To Puerto Rico we go...
After a few flights with family members, we decided to take our first family vacation, just the three of us, to Puerto Rico. It's about a 3.5-hour flight from DC, and the best part was that we didn’t need passports. We settled on flying Spirit Airlines, but we upgraded to the "big seats" in the front row since it is only two seats, and we didn't want anyone next to us with a newly mobile 8 month old. BWI, which is in Baltimore usually has flights that are $100 cheaper than the airports closest to us (Dulles/Reagan). We are ok with driving an hour to save $200, plus get good seats on a long flight. Spirit has a bad reputation, but I've mastered it. You prepay for your luggage and pick your seats at checkout. I always upgrade to the front/big seats. And, if you don’t want to- the regular seats are okay for any flight under 3 hours.
The night before, because I am super last minute- I packed Yara’s clothes, and my clothes together in the large suitcase, along with my toiletries. I also made sure to pack her special dish soap to wash her bottles, and pump. Her diapers, wipes, extra bottles and toiletries all went in her bookbag along with my breast pump. I purchased a “Spirit Airlines” bag from Amazon which is considered free because it fits right under the seat in front of us, and filled it with toys, books and snacks.. SNACKS! (All the organic pouches, and puffs). Yara was no longer sleeping next to us, so we invested in a travel crib! It wouldn’t be a vacation with a baby kicking us all night, right?
I highly recommend this playard:
The next morning, I snapped a photo of her birth certificate (unfortunately they rarely check- that’s another story) and we were on our way to the airport. We always make sure to park on an off-site parking garage, or have a friend drop us off to save $$$. We normally take the car seat with us because it is a free check in. We have a car seat bag which is a really cheap purchase from Amazon as well. This time we decided to rent a car seat with our car rental (we were splurging this trip, apparently, lol). It was about $12 per day. We boarded our flight where I sanitized EVERYTHING around us with Clorox wipes, and Yara played a little, chatted, read, had snacks, and pretty much napped. (Side note: make sure your sweet babe is nursing, drinking out of a bottle, or sucking a pacifier at take off and landing. I also learned that laying a baby on their tummy and lightly tugging their ears calms them).
I searched high and low for “family friendly hotels in Puerto Rico” and they were ridiculously expensive. We settled on an Airbnb. I felt comfortable after looking at the reviews and looking at the location tags on Instagram. We stayed in Carolina Beach at the St. Clair Mare Beachfront Condominiums. It was beautiful, with a pool overlooking the beach, a tiki bar at the pool, café, restaurant, bar, and convenience store which is very convenient when you don’t feel like leaving the hotel.
Besides laying on the beach in Isla Verde and Carolina, we explored the beautiful streets of Old San Juan-Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and Castillo San Cristobal, even the infamous La Perla neighborhood. I was a bit nervous walking down the stairs, I won’t lie- but it was beautiful, colorful, and I wouldn’t recommend going at night. We ventured out to El Yunque National Forest where we hiked and enjoyed the beautiful waterfalls. We stopped for pollo guisado and mofongo along the way.
Puerto Rico is amazing. The people are beautiful, and so welcoming. It is a family friendly island. Mike and I are night owls, so it was important for us to find a place that wouldn’t look at us crazy when we were walking around at midnight pushing a stroller, enjoying live music. Old San Juan is definitely it, if you’re like us. And, even if you’re not a night owl, it’s the place for the family looking to explore during the day or just relax on a beach.
Oh, and a side note- I was still lightly nursing at this point, and I highly recommend investing in a battery pack for your pumps, ladies. I would pump before I left for anywhere...on the beach, in the car, wherever. Babies gotta eat!
BOOK PUERTO RICO 😊 (when the Pandemic is over, of course).