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Chico (2 years) on a trip around the world - an amazingly frank conversation with his parents

Weltreise mit Kind, Reisen mit Kind, Weltreise

The world tour of Tatiana Pavanello (35) and Rafael Menezes (35) began when her son Chico was one year old. For a year now they are three on the way. More or less. A journey with all the ups and downs you can imagine. WELTREISE-TRAUM met the three for a conversation on Piazza S. Egidio in Rome.

What made you to decide to do a journey around the world? Was there one or more key factors for the decision?

Tatiana: I grew up in a small town near Sao Paulo. Rafael and I worked in the same company, I as a product manager, Rafael as a finance manager. There we also met and got to know each other 10 years ago. I was a real workaholic, 10-15 hours of work a day - I thought the company would cease to exist without me. And safety was always extremely important to me. That's why we've saved a lot together to have "something big" in our lives without knowing what it would be like back then, maybe a joint business or a big trip. My previous trips were limited to "standard trips", I never did anything really crazy. Rafael traveled much more than me. And then I got pregnant at a time when we talked a lot about our lives anyway. I thought, now it's all over. But at some point we decided to dare in the middle of the night. A really long journey around the world with our child. We said to each other: If not now, when?

Rafael: Then we both just quit our jobs and decided to travel for the next 1.5 years.

How did you plan this special trip?

Rafael: We had a common wish list, everything we wanted to look at in life. It was gigantic long (laughs). I'm a financial manager, so we created an excel list. There was a grid with red, yellow and green. Red countries, for example, were too expensive, too rainy, too cold or too exhausting for Chico. Australia and Hawaii landed first for me, for Tatiana Bali. Alone we would have packed more, but because of Chico we decided to stay longer in one place.

Tatiana: As a test, we first traveled for a month through Colombia and Venezuela and then back to Brazil again. It all worked out wonderfully and therefore it was clear to us that it really starts. Already 10 days later we started to Japan.

Rafael: Mostly we always plan the next country in advance at the beginning. In Asia and Australia, planning was even shorter. But that did not work out for us. That's why our planning has now become much more long-term. For Europe, we booked all flights and accommodations en bloc before entering the continent. This is much more relaxed for us, we can enjoy much more on site.

Where has your trip taken you so far and what are your goals?

Rafael: From Japan we went on to China, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bali, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia. Christmas, New Year's Eve and Carnival are something very special for us Brazilians, so it was already clear before the start of the trip that we would be at home end of December/beginning of January. Afterwards we went to South Africa, Kenya and Zanzibar. At this time we have been traveling for about 6 months and there came the big crisis (looking very serious and concerned to Tatiana). We are currently traveling in Europe for 3 months and after another stopover in Brazil we will travel around the USA for another 1-2 months.

May we ask you what your crisis was?

Tatiana: I like to share that. I have no problem talking about it. Such a long time off can be a very intense therapy for life. It's a kind of deep immersion in oneself, I would never have thought that before. And of course a big challenge. Therefore, in Zanzibar, we suddenly faced the end of our plans, our journey and our relationship. There were just so many things coming together.

When Chico was born, not much changed for me at first. I kept working the same way, Chico was with a nanny and we took turns taking him after work. When I was watching women in a coffee in Bali, someday I became really clear and for the first time aware - I am a mother, 24 hours a day I am responsible for a being. I could not just go for coffee, all I have to do is coordinate with Chico. That was very hard for me. Therefore, the first problem on the journey for me was to really feel and find my role as a mother for the first time. In Brazil, there has been a movement for one to two years, which deals very critically with the mother role. Of course I have noticed that, but never really thought about it.

Rafael: For me as well, this new role of being at least 50% every day for Chico was quite difficult. On the one hand, it was a chance that not many men have. I see every day how it develops and grows. On the other hand, I really have to take care of myself now and can not shirk my job or hobbies. I think it was a big challenge for both of us to find a balance. For me maybe one of the biggest in my life so far.

Tatiana: From my point of view, other things were responsible for the crisis. Before the trip, I thought the world trip would be just a long vacation. At some point we felt it was a burden that we were all together 24 hours a day. This can be very nice, but sometimes very exhausting and annoying. Another important point was that we had false expectations of ourselves and of the places we visited. Excessive expectations almost inevitably lead to disappointment. On Zanzibar we felt that way. Last but not least, all the fears of the future came up at once. How should it continue after the trip? Will we have enough money? Will we still be together at all or should we not separate better?

Now being together in Rome means that the journey continued. How did you deal with this crisis? Which solution did you find?

Rafael: We stopped the trip to Zanzibar and flew home.

Tatiana: Sometimes I think that ignorance can bring good luck. The journey sparked many thoughts that I did not even know I'd have before. Because of so much work, I used to get so distracted, everything repressed and lived outside only, that I did not realize how empty my heart was. During the entire journey around the world, all this has been reversed. The outer life is now limited to the simple things, but inside I can not stop thinking. I know that I definitely do not want to do what I did before, but what would be the right one? There were and are so many possibilities, that drove me crazy. Only now do I slowly feel what passions and interests I really have and what I do well. On Zanzibar, I did not get it on my own and started a psychological therapy in Brazil. To this day, I regularly skype with my therapist.

