What? You’re going on a trip WITH your toddler!? Yes, yes I am and I’m here to tell you that our trip to Puerto Rico with our 3 year old was the best! You can do it, too! I’m going to tell you how amazing it is to create memories with your kids via vacationing because we had an extraordinary week in Puerto Rico and I cannot wait to do it again!
At first, I was VERY hesitant to fly with Liam who is 3 1/2. In a car he is great! When he was 2 we drove to New Orleans and it was awesome. But flying is a whole new ball game and I am already anxious just in day to day life. The stress of packing and dealing with people and airport security and a 5 hour flight, etc… You can come up with a million excuses NOT to go on vacation with kids. But what about the excuses TO go somewhere and share the experience with them!? I’m going to share my experience traveling from Chicago to San Juan, Puerto Rico with my husband and 3 year old son. We chose Puerto Rico because it’s a tropical island and you do not need a passport to travel there! (for now)
To start, I did a lot of research online about flying with kids. Let me just say, it is not nearly as bad as you would think. Actually it’s quite better because you get priority for everything! TSA security line, boarding, you name it, if you have a kid, it’s like VIP. We flew with jetBlue which was absolutely perfect! No delays, flight crew was so nice and it’s unlimited free snacks on the plane! Hell yes! Here is Liam’s first boarding pass and the pin JetBlue gave him:
So fun! Also, we decided to bring his car seat on the plane. Why? Because our son LOVES his car seat, he’s comfortable and familiar with it, and most importantly it’s safe! Yes, it’s big and bulky and heavy (there are airport carts you can get for walking to/from your gate). But you are going 500 miles per hour at 36,000 feet. Turbulence can be bad and takeoff and landing is pretty rocky. So in my opinion, if you are traveling with a kid 4 or under (even babies!) bring the car seat.
See? Here he is happy and comfy eating some McDonalds hot cakes 😉
And… Here he is fast asleep mid flight
Another reason we brought the car seat was because we wanted to rent a car for the day to explore the island ourselves. Sure you can rent a car seat, too but it’s so much nicer having your own!
Ok, moving on to where we stayed. Embassy Suites in San Juan. Close to the airport, awesome pool with a kids area, free breakfast AND happy hour and a beach. I’ve stayed at multiple Embassy Suites in various locations and all have been great. The price is right especially if you use all the facilities they provide. This one in particular had a casino for adults and a game room for kids. They have a special pool area for the kids with a slide and a play house. And, when you are going to the beach, they have beach toys that you can bring and use so you don’t have to pack your own! Then, when you get to the beach, they have chairs, umbrellas and towels free of charge for guests. So great! I mean, you really can’t ask for anything else. They make it so easy and convenient for you.
Next up, what we did while we were there. Besides the obvious, pool and beach, we also did a tour of the rainforest called El Yunque National Forest. I wasn’t sure if Liam would be able to handle it since it was from 8 am to 2 pm but it was great. If you have a 2 year old or younger, wear them. But 3 years old and up can definitely do the hike if they are physical like my little guy is. The tour was very educational and the forest is beautiful! Here is a picture of us:
After the hike we had lunch at a tiny little place just off the side of the road. Probably one of the best meals we had. Then, Liam fell asleep in the taxi ride back to the hotel so… major plus.
The other fun thing we did was rent a car and drive to Old San Juan and then to Ponce for dinner. I highly recommend renting a car at least for a day if you go to Puerto Rico because it is a fun adventure. Old San Juan is a must as well. I mean… just look at this view:
Gorgeous! While we were here we parked the rental car in a parking lot for maybe 4 hours and it only cost about $3. We saw the 2 forts and took advantage of the free trolley ride. I’m not sure what the forts were actually called and I’m too lazy to look them up right now but it’s probably the #1 thing to do in Old San Juan. The history here is amazing so I highly recommend.
Then, we drove to Ponce which is on the south end of the island. We didn’t have much time here, only ate dinner but I’m so glad we made it to another city. The drive through the mountains was so breathtaking, it was so worth it. When we got there, we found a free parking spot on a street and quickly looked up on TripAdvisor a restaurant for dinner. Here is Liam with his Shirley Temple:
We went to a place called Lola and ate outside (while also getting eaten by mosquitoes). The best part- Liam was able to create his own cupcake and of course I freaked out when our server brought out mini pastry bags!! OH MY GOD THAT IS SO CUTE!
He ended up giving it to us free of charge which may or may not have been because of my freak out but who cares. So cute. We then drove back to the hotel and left the next day.
I want to go back so bad! When Liam is older there will be even more to do but for now, this was honestly the BEST vacation. I hope you get inspired by reading this post to take an adventure with your kids because in my opinion it is so worth it. You come home refreshed and have a new outlook on life. Seeing other cultures really opens your eyes and makes you appreciate the little things that we so often forget. So get out there and travel, my beauties! You won’t regret it 🙂