I have mentioned that we are heading to Puerto Rico this weekend for a week-long visit, yes? After the past few weeks of craziness at work and home, and turning FORTY, I can’t tell you how much a couple Piña Coladas on the beach is calling out to me. It is whispering, “Aimee, come see us! We know it snowed in Denver this week, the sun would like to have a chat with you! A big, big sunny and warm chat!!!”
By the way – did you know Piña Coladas were invented in Puerto Rico? It’s true.
And since we had so much fun sharing our Ireland experiences, after we get back – I will have a bunch of tales to tell about this trip too. Until then, I have a ton of guest posts lined up. And I will be tweeting while there too.
Because, that is the first thing we checked. Cell service. Since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, AT&T has no roaming charges or extra fees for service. It will be like we are connecting from Milwaukee. A Milwaukee with beaches (we are staying very close to Luqillo Beach) and rainforests (also close to the El Yunque rainforest) and bio-luminescent bays (an hour away) and did I mention PIÑA COLADAS?
OK, I am kidding about the Piña Coladas. (Kinda.) The thing about this trip is all THREE of us are going, the 7 year old included, and it will definitely be a family adventure. I have been researching my booty off and I am so looking forward to the mix of activities we have found – cool stuff for Declan AND cool stuff for us.
So, I thought I would share. Here are some random things I have learned as we have been preparing to go.
Travel Planning Tips: Puerto Rico with the Family
Hey, remember how Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory??? This means YOU DO NOT NEED A U.S. PASSPORT TO TRAVEL THERE. Unless you go out of the country on your way, of course. Only driver’s license or birth certificate. Honestly, this is how we zeroed in on Puerto Rico in the first place. We let Declan’s passport lapse after Ireland (dummies) but still REALLY wanted something tropical. No offense to Florida (remember, I went to college there, I love Florida), when I say tropical – I mean *exotically* tropical.
TIME OF YEAR TO GO
High season in Puerto Rico is the same as the rest of the Caribbean – Thanksgiving through Easter. Part of the reason we decided to go in early May was to catch the end of the season – but miss the rainy / hurricane season, which kicks up in mid-summer. Yes, this timing forces us to take Declan out of school for the trip – but we felt the experience was worth it. And when we notified his principal, she asked if she could stow away in our luggage.
This comes back to what I mentioned above – cost on the edge of season is cheaper, yahoo! We are finding that our budget for this trip is (or would be, see disclaimer below) similar to, or even less than, the cost of doing a week at Disney. Of course this depends on time of year, where you stay, etc. But we have been pleased with what we have seen thus far. Bonus: ability to use US dollar.
Depending on where you are coming from, you may not be able to get a direct flight into San Juan, and Puerto Rico’s largest airport. We could not from Denver. But we noticed that most of the flights flew through Chicago. So, we are splitting the trip on the way there and spending the night with a friend. The costs were the same, and it’s like getting an extra mini-vacation!
Again, primetime being December – March, we are expecting a little bit of rain and LOTSA heat. Better than the SNOW we had this week though.
No adapter needed. Puerto Rico is on 110 volts AC.
NATIONAL PARKS PASS
The El Yunque rainforest is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system. Which means, you guessed it! You can use your National Parks Pass there.
From what I have read, tap water is safe as Puerto Rico follows the same water treatment standards as the US. However, the general consensus seems to be, it is also safer to ask for bottled water when chugging after hanging on the beach all day. [Mmmm. Beeeacccchhhhh.] Also, when we visit Mexico, we bring some Pepto Bismal – um, just in case – and we plan to pack some for PR as well.
BUGS (& YOUR HEALTH)
With all that humidity, there are bugs. Specifically mosquitoes. Mosquitoes carry disease. In this case, dengue fever. Whenever you travel, it’s a good idea to check out the CDC Travel Alerts page, just to see what is going on. For dengue fever, the best offense is a good defense – so we have hella DEET bugspray and even a bug repellent treated sun safe hat for Declan.
Have I mentioned my company builds health education web sites? Clearly (see above), we DO sun safety, so YES, I have packed about 50 tubes of sunscreen. We are PREPARED. No sunburn’s gonna ruin our vacation.
Bring a first aid kit. I *always* do. Mainly because *I* always cut myself on something. As far as crime in Puerto Rico, from what I have read and hear, it is similar to other Caribbean areas in that if you follow the same safety rules that you do on the mainland (don’t flash money or jewelry), you should be fine.
FUN WITH KIDS
We learned from Ireland that a nice mix of “our stuff” and “his stuff” was in order. No need to pack every day with excursions, we are really looking forward to some days of just relaxing poolside. [Mmmm. Piñaa Colaaaadaaass]. Also, loading movies on the iPod was a total WIN WIN for some
parent Declan chill time. We have never done a kid’s camp at a resort before, so I am interested in checking that out (and hearing any feedback you might have) – but the great thing about a FAMILY vacation is spending time together.
I can’t wait to do it.
Any other advice for travel to Puerto Rico?
Blogger Disclosure: This trip was partially sponsored by the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort. They are graciously providing accommodations for my family while we are in Puerto Rico.