Brazil 101 – Currency

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Ah, my dear American/European/Canadian friends. You will feel rich in Brazil. Let us take the US$ as our base currency. As of right now, US$1 is equal to BR$4 (4 Brazilian Reals). Slightly less with the Canadian dollar, slightly more with the Euro, and so on.

Exchange your currency for the Brazilian Real before you leave. Currency exchange houses at the airport will charge you more. Exchange your money at home before you leave, take a little extra in your national currency (if that currency is Dollar/Euro). In a pinch, you’ll always find someone willing to buy those off you (you give them x amount of dollars, they give you the equivalent in reals).

Come ready to spend! Be a tourist in Brazil! Hotels that are R$400 a night are just US$100. Trips and attractions are much more accessible to you!

This, of course, does not apply to things you can find in North America. Technology, imported items and foods, foreign brand name clothes, etc. are all going to be more expensive than if you bought the same product here.

What I love about shopping in Brazil is that tax is already included in the price. Whatever price is on the price tag is what you will pay at check out. I live in British Columbia where tax is 12%. What an odd (and high) number to calculate on top of every purchase! So purchases in Brazil feel a lot nicer, ????.

Several things, however, become more affordable: food, shoes, toiletries, kitchenware, dentistry, LASIK, spa services, touristic activities in general. To find the price of something in dollars just divide the price by four.

Souvenir Ideas – General

Actually, before we talk about gifts for other people, let’s talk about gifts to yourself. Go shoe shopping. Man, woman, child, whoever you are, take some time to go shoe shopping. Brazilian shoes are quality shoes that will last a long time. They are also light and soft and comfortable. Go shoe shopping.

Buy an iconic pair of Havaianas: flip-flops made out of rubber. A pair of the original design will last you forever. But they also have numerous new designs and so many colors. They’re so comfortable and make great gifts too! Buy a pair of Havaianas with the original little flag for everyone back home. Boom! That’s souvenirs sorted. (Make sure you get everyone’s shoe size before traveling.)

Other ideas include food items like national sweets. These are some of my favorites:

  • paçoca: peanuts, sugar, salt (buy the Paçoquita brand)
  • pé de moça: peanuts + condensed milk
  • cocada: coconut + sugar
  • doce de leite: it’s dulce de leche. Buy the Aviação brand
  • goiabada: guava paste. Buy the Predilecta brand

Brazilian food usually has a much smaller shelf-life (fewer preservatives, especially in national sweets). So just be aware of the expiration date and calculate whether it will get to its intended home in time.

Above, I mentioned that toiletries (I refer to soaps, perfumes, creams, lotions, etc.) end up being affordable. These also make great gifts if you buy brands like Natura, which is Brazilian and uses Brazilian resources to make their products.

And of course, all sorts of “Brazil” paraphernalia: keychains, magnets, cangas (wraps/coverups worn at the beach, often with Brazilian patterns).

If you’re going to Brazil in September 2019, I suggest also taking money to purchase things at the event! There will be stalls selling all sorts of items.

There will be so much for you to explore. Go to farmer’s markets, adventure in downtown commerce, visit small-town businesses, stroll through malls and convenience stations on the side of major highways. Stop at fresh fruit stands on the side of roads, try the homemade sweets. Immerse yourself. Bring back gifts, but make sure you take home stories and experiences.

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