It’s over a week since we have left Brazil and sitting I’m sitting in our Barcelona apartment reflecting our couple months in South America. We covered a fair bit of territory whilst only seeing 3 countries. This had been a deliberate thought process in our planning. We would have loved to spend time in places like Peru and Bolivia but with the altitude and probably only 2 of the family being able to complete some of the treks (Ez & Piper), these can wait until another time. That being said we were pretty happy with our choices of Argentina, Chile and Brazil. We have lived like a Porteno in Buenos Aires, seen the stunning natural beauty of Bariloche, crossed the Andes on foot (just walked a little at the border), played in the desert in Atacama, soaked up the rays on the beach in Rio, enjoyed a home cooked Brazilian bbq in Sao Paolo, plus much, much more.
The people have been so warm and welcoming. Argentinians, Chileans and Brazilians all love children so we got plenty of attention wherever we went. People would get up out of their seats for us on public transport, and would go out of their way to help us. I may be nicer to people back home on the train now. In some ways it has been easier than we thought, kids can be a nice travel accessory and seem to make everyone happier and friendlier.
Some key stats on our time in South America below:
We slept in 12 different places. (Evie slept in about 112 places – beaches, buses, restaurants and trains)
Flew on 8 planes
Hired 4 cars
Went to 3 futbol games
Tried to speak 2 languages
Visited hospital once
Kids cried 1007 times (Piper 7, Evie 1000).
We also learnt plenty about South America along the way. Three facts that stick out are:-
- There are no strip clubs in Salta, Argentina (population 500,000) – don’t ask how I found that one out.
- In Sao Paolo, Brazil everyone has a certain day/time they are not allowed to drive their vehicle. i.e. if your number plate ends in a 1 then you cannot drive on Mondays between 7-10am and 5-8pm. A way to decrease traffic congestion. (It also means people just buy another car with a different number plate so it negates the cars off the road)
- Mules can cost up to 15 times that of a horse in Argentina due to their working abilities (yes I am still dumbfounded by that one)
This post was meant to be the best of South America with me interviewing the kids about their favourite things over the last couple months but let’s just say they were about as interested as Boy George at the Playboy Mansion. Below are Evie’s & Piper’s responses to my first couple questions
What was your favourite house you have stayed in so far?
Evie – Our Erskineville (Sydney) house
What has been the best animal you have seen so far?
E – We haven’t seen any monkeys
What has been the favourite car we have driven in?
E – The purple car (FYI – we didn’t have a purple car; she just loves purple)
What’s been your favourite dessert?
P – Let’s not answer that now, I will wait until the end in case there is something better
What has been the best flight we have taken?
P – The ones I didn’t vomit on.
So I thought after those first few answers I would alter the plans and just give some quick tips to anyone wanting to travel the world with kids.
I’ve been asked countless times “What is it like travelling for so long with the kids?”. Well, to be honest, no-one actually asked I just had nothing else to write about. We have been overseas a few times already as a family to kid friendly places like Bali, Fiji and Thailand but nothing like this. We have now completed 2 months in South America with a 2 and a 4-year-old so I thought I would list my top 10 tips for travelling with kids. I’ve also added in italics below the thoughts of the kids (or what I think they must be thinking)
- Pack light…ish – We are using packing cells (you find them at Kathmandu – thanks Mel), I wasn’t convinced before we left home (probably just being difficult) but they definitely make life easier, keep rooms and suitcases tidier and cut packing time by half. We each have our own colour. They have been a godsend for keeping stuff together and organised especially when we only have a couple nights in a location. It also greatly helps for me knowing if I’m trying to put the right clothes on the right child!
Piper & Eve – They keep on talking about these stupid cells. I love pulling everything out just to piss them off. I also like changing them around to confuse dad. Surely he can work out, big stuff for Piper, little stuff for Evie, not too hard meathead!
- Work out before you leave, get fit! There is plenty of walking exploring South America. Our big girl wants to be carried everywhere whilst our little girl is determined to walk everywhere at the speed of a snail. We didn’t bring a stroller so are putting in the hard yards.
