10 cool tips to make the most out of your service-learning experience

By Esther Riddle

Do you want your service-learning visit to be a memorable one? We have found that when travelers PREPARE activities ON THEIR OWN, the visit goes much smoother and is far more successful.

If your group is willing to serve for one full day or for several days and can supply some materials, we’d love to create a full service-learning project. However, not every group has that much time in their itinerary. Plus, not every local school and/or facility that we visit needs a specific type of service such as painting, gardening, cleaning, or stocking shelves.

Often times, what goes a long way in the minds and hearts of both students and those that they are serving is quality PEOPLE to PEOPLE time and exchange of ideas. Challenge students to connect with 2-3 people individually and think about what they could say to encourage or invest in their lives.

The students that we tend to serve are from underprivileged low-income communities. Many of them have never traveled abroad. However, that doesn’t stop them from being curious and from wanting to expand their knowledge of the world and of different cultures.

Here are 10 great service suggestions for teachers and students:

  1. POWER POINT PRESENTATION – Encourage students to put together a power point presentation about their school, their country, culture, or about a favorite sport. They may also want to bring out how they celebrate holidays, what they do on weekends, their favorite foods, etc. Let them be creative!
  2. ICE BREAKER GAMES – Come with an “ice breaker” game so students can get to know each other! You can find many ideas for these online.
  3. SHORT PLAY– Come prepared to act out a short play. Once again, give your students the liberty to get creative.
  4. SONGS / DANCE – Share a song or dance with those that you are visiting. It could be in their language or yours…or both!
  5. PEN PALS – When visiting, encourage the students to swap their contact information or social media pages so they can build lasting friendships.
  6. BOOKS – Each of your students can donate and read an age appropriate book to a student they visit. Have them write their well wishes in the flyleaf!
  7. HOBBIES – Encourage your students to introduce themselves and talk about their hobbies. They are welcome to bring along pictures!
  8. CRAFTING – If you’d like, bring along supplies to do a craft together. Be sure the activity is age appropriate and the supplies will be allowed on the plane.
  9. LOCAL TREATS – Have your students bring along a treat that is special to their hometown or state to share. For example, hot pepper jam is unique to Lancaster County, PA. It’s something that not too many of the kids there have sampled to be sure!
  10. SPORTS – Participate in local sports and recreational activities with students such as playing soccer, volleyball, jump rope, playing cards, etc. Introduce locals to a sport they’ve probably never played before.

Yesterday’s Power Outage

Yesterday Puerto Rico experienced an island wide power outage due to an excavator accidentally cutting through a main power line. Some residents in 5 municipalities along with several hospitals have already had their power restored and the rest should see their electricity return within the next 24 hours. The company responsible for yesterday’s outage was also the same company responsible for the power outage that effected several residents last week. The company has since been terminated.

Most hotels and hospitals have massive generators that can power their operations so that service is not interrupted. All the hotels and hospitals we use had powerful generators up and running within a few short minutes so none of our groups were interrupted in their tours.  In the mean time workers are trying to restore power to all hospitals first and then all hotels, followed by the rest of the island.

Updates On Puerto Rico February 2018

Meet Puerto Rico has issued an info-graphic update on the progress of the tourist industry in Puerto Rico. Click here to view the latest progress. You can also visit to see the latest updates on water and electricity restoration.

Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified Zika in Puerto Rico from a category 1 (outbreak) to category 2 (low possibility of transmission). In response, the CDC removed their specific travel notice for Puerto Rico. For more information you can visit the CDC and WHO websites. The CDC still recommends that pregnant women and couples trying to have children should still avoid travel to Puerto Rico and travelers should still use bug repellent.

Should Your Tour Operator Be A SYTA Member?

Absolutely! SYTA (Student & Youth Travel Association) recently wrote an article explaining why teachers and schools should choose a SYTA member tour operator for their school tours. As SYTA members, we are held to very high standards. Through the years, we have had to rescue groups who chose non-member companies based on price and promises that weren’t kept.

Read Full Article

Puerto Rico is officially open for tourism!

Today we received exciting news!

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company has officially declared Puerto Rico widely open for tourism! Read the entire update here!

We look forward to running our usual safe and meaningful tours full of cultural and language immersion. We also can’t wait to give back to the island by making our groups participate in hurricane-relief service opportunities. “Vamonos con Vamonos, que si no es con Vamonos, no vamos!”

The Vamonos Team

New Update on Puerto Rico – December 6, 2017

It is December already and our 2018 tour season is right around the corner! Here’s an update on Puerto Rico and all of the progress that has been made since our last email update!

Current Puerto Rico stats:

  • Electricity is now at 68%
  • Water is at 93%
  • Hospitals in the cities we visit on tour have electricity and are fully operational (Ponce, San Juan, Lajas, Fajardo, etc).
  • The San Juan Airport has been open and operating at 100% since late October. There are about 70 flights per day going in and out of SJU.
  • 72% of all hotels on the island are open. ALL of our partner hotels have been up and running since October!
  • Post office and ports are operating at 100%.
  • Telecommunications is at 76%.
  • Transportation on the island – all of the main roads we use while on tour have been open and fully cleared for months. We see more and more traffic lights being installed daily. From experience, wherever a traffic light is missing in San Juan, a police officer is there to control traffic.
  • Tour attractions – ​Almost all of our popular attractions are now open and fully operational, including La Parguera show and biobay, Fajardo’s Catamaran, El Yunque zipline​, ​city visits, markets,​ etc.​​ ​However, ​Utuado ziplines and El Yunque trails​ remain closed​.
  • Our Hurricane-Relief Fund is nearing $18K thanks to so many donors. We continue to help many communities affected by the hurricane.

Vamonos re-opened its Old San Juan day tours and Puerto Rico educational tour operations on November 30, 2017. As you know, we do not cut corners with safety. If we give Puerto Rico tours a “go,” this means our buses, staff, hotels​, and attractions on our daily itinerary are ready to conduct safe, meaningful, and terrific cultural immersion tours of our island.Puerto Rico continues to make progress daily. We are excited about the numerous groups coming to Puerto Rico in 2018 to enjoy and to support Puerto Rico. It’s been great to see so much enthusiasm from groups interested in conducting hurricane-relief service projects while on tour. These trips will make a difference in the lives of students and help the island continue its final journey to full recovery!

For more information about our tours, and the current status of our island, write us at: or call our office: 888.366.6121. Thank you for your support. Please follow us on our BLOG and on our Facebook page for more updates. Gracias!

Status Update on Puerto Rico

Meet Puerto Rico, the island’s convention bureau, issued an update on the status of Puerto Rico yesterday. Click the link right before the video to see the full update. Also enjoy the video below that highlights Puerto Rico’s planned comeback from the hurricane. Since yesterday the website has reported the following improvements:

  • Electricity is now at 37%, not 30. 
  • Water is at 83%
  • Telecommunications is at 70%
  • 72% of all hotels are now open!

In addition to these updates we are happy to report the following:

  • Our top partner hotel, Ponce’s Hotel Melia, NEVER closed and has stayed open for business all throughout. 
  • El Yunque ziplines are now open and operational.
  • Vamonos Tours will resume regular tour operations in Puerto Rico by November 27th!

Meet Puerto Rico update