Want to Explore Brazil? Here’s How to Get the Best Bang for Your Buck (Multi-City Flights)

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Let me be honest. Traveling to Brazil became my hobby and obsession. I’ll be going to my personal paradise for the third time in November, and then in February 2015. If you search for round-trip flights from America to Brazil, your best bet are fares around $1000. Not terrible, but what if you want to explore Brazil and visit multiple cities? Are you going bankrupt? Not necessarily. Here’s how to get the best bang for the buck.

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If you traveled around Europe, then you may know Ryanair or other cheap airlines. Unfortunately, nothing like that exists in Brazil. We can safely assume that flying to Brazil is at least $1k. Now, if you pay $200-$300 more, how much more do you get to see? My answer: a lot! Check out these trips:

  • Last February I traveled the following route:
    Boston  -> Rio de Janeiro -> Salvador -> Porto Seguro -> Sao Paulo -> Boston.
  • In November, I’m covering:
    Boston -> Sao Paulo -> Belo Horizonte -> Florianopolis -> Manaus -> Sao Paulo -> Boston.

The former includes four stops in Brazilian cities, the latter five stops. I define a stop as a place where I get to spend at least a day. Typically, I stay several days in each and every city. In both cases I paid around $1200 for all the flights. Pretty good, eh?

While in absolute terms, $1200 is quite a bit of money, it’s not much if you compare that to a regular round-trip flight. A round-trip flight takes you to one destination, whereas if you pay a couple hundred more, you get to visit four-five places. In other words, the cost of visiting a city is around:

  • $1000 in the case of a regular round-trip flight,
  • $240 in the case of a well-designed multi-city flight.

You can argue that this comparison is unfair, because in the second case you fly domestically. True. It is likely, however, that in the second case you’ll experience much more and will have more fun. In absolute terms you pay more, but in relative terms you pay much less.

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If you are convinced that multi-city flights are a good use of your money and time, here’s how you book them:

  • First, find out (e.g., on Google Flights) the cheapest flight to a Brazilian city. Depending on your hometown, it’s likely to be either Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro, or Manaus. The first two are popular destinations in general. The last one is located in the very north of Brazil.
  • It is likely that the cheapest return will be from the first Brazilian city you fly to. So, one of: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, or Manaus.
  • There will be many airlines offering international round-trip flights to Brazil. What you need, however, is an airline that also offers domestic flights within Brazil. That leaves us with TAM. They offer great multi-city options, reasonable food, and great personnel.
  • Use Kayak to assemble your multi-city flight. Unfortunately, Google Flights doesn’t cut it, because it cannot combine international and domestic flights within Brazil.
  • Play with different dates. The cheapest flights are typically from Tuesdays till Thursdays.
  • Play with destinations. Once I was looking for a flight Manaus -> Boston. The flight that I found was very long and quite expensive. A better idea was to fly to Sao Paulo first, party there, and then fly to Boston the next day.
  • If you fly within Brazil, check out other airlines. I found some cheap domestic flights with GOL. I had to book these flights separately, but it was well worth it.

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That’s all my wisdom that I’m sharing with you today. It took me about 2 hours of searching and experimenting to find all these November flights for a total of $1200. If I booked them blindly, I would have paid over $2000, easily. So, unless you make over $400/hour in your free time, you may find my tips useful. Good luck!

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