It sure has been a while. But I’m here. I’ve gone through a lot of lows recently. My mind was not at its greatest and my emotions were the same. But GOD. Because he is merciful, he knows exactly what makes this woman happiest. PUERTO RICO. There is nothing, no place, and no one that makes me feel peace, happiness, and pure love more than that sacred land. I was due for my annual trip, and this time I chose to go ALONE, yes completely alone. It was my first completely solo trip.
Now I’ve studied abroad, and gone and visited family alone, but this was just me. Me making all the decisions and testing myself. I knew I could do it, being the daughter of a single mom, a sense of independence is immediately instilled. And being used to NYC, I knew I’d figure out congestion, crowds, transportation, etc. I wasn’t nervous, more than anything else I was excited to be in my happy place.
Driving around and Gas
First and foremost the driving! They drive like nutballs in Puerto Rico but I will say, if you’ve ever driven in NYC or NJ, (aggressive style) you’ll be fine. I got used to the craziness and the major potholes and deep dips, as well as HUGE speed bumps (sorry to the rental car when I didn’t see them). They also like to tailgate, literally, everyone likes to do it.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, rental cars come with their own form of EZPASS called AutoExpreso. For which you pay when you get home from your vacation. There isn’t really a way around the AutoExpreso system as there are little to no actual teller windows. You can always choose to take the scenic route and not pay tolls, but they usually take longer.
Gas is self-service in Puerto Rico, although if you use PUMA and Shell you can download the apps and pay for your gas in the car. I downloaded both, which I found especially helpful while driving at night. For the most part, driving around on my first solo trip was a lot less stressful than I thought it would be and it helped me get even more accustomed to the island.
How I Prepared
Originally this trip was to go see Daddy Yankee on his farewell tour, so I anticipated a concert, an EPIC ONE. But as you probably know it was canceled and now we know why. He and other artists are in a legal battle with the P.R. government. THE DRAMA. This was actually the first thing I bought for this trip, and planned the rest of my days around it.
Being so, I began looking for flights as soon as the concert was announced and booked my trip by June 2022. I decided to fly with JetBlue, after looking at all the individual airlines, as well as using websites like Hopper and Google Flights. The biggest suggestion I have on booking a flight? Book directly on the airline’s site and look at each individual website. By taking the time to do so I found my tickets at a cheaper price right on JetBlue’s website.
What should you think of when looking for a place to stay on a solo trip? SAFETY. My personal preference is small hotels, but I wanted to make sure it had visible security. I stayed at CASA Wilson Inn and I will be doing so again if I can help it. I absolutely loved it. It’s a small locally owned boutique hotel that was safe, peaceful, and close to major highways and nightlife. Breakfast was included, and it was delish! While the staff was helpful and courteous with any questions or concerns.
Lastly, I felt the neighborhood was relatively safe as I walked around during the day and at night. Casa Wilson was surrounded by other hotels, but mainly by homes and a small local park. Make sure to research the neighborhood you’re staying in, so you’re familiar with the surroundings before you book the hotel. In my opinion, no expense is too big for me to feel safe, especially while I’m alone. Whether you’re staying in an Airbnb or hotel, choose a location you’ve researched and feel comfortable with.
Being that I chose JetBlue I decided to sign up for their TRUBLUE membership which is free. I was interested in gaining points and using the perks they have with other brands. This decision, was again for my comfort, as I no longer trust budget airlines to not cancel my flight on a whim. And for the most part, I enjoyed both flights. The only problem was on my return flight when we had no meals to buy, no tv service, and, my suitcase cracked on arrival. The last two I got points for, thanks to my membership, while meals are not reimbursed as long as they give you the free snacks.
When your own a solo trip, one of the best ways to not feel lonely is to book excursions. I bought two excursions for my trip, a sunset sail around Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), and a day trip to one of Puerto Rico’s smaller outlying islands, Culebra. The sunset cruise included wine, appetizers, and music all while guides gave us information on the historical significance of certain parts of the city. This by far was one of the most relaxing activities I’ve chosen on a trip and seeing the city light up as the sun went down made me emotional.
The Culebra trip included the ferry ride to get there and back, 3 guides, snorkeling at Tamarindo beach, and relaxing on Flamenco beach. They also provided snacks and water after the snorkeling and a chance to walk around the main plaza for souvenirs and to grab a slice from the only Pizzeria on the island.
I booked both these excursions with points on my Chase Sapphire card through their portal, which also gave me points. Both of these experiences were AMAZING and I would repeat them in a heartbeat. The crews and staff were professional and informative about Puerto Rico and Culebra. These experiences were completely new to me, and I truly thank myself for buying them. I know some frown upon the credit card portals, but for a newbie trying to rack up and use points for travel, it worked.
This by far has been one of the best trips I’ve taken, and the fact that it was a solo trip, makes me proud of myself. I will definitely be booking more solo trips in the future,
Have you done a solo trip? If so, where to? I want to hear about it in the comments and on social media. T.S.