free. We like this bag as they fold up quite compact.
- Sun screen: Do we really have to explain this one? Rio de Janeiro is HOT! This mist style sun screen is our favourite.
- Money belt: Although we didn’t come across any trouble whatsoever during our time, Rio de Janeiro does have a reputation of not being the safest city. Don’t carry too many valuables with you when out and about, and for that extra piece of mind, we recommend using a money belt like this one.
There you go guys. Hopefully when it comes to packing for your own super exciting trip to Rio de Janeiro you won’t forget that all important item.
Rio de Janeiro has probably gone straight up into our top five destinations we have ever travelled to – we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Take a look at these posts about Rio de Janeiro to find out everything you need to know before you go!
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