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Yeay! You are planning a trip to Costa Rica! Get ready for some serious fun, adventure, relaxation, and whatever else you’re interested in. Here is a complete checklist to help you in planning your trip to Costa Rica with tons of info plus a bonus printable checklist for FREE!

 

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Establish Your Budget

fishing in Costa Rica

Personally, I hate making a budget, which is pretty ironic considering I run a budget travel blog, but oh well! Either way, establishing a budget is necessary to do first so that you can better determine if a Costa Rica vacation is even possible for you.

Some things you need to consider are flight prices, accommodation costs, ground transportation costs, food and drink costs, entertainment costs, travel insurance, and those little expenses that sneak up on you such as tolls.

 

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Decide where you want to go

I wish I could say it is easy to pick your perfect destination in Costa Rica, but it’s not. There are just so many freaking cool places here with totally different vibes. It’s awesome that there is something for everyone in Costa Rica, but it makes it really hard to narrow it down to just a few places to visit. I guess that means you’ll have to visit again 🙂

No, but seriously, check out our Destination page and click on the various destinations to get a better idea of cool places to visit. We keep it real in our description of each place. I’ll be the first to say, I wouldn’t bother visiting Jaco and Manuel Antonio is a bit overrated.

The reason we think it is best to pick your destinations first is that it impacts your flight decisions so, let’s move on to that point!

 

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Book Your Flight

playa blanca in Costa RIca

There are two international airports in Costa Rica. One is located in Liberia in the north-west corner of the country and the other is located just outside of San Jose (but everyone just calls it the San Jose Airport).

Most people tend to fly into San Jose because it is more centrally located and tends to be cheaper but definitely consider Liberia as well, especially if you plan on visiting the Guanacaste region of the country.

More airlines are starting into Liberia. United, Delta, American, and Southwest (where are my Southwest fans at?!)  all fly there now. I met a girl recently that told me it ended up being a few hundred dollars cheaper for her to fly into Liberia from Toronto than it would have been to fly into San Jose.

If you want some more tips on booking your flight on a budget we have a full post about how we fly on the cheap here.

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Book Accommodations

cabins in San Gerardo de Dota

Anyone else love booking accommodations but labor over it like you are choosing a house to buy? That’s me! We have a full post about booking accommodations here which you should check out, but first, let me let you in on a little secret.

Most hotels here offer free cancellation up to a few days before your stay if you book through Booking. I like to book places early to ensure we have a place to stay, but I continue to check if something better or cheaper shows up. Just make sure you keep track of when you can cancel your hotel until.

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Figure out your transportation

hammock in Costa RIca

Transportation is one of the trickiest things to figure out. There are so many options! We have a complete post about transportation here, but I’ll tell you we prefer to rent a car because we find it gives us the most flexibility in seeing cool sites and not having to depend on expensive day tours. Each of our destination guides includes a complete guide to transportation.

We also recently partnered with our fave rental car company Adobe to bring you guys a 10% rental car discount! You can find more about that here! Actually, please read it before booking with any company so you don’t get hit with unexpected charges.

FIND OUT HOW TO GET UP TO 20% OFF YOUR CAR RENTAL IN COSTA RICA!

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Check out fun activities you can do

sunrise in Costa Rica

One of the many great things about Costa Rica is that there is literally something for everyone at every budget. If you like adventure, you’re in luck. If you want to relax on the beach, we’ve got that as well.

We created a list of our favorite budget activities in Costa Rica here. It will definitely help