I returned from my “Christmas vacation” to San Juan at the end of December with mixed feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself THOROUGHLY however, I felt like I would’ve had too much more fun had I known a few things before hand. Each one teach one, so here’s a list that should help you while planning your Puerto Rico trip…
1. Rent a Car
Although Puerto Rico has Uber and taxis available and accessible, Puerto Rico is still a territory of the U.S. and with that being said them prices are HIGH. My AIRBNB was about a mile away from Old San Juan and depending on the time of day my Uber prices were between $5 and $25 – and the is was morning, day and night.
Not to mention even though the island is pretty small, there is soo much to do within the whole island that would ring up a pretty pricey uber bill if you need a ride. Most of the tours and excursions starting point are about an hour drive away from Condado/Old San Juan/Miramar area.
2. Invest in Bugspray
The mosquitos are alive and well in and they don’t play around. I left PR with HUGE bites all over my arms and legs. Oddly enough when I went through the rainforest and jungle there wasn’t any mosquitos, the tour guides ensured us that the trees gave off something that repelled mosquitoes.
But, while I was out in them streets, ya girl was getting bit every chance there was. Two words for you. BUG & SPRAY.
3. Buy Local
Technically PR is a territory of the United States but that’s not how they are treated. There is some major beef going on between their government and the people that isn’t really spoken of publicly. Owning a business in Puerto Rico is essentially hard and they are taxed on everything. The government takes a huge portion of their earnings.
They have families to feed and provide for. So please if you can manage, while in Puerto Rico please buy local! I stayed in an AIRBNB and all the places I’ve eaten at were owned by a local. I also tipped well. Tourism is how the island makes their money – I cannot begin to count on one hand how many times I’ve heard a Puerto Rican say that. Let’s help OUR people.
4. Bring Comfortable Walking Shoes
Ladies leave the heels at home. Well okay, maybe bring one pair ONLY. I do not know who I thought I was bringing 3 pairs of heels thinking I was going to trut through the streets of San Juan lol. Firstly, Old San Juan is filled with beautifully historic cobblestone throughout the streets. You will break your neck if you are not a skilled heel walker out there.
Also, Old San Juan is pretty big, its sorta like a “downtown” area here in the States. One ways, hills, a lot of incline and lots and lots of walking.
5. Increase Your Spending Budget
Typically when I travel, my daily spending price is less than what I spend in the states. Subconsciously I knew that PR was still technically apart of the U.S. but I still had this bazaar spending limit as if the states don’t be taxing just to breathe here. My first day, wasn’t even a full day and I spent easily $80. That was for Uber to and from Old San Juan, ONE meal and a couple of drinks.
I was in PR and I had set my budget for $400. I figured that with me having a few all day tours I wouldn’t have the need to spend too much oh but I was wrong. Ubers, my meals plus tips and a little dranky drank definitely added up quickly.
6. Take a Nap – Nightlife Goes Until 4AM
One of my favorite things to do while abroad is experiencing their nightlife, indulge in their culture, music, art ya know? Here in Jacksonville, FL and also back when I lived in Norfolk, VA by midnight that is when the bar/club/lounges begin to fill up if not already filled. Why? Because they close at 2AM :/ Especially with the “free before 11” promotions, you’re typically starting your “lets get ready to go out” routine around 930PM.
You’ll get a rude awakening if you believe that you’re going to find fun at 10/11 PM. It was too dead and I was too exhausted to wait until 11/1130PM to see what the potential turn up was going to be like due to my strenuous tours that I did early that day. The day of my departure I told my Uber driver about me not getting to witness the nightlife there and he informed me that the night before in “La Placita” it was too many people out there and the party went until 4AM.
He also was the one that gave me the info on how he tended to be dropping off drunk Americans around 12AM to take them back to their AIRBNBs/Hotels AND picking up locals to take them out. My mind was blown.
7. Don’t Believe the Hype – They Speak English
While I was on my “Old San Juan Night Tour” my tour guide randomly told us that almost everyone speaks English even if it’s very little. Puerto Ricans are required to take it in school as early as Kindergarden and required 6 college credits of English to even obtain their bachelors.
I say that to say this, while buying local and the owner hits you with the “no habla ingles” 9/10 that is not true and he/she does not want to business with you. I personally had it happen when I was in Old San Juan at the top of the hill where the locals hang out and drink. The bar owner hit that move on us so one of the locals I met ordered for me and my friend. But later, after seeing we were accepted by the cigar man outside his bar, he then warmed up to us.
8. CATS – They are Everywhere
Not much to say here lol. If you have a phobia of cats or are afraid of them be careful and mindful because they are literally everywhere. One even followed me all the way into my AIRBNB and upstairs. It was a kitten and it was harmless, but for someone who is terrified of them you may want to reconsider your trip to PR.
9. Bonus: Try the Mofongo
Thank me later 😉