P & E – They are so stupid. They still haven’t worked out we are playing with them. Piper – I’m just being lazy as I think dad needs to lose some weight. E – I just like F##king with them by walking slowly
- Bath time – Our bath back home is full of about 30 toys. We didn’t bring any as we were really trying to cut down on non-essentials. A few days in to the trip I threw a couple of empty 1.25 litres bottles of water in and the kids are as happy as Larry, no toys needed. I definitely think there are some things you can do without.
P & E – We are so poor now. We don’t even have any bath toys. Dad gave us some empty plastic bottles. We pretend we think they are fun so he doesn’t feel bad about not having a job.
- Mix up the transportation. Kids love anything that is fun and different. Just keep changing it up is the key. So far we have caught planes, trains, buses, cable cars, taxi’s, private cars. Public transport and taxis have both been very cheap in South America and it’s a good way to explore a city like a local.
P & E – Mum and Dad are so hypocritical. Evie – At home mums goes off if my car seat strap is even a little bit loose, and she triple checks it. Here, I don’t even wear one and just cruise in the back of a cab. Piper – Bus for one day = fun. Bus for 6 days straight = we are really poor and can’t afford a car.
- Food. By staying in apartments it means you have access to a kitchen so can prepare some meals. We have been trying to eat out only once a day (either lunch or dinner) and make sandwiches, cook at home the other times. We always eat breakfast at home. Kids need a bit of normality and often would prefer just something simpler than another restaurant.
P & E – Boring. If you try and make out that tuna, rice and vegies is a gourmet meal one more time I’m going to lose it. Would it hurt to give Nonna or Nanny and buzz and maybe get a new recipe!
- Toilet train. Evie our youngest turned two in December, she is just toilet trained which means we don’t need to fill our travel bags with nappies. What it does mean though is that we are constantly asking “do you need to go to the toilet?” This coupled with making sure they drink plenty of water can be fun
E – What is it with these two. If I need to go to the toilet, I’ll tell you. Do I ask you all day? Sometimes I just do a bit of wee in my undies to say screw you…you forgot to ask me for 5 minutes
- IPad, computers can be gold for downtime. When it’s hot it’s great to be able to chill indoors, watch a movie or keep the kids interested. We have some rules around them, not while driving, we don’t take them out to restaurants and with a limited time. As we don’t have a lot of books we have also used them to do some educational stuff as well
P & E – It’s great that there are iPads but what’s with this 30minutes at a time bollocks? Do I limit the amount of time you stare at your phone all day? Just let us play! Also, don’t be a tightass and actually pay to unlock some of the apps!
- Take a craft pack. A large pencil case with stickers, glue paper, pencils, paint with water etc. etc. It’s pretty light, compact, fits in your carryon and can keep the kids happy for hours on a rainy or downtime day. They each have their own drawing book which we take out to restaurants.
P & E – We like craft but don’t make out you can just substitute the room full of toys back home for a pencil case with some stickers. Why are we so poor?
- Be flexible but create some routine, however small that may be. Breakfast on the balcony every morning, make a shoe cupboard for your shoes, swim at 5 o clock, dinner at 9:30 like the locals. Whatever works, just something you can set with the kids to happen every day so they don’t feel like their life is a complete whirlwind.
P & E – What is with the bloody military regime. Would it really hurt if I hit the pool at 430 and not 5? I came away to be on holidays and relax.
- Have Fun – It is fun, so live the moments. We ask our kids everyday what their favourite part of the day has been. It might be eating ice cream or drawing a picture. Yes things they can easily do at home, it doesn’t always have to be the top sights of the city, so don’t push them. We are also documenting our trip with photos, videos, blogs and diaries. Not just to look back on when you get home but kids love looking at themselves all the time and remembering what a great time they have had.
P & E – What he said. Have fun and it’s good to hear about what we’ve done – we are pretty cute you know.
Nothing ground breaking there but it’s been getting us by so far.
Let’s see how much we learn in part 2 of our adventure as over the next 2 months we will explore parts of Spain, France, Italy, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia. Ciao from the Massos.