Vax-cation: Puerto Rico
I hadn’t heard the new conjunctive phrase “Vax-cation” before last week, maybe it hadn’t existed before that in fact, but basically this is what we’re calling that first trip you finally take once you’ve been fully #vaccinated. While this much needed jaunt to the #Caribbean was planned either way, it just so happens that my inoculation took effect in April making this trip evidently my #vaxcation.
Most airlines have published quarterly earnings reports noting their leisure traffic is at or near pre-pandemic levels, which certainly seemed to be the case at both Los Angeles (LAX) and our transit airport Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The thing to note about flying right now is that there are not as many choices to destinations as there used to be. Carriers are constantly updating their scheduesls to reflect demand , trend and the situation on the ground so expect to have your flight changed at least once and remain flexible to options. For example our original flight was a Sunday morning JetBlue flight from LAX to FLL, a one hour layover and arrival to San Juan that evening in time for dinner. Our flight change - which happened about 2 weeks out - added a 6 hour layover that had us basically arriving in San Juan at 1am. Luckily (some) airlines remain somewhat flexible so I was able to move the first leg of trip back to Saturday, tack on a quick overnight in the Fort Lauderdale Marina Hilton and get on the morning flight into San Juan so we didn’t need to rearrange any of our island plans. *Reasons why it’s helpful to have a travel designer helping you along way!*
The stop also gave us a chance to download our compliant covid test results and complete the necessary online registration with the island of Puerto Rico’s safe travels program prior to arrival. The link is a very straight forward registration process where you upload your negative test results and receive a QR code for processing out of the airport and I imagine we will see a lot of these or similar vaccine registrations in the coming months. Getting out of the airport in PR was just as easy - with that code pre issued it really was as easy as showing it at the door and getting on your way.
The famed rental car shortage did appear to be affecting the island and there were significant lines to pick up cars as well as signs saying “no more cars” - this is where your loyalty memberships will come in handy!
As to the experience on island, given the outdoor nature of a place like Puerto Rico, the majority of activities, sports, excursions and historic places we wanted to visit were all open. Masks were worn indoors and when interacting with others out of respect but most people hiking on trails and of course in the water were not utilizing masks. It became almost a salutation, rather than passing someone on the trail and saying hi, people would motion to put their mask on, say “I’m vaccinated!” and after getting a “me too” would forgo masking. Locals working at resorts and tour operators were always compliant and everywhere - from the smallest gift shop to a 5-star restaurant required a temp check to even enter. Everything felt incredibly responsible on both the part of travelers and the tourism industry. And it’s an industry that badly needs revival after the devastation of the hurricanes and covid so soon after.
Remember that because Puerto Rico is considered a domestic trip there is no passport needed, no changing your money, and no returning covid test is required to return to the mainland.
Ready to plan your domestic Caribbean get away ? Get more Puerto Rico inspiration here or just contact us! We are Masters Class certified by the Puerto Rican tourism board.