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Yes, You Need To Rent A Car To Travel In Puerto Rico

While there are technically other ways to travel around Puerto Rico, renting your own car is probably your best bet.

Rental Jeep
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico- I asked about public buses between towns in Puerto Rico. Let the laughs begin. The simple answer: there ain’t any.

“No, man, no,” a local guy that I met one day told me. “No public transportation in most of the island. You know, there used to be a time where there were. It was great, you know, but now it’s not that good.”

Like I covered in a previous post, everyone drives in Puerto Rico. Coming here and asking someone about buses between towns is like if someone came to the small village in Western NY that I grew up in and began asking if there’s any buses to Chicago. We don’t have public transportation out there because everyone drives. Same here.

But Puerto Rico has a distinct advantage in this regard:

“But, like, I’m telling you, you know, Puerto Rico is very small,” the guy continued. “You can surround the whole island. You can get from here, from San Juan, to the forest up, to the edge of the island, the corner called Rincon in like in two hours, 30 minutes.”

Everyone knows that Puerto Rico is a small island. But it’s even smaller than you’d think. I was told that you can circumambulate the entire thing in six hours.

While there are apparently minivans that stop somewhere and transport people between towns when full, that … just sounded like a bit of a hassle. I’m a different kind of traveler than I was fifteen years ago … no, I’m the same kind of traveler, I just have different priorities. Back then, time was cheap for me. I could spend hours every week searching for the cheapest hotels and restaurants and it wouldn’t matter much to me. I thought of it as kind of a game. I now know that I can make more money in one hour of work that I could save spending an hour looking for cheaper prices, so it’s no longer in my best financial interests to be cheap. These days efficiency is far more valuable.


So I decided to rent a car. But the preceding paragraph may be moot because I found a car for like $80 in total for my entire trip. While I don’t know the prices to travel in Puerto Rican minivans I question whether I would really save much.


I made a classic travel blunder. I arrived at the car rental office and gave the dude behind the desk my name. He looked at me kind of weird. “You know that your booking is for two weeks from now, right?”


I looked at my booking. He was right.

And I know exactly what happened. When I was booking the reservation on Expedia on my phone I remember flipping back to the starting page to look for different prices for different pick up / drop off times, and the last time I did this I must not have changed the dates from the default.

Expedia rental car screenshot

Notice how dates are already entered in before you put anything else into the form.

I have no idea why any travel booking website would have default days entered into the blanks — do they think they’re going to guess your days of travel? But, anyway, it was my fault.

Am I rusty? Did those three years of only traveling on brief trips to Mexico and Florida dulled my travel acumen?

Not sure. Maybe?

Anyway, I told the guy behind the counter to just give me any car he had. He said there was a brand new Jeep sitting out front for $200 total. I took it. What else was I going to do?


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Filed under: Puerto Rico, Road Trip, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3719 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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