Greetings from Family Travel Week, sponsored by The Family Backpack, a new online guide that connects you to the best family travel blog posts. Enjoy seven days of family travel stories that will help you plan your next adventure, reduce pre-vacation stress and provide useful tips for once you arrive at your destination. Wheels up!
Considering traveling to a country where English is not the first language - especially when traveling with kids - can be daunting. 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 later and we’ve traveled there 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.
- Many cities have direct flights to San Juan. Even though getting a People magazine and Cinnabon at the airport can be enjoyable, the reality of layovers with kids are often not fun. Plus, they add unnecessary stress and expense before the vacation even begins.
- 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.
- Money exchange is unnecessary. The good ol’ American dollar is Puerto Rico’s currency, as well. Hooray for Alexander Hamiltons and Andrew Jacksons!
- 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.
- Easy to get around. Because Puerto Ricp is a small island, getting around on foot or xx is easily done. Public transportation / bus service in Puerto Rico – called públicos – can be confusing so steer clear.
- 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.")
- Fantastic cultural experience. Despite all the likenesses to American culture, Puerto Rico is still an extremely unique culture know for its cuisine, music, beaches, friendly people and rum. (The kids will eventually go to bed, right?)
- 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."
- Kid-friendly. Finally, Puerto Rico is simply a kid-friendly place. The friendliness of the natives 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.
Here are a some family travel bloggers who agree:
What does "wheels up" mean? Go here.
Andrea Khan is the founder of The Family Backpack, and a kids and family content contributor at OnMilwaukee.
She was born and raised in Wisconsin and first ventured out of the country to France in high school. That trip changed her life and she has been traveling every since.
Three kids, over 24 countries and 20 plus states under her belt she still has a lot of world to see!
She considers herself a foodie, participates in a CSA, hits her local farmers market and also has her own backyard garden.
When she’s not traveling or planning their next trip she enjoys reading, cooking and playing games like Rummikub with her kids.