Rafael: Today we think that we needed that crisis because we were stronger then when we were originally started. We make decisions much more consciously than before and have grown together as a couple and a family. Of course, there was the idea to cancel everything. But we knew that we would not get the chance back so soon, maybe not until after Chico's school days. And during the two months in Brazil, we both realized that there was something really great and common about what we had both started with the journey. And at some point it was a very simple and logical decision to start again and we booked Europe.

What is special about traveling around the world with a child?

Rafael: You have to travel very slowly and emphasize the daily needs of a child, respecting your rhythm. After lunch, for example, Chico has to sleep. When we're on the road, he sleeps in the breast carry bag. He is very uncomplicated with the food, but we have to keep fixed mealtimes. If all goes well, things will go well, otherwise he'll go crazy at the end of the day. Since he absolutely has to sleep at eight in the evening, we never go out. You go to bed early and get up early.

Tatiana: Fortunately, flying with him is not a problem at all. Only on the 19 hours to Tokyo he was getting impatient (laughs). On the long haul flights it was very pleasant that until recently I had breastfed. In the future we have to think about how to go on long flights. He manages time changes much better than we do. He arrives somewhere and is just there, full of energy, a love of discovery and curiosity. He feels at home everywhere.

Rafael: Because of Chico we have for the first time a huge first aid kit and were for examination, consultation and vaccination with the pediatrician also before the start, n. As accommodations, we have chosen apartments almost everywhere, so that we have enough space and opportunities for retreat and maybe even we can cook for ourselves. Only in Fiji we had decided on a resort, with Brazilians a popular form of vacation. But we would not do that anymore, we felt too unfree there.

What influence will the world tour have on Chico? What do you think?

Rafael: We are sure that he will not consciously remember most of it later. But we are convinced that there will be a lot left behind in his feelings, in his nature and in his subconscious. For example, the confidence and security that we provide as a parent on the journey, spending so much time with him and feeling close to him. Already he is an incredibly positive, joyful and attentive child.

Tatiana: It was so hard for me to find out what makes me happy. I want Chico to find out earlier what his passion is without the crises I had. This lifestyle on the world trip brings with it a very special kind of flexibility. We want to enable him to try as much as possible to find out what he wants. The experience with different places and cultures certainly helps him tremendously even if it is perhaps unconscious.

Were there shocking moments, something you did not expect?

Rafael: In Tokyo, at 5 o'clock in the morning, we suddenly felt a strong earthquake in our apartment for about 10 to 15 seconds. We do not know that at all from Brazil and it scared us a lot. Japanese, with whom we talked about it, just shrugged their shoulders. It's everyday life for them.

Tatiana: For me, an experience in China was the worst. The culture was difficult for us anyway. Everywhere we tried to fleece us with any tricks. We Brazilians are very used to it, but that in China surpassed everything. And then it happened in the open road: a pretty dirty and run-down Chinese stormed towards me and ripped Chico from my arm. It went so fast that I could not react at all. Then he came close to Chico with his dirt-encrusted and furrowed face and finally gave him an intense kiss on the lips. Afterwards he handed him back to me and disappeared. The horror of every mother, for me that was terrible. Chico probably did not mind that at all, he stayed cool.

If you give other people who are dreaming of a trip around the world three tips, which would it be?

1. Do it now, quit now! Do not think.

2. If you are traveling with a child, you have to bring a lot of patience. Travel is not just fun, beach and sunshine, but in fact it's only like this. You have to have a lot of forbearance with the child and with yourself.

3. Be open and free and use the time of the journey for your self-knowledge. Be open to questioning your own world. Some profound questions will surely arise, have the courage to face them.

How will your life go on after the journey around the world and has this perspective changed during the trip around the world?

Rafael: Actually, pretty much everything is uncertain. But we will probably return to Brazil. I'd like to move to the Gold Coast in Australia, but the family in Brazil is pretty far away. It is important to us that the family gets to know how Chico develops. But I think Barcelona would be nice too (laughs).

Tatiana: At the beginning we had the idea to start a healthy food company together. The perspective has changed a bit during the journey. For one thing, we got even more ideas about how to implement such a project. Maybe as a local, but maybe also online. Because of the crisis and the world tour itself, it is clear to us that we want to implement our business ideas separately, each for themselves. Although we will of course support and help each other.

Rafael: Basically, we want to be independent and to have room and time for Chico and traveling together. I could very well imagine practicing my old job as a financial adviser on an independent basis. Returning to an employment relationship is a back-up plan, but only the very last option. That would be a step backwards, but we have both changed too much and love this feeling of freedom too much.

More about the world tour of Tatiana, Rafael and Chico on and

Interview by Ellen Kuhn & Joachim Materna.

© Photos chicoontheroad

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