For my birthday my hubby took the whole family on a trip to Puerto Rico and it was truly amazing! We made memories that will last a lifetime but in true Witherspoon fashion our trip took an unexpected turn when we missed our initial flight home and had to spend 2 extra days on the island. (But more on that later). However in the midst of all of our mishaps I definitely learned some very valuable travel lessons that I wanted to pass along as well. (Hopefully we made these travel mistakes so you don’t have to.)
Our Flight To Puerto Rico
So I have a little confession to make. Prior to this trip I was terrified of flying. (Even now I’m not to keen on it.) But after having to put on a brave face for my babies it’s definitely doable for me now. I’ve only ever flown one other time and that was for my girlfriend’s wedding in Kentucky!
Because this was our first time flying with the kids we decided to book a late flight praying that they’d sleep through it and make it a bit easier on us. This turned out to work out pretty well! My daughter slept for most of the 3 1/2 hour flight and although my son was awake he was drowsy and laid back for the most part. But if you’re booking a late flight I recommend assuring that you have safe travel accommodations to your hotel and that your hotel will allow you to check in at the hour that you arrive. (We got to our hotel at 3am 😩.)
We flew JetBlue to Puerto Rico and I highly recommend this airline. We were accommodated with free snacks, games and WiFi during our flight and they had in flight movies you could pay for. The seating also felt pretty spacious. Tickets were a little pricier though so keep that in mind.
The Resort: Wyndham Grand Rio MarIf you are looking for a family friendly resort in Puerto Rico, you should definitely consider Wyndham Grand Rio Mar. It was literally the perfect resort for us. All of the hotel rooms have balconies overlooking the beautiful and well kept grounds of the resort.
With the specific room that we booked we could even see the beach from our balcony which was just 5 minutes walking distance from us. We booked a room with a double Queen bed that was very spacious and had a nice bright and large bathroom.
One of the accommodations that the hotel provided that I really appreciated was the complimentary breakfast buffet very morning of our stay. We were given vouchers when we checked in and the food was delicious! There were a variety of very nice restaurants on the resort for you so grab lunch and dinner although a bit pricey. I found that the food was very good but pretty Americanized for the most part which was perfect for us with young kids. But if you’re looking for more authentic cuisine your best bet would be to go into the city.
One of the best parts about the whole resort was the pool! It was beautiful! There was a kiddie pool, family pool and adult pool. We stayed mainly by the family and kiddie pool but the adult had an in pool bar. Over by the family pool however there were waiters that went up to each family at their pool chairs to take drink orders which was lovely.
Everyday there were pool side games that families played for prizes and they had great music playing as well. One of the best features of the pool was the water slide!
Our last day on the resort was my birthday and we decided to have dinner on the beach which was so beautiful and relaxing. We opted for some fuss free tacos and margaritas of course. It was the perfect ending to such a lovely resort stay.
Things To Consider
The resort is about 35 minutes from the airport and were told by multiple Uber drivers that it is not always easy to get people to drive to and from the resort. Although we didn’t have any trouble getting Ubers it is still something to consider. The resort also offers a ride service for an additional cost.
It is also a ways away from the city so if you were interested in the night life this isn’t the best place to stay. (Although if you’re traveling with kids you probably wouldn’t be interested in that.)
Our Journey Home And How We Ended Up Spending Two Extra Days in Puerto RicoThe morning of our flight home my husband and woke up extra early to get ourselves and the kids ready for an early check out. We had gotten the bags ready the night before anticipating that we would have to leave out pretty early to make time to get an Uber that was willing to get us from the resort. To our surprise we got an Uber pretty easily and were on track to get to the airport an hour and a half before our flight. Unfortunately we ran into the worst possible traffic and ended up getting to the airport 45 minutes before we were set to take off. Needless to say we were frantic. We rushed to our airline‘s check in area only to find out that Frontier’s employees were only at the area up to an hour before the flight to check in passengers and like an idiot I hadn’t checked in online to get our boarding passes. There we were with two kids in the airport, my husband bogged down with bags and me on the verge of tears. We went over to different airline counters to desperately find a flight out that day after speaking to Frontier‘s customer service and finding that their next direct flight to Philly was two days away. But no one could help us. We had no choice but to stay another two days in Puerto Rico.Feeling defeated my husband looked up Airbnb’s close to the airport and found one ten minutes away. The rating was pretty good and it looked really nice in pictures so we booked it right away, explained our situation to the owner and spent the next three hours in the airport as he quickly got the place cleaned up for us. As we got in our Uber to head over to our home for the next two days we quickly realized that we probably weren’t in the best area. There were roosters, chickens and stray dogs all throughout the streets. There were quite a few abandon houses as well. And with us being so close to the airport the airplanes were so loud it sounded like we were on the runway! Overall the people were friendly and the area had some conveniently placed shops near by. The place was clean as well but we quickly found out that there was a serious ant problem after seeing them get into a box of cereal we left on the counter. Needless to say we all but ran out of there in our travel day home.
Some of My Travel Tips
• Book a flight that is first thing in the morning or pretty late at night.
-I found that both my kids (3 year old and a 6 month old ) sat really well both on our flight to Puerto Rico and I’m pretty sure the timing of the flight paid a big role. (Again, I’d make sure you have safe travel accommodations to and from where you’re staying if you’re arriving or leaving late at night. Better safe than sorry.)•
•Purchase some sort of noise canceling ear covers for your children.
-These were a life saver for us and the brand Alpine came highly recommended on Amazon for flying with kids to help with the pressure they feel in their ears when changing altitude.
-Depending on the airline that you fly with you may not be provided with free snacks for your flight. And if you have to pay for them they’ll most likely be overpriced. The airline we flew with to PR had this free accommodation but coming flying back with a different airline we had to pay for them. Just pack them just in case.
•Make sure you have downloaded content on your phone or electronic device before you fly in case your flight doesn’t have WiFi.
–Thank God we had games downloaded for my son to play for our flight back home because our flight did not have WiFi and he would’ve been bored out of his mind. My husband and I, however were not so lucky. Next time I’ll make sure I have a movie or shows downloaded for sure.
•Arrive to the airport early and/or do early check in.
-This is probably my most important tip and most likely the most common sense tip as well. Any seasoned traveler knows to arrive to the airport around 1 1/2 to 2 hours early just to make sure bags are sorted, boarding passes are received and you can get through TSA without missing your flight. My husband and I learned the hard way that arriving to the airport any less than 2 hours early, especially with kids is just not the move! Plan for potty breaks and meltdowns to be factored into your timeline. And for the love of God, if you’re flying Frontier please check in online early and get your boarding pass the day before your flight.