1. Start saving - now
By now you will have heard the horror stories. The price of hotel rooms doubling, trebling, quadrupling. Flights that would require a second mortgage to afford. Tickets that cost an arm and a leg.
Unfortunately, most of the doom and gloom is justified. The cost of attending the World Cup will in most cases be stratospheric, with accommodation likely to be the biggest expense. While there are certainly ways to make savings (one option would be to choose a base outside of the 12 host cities) the reality is that attending the World Cup will not come cheap.
2. Think long and hard about city-hopping
For some, major tournaments are best experienced on the move, catching a game here and another there while getting a taste of a number of regions. But Brazil may not be the best place to roll out that plan. The distances between host cities are not to be taken lightly; London is closer to Moscow than Manaus is to Porto Alegre, for instance.
The real issue, though, is that Brazil has no countrywide rail service. Those committed to ground-hopping will either have to brave the air fares or resign themselves to patience-sapping coach marathons. Far more sensible would be to commit to one city or choose a cluster of venues that are not perilously far apart – the trio of venues in the north east, for instance.
3. Get lost…
Part of the reason Brazilians are so staggeringly talkative and helpful is that they need to be. When you leave the main tourist throng, catching a bus becomes a thrilling game of destination roulette, with no indication of which services pass and where they go. You just have to ask someone. And if they don’t know, you ask someone else. This is a country of enforced informational samaritanism.
But if that sounds frustrating, you’re missing the point. Brazil is a country of great humanity, where two strangers will chat away as if they’ve known each other for years. The best way to get a taste of that warmth is to deviate from the guidebook, forget your stiff, Western inhibitions and embrace the flux.
4. …but don’t expect to blend in
Brazil may be one of the most racially diverse nations in the world, but don’t go harbouring hopes of seamless assimilation; Brazilians have a impressively well-tuned gringo radar. In Rio, for instance, I can barely walk 10 metres without someone gawping at me. It could be the skin tone; it could be the blonde hair; it could be the clothes; it could be none of the above. They just know.
There is no malice behind it in most cases, just good-natured curiosity. And the flood of tourists expected to arrive during the Copa will probably reduce the novelty value. But don’t be surprised if you attract a few stares on your travels.
5. Leave your City of God fantasies at home
If you delve into the shanty towns that fill the gaps in the urban sprawl of Brazil’s cities, act respectfully. Favelas are not film sets. They are neighbourhoods full of real, working people, most of whose lives are not half as bullet-riddled as you may have been led to believe.
While the favelas do hold a certain allure for visitors – not least due to their creative, resourceful architecture – just remember that they are not there purely for the benefit of your Instagram account.
Jack Lang writes about Brazilian football for the Guardian, ESPN FC, When Saturday Comes and WhoScored, among others.
Follow him on Twitter: @snap_kaka_pop