Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Preparing for Brasil Travel

Lately, we've had a number of people talking about wanting to make a trip down here to Brasil. Number 1, that excites us! While we aren't quite ready yet to play tour guide, we are certainly looking forward to doing some of that in the future once we are more fluent in Portuguese and have found the top spots to take people. We even bought a bed for the guestroom a couple weeks ago, so we'll be all set up for hosting company!

Eric and I were discussing this weekend though how a trip to Brasil takes a lot of planning and it's not something you can just decide to do one day and leave the next. We were thinking it would be a good idea to post a run down of everything you would need to do if you want to make a trip down here. (Not to discourage by any means, but to inform!) You really need to start at least 6 months before traveling in order to get immunized and have everything ready to go.

The two major things you would need to do is 1. get immunized and 2. get a visa.


Yellow Fever: If you plan to visit us, it is really important to get immunized for yellow fever. There is an advisory out right now because there has been an outbreak of it in our state and a bordering state during the last 2 months (10 people are known to have contracted yellow fever, 7 of these 10 have died, see the importance?)

Yellow fever is the trickiest of the vaccines to obtain. It can only be given at CDC Yellow Fever Vaccine Sites. You can visit this website to find the site nearest you:
It must be obtained at least 10 days before traveling.

Another side note: the USA and other countries reserve the right to deny entry to the country to people who have traveled in “infected” regions and do not have proof of immunity. They can institute the policy at any point. How much fun would it not be to get quarantined in an airport??? Get the vaccine and carry the yellow card with proof of such with your passport.

Typhoid: This is transmitted through food and water. There isn’t a high risk for it in the city, but if you want to do any other traveling with us outside of Belo Horizonte (and we think you will!), it is a necessity. And for those who hate needles, you’ll be glad to know that this vaccine is in pill form!

Hepatitis A and B: The most important of these two is Hep A because it is transmitted through food and water and is not uncommon here. Hep A is a series of two shots given 6 months apart. That means you have to plan ahead, you need to start this vaccine at least 6 months before traveling so you can get both of them.

Hep B is transmitted through bodily fluids. Not a huge risk unless you were in an accident or something down here, but it isn’t a bad idea while you're at it!

MMR: Most Americans should be immunized already, but you want to make sure that you have had your MMR vaccine. A couple months ago there was a substantial outbreak of rubella in our city.

Tetanus (DPT): It’s always a good idea to make sure you’re up-to-date (as in, you’ve had one in the last 10 years) on your tetanus vaccine before traveling out of the country. You don’t really want to have to visit a Brasilian hospital just because you get a cut, right?

Malaria: If you decide to tack on a trip to the Amazon or other more wilderness areas, you’ll want to make sure you get a prescription of anti-malaria medicine to bring with you. You have to take it before, during, and after exposure to malaria risk areas. It is also important to note that the most commonly prescribed anti-malaria medicine, Chloroquine is ineffective in Brasil. You would want to make sure your doctor gives you one of the others available.

Other Meds: Our doctor also gave us a prescription for CIPRO to have filled and bring with us to Brasil. It is to be taken in case of 'travelers stomach.' Apparently, the usual cause of travelers stomach is bacteria from food or water that your body is not used to. Taking imodium or something along those lines can actually make you sicker, since it just stops the bacteria from exiting your system. Cipro actually kills the bacteria and has you feeling much better in about 24 hours. We, luckily, haven't had a problem yet, but it is good to have just in case. Who wants to be in a new country and stuck in the bathroom the whole time?


Besides the immunizations needed to travel to Brasil, you will need to obtain a visa (not just a passport!) It is a simple process for tourist, but it is still something that takes time. Before obtaining a visa you need 1. a passport, and 2. airline tickets purchased. Once you have those two things then you just have to fill out the visa form, follow all their instructions, and mail it to your Brasilian Consulate's Office. If you live in the midwest, your consulate is in Chicago. If you live in the southeast, then Miami is yours.

The Chicago office doesn't have a website, but can be contacted through email for visa forms and instructions at

The Miami tourism visa website is:

I would allow 3 weeks or more to get your visa. It shouldn't take but 2 weeks, but if something was filled out incorrectly, they will mail you back your application and you will have to try again.

We don't want to discourage anyone from coming-we are super excited about the prospect of visitors on down the road. We just thought we'd let you know what all is involved so you can plan accordingly!

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