Helloooo there peeps! So, I profoundly failed at writing a blog every Tuesday and Thursday for 3 weeks. Why?
Well…I travelled to Puerto Rico for the UXPA conference (for more information on my UXPA experience, check out my medium blog Design Notes.).
I also got the jungle fever…
jk…just the flu…
…shortly after coming back.
Before I knew it, I missed out on sharing some incredible adventures with you. But I’m not worried because I also got a chance to give my blog a makeover… (what do YOU think about this new look?).
YOUR DREAM: I want to travel to Puerto Rico and get a piece of that #ResortLife #BeachLife #JungleLife
We all want to travel to places, especially those picturesque beaches that seem like an Instagramer’s dream. Puerto Rico is one of those tropical paradise dreams, high on our bucket lists.
YOUR STRATEGY: So how do we strategize our dream to travel to the beaches and jungles of Puerto Rico? Here are some points you should reflect on:
This depends on how well you strategize your trip. If you can find someone to sponsor a part of your trip or find “work reasons” or join a crew to reduce housing/travel costs, you will #win your budget without diluting your experience.
What do they call that–>vagabonding? Yep. That. Do that.
Seek shared experiences wherever you go. AirBnb? Check. Shared shuttles? Check.
The best way I found to doing that is by making plenty of phonecalls and figuring out how the system works in my target country. For example, if you are staying at a resort, you can share a shuttle from the airport to the resort for 40-something bucks and uber even cheaper. What you shouldn’t take is the first answer from your correspondent. “That shuttle will cost solo travellers $80.” “OK. Who can help me find a cheaper ride?”
I stayed in Puerto Rico for 7 days in total (5 days at the resort and 2 days outside of it). A bulk of my meals were comped under the UXPA conference costs, which I had sponsored. If that wasn’t the case, the trip would have cost an upward of $2000. My actual trip totalled a little under $1000 (including the cost of flight, 5 days in resort, a night at the Rainforest Inn, food for 3 days, cost for activities, 2 days of car rental).
There are usually no direct flights to Puerto Rico from the US west coast. Flights are poorly coordinated and poorly conducted. Delays to and from San Juan Airport are very common so plan accordingly. My flight back from SJU was an absolute nightmare (more on that on the last blog of this series!).
I am definitely going to tackle optimum packing methods on a later blog because I feel that every person needs to learn exactly how to successfully plan for air travel. However, for the sake of your trip to Puerto Rico, chose low-key travel gear because things will get dirty. Here are activity-specific items you should consider [Check back in 2 weeks for my packing guide]:
IN-FLIGHT/ AIRPORT GEAR: Get a blanket or warm clothes for travel. Airports are very cold and you may have to spend a good proportion of your time there. I would choose cotton undergarments, pyjama/workout gear, neck pillow and a plethora of devices/books. I would also always carry a water bottle, some gum and a small mouthwash. I usually travel with a sweet travel-kit comprising of location specific cosmetics, essentials and travel-sized perfumes.
IN AND AROUND PUERTO RICO: Carry swimwear, a large hat, sunglasses, an effective high-SPF sunscreen, deodorant/anti-perspirant, perfume/cologne, body powder, first-aid kit, workout gear and a raincoat (for kayaking, hiking and other excursions), several pair of socks and underwear, sneakers, flip-flops, tote-bag for the beach and water bottle. If you have space, an umbrella might be a good idea. If you are a magnet for bugs, buy a natural bug-repellant with citronella. As a general rule, plan according to your planned activities. Lastly, if you are a neat-freak like me, plan to change your clothes often due to humidity.
If you are vegetarian, get ready to always feel slightly unsatiated at the Wyndham resort. I’m pretty sure I won’t be eating alfredo pasta for a while after having consumed a year’s worth at the resort. Puerto Ricans aren’t on that vegetarian train so plan wisely. If you are a seafood-lover, however, you will love it in Puerto Rico. Also be ready for some plantain-related-amazingness.
Rent your own car! You will be rewarded by better food, better sights and a better perspective. Also, YES, THERE IS UBER in Puerto Rico. You can Uber out of San Juan Airport. Uber information was highly-confusing when I was planning my ride to the resort, so I thought I’d quickly note that for you.
I probably forgot stuff but luckily, I have several blogs ahead so I’ll pick things up in the next one. Here’s the vid:
REALIZE IT: So you’re sipping watermelon at a private beach in Rio Del Mar…Here’s how mine went…
The resort I landed at due to the UXPA was the Wyndham Grand Resort at Rio del Mar.
If you like that resort lifestyle, you will enjoy this piece of private beach manicured to perfection (as my friend Sarah put it, “no insect-eaten leaves here!”).
For me, as comfortable as I may be with glamour, my forty-minute shuttle ride to the resort shattered any chance I had to fool myself that Puerto Rico looked, felt, smelled or sounded like the resort did.
Perhaps if I’d slept on my way to the resort, I could have somehow accepted that all of Puerto Rico was reflected at Wyndham.
But I didn’t.
Maybe if I hadn’t seen videos of devastation, ill-conceived helping strategies by the US government or news coverage regarding their 6-month long power outages, I might have burried my toes in the sand, put my sunglasses on and enjoyed the mai tais.
But it wasn’t.
As I alternated betwen icy-cold conference halls and the humid exteriors, every ravaged tree continued to creep my mind.
On day 4 of the conference however, after partaking in an especially illuminating conversation with fellow UX designers, I finally let my shoulders sink into the woven recliners to enjoy the gusty winds and warm sands. At that point, I made my mind up to put my American dollars to work and fund local businesses. I couldn’t pretend to do more in my given timeframe.
The days took a turn for the best after a particularly good Despacito performance by a local artist (feeling rotten for forgetting his insta handle 😦 ).
Here’s a quick video regarding my Puerto Rican #Resort experience:
PHEW! Just realized I am uploading this just in time for it to be Tuesday!! ❤
UNTIL NEXT TIME! Stop waiting for summer and join me for weekly blogs every Tuesday and Thursday! Subscribe!
Have a fun Puerto Rico story of your own? Share them below. ❤ Shilpa