Travel Tips
Planning your Dream Vacation

It would seem that the “perfect” vacation would include enough planning to ensure that you don’t spend all your time chasing details, but definitely leaves room for spontaneity. After all, it is your time to get away from stress, relax, and hopefully experience things on your terms.

Here are some things to take into consideration:

  • how long will your trip be? if you are going to have 1 week, or if you have 3 weeks makes a difference. you may want a week golfing in a luxury hotel, a week hiking and staying in more rustic surroundings and, perhaps a week at the beach to recuperate….if you are here for a week, or need to divide that week between business and pleasure, perhaps you want to concentrate on doing things that don’t fill up your day with you sitting in a bus.
  • what is your budget? are there things you would like to experience on a 4- or 5-star level, but others not? perhaps you would like a hotel that serves food family style, has horseback riding and hiking but you need an SUV to get there…can do…depends on you.
  • do some research on your own and list the “must do’s” of your trip. if you know, more or less, the things you are sure you want to include, it will increase our ability to give you exactly what you want. while we are good…we don’t read minds, and we would hate to omit something you really would enjoy. we will be able to plan your itinerary to include all that you want, and then to suggest other things you might not think of on your own, or might not know about, and we can but the cherry on the sundae for you.
  • you passport. your passport should have a MINIMUM of six (6) months on it BEFORE YOU EVEN LEAVE HOME! you will not be allowed to travel if it isn’t. it would be tragic to plan the perfect vacation and then not be allowed to experience it because you thought that your passport is good for another month, and you only are going to Costa Rica for 10 days, so…..this is a total non-negotiable.
  • always have your passport with you for identification sake. Keep it in the safest place at all times. you do not want to spend your vacation at the American Embassy in Pavas doing paperwork and waiting in lines and calling emergency numbers, etc.
  • have health insurance information easily accessible. even if you have none, if there is an emergency situation, do not fear. if you go to a public health (Social Security) hospital, they will help you no matter what. also be aware that should you need medical care/testing, etc., here, you will wind up paying a fraction of what the same care would have cost you “up north”, but the quality is in no way inferior.
  • make sure you have $26 (or the equivalent in colones) for when you finally fly out of Costa Rica. This exit fee is mandatory. If you arrive at the airport to leave, and you do not have it, you will miss that special flight that you cannot change, revise, etc.
  • bring some form of rain gear. Wet or dry (season)…this means a different thing if you are on Caribbean side…dry does not mean not wet, but less wet. A poncho will be enough, and you can always purchase something here if you don’t want to pack any extras…but, especially if you are hiking, etc., you may want to have something with you. When going in tours always ask us or ask the tour operator beforehand what gear you will need. Spare plastic bags are always good to have.
Personal Safety

Costa Rica, overall, is a very safe place to live and to travel. However, just like anywhere else in the world, including your hometown, being aware and alert can save you from having an unpleasant experience.

Do not set yourself up as a victim. The many town markets and areas such as downtown San Jose, are full of bargains, smells, sights, great stuff. However, as in any other substantially sized city, there are people who prey on others. There are pickpockets who work in tandem with others, and a pocket can be picked and the contents sold 2 blocks away before the victim reaches the corner. Keep your money, wallets, etc. in your front pockets. It is much more difficult to get by unnoticed. Also, if you are carrying a backpack…carry towards your front with the pockets facing towards rather than outwards. Just this small adjustment can eliminate a potential negative experience that can cast a pall on your holiday. If you are at the beach, do not stuff you wallet into your shoes and head out to the beach. Do not leave anything of value out of sight. The few people who dishonestly eke their existence ruin it for the vast majority, as always. Play it safe; play it smart.

Be aware of your surroundings. Do not follow someone you do not know who can “get you a good deal” on something into a neighborhood with which you are totally unfamiliar. Again, 99% of the people here are friendly, trustworthy, and would never harm you. Take into consideration the area you are in and the time of day (or night)! Never change currencies in the street, be alert when using ATM’s. When arriving at a new town ask where the nearest police office and hospital or clinic is. Remember the adage: an ounce of precaution is worth a pound of cure.

As with any great offer: if it just too good to be true…it probably is!

Other Tips

Migratory requirements
You have to pay $26.00 of tax for the exit in the airport of international flights, this tax can be payed in banks, travel agencies and in the same airport.

Customs
Personal luggage doesn’t have tax, including a list personal and professional articles, except for bigger quantities for sale.

Calls
The international code for Costa Rica is 506. There are no other codes for the cities, and most telephone numbers have 7 digits. Dial up 00 for the international calls, dial up 116 to communicate with the operators in English for collect calls.

Important telephone numbers:
Emergency    911
Police (San José)    117
Fire Department    118
Time of day    112
Rural Police    127
Red Cross    128

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