It can be daunting to consider traveling to a country where English is not the first language – especially when traveling with kids. However, a family trip to Puerto Rico is a good place to start international travel because it “keeps the training wheels on” and makes vacationing beyond the United States as easy as, well, riding a bike with training wheels.
I first went to Puerto Rico on a day stop while on a cruise in the Caribbean. San Juan captured my attention as it had such a strong Spanish influence, yet it had its own vibe and style mixed in. Fast forward 10 years and we’ve traveled to Puerto Rico several times to visit one of my husband’s good friends from college who is from there and moved right back after college.
Puerto Rico is a comfortable first-time trip for families seeking adventure – but not too much adventure – for a variety of reasons.
1. Many cities have direct flights to San Juan. Even though getting a People magazine and a Cinnabon at the airport can be enjoyable, the reality of layovers with kids is often not fun. Plus, they add unnecessary stress and expense before the vacation even begins.
2. No need for passports. Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, a passport is not required which is also a money and stress saver. Nobody wants to whisper-bicker with their spouse while deplaning because one of the kid’s passports has suddenly gone MIA.
3. Money exchange is unnecessary. The good ole’ American dollar is Puerto Rico’s currency as well. Hooray for Alexander Hamiltons and Andrew Jacksons!
4. Most people speak English. No Spanish? No problemo. Spanish and English are both the official languages of Puerto Rico and English is spoken by many Puerto Ricans.
5. Easy to get around. Because Puerto Rico is a small island, getting around on foot or car is easily done.
6. Constant warm weather. Puerto Rico temperatures average in the 80s all year ‘round. This makes planning and packing less of a guess and it also more or less guarantees “good weather” during the vacation. (Avoid autumn months which are “hurricane season.”)
7. Fantastic cultural experience. Despite the likenesses to American culture, Puerto Rico is still a unique culture known for its cuisine, music, beaches, friendly people and rum. (The kids will eventually go to bed, right?)
8. Lots of activities. From a visit to the rain forest to snorkeling to a day exploring Old San Juan, there’s a lot of sights to see and activities to partake in. However, Puerto Rico also offers relaxing offerings including beaches and boat tours, perfect for “down time.”
9. Kid friendly. Finally, Puerto Rico is simply a kid friendly place. The friendliness of the locals and laid back but attentive culture of the service industry makes for outings that won’t make parents wish they left the kids with the grandparents. It’s truly a warm, beautiful, unique vacation destination that provides the chance to both lounge and learn.