Puerto Rico is a stellar place for American single seniors to travel. Visitors get a flavor for Latin American culture and Caribbean living, but because Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth, seniors can enjoy many of the discounts and benefits offered by American private and public organizations. Consider purchasing a day pass to an airport lounge if you have a long layover so you can rest up before your adventures.
Enjoy the culture and relaxing lifestyle of Puerto Rico at your own pace.
Traveling on your own leaves the plan to you, but it also leaves you open to change the plan as often as you want. Pack a few guides to Puerto Rico, including a Spanish phrase book, and be sure to purchase travel insurance. If you plan to rent a car for driving around the island or take a flight to the islands of Vieques and Culebra, book ahead of time. Puerto Rico’s main public transportation, publicos, do not need to be booked in advance. Leave your time in cities open enough to explore the interesting possibilities that come along.
Ask your travel agent for senior discounts before booking flights, hotels or tours. Membership in AARP (aarp.org) offers discounts at many locations within Puerto Rico. Visiting Puerto Rico’s one national park and nine historic and natural landmarks is also a breeze, thanks to the U.S. Park Service’s Golden Age Passport (nps.gov), which offers free entrance to people 62 and older. Get your passport at any park that charges an entrance fee.
Puerto Ricans compensate for their lack of bus service by offering publicos, or large vehicles that transport groups from one city center to another. Although cost-effective, their schedules are irregular and the vehicles, which generally meet at the city’s plaza or bus terminal, leave when the vehicle is full, regardless of time. A more reliable method by which to travel the island is a compact rental car. Major international rental companies have offices at San Juan’s airport, and local agencies AAA Car Rental (aaacarrentalpr.com), Charlie Car Rental (charliecars.com) and L&M Car Rental (lmcarrental.com) all have offices in San Juan. Calling for a car rental and asking for senior discounts before traveling will get you the best price on your rental. Check with AARP for participating rental agencies.
While many young people may stay on the beaches and in the clubs of Puerto Rico, seniors might want to explore some of the country’s cultural spots by learning about local history, architecture, folklore and music. Frommer’s recommends exploring Old San Juan, declared a U.S. National Historic District, filled with 17th century buildings and monuments.
The historic district of the city of Ponce is similarly stunning, with old Creole and art deco buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
San German, the second oldest city in Puerto Rico, also contains a US-recognized historic zone. Botanists and natural remedy enthusiasts might prefer visiting the University of Puerto Rico’s Tropical Agricultural Research Station, where visitors can see a collection of native tropical species used for practical and medicinal purposes.
Your resort’s concierge should be able to help you plan a tour around the island, or they can point you to the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. — the island’s official tourist office — (no website; La Princesa Building, #2 Paseo La Princesa, San Juan, 00902; 787-721-2400) for guided tours.
Seniors traveling solo should visit the doctor for a checkup before leaving and obtain a written certification for all medications. Additionally, you may want to carry an emergency medical alert bracelet if you have any allergies or special conditions that would need to be disclosed before treatment. This is especially crucial for those who don’t have a travel companion.
- Frommers: Tips for Senior Travelers in Puerto Rico
- Cheap-o Air: Tips for Senior Travelers
- SmarterTravel.com: VIP Airport Lounges
- Travel Insurance Review: 10 Tips for Seniors Traveling with Medical Conditions
- Business Week: Company Overview of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company
- Lets Go: Puerto Rico by Publico
- Lets Go: Puerto Rico by Car
- Frommers: The Best Attractions in Puerto Rico
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