You’re surrounded by guidebooks. Your website bookmarks number into what seems like the kajillions. You have ideas, itineraries, and must-dos bouncing around inside your head. It’s all a little overwhelming and wholly exciting. But you’re wondering, have you forgotten anything?
More specifically, what’s the secret sauce to being absolutely happy, totally thrilled with your Costa Rican vacation? Well, there is no one secret. But, over the years, we’ve known thousands of happy Costa Rica travelers and, along the way, have noticed a few things they have in common:
They Set a Budget
We get it – money is not a traveler’s favorite topic. But we also know that budgeting is a big part of any vacation, especially a successful vacation. After all, it’s no fun to stress about rising totals before your vacation, and unexpected costs during.
So, this is our first tip: A happy Costa Rica traveler budgets his or her vacation. Pick a realistic number, then stick to it. (Although, do give yourself a margin of error.) And if you don’t know what constitutes a “realistic” number, then see #7 on our list.
They Eat Local
Food is one of the true and unadulterated joys of travel. It’s the chance to literally sample foreign lands, to step outside your comfort zone, and to discover new favorites you’ll carry forever in your heart and on your taste buds. Food is a tangible (and tasty) link to your destination.
So, eat local! Indulge in Costa Rica’s standout foods. Gorge yourself on tropical fruits. Sup on the catch-of-the-day. Order up some traditional dishes. Your stomach will thank you (and so will your wallet).
They Blend Tourist To-Dos with Off-the-Beaten-Path
So many guidebooks, websites, and gurus make the blanket statement to “avoid tourist traps.” We challenge that. Because, how did those places become tourist “traps”? They were beautiful, and awe-inspiring, and special – that’s why. So, don’t bypass them simply because they are popular.
Go see that volcano. Take a dip in that waterfall. Surf that wave. Do all the touristy things that make your Costa Rica to-do list. They’re to-dos for a reason! But, along the way, try to also work into your schedule a few places off the beaten path. Because, being the only person on a beach, or in a hot spring, or on a rainforest trail… well, that’s pretty special, too.
They Roll with the Potholes (erm, Punches)
No vacation ever goes exactly the way you expect. So, while you can’t prepare for the unexpected, you can prepare for your attitude in the face of the unexpected. Wherever you go, always take some water and a snack. Program a little buffer time into your schedules. And, don’t rush and try not to worry. Costa Rica doesn’t. It’s what we call the pura vida.
If you’re traveling as a family or a group, there will (and should) be compromise involved. When talking with first-time (and even tenth-time) visitors, our most common advice is to make sure everyone is mostly happy.
What do we mean by that? It’s simple: When making plans, involve everyone. Ask everyone in your party what they’d most like to do, and make a plan to do it. Then, round out the balance of your trip with activities (and lazy days) that everyone can enjoy.
They Plan Something Special
Think back to your happiest travel memories: What most stands out? Chances are, it was something truly special, like swimming under a waterfall, or paragliding off a cliff, or snorkeling with rays, or watching sea turtles lay their eggs. Something stands out as a once-in-a-lifetime, close-to-your-heart, you-still-remember-it-like-it-was-yesterday experience. Got it? Good.
Now, plan at least one of those for your time in Costa Rica.
They Get Professional Advice
You’re planning your Costa Rican vacation, happy as a clam. You’ve seen the pictures. You’re eyeball-high in guidebooks. Then, you make the fatal mistake – you go online. You hit the reviews, which swing from too-good-to-be-true to one-star rants because someone saw a mosquito. In the tropics.
Now, you’re questioning everything. WHY, COSTA RICA, WHY?
Breathe. Because there is a better way to plan your vacation. ‘Tis true, a happy Costa Rica traveler knows: you’ll benefit from at least a bit of professional planning help. Luckily, with us, it comes 100% free. No-strings-attached, not-too-good-to-be-true, absolutely free. You’ve got nothing to lose, so why not give us a chance?
So, that’s our list. What’s yours? What contributes to your happiness while traveling?