Puerto Rico Travel Do’s and Don’ts 

There is a Puerto Rican saying that goes “I live where you vacation” which is meant to display the pride we Boricuas feel of inhabiting this beautiful archipelago called Puerto Rico. I also believe it serves as a reminder that when people come here to visit, they are actually setting foot in the “home” of 3.6 million persons and this land and its inhabitants should be treated with the same consideration that you would afford your own.

Make no mistake, Puerto Ricans want people to visit, learn about the history of our people and enjoy all the many marvels our country has to offer. But (and this is IMPORTANT) we want people to come with openness, solidarity  and respect, so here are some recommendations that can help frame your visit from the lens of a harm reductionist traveler and not a colonizing tourist (this this great article from The Guardian is a must read if you want to delve deeper into what is colonial tourism and how to avoid it). 

  • Do remember we are still living under a worldwide pandemic. Keep locals and others safe by making use of your mask, observing social distance and testing frequently.
  • Do come with an open mind. You may see things that are totally new to you and this may be an opportunity to learn.
  • Do show caring curiosity. Don’t judge something if you don’t know the context, you can always ask questions to better understand.
  • Do your homework ahead of time. Study up to learn about Puerto Rico’s rich and complex history, past and present and be willing to sit with uncomfortable truths. In preparation for your visit you can review this resource list.
  • Do observe how locals behave and/or dress and act accordingly as a way to show care.
  • Do keep noise down when everyone else around you is also. You may be staying at a location where locals also live. Partying and making loud noises until late at night disturbs those around you that deserve and need their rest. 
  • Do be respectful. As the oldest colony in the world, Puerto Rico has experienced much harm through its relationship with the United States that has gone unrecognized and unrepaired and us locals have feelings about it. For example, in 2017 then President Donald Trump offered to “sell” Puerto Rico, not much after throwing paper towels as his response to the tragic aftermaths from hurricane Maria. We are still pissed at how the US government continues to treat us after 124 years of colonial rule and rightfully so.
  • Do keep out of areas where you are told by locals you are not welcome. 
  • Do support the local economy. Check out this list of locally owned businesses you can visit. If you are looking for alternate accommodations to a hotel chain or Airbnb, no need to worry because we got you covered!  You can review this list that has several great options.

The local organizing committee of the national harm reduction conference is excited and looking forward to welcoming all conference attendees, their family and friends to our casa this October! ¡Esperamos verles muy pronto!