Preparing for Costa Rica
Updated: Dec 23, 2018
Deciding to go on a new trip is like jumping off a cliff into deep blue waters below. You feel excitement and intrigue for whats to come, yet nervous and skeptical of the unknown. Everyone knows planning can be a daunting task. Many of us find planning to be so challenging in fact, that we give up on the dream to try new things all together. We abandon our sense of adventure due to an unbearable nervousness about what lies around the corner. I have these same nerves, the feeling of not having all of the answers irritates me to no end. We can get past that fear however, and experience an incredible world right outside of our doors, if we just prepare effectively.
How do we prepare properly? What do we do first? When do we book our hotels? When should I book my flight? How early should I look at getting any necessary shots or medicine? What sort of paperwork do I need to get together when traveling out of the country?
There are a million questions every traveler has when starting to look into a new destination. The short answer is: Find a location you love, and put together a to do list of everything you might need to book, schedule, or organize prior to your trip. Then just sit back, relax, pour yourself a drink, and have fun planning! This is your vacation, your trip! Planning takes time and effort, but enjoy that process because after all, it is all for you!
Courtney and I are currently planning a trip to Costa Rica from December 15th to the 24th. We came across Costa Rica while searching for places that are reportedly nice to travel to in the month of December. Costa Rica seemed like a good fit for us based on the activities we enjoy, the climate we were looking for, and the cost per person for an average trip around that time.
After deciding on Costa Rica as the country we wanted to visit, we began looking over flight dates, and activities for us to enjoy. I began feeling that hesitation. I wasn't sure what we should do first. Book the flights, book the hotels, book the activities... how are we supposed to know if everything will be available at the same time. Courtney got me through this road block. Thankfully she doesn't seem to worry about these things as much as I do. We booked our flight and immediately my sense of hesitation dissipated. It was official. We were going to Costa Rica!
The trick to overcoming that little voice in your head that tells you to just stay home, is to just book that flight. Make it official! Everything else can fall into place as time moves on past that initial purchase. Next we book our hotels/airbnbs and activities. You just have to take it one step at a time. The reservations are the easy part however.
If you're going somewhere that requires travel shots, check out the cdc website. It's a great resource of information for what shots you might need depending on the location you intend to travel to. For our trip to Costa Rica, we were fortunate to not need too much. I ended up getting my typhoid medicine and got caught up on my tetanus shots just to be safe. Courtney needed one more hepatitis A shot to get caught up on her vaccines and then we were all ready. You can also check with your local department of health for information on shots they recommend. Personally, I would get on top of this step in your preparing as soon as you know for sure that you are taking your trip. It can sometimes be difficult to get some of these shots as they aren't always readily available. Many of them also take two to three weeks to become effective so the need to plan and get on top of these vaccines is up there on the list.
It's a good idea to start looking at the currency exchange and do some research on the best places to exchange your money. For Costa Rica, we were recommended to exchange our spending money at a bank rather than in the airport or at an ATM. The reason banks are a better option for exchange is because they don't charge some of the service fees machines and counters in the airport sometimes do. Banks are also usually more highly regulated and reputable so you can feel safer knowing you most likely aren't getting ripped off... still, do your research ahead of time so you can be sure you're getting a fair deal.
Theres a couple things we did not begin to research until last minute. Anytime you plan a trip you are bound to have some steps you overlook. Don't let this worry you, almost anything can be fixed or worked around. We forgot to research electrical outlets prior to our trip. Luckily Costa Rica uses the same outlet we use at our home in the US. If it were not the same, I am sure we would be able to find an adapter in the airport, however. Like I said, with almost anything you might forget.. there are ways to get around and solve those issues.
So you've prepared all you can and have everything you think you'll need for that vacation you've been waiting for. Make sure to take a picture of your items laid out next to your luggage before packing. This may seem silly, but in the event of a lost bag during your travel, having photos of what was lost can help you to file a claim to be compensated for those losses.