Mix-ups to Avoid Traveling in Costa Rica
Traveling is exciting. Deep within our human makeup, we have a desire to explore, learn, and dive into a world of unknown. Sometimes, we travel to learn more about other peoples and cultures, and sometimes we go to learn more about ourselves. We are social and curious beings, and travel unlocks our instinct to jump into new places and be inspired.
It’s been 20 years since my last solo adventure through Europe, and I’m looking forward to my next trip to Costa Rica in March! Costa Rica, located in Central America, is full of lush tropical forests and beaches. With mountain ranges, valleys, city life, and ocean views, it’s a dynamic destination to fill your days with natural wonder and be immersed in a vibrant culture. More than a quarter of Costa Rica is protected jungle, which makes much of the country a gorgeous natural wonder as well as a safe haven for diverse native wildlife!
I will be landing in San Jose, the nation’s capital and largest city of Costa Rica. I will be staying for 2 nights to familiarize myself with the culture and country. These first few days are a great time to socialize, share information, understand the bus systems, and start sharing experiences with fellow travelers. After that, I will head to Joco to catch a boat to Montezuma and then take buses to beautiful coastal destinations, Playas del Coco, Mal Pais, and Santa Teresa. In these exquisite beach-side destinations, there is no shortage of activities both on land and in the sea! On land, I plan on biking (which can be done both on the paved roads as well as through the natural paths in the tropical forests) and bird watching (there are 850 colorful species of birds in Costa Rica). Outside of more active endeavors, I also plan on indulging in my own creative and relaxing hobbies, like writing, photography, and simply soaking in the sun. Costa Rica is famous for its incredible ocean access, so I want to spend a lot of time surfing, swimming, and kayaking.
As I travel, I will be documenting my trip, both in words and pictures, so I hope you will join me for the next blog on my adventures in Costa Rica!
While traveling is amazing, it can be daunting to get started. It’s important to research in advance, prepare as well as you can, and shift your mindset to be comfortable with unexpected challenges. Read everything you can on facts, warnings, advisories, entry requirements, crime statistics, demographics, local economy, attractions, and special events for your dream destination. Investing the time (and sometimes money) to invest in preparation before you get started will pay off in the long run! It is like a guaranteed investment in you and your travel dollar, pocketbook and budget.
Most importantly, you should know that you can travel in style and on a budget! Here, I will give you some tips ( packing list)on planning your next vacation, even if you don’t know where to begin! Let’s explore how to get started, and tips for budgeting, saving on flight arrangements, saving money on travel days, and making your travel days a breeze!
How to Get Started:
Early on, it’s important to plan your budget and ensure you have a financial cushion of unexpected costs as well. This will ensure affordability and give you financial peace of mind so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest!
Also, consider whether you want to take one long trip or multiple shorter ones. Work schedules, budgeting, and flight arrangements can all factor into making that decision!
Think about what kind of places you want to stay. Will you be staying in hotels or backpacking through hostels? Either way, factoring in a typical nightly rate for the areas you’re thinking about exploring will help you realize if that destination is within your financial capacity!
Determine your type of transportation while on your trip to decide whether you will need to rent a car or take public transportation.
It’s also worth considering your means of getting both to and from the airport at your origination point and your destination, to make sure your travel goals are feasible!
Tips for How to Have Financial Success While Budgeting:
Once you’ve determined what type of trip you want to take and where that would be possible, it’s time to start digging into your budget planning! Finances can be stressful, and the last thing you want while on vacation is stress! Here are my top five tips on how to manage your finances so that concern for money doesn’t have to limit your enjoyment while exploring:
- Plan well! Before you go, develop a budget. Costs can add up quickly while traveling, so it’s important that you know what you plan on doing before you go so you can get the best deals on everything from accommodations and flights, to food and souvenirs.
- When budgeting, plan for a worst-case financial scenario. Budget for things to cost more than you expected. Allow up to a 20% increase in your expected cost to be on the safe side. Even if it comes in below that, you’ll feel like you’re saving money!
- Keep an eye not he exchange rate before you go and while traveling! Remember that there are fees when changing money, so keep an eye out for the best rates.
- Be disciplined and stick to your budget! With ATMs and tourist destinations accepting credit cards, it is easy to have access to all your financial resources, even when you’re on the other side of the planet! While it’s wonderful to know you will always have what you need, it is also super easy to overspend. Exercise discipline to make sure you are spending money on what matters to you personally and not on purchases you will regret when you review your financial statements after your vacation is over!
- Be sure to budget for your memories. After the trip, you’ll want to be sure you bring with you the best of your experiences. Be sure to budget for extra for extra rechargeable batteries, charger kits, adapter plugs, cables, carry-bags, memory cards and/or recordable media so you can capture your adventure. The return on this investment is HUGE! Forever, you’ll be able to relive your most precious moments by hearing or viewing a tour, entertainers, or musicians you enjoyed!
Tips for Saving on Flight Arrangements:
Flights often take up a significant chunk of the expenses of a trip, but there are a lot of options to explore some ways to save money. Here are some financial tips to keep in mind while making flight arrangements.
- Compare offerings online! Review different flights and airlines, and keep an eye on discount airlines.
- Be flexible on your dates and times for traveling. Even small changes in your expectations for your trip could translate into savings!
- Enroll in air miles, reward or frequent flyer plan that often includes discounts on hotels and car rentals.
- Timing is everything. Remember that supply and demand dictate pricing and cost, so the more people plan on traveling during that time, the higher the cost will be. Avoid peak periods, like holidays, spring break, and peak business hours. Take advantage of the shoulder and low season travel periods.
- Plan early, or be flexible later! If you’re a planner, make sure you book flights at least two weeks in advance. The closer the booking to the flight date, the more expensive it will be. Or, on the flip side, if you have a lot of flexibility in your schedule, wait until the last minute when airlines deeply discount fares or have travel deals!
- Log on to the airline’s website and check out unadvertised flight specials. Booking online to save a few dollars!
And a bonus secret to save a bit more! The best airfare rates often involve a Saturday night stay.
Tips for Saving Money on Your Travel Days:
So you booked your flights! That’s great! There are still more ways to save on your travel days!
- Compare different transport options! If you live far from an airport, using a park-and-fly service, or parking your own vehicle at the airport might be far less costly than a taxi ride! Search for nearby airport shuttle services or check to see if parking your own car at the airport for the duration of the trip is cheaper and gives you more flexibility.
- Avoid eating at the airport. If you can eat before arriving or pack a few snacks to tide you over until you reach a destination, your wallet will thank you!
- Once you’ve landed at your destination, ask the information desk about free shuttles to your hotel or details on public transit! If you’re feeling extra prepared, you can also look into this as part of the planning process!
Tips for Making Your Travel Days a Breeze:
Here are some tips to avoid unnecessary headaches and make your travel days pleasant!
- When traveling on an international flight, re-confirm your booking 72 hours prior to departure – some charter companies reserve the right to cancel your booking if you do not! When confirmed on a domestic flight, airlines cannot bump you. Try to get plenty of sleep the night before your trip. Call to find out whether there are any delays before leaving for the airport.
- Save time and headaches by traveling with a bag, you can carry on the plane. Some airlines have express check-in counters for passengers traveling with carry-on luggage only.
- Bring your own water on the plane! Airplanes are dry and flight attendants do not have time to keep refilling your glass.
Remember that planning, budgeting, and keeping a positive and flexible outlook will take you far for enjoying your trip! I will keep you posted as I travel and I hope these tips serve you well as you work toward booking your next adventure!