Updated: Dec 31, 2018
Six strangers come together to live in a house in Puerto Rico for seven days... Ok, let me stop. My trip to Puerto Rico with my buddies was not dramatic like the MTV reality show The Real World. However, this dramatic intro did enter my mind before going on the trip because I only knew 2 of the 5 people I was traveling with. And for the first time, I didn't play a role in planning the trip. The seven-day adventure was planned by my best friend from college, a college buddy, and their friends. I was invited on the trip by my best friend right after my trip to Nepal. At first, I was hesitant about accepting the invite. But I thought a group trip would be a great way to get back on the traveling horse after my dramatic experience in Nepal. I am so happy that I made this decision because I can’t imagine a better group to travel with! The little bit of fear that I had about traveling is now gone thanks to the great planning and awesome people I traveled with.
We all flew Frontier, a relatively new airline, and the only airline with direct flights to Puerto Rico from the US. The 3-hour flight was very affordable. Although the money you save with purchasing the ticket is made up with having to pay for everything else (checked bag, carry-on luggage, snacks, choosing your seat, etc.). I decided to get the ticket package that included a carry-on, 1 checked bag, and a seat with extra legroom. My travel buddies only paid for a seat and 1 checked bag. Overall the flight experience was good. However, when it comes to the seat quality you get what you pay for.
Highlights From the Week
Accommodation: Our Airbnb was located in Old San Juan. The 4 bedrooms, 3 bathroom condo was in walking distance to all the sights and restaurants in the area. The accommodation was perfect! The owners of the condo thought of everything to make sure our stay was amazing!
Adventure: During our stay, we visited two beautiful beaches. The first beach in San Juan was a little on the crowded side and the water had a lot of seaweed along with a pollution warning sign. I opted out of getting in the water at this beach and just enjoy the view. My buddies got in the water and had a great time. The second beach, Rincon Beach, was just right for me! When we first arrived there were two other people on the beach and the water was calm and much cleaner. I highly recommend this beach for people who enjoy a private beach feeling.
Of course, we needed to have an adrenaline rush on our trip. Our first adventure was ATVing in the Carabali Rainforest. This was my first time riding on an ATV and naturally, I was very nervous. Gaining control of the ATV and staying on the path required trusting the person in front of you and trusting your judgment. The views on the trail and the feeling of the rain while driving through the rainforest were priceless!
Our last adventure was ziplining on the beast at the Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park. Listen to the podcast below to hear about our experience: PODCAST
For the Foodies: Puerto Rico has amazing food! I could go on and on but I will share my 3 favorite dishes. First up, Mofongo. Mofongo is a dish made of mashed fried plantains and topped with sautéed meat. This dish is very filling! Up next pina coladas! We actually went to the restaurant that created the original pina colada, the Barrachina.
After having the original I never want to order a pinacolada from another place! Last but not least the fried red snapper at every restaurant we went to was amazing. This dish was very well seasoned and the fish was very fresh! As a group, we had a great time at every restaurant but our favorite experience was at a restaurant that we randomly found. When we arrived we had the restaurant to ourselves. The staff was very friendly and allowed us to control the music. We danced, ate, and drank!
My advice for planning a group trip:
Cast your net wide! Be open to inviting friends of friends.
Set deadlines. (Dates for accommodation deposit and flight ticket purchase)
Share the planning load. Find a buddy in the group to help you pick the accommodation and/ or have the group vote on a place to stay. Allow the group to voice activities they would like to do.