I just got back from Costa Rica and it was absolutely amazing. Costa Rica is such a beautiful country. I bought my ticket last minute and basically booked all accommodations the day before. Talk about winging it! My two friends and I decided to rent a car and drive through the country. We decided to hit up San Jose, Arenal, Tamarindo & Quepos, Manuel Antonio. I had an incredible trip. Take a look at my Costa Rica Travel Tips below…
Miss Jetsetter’s Costa Rica Travel Tips
My overall travel mantra when is: over-prepare then go with the flow. This is especially important when taking a multi-destination trip. The goal is to avoid anxiety and frustration while traveling.
When deciding to road trip through Costa Rica it meant there would be no guidance from an experienced Costa Rican tourism company. I couldn’t say that any aspect of my trip was guaranteed, but by researching the destinations and knowing the lay of the land I felt comfortable and confident.
This may sound like over kill- but creating a printable packet is the most efficient way to stay organized. Without Internet or the ability to use your phone on the go and in a different country, you’ll be thankful that you have all your travel information on hand.
My Costa Rica bible included:
Flight Information (flight numbers, times and location)
Car Reservation Information (transportation from airport to rental company, company phone number, reservation number, car type reserved, gas information)
Hotel Reservation Information (hotel reservation numbers, phone numbers, dates, directions, inclusions)
Excursion Company Information (location, phone numbers, directions, pricing, availability, hours)
Directions, travel time and distance to each hotel, landmark, airport and excursion company
A list of common foods and their Spanish translation (in rural areas most menus are in Spanish)
Currency conversion chart
More Costa Rica Travel Tips
I can’t imagine losing my luggage while traveling, so I try my best to keep it with me at all times. Meaning, I pack to carry-on luggage as opposed to checking a bag. I’m not as worried with direct flights, but when connecting in a different city I never check my bag.
Opt for a Four-Wheel Drive vehicle, and if you have an option to choose between GPS or wifi, obviously get wifi. The wifi device was portable so we had Internet in the most remote locations and were able to use Google maps for directions.
Make sure you have enough gas before leaving populated city areas. We drove through rural areas and neighborhood for miles without spotting a single gas station. Getting stranded in those areas would be terrible.
We noticed the first night that the sun set by 6pm. Meaning it was dark by 6pm. Being that we didn’t want to be stuck driving in the dark, we had to plan our travel schedule and stick to it. Give yourself ample drive time.
Hotels and Accommodations
I love booking with Airbnb. They offer accommodations on both ends of the spectrum, from exquisite beachfront Villas to bedrooms in local homes. While sometimes I like to prove to myself that I can still rough-it, the truth is that the vibe of your hotel plays into the mood of your trip. It can be difficult to keep up momentum without a good nights sleep or a clean place to shower. I’ve learned that if you can spend a little extra for a hotel room over a personal rental, it can make all the difference.
I generally like over-night flights and arriving to my destination in the early morning. If you can sleep on a plane, it’s a perfect way to spend as much time exploring your destination as possible. I also select the window seat so I have a place to rest my head.
· Bug Spray: I always have issues with bug bites while traveling to tropical destinations. My blood is sweet and bugs eat me alive. You’re in the rainforest, so bug spray is a must!
· Anti-itch cream: While the goal is to prevent getting bit in the first place, bring along anti itch cream just in case. (I also read that toothpaste sooths bites and helps with the itch and scratch factor)
· Sunscreen: I’m not one to typically preach about the necessity of Sunscreen, but traveling with a sunburn is miserable and trust me, you’ll still get the tan you’re hoping for.
· Sea-Bands: This one I can’t relate to personally, I don’t have issues with motion sickness, but I have plenty of friends that do. Sea-bands prevent motion sickness without taking medication, so there is no concern of drowsiness. (Carsickness and boat sickness)
· Auxiliary cord, adaptor and/or duel outlet car charger: The cords and chargers provided by the car rental company weren’t reliable and only gave the option of charging one device at a time. I brought my duel charger so we could charge our phones along with the wifi device at once.