PURA VIDA!!!! Recently I traveled to Costa Rica on my first solo vacation ever and…. I LOVED IT! Costa Rica was not only affordable, but full of adventure, culture and relaxation. I really enjoyed traveling alone and boy I did it all – hiking, safari river rafting, zip lining and even snorkeling. I picked up a few tips that I wanted to share, but they’re also handy if you are traveling with a group.
1. Do you speak Spanish? Yes it’s true that a lot of people speak English here, but part of the fun with traveling to a different country is immersing yourself in the culture. So pick up a translation book or download an app, but at least know the basics:
Where is the: Donde esta el … (insert English word here)
Check please: La Cuenta
Please / thank you: Por favor, Gracias
I am vegetarian: Yo Soy Vegetariano
2. Always carry your shit on you! Money, passport, camera and phone… at all times. If your hotel has a safe, then great, use that. I definitely felt safe in Costa Rica, but just be smart. Take a picture of your passport before you leave and email it to yourself so you have a copy just in case.
3. Know the money. I spent 2-3 days trying to figure out the conversion rate, so i was just hoping that I didn’t get cheated. At the time of this posting, the conversion rate for Costa Rician colones is $2.00 = 1,000 (1 mil colones), 500 colones = $1. It’s their money so pretty!
4. Schedule transportation and tours in advance. I would highly recommend using the company Pacific Trade Winds to book your vacation. They made everything SO easy! I just told them the types of things I was interested in doing and gave them a budget. They did everything else except book my flight. The shuttle services comes with the tours, so they will pick you up from your hotel, and drop you off. Pacific Trade Winds also arranged my shuttle service from Airport to the Hotel and my transfers in between. The customer service is the BEST!
5. You don’t have to eat alone if you don’t want too. When it was time to eat, I would go to the busiest restaurant I could find. Instead of sitting at a table for one, I would eat at the bar. I made friends everywhere I went, and had amazing conversations with people from all over the world.
6. Take time to relax on your vacation. It’s so easy to overdo it on vacation and come home feeling you need another vacation. I balanced my days by doing one tour a day and in the mornings/afternoons I would do some yoga, or just lay by the pool with a book.
7. Do not over pack! Leave the cute shoes and outfits at home. Costa Rica is outdoor adventures and beach towns so be casual! What better way to spend an entire vacation in yoga pants! #dreamcometrue
8. Binoculars are a must. I was sad I didn’t bring a pair with me, because when you are on the tours where you have a chance to see the animals in the wild, the tend to be far in in the trees and away from the trail, so 200mm binoculars or lens will be great.
9. Going to beach alone? I have to say, I was pretty worried about this. What do I do with all my stuff if I want to go in the water? Well first, I left my passport and credit cards in the hotel safe, but I did bring my iPhone (cause god forbid I don’t have a camera on me at all times), and some cash. I found a spot near a larger group of people, close enough to look like I am with them, but not close enough so it was awkward (at least for me).
10. Be street smart! Costa Rica is perfectly safe and the people are really friendly, but use the same common sense safety practices here as you would at home. Don’t go to private places with new friends, don’t dress too provocatively if you want to avoid unwanted male attention and don’t drink to excess.