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Your Ultimate Prep Guide for Visiting Costa Rica

Written by, Raj

Updated June, 22, 2023

Let’s be real: who doesn’t want to go to Costa Rica? Crystal clear waters, lush forests, gorgeous vistas, fantastic food…It’s not called “The Rich Coast” for nothing! There is so much to see, do, and taste in Costa Rica that it should be on everyone’s bucket list. And if you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip to this top-tier destination, you may have several questions. That’s what we’re here for! Let’s take a look at everything you need to know when preparing for a trip to Costa Rica.

Pick Your Season

We don’t mean Spring versus Fall. There are two seasonal categories to consider when traveling to Costa Rica: wet versus dry and popular versus low visitors. What season you visit may affect what you can do while you’re there. Some things, like sea turtle viewing and zip-lining, are open year-round. Cultural activities like holidays and festivals follow the calendar instead of seasons. But activities like snorkeling depend heavily on the average weather, to enjoy. Read up on what you want to do and determine what season will be best for your plans. If you don’t mind traveling during the wet season, you’re less likely to be fighting crowds.

Book Experiences in Advance

With so many things to see and do and so many other people wanting to see and do them, it’s best to book your experiences in advance. We don’t just mean your hotel! If you’re looking into the best things to do in Costa Rica, you’ll find many options have limited capacity, like tours or guided snorkeling. You need to plan ahead for what you want to do, work it into your schedule, and book your slot in advance. Depending on where you stay, your concierge may help with this, or you should hire a travel agent. They can help you factor in travel time and schedule things appropriately.

Plan Your Packing

If you haven’t flown before, you may not know what a pain it can be to pack. Your airline may not offer free check-in luggage space, or they may limit it per ticket. You don’t want to break the bank on baggage fees, so it’s best to plan out your packing. You want to pack strategically and know what you can buy while you’re there. When it comes to toiletries, keep a travel Dopp kit handy that you can put in your carry one while following TSA guidelines. If you think you’ll need more, put it in your checked luggage. A travel dopp kit is important in case there are any delays in getting your checked luggage back.

Prepare to Leave Your Country

First and foremost, make sure your passport is up to date. It can take a while to get a new one, so you don’t want to book everything and then realize your passport comes in the day after you are set to leave. You will want to exchange some of your currency to the local system, though many places in Costa Rica also accept USD. You should also talk with your primary care physician about preparing for international travel. Some travelers don’t adjust to regional food well, so you can talk about ideas like probiotics to help you adjust. Other people get motion sick easily but don’t want to forget their trip in a haze of Dramamine. You may also need to update your vaccinations.

You also need to make plans for any pet-sitting and house-sitting needs. You should have a friend stop by your place to check your mail and switch your lights around so it looks like someone is home. If you have pets, decide if you will have someone come to your home to care for them or if you will board them for the duration of your trip. You may also need someone to water any plants you care for.

Make Rules for Technology

Especially if you are traveling with kids, working out the rules for any technology on the trip is better done before boarding the plane. This gives you a lot of time to discuss compromises to ensure your kids aren’t head down in their phones all day but can still take photos or Google to learn more about something they’ve seen. Maybe have a rule that games are limited to car time or hotel wind-down time.

It’s a good idea to limit social media while you’re gone. If you post all of your pictures as you take them, more people will realize you aren’t at home. This can be a security risk depending how your profiles are set up. Something like Snapchatting a friend shouldn’t be a problem, though. Just lay out rules and expectations that hopefully everyone can agree on, and be sure the parents follow the rules, too!

Enjoy the Experience of a Lifetime

Costa Rica has a warm, welcoming atmosphere for all visitors. The food is delicious, the vistas exquisite, and your schedule will be packed. By helping prep ahead of time, you can limit stress during your actual vacation. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the Rich Coast!