Tour planning

Travel guide: Service Learning in Puerto Rico

Last August we launched EF Explore America’s brand new Service Learning itineraries. Our very first group traveled to Puerto Rico in February 2019. They collaborated with a handful of our partner NGOs and non-profits on conservation initiatives including a beach clean-up and planting & maintaining growing mangroves on a local reserve. They made mofongo, swam in a bioluminescent bay, sang karaoke on the bus, and danced salsa! Now it’s your turn to explore PR — here’s what you need to know before hopping on the plane:

The Basics

Weather: Puerto Rico’s climate is classified as ‘tropical rainforest’ with an average temperature of 82 °F. The rainy season is from April-November, though it’s typical to experience rain showers at some point throughout the day even in the dry season.

Language(s): Spanish & English are the official languages, though Spanish is preferred

Currency: $ U.S. Dollar

Cash or card: It’s easy to use both!

How much $ to bring per day: $20

Bathrooms: If you see a trash bin next to the toilet, throw your toilet paper into the bin and not the toilet bowl, otherwise you risk clogging it. The island’s sewage system is not always equipped to handle toilet paper.

via Katie Collins

Packing

For your Service Projects:

    • Reusable water bottle … In the spirit of conservation! #reduce #reuse #sustainability
    • Pants, T-shirts & sneakers … ones you don’t mind getting dirty!
    • Work gloves
    • Tall socks … avoid getting bug bites on your ankles
    • Bug Spray
    • Sunscreen … the sun is stronger than you expect, and you’ll be outside a lot during your service work!
    • Hat & sunglasses
    • Rain jacket … in case of showers

For when you’re not on the project sites:

    • Shorts
    • Comfortable shoes/sandals
    • Swimsuit

via Katie Collins

Food & Drink

You HAVE to try:

    • Mofongo – you will get to try this at one of your dinners
    • Habichuelas – stewed beans & served with most meals
    • Piraguas – snow cones (‘parcha,’ or passion fruit is a very popular flavor!)

Everything else

Total spent on souvenirs: $30-$50

Best cheap/free thing to do: Peruse the street art of the Santurce neighborhood. The murals are vibrant and are part of an urban art festival called “Los Muros Hablan” or “The Walls Speak”

Pro Tip: If you get motion sick, bring non-drowsy Dramamine for the bus rides

Advice: Be curious! Ask questions. Talk to your Tour Director, the people at your service projects and other locals. Some of the best memories are made when you take a moment to pause and learn about someone else’s story.

Katie Collins

Unsurprisingly, Katie is another EF-er who loves to travel! She appreciates that travel forces you to cut down to the essentials and let go of excess stuff. Wherever she goes she’s looking for fun hikes, restaurants with gushing reviews and local flavors, and the highest place she can get to (think: mountaintop, bell tower, Duomo, jungle gym). Katie spent summer vacations traveling around the US to different National Parks. In college, she was lucky enough to spend a semester in Madrid and returned to Spain later on to walk El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). She is part of EF Explore America’s Product Management team.

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