Travel Planning Tips: Puerto Rico with the Family

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

This article has 21 comments

  1. monstergirlee

    No advice on anything Puerto Rico but it sounds like you did your homework!
    Just got back in from hanging out with MJ. She was riding her tricycle. Its 55 degrees. with a COLD wind. So tired of the cold outside.
    I am excited for you guys and the trip.
    I’m sure I’ve said it a million times – can’t wait to see your photos.

  2. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    OMG, can you guess how excited I am to take photos? I have packed NOTHING except my camera bag.

  3. zipper

    Have a blast!

  4. Tech Savvy Mama

    We took our daughter to Puerto Rico when she was not quite a year old and would love to go back again. She’s now 6! It is truly a gorgeous place with a mix of old and new.

    Another cool place you might want to consider visiting is the Aricebo Observatory. Also, we didn’t go, but heard the biolumincent bays were fantastic!

    HTH! Can’t wait to see all of your photos and hope you have an amazing time!

  5. Isabel Kallman @AlphaMom

    A tip! A tip! I’ve got one!

    Ride horses in Puerto Rico! Specifically ride a “Paso Fino.” It’s the smoothest ride ever.

  6. Alli Worthington

    I will live vicariously through your pictures! So beautiful!

  7. Emily McKhann

    I cannot wait to see your photos!!! I still remember your gorgeous photos of Ireland and can only imagine these will be!!! I can’t wait to travel to Puerto Rico vicariously with you and your family!!! Have a huge blast … for all of us!!!!!!!!!

  8. Beth Fish

    Oh baby, am going to Puerto Rico in September with the girlfriends (no kids! no husbands!) and will be picking your brain clean about it. Have fun! Take notes!

  9. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    oooh Beth – I did a trip with my BF to Cozumel a few years ago – HIGHLY RECOMMEND time with chicas in the tropics.

  10. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    And Isabel – ohhh, we totally want to ride horses. Thanks!

  11. lolly-willows

    ooo i went there years ago and loved rincon and the west side of the island. i totally skipped san juan.

  12. The Casual Perfectionist

    You’re going to Puerto Rico? Really? 😉

    Have a FABULOUS time! I can’t wait to hear ALL ABOUT IT!!

  13. Mom101

    I’m not sure I understand –

    are you saying you like Pina Coladas?

  14. rajesh joshi

    hey buddy your trip was exciting.
    you enjoyed pourto rico much .
    please also comment on my blogs as i have no reader till now
    i hope u to be the first

  15. zenrain

    You are going to have the best time! I can’t wait to see the pics!!

  16. Kim Moldofsky

    We are headed there later this year on a family trip. Thanks for the tips. We love to explore the natural features of places we visit (by we I mean, husband and I–the kids whine and ask when they can get back to the pool/beach; they’ll appreciate it someday…we hope).

  17. Gregory

    Congrats on being Blog of Note! I can see why. Great tips.

  18. The villager:

    Super pictures !

  19. Ginger

    Aimee, you’ve totally sold me. I’ll be anxiously awaiting your verdict on PR when you get back! 🙂 Have fun!

  20. Kipp

    Nice post, Aimee!

    We’ve already talked about the bioluminescent bay (you’ll LOVE it!) – and I second the bit about the Arecibo Observatory, if you’re in the area. It’s magnificent.

    Also, dunno if you’re going to be in San Juan, but if you are, La Bombonera in Old San Juan is a GREAT place to taste local food. It’s the type of stuff that someone’s grandma would make – very authentic. The mallorca rolls are a MUST.

    Looking forward to the details…& the photos!

  21. PR El Yunque Tours

    If you ever come back to Puerto Rico we’d love to show you around El Yunque!

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