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Don't make these mistakes: 10 Regrets from our family trip to Brazil

What is travel without an experience, and what is an experience without some regrets? Every destination I go to leaves me unsatisfied and craving for more time and more regrets. Brazil was one such destination during our family trip with a 15-month-old toddler.

Brazil travel guide for toddlers- biggest regrets
Wandering on streets of Rio with a 15 month toddler

Hi, I am Dimple, mom of two small girls (2 yr and 4 yr at the time), and write all things related to travel with kids- guides, itineraries, tips, and hacks so you don’t have to. This post is dedicated to the biggest mistakes I made during our Brazil trip with a 15-month toddler.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase something, I may earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Thanks

When we were choosing places to visit in Brazil we realized, that Brazil is BIG, and not just big, it’s HUGE! The travel time from one location to another surprised us. We ended up choosing Rio and Salvador, Bahia. You can read up on our journey in Brazil's travel guide with a toddler for more information

10 biggest travel regrets from Brazil trip with kids

You know amidst the thrill of planning itineraries and scouring travel forums and Google searches, there's a delicate balance that we as parents have to maintain. Ensuring our toddler's nap schedule and sleep cycle remains undisturbed for a smoother travel experience.

Then you come back from vacation and realize you didn't really have to worry so much and you could have taken those brazen decisions and could have easily planned attractions around their routine.

So, here I am jotting down all my regrets from our trip so that you don't make the same mistakes.

Rio de janeiro stay with kids
Saw this view so many times in our 6 day stay in Rio
  1. Planning too many days in Rio

We had planned 6 nights in Rio de Janeiro during our 12-day trip to Brazil, which was way too much. Even though we did day tours to Ilha Grande and Petropolis, Rio is a beautiful city and has so much to offer, however, 6 days are a lot to spend in any city, no matter how big or small.

What I would do differently: I wish I could have spent 2 days from those 6 days in Rio de Janeiro to visit the Iguazu Falls or Buzios instead. For some reason, I thought it would be a taxing vacation if I added additional flights with a toddler. Silly me!

Amazon rainforest with toddler Brazil
Logistics to Amazon rainforest with a toddler didn't work

2. Not planning days in the Amazon Rainforest

Brazil has the biggest gateway to the Amazon rainforest. While planning, I so wanted to go that I could picture myself, my toddler, and the Amazon rainforest. Sounds like a jungle dream, right?

Well, that’s far from reality at least. The logistics of taking a flight, then a boat, then going into a jungle area wasn’t very appealing (at that time). Now, things have changed, and there are more options.

What I would do differently: I will definitely be bringing my daughter when she is older to experience the entire rainforest, its flora, and fauna. I will plan at least 3 full days to get the immersive experience and not make it a rushed itinerary. Also, instead of doing all the research myself, I'll be referring to Danae Explores Amazon planning advice.

Domestic flight from Rio to Salvador, Bahia
Waiting at the airport for our flight from Rio to Salvador

3. Booking domestic flights very late:

We booked a domestic flight from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador, Bahia for double the cost. We paid $900 (for two) for a flight that could have been bought for $400 (for two), just because we booked it 2 weeks before flying.

What I would do differently: Definitely book domestic flights at least 3 weeks in advance as prices go way up afterward. Also, if you have check-in luggage, make sure you pay for the return together; it’s cheaper that way.

Day trip Petropolis Brazil kids
Imperial museum in Petropolis wasn't worth a day trip

4. Unnecessary day trips:

  • Petropolis Frankly, I didn’t like Petropolis. It just wasn’t worth the hype. Yes, it’s beautiful but honestly not worth the day trip. Just watching some rooms in the palace or a cathedral that you can see almost anywhere isn't my cup of tea. Our tour took us to a restaurant for lunch—meh! No one on our tour enjoyed the food. What I would do differently:  Skip it entirely! Sorry, not sorry!

  • Arrail do Cabo I did a day trip to Arraial do Cabo, which easily took 2.5 hours one way from Rio. Not a preferred day trip with a small kid. In hindsight, I wish I stayed a night in Cabo Frio and moved to Arraial (40 minutes between the two) in the morning to really experience it. What I would do differently: Either go to Buzios for 2 days or stay a night in Arraial do Cabo.

Parque Lage in Rio Christ Redento
Parque Lage on a cloudy day

5. Going to hyped Parque Lage

Yes, it is a beautiful place to see Christ Redeemer; however, the food inside isn’t worth the amount of time you have to wait in line. The prices are high for not-so-good food. I’ve had way better food in Brazil.

What I would do differently: Skip the place!

Hotel stay in Copacabana with kids
Strolling outside our hotel in Copacabana

6. Booking two accommodations in Rio

Due to many travelers' suggestions from multiple forums, we stayed both in Ipanema and Copacabana for 3 and 2 days respectively. There was a huge difference in the type of crowd, the beach, the vibe, and the waves in Ipanema as compared to Copacabana. Ipanema was far livelier. There is a reason the hotels are sold out or priced higher in the Arpoador and Ipanema areas.

What I would do differently:  Stay in Ipanema ONLY.

Christ redento with kids
Barely getting a picture in the crowd at Christ Redento

7. Wrong timing for Christ Redeemer

The most touristy spots in the world are mostly crowded. Christ Redeemer is no exception to it. We had booked a tour to Christ Redeemer directly from our hotel. The tour started at 10 pm, and by the time we reached Christ Redeemer, it was already noon. Now you can imagine, the burning sun with crowded tourists all waiting for that perfect picture. The experience could have been better.

What I would do differently: The experience itself was magical, yes, but I wish I could have gone early morning or late in the evening to really soak in the views and Christ Redeemer itself. With a kid in tow, the timings aren’t haven't been our best decisions.

8. Missing Lapa Night Scene:

Lapa is the historic home of samba music and the center of Rio’s nightlife. The main action happens around Rua Mem de Sá. Imagine a Monday evening and a jam-packed area with drummers, hip-hop stereos, street dancing, and samba music. This was the scene! We had reached around 7 pm to see the initial part of the whole party scene when lots of stalls were set up to sell caipirinhas and lots of different types of food. However, my toddler had different plans. She was so tired from the whole day of exploring that we had to leave the area. That’s old me making a list of regrets. New me wants to be everywhere! lol.

What I would do differently: Give an early nap to the baby and reach there by 7pm to get the right seats or overlooking seats to experience it. I saw a couple of cops walking around or driving around in the evening. so maybe, one person can experience it while the other takes care of the kid. One way or the other, this mama’s gotta see it!

Futbal match at Maracana in Rio
Will take her someday to a futbal match in Rio

9. Missing a Football Match

This has to be one of my biggest regrets from our Brazil trip. I mean, come on, you go all the way to Brazil and NOT see a football match at Maracanã, the world's largest football station? Even though I am not an avid soccer fan, who doesn’t know the legacy of Pelé, Ronaldo, and Neymar? When we had planned our trip, there weren’t any tournaments scheduled during that period, and honestly, I didn’t even make much effort to grab the tickets.

What I would do differently: Plan out the tickets in advance and ensure we could go see the match. This might even be a memory to cherish for my daughter someday in the future :)

Sambadrome Rio carnival kids
barren Sambadrome during off-season

10. Missing Carnival time

Brazil and Carnival are two words that go hand in hand. Even if you barely know anything about Brazil, you would know about its super flamboyant and vibrant carnival scene. The carnival in Rio de Janeiro is considered the biggest in the world, with around two million people celebrating on the streets each day. Rio Carnival is famous for its samba music and for its amazing costumes and floats.

We visited the parade venue at Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí . With no carnival scene at the time, it looked so sad and barren.

What I would do differently: Of course, carnival only happens during the month of March and one really cannot see everything on their first trip. I would, however, be back during Carnival time someday with my daughter.

Travel is always a learning curve, and these regrets have given me valuable insights for future adventures with my toddler. Who knows, maybe we’ll revisit Brazil with a whole new perspective!

Hope this post helps you better plan your Brazil trip and you don't make the same mistakes as I did!


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Apr 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I wish I could visit Brazil one day too! I have 3 yo and 6-year-old boys, and it is almost impossible to plan family trips perfectly. Thank you for the detailed article and sunny pictures. 

Replying to

our family trips are far from perfect!! lol, I hope you explore Brazil with you kiddos soon. Its such a beautiful country for kids with so much to see. I am itching to go back!


Apr 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

It looks like you had a great time on your trip! Loved getting your inside take on what to do and what not to do when traveling through Brazil. Makes me want to go!

Replying to

It was definitely a great experience, especially with the little one. So glad this pushes you to plan a trip there soon. Definitely come back to this regret list during your planning stage, so you dont miss other areas of Brazil :)


Apr 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great summary of your regrets. Very relatable.

Replying to

we all make some mistakes in our travel. I wish we could foresee them during planning stage.


Apr 24

These are really great tips for those wanting to travel to Brazil with young kiddos. The rain forest sounds amazing but perhaps a lot of work to get too. I sure would love to see it though. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


Apr 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

A trip to Brazil is on my bucket list as I've always dreamed of visiting. I love your guide of what to do and not do - as it's so helpful for those of us who have never been and planning a trip.


Replying to

I am glad this helps in some way. sending you travel dust for a Brazil trip for you soon!

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