Visitors to Puerto Rico are in for an exotic vacation. Budgeting for a trip through paradise may not be the most memorable part of your travels, but doing so ahead of time will ensure you get the most from your stay, taking home more memories than you imagined. Lodging, transportation, and dining are larger expenses, but smaller costs such as shopping, tipping, and hospitality taxes should not be overlooked.
Unlike many of the other popular tourist islands in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico does not have a great number of all-inclusive resorts. Instead, visitors will find many smaller and motels as well as a several locally owned inns and villas. The peak tourist season runs from mid-December to mid-April, and prices on the island reflect the increased demand for lodging. During this time, costs on a standard double-occupancy room at a basic hotel can vary from $90(USD) to more than $350(USD) per night. Prices on similarly standard double-occupancy rooms at all-inclusive resorts may range from $125(USD) to well over $450(USD) per night. Travelers should note that these estimated costs do not include taxes and service fees.
Vacationers should also bear in mind that the services and amenities offered by a hotel are generally reflected in the room rate. More expensive, all-inclusive resorts will accommodate guests with meals, activities, and a knowledgeable concierge staff, while some of the more affordable lodgings may provide only a standard hotel room. It is always advised that vacationers be mindful of the amenities a specific hotel offers before reserving a room.
In Puerto Rico, May through October is considered the off season, and travelers are often able to find great deals on accommodations. Lodging costs are considerably lower, and many of the most popular tourist areas are free of their peak-season congestion.
A variety of culinary options offered in Puerto Rico means travelers can plan for meals of all prices. Restaurants serving traditional island fare can range from $10(USD) to $25(USD) per person at dinner time. Dinner at a first-class or gourmet restaurant will probably exceed $30(USD). Breakfast and lunch costs are generally less than dinner, and many fast-food chains enable guests to cut expenses if necessary.
Tipping waitstaff in a restaurant is also very important. The American standard of leaving 15 percent to 20 percent of the total bill is advised, but feel free to tip more or less to reflect the quality of service.
A well-planned budget will also include transportation costs. Most travelers will not limit themselves to only one mode of transport, so an accurate budget will allow for several options.
Taxi fares to many of the more popular tourist areas are already established as flat rates, making it easy to allot money if you know what part of the island you'll be staying in. Metered taxis can take visitors anywhere on the island not serviced by the tourist cabs.
Within the San Juan area, buses are an extremely economic option, with fares of either $0.25(USD) or $0.50(USD) depending on the route. Plenty of stops make them convenient as well. Publicos, which are a bus and taxi hybrid unique to Puerto Rico, are an excellent choice for adventurous travelers who would like to explore a larger area without chartering their own taxi.
Rental cars are an ideal choice for vacationers who prize independence, and budgeting for them can be much easier because a rate will be quoted at the time of reservation. Visitors are reminded that if they decide that a rental car will be their primary mode of transportation, parking and fuel costs must also represent a portion of the budget.
The costs of leisure transportation such as ferries, bicycles, and mopeds should be reflected in the budget. Government ferries are inexpensive; no fare costs more than $3(USD) per person, though additional charges for transporting a vehicle can add up quickly. Bikes and mopeds are available for daily rental starting at $25(USD) and $35(USD), respectively. Often, visitors can get a better rate if they agree to keep the bike or scooter for one week.
Busy travelers hoping to take advantage of the island's shops, museums, and nightspots ought to incorporate souvenir costs, admission prices, and cover charges into their financial planning.
Visitors should bear in mind that their daily spending might fluctuate greatly, and that a day or two of shopping will probably comprise a higher percentage of their budget than the inevitable time spent soaking up sun and scenery on the beautiful beaches.
No vacation would be complete without a few souvenirs, and visitors to Puerto Rico often scoop up the native crafts for sale around the island as perfect trip mementos. Handmade lace, religious relics, festival masks, and Spanish-style jewelry entice vacationers to spend. Imported cigars and rum are also extremely popular gift ideas.
Returning with these items means having them cleared through U.S. Customs. American travelers do not have to submit any formal declarations, but bags will be searched to ensure that certain native fruits and vegetation are not introduced into the continental United States. While the United States imposes no formal tariffs on exporting goods bought in Puerto Rico, European visitors are advised to contact their own travel commissions or embassies to determine applicable regulations.
Unlike many islands in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico has no departure tax. And unlike many U.S. States, Puerto Rico has no sales tax. Any service charges will be included in the quoted price of an item, and visitors do not generally run into any unanticipated costs when purchasing goods on the island.
A hospitality tax will be added to all hotel rooms, though the amount depends on both the type of hotel and the length of stay. Hotels without casinos assess a charge of 9 percent per day while casino hotels are required to assess an 11 percent charge. Travelers should be advised that some lodging providers will incorporate this charge in their rate quote, but don't assume that it is included. The only way to be certain is to ask the staff when booking the hotel. Don't hesitate to request a breakdown of the expenses.
Careful budgeting for all possible costs beforehand can keep visitors from missing out on the many opportunities a trip to Puerto Rico affords. Travelers who anticipate their financial needs before leaving home enjoy the assurance of having every aspect of their vacation accounted for. Budgeting allows visitors to enjoy all of the activities that interest them without any unforeseen expenses.
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