A Teen Travels To Puerto Rico Solo

Visit Puerto Rico
Beautiful day spent at Culebra Island. Photo: Kady Kellogg

There will be moments in your life when, as crazy as they might seem at the time, you know you made the right choices. My trip to Puerto Rico was definitely one of these moments.  It was one of my wildest experiences, and one of the most amazing! I think everyone should visit Puerto Rico.

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I had just turned 18 and it was my first time leaving the country without my entire family. I was a little nervous as Brody and I were boarding the plane, a first for me, and leaving everything familiar behind.

However, I do feel at home in the unknown, which is why I travel. Its where I belong, on the road, discovering new places and things. So, more than nerves, I was beyond excited! So excited I couldn’t sleep on one of the flights that took me into the middle of the night.

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Brody and I flew out of Seattle to LA and then to Chicago. In Chicago we met our friend, Luke who’s from Idaho. The three of us had the same flight to Puerto Rico where we met our friend Sepp, from CO.

I know my parents, especially my mom, were a little nervous, but they felt a lot better knowing I was with my brother and 2 friends.  Puerto Rico, like any place, anywhere, requires that travelers be smart, use their heads and not do stupid things.

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We had done our research prior to purchasing tickets, my mom talked to her TravelingMom friends, we googled and we read blogs.  We learned the safe areas for tourists to stay as well as the neighborhoods and locales to stay away from.  

We booked 10 days at Holiday Inn Express in the community of Condado.  I was looking for a more authentic place to stay, but in the end, the Holiday Inn Express offered everything we wanted, like free breakfast and walking distance to the beach.  

I loved Condado.  It is such a cool area!  Our hotel was a mere 2 minute walk to the beach and downtown Condado!  

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Condado Beach was always full of surfers and stand-up paddlers. The water was 80 degrees and it was a beautiful blue color! The sand was so soft and the beach was lined with Coconut Trees and hotels.

Brody climbed a Coconut Tree and knocked down a few coconuts. We brought one back to our hotel to open it and enjoy its fresh coconut water and meat! It was awesome!

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The beach is definitely the place to be during the day in the hot sun, but at night there’s an awesome area to hangout. Its full of bars and clubs. The drinking age is 18 and so we had no problem getting in to the different clubs to dance, which was cool.

The first few days we were there we would go out around 9pm ready to have fun, and there would be nobody out at all.  We all wondered why, I mean we were clearly in an awesome spot with killer night life.  But then we learned it was because everyone shows up after 12am!

On Fridays and Saturdays that’s when the real party starts. Over by La Placita, the city lines every block with cops and people come out in droves!

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La Placita was only a 10 min walk from our hotel and it’s a safe walk even at 3am with all the police out watching

A lot of the bars had dress codes and wouldn’t let the boys in because they like to wear tank tops everywhere, but we learned quickly they couldn’t and so after once running back to the hotel to change, they went out in more acceptable attire the other nights!

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Every bar had different music playing, so we bar hopped just for the music. A lot was Spanish music, but even though I don’t know a lick of Spanish, I loved it! It’s some of my favorite music and I want to learn Spanish just so I can sing along. We also met a really nice couple that showed us the basics for salsa dancing.

The locals in Condado were so nice to us, always giving us good recommendations for things to do and places to eat!

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One of my favorite restaurants was Café del Angel. It had the most authentic food and it was always delicious. Some of the dishes we tried were; Mofongo, Arroz con gandules, Tostones, and almost everything had plantains, either smashed, dried, stuffed, fried, you name it. Their rice and beans were my favorite!

I also loved the Red Mango Cafe. When we missed breakfast at our hotel we would run to Red Mango for their omelette flatbreads and fresh smoothies.

I had heard so much about don’t trust anyone when you visit Puerto Rico and to be very careful, and we were very careful.  However, one of the great things about travel is that you get to meet so many good, kind people. Of course, just like everywhere else in the world there are still bad people,and we understood that and so we stuck together and we used our instincts that have been honed by traveling full time the last 4.5 years of our lives.

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One day in PR we were being hustled by an old woman asking for money. She had this long story of how her husband had just died and that it was her birthday and she went on and on. We knew she was lying and that she wasn’t going to use our money for good, but I always give anyway, knowing it’s not my place to discern their heart.  

But as Brody and Sepp looked around them, they saw people shaking their heads and telling them not to give in to her story. I felt good knowing people were there to stand up for us.

Also at our hotel front desk the lady gave us so much information. She was really kind. She gave us a little insider info, telling us to use Uber because it was cheaper than the taxis just out front. And she was right. We spent a lot less on transportation after she gave us that tip.

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Also, when we were wandering the streets of Old San Juan a few people asked if we needed help with directions or information. They were all super helpful without us even needing to ask.

We never ran into any trouble with people, even out late at night. It’s an all around  incredible place to visit and I would never say no to going there! I know we plan on going back because it was my best traveling experience and I cannot wait to visit Puerto Rico again.

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I can’t wait for my next journey out of the country!

-Kady

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