When planning a trip outside the country, there are several things that need to be done in order to have the best possible experience. The following are just a few tips that might help you achieve the best from that Costa Rican Vacation you have been dreaming about:
Learn a little bit about the country
Knowing a little about Costa Rica before your trip will give you a little bit of an advantage in exploring the country; plus I'll give you the opportunity of getting a much-enriched experience.
Costa Rica is a small country located in the Central American region; between Nicaragua and Panama. It has both, a Pacific and an Atlantic coast which gives you many beaches to choose from. Its Metropolitan area is located in what is called the Central Valley; a valley surrounded by a long string of mountains that cross the whole country and unifies Central America. Costa Ricans have a very comfortable climate all year round ranging usually between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (Costa Rica uses the Celsius scale). In contrast with the United States, Costa Rica has only two seasons; the dry season that goes from December to April and the rainy season from May to November. Planning your trip taken the seasons in consideration will translate in savings in airfare and hotel prices, but would also mean that you might have to deal with the weather make note that there is an annual rainfall average of about 100 inches.
Be prepared for emergencies and accidents
Anything could happen at any time, and being prepared is the only way to have the best possible outcome; no matter the circumstances.
Politically, financially and medically; Costa Rica is one of the best places to visit. While all the other countries in Central America and South America are or have had to deal with unstable situations of political turmoil; Costa Rica has been free of such problems. In 1948 the army was abolished fact that was also included in the constitution in 1949, making Costa Rica the first country to abolish the army. First degree elections give the power to the people to select their president every 4 years. And the country maintains amicable relations with the rest of the world and maintain a neutral standpoint. Tourists from the whole world are always welcome and most can find their embassies in Costa Rica; knowing how to contact your embassy can be very helpful in case of lost or stolen passports, or urgent medical emergencies that might require attention from your homeland. Costa Rica also has a very good medical system and infrastructure that tourists could access if needed. There are private clinics and hospitals that will give you excellent services, some even have the feel and look of an American Hospital, and the best part, the price for those services don't come nearly close to those in the United States. Having a list of the possible places to go in case of emergency might even save your life.
Be smart, use common sense
Even in your home country, there are areas where you know, is not smart to leave your valuables lying around in your car for anybody to see, or walk around with large sums of money. Use the same thinking while visiting other countries.
Costa Rica is a very safe place and its people are very friendly, but as anywhere else in the world, some precautions will save you a really bad experience. No matter where you are; in the heart of downtown San Jose or lying on the beach, always be aware of your surroundings. Some people often complained that their trip was ruined by those bad Costa Ricans that robbed them, but they are not acknowledging that leaving the belongings unattended in an unknown area didn't help. After all, Costa Rica is a third world county and extreme poverty and illegal immigration from less stable countries are both common issues.
Plan an itinerary
Lots of touristic opportunities are found in Costa Rica and unless you are planning a trip that will last several months, you won't be able to enjoy all the possibilities that this little jewel offers.
There is a big list of places to visit and things to do while in Costa Rica: Canopy, Surfing, Hiking, White Water Rafting, Golfing and relaxing on the beach are just a few. Make a list of priorities. Do you want to relax in a 5 stars hotel, or you are looking to explore the country? Are you into the extreme sports or just bird watching? Is this a romantic trip or a family vacation? There are lots of websites that will give answers to your questions, so do the research and plan an itinerary that is easy to keep. A little bit of research will also help you avoid those areas that even though are highly popular, might not represent what you are looking for in your vacation. Sometimes the less visited areas are the best and will give you more than what you expect.
Costa Rica is a tropical place, the weather is warm but rain is highly possible at any time, so be prepared; bring cloth that dries quickly when wet and that is not too warm. Rain also means mosquitoes, so don't forget your bug spray. Since Costa Rica has lots of mountains at the same time that has lots of beaches, the difference in altitude will mean a difference in temperature; bring a light sweater. Wear comfortable shoes, tennis shoes for the city and hiking sandals are usually the best.
Furthermore, do not forget a wide-spectrum sunblock, your trendy shades, and hat to protect you from the sun harmful rays.