5 things I learnt travelling to Brazil with young children

5 things I learnt travelling to Brazil with young children

I know, what were we thinking? Taking a six year old and a two year old to Brazil.

My husband is Brazilian. We haven’t been for four years and thought we should get a trip in before my youngest turned two so we could save on the extra seat….

Yes, we are crazy!

We had been to Hawaii in August and that was a delight – one flight, straight to a resort… so relaxing.
Now here we are, three months later, taking them to Brazil for six weeks.

We arrived in Rio after three VERY LONG flights…

We flew Air New Zealand via Auckland and Buenos Aires and decided to splurge on the sky couch making the 3-seater a couch from Auckland to Buenos Aires (what a brilliant decision!). The girls could lie down together and sleep and I could remain hands free and watch a movie and sleep on a plane like the olden pre-child days.. Marcos got a seat across the aisle so he could also enjoy some peace. The girls were great considering and I had kept the Ergobaby handy so that airports were hands free. Everyone worked really well together and we felt like Team Goncalves.

NZ skycouch photo

From the first time I went to Meet Marcos’ family in the south of Brazil I have wanted to Visit Rio -one of those “wow I can’t believe I am really here” cities that makes you want to burst with excitement and tears and take in every second.

Arriving after such a big trip and getting to see Marcos’ sister and nephew (who had come to meet us) was so overwhelming and we had made it all in one piece. So here’s what I have learnt.

  1. Bed time and meal times don’t exist so get over it and move on…

My six year old, Scarlett, just went straight back into a routine. My nearly two year old spent the first night awake from 2-6 am. I did not cope well. It took the whole Rio stay for her to work out the 13-hour time difference. (But I have lived without sleep before and after all we were in RIO de Janeiro, BABY!!!) So, we embraced it and went with it. She slept a lot in the carrier.

Brazilians don’t have a dinner time / bed time kind of life and although I remember this from our last trip. I just had to stop and tell myself “they will sleep when they sleep and eat when they eat, and you need to embrace the different culture – everyone will survive”. So Scarlett often went to bed at midnight and Florence at 10 pm. They slept through and slept in (I haven’t had a sleep-in in a long time).

The great thing about Brazil is you can always find amazing food so just be ready to eat when they are hungry..

The first night we arrived in Curitiba it was 8 pm. We arrived at our apartment and then we decided it must be time to eat dinner, at this stage nearly 9:30 pm. We raced up to the shopping centre food court, thinking we would get the scraps only to find it full of families, hard to get a table and absolutely spoilt for choice..

I love you Brazil!

  1. You need your own space and a POOL is underrated.

Unlike previous visits, we decided to stay in our own apartment on this trip as it was for five weeks. BEST decision. We could have down time, the girls could relax in their own space (as could I) and there was a pool. Just a small one, but enough that after another massive day of walking or visiting family we could all come back and cool off. For young kids this is such a relief and a break that can change your attitude and it is a great way to get kids through the day with a promise of a swim at the end of it.


Pool Curitiba

  1. You should look at the world through the eyes of a six year old – it is an absolute delight!

I have worked in travel for over 20 years and I have traveled a lot, and taking Scarlett away this time especially changed my aspect. Catching the train up (apparently a few panther spottings on the way) and seeing Christ the Redeemer through her eyes, the moment her jaw dropped made me do the same and it was really emotional. Our world is beautiful.

For people-watching on Copa Cabana to buying and drinking a coconut out of a coconut. It really was a treat.


scarlett azucar


  1. Travelling is a great way to teach gratitude.

We live in Australia, we are very lucky and I don’t think my kids realise this. Being in Brazil and seeing the poverty and the even the young kids selling chewing gum or lollies to take home money so their family can eat. I think travelling is a great way to have gratitude for what we have and hopefully some of this has sunk in, it does make me excited to keep taking them away as they get older though.

  1. It brings you together as a team.

Seven flights, five airports, two four hour Bus trips, trains, and countless UBERs without car seats, and I don’t know how many kilometres walking and I realised something as our first big family trip. We are a team, when one person is feeling low or about to have a melt-down, the other ones will rally and give some common sense, a break and say or do something ridiculously funny. It has made us stronger as a couple and a family.


Rio photo

As crazy as the trip was, in Marcos’ words it was “our most remarkable”.

Danielle Goncalves
Based in Erskineville, NSW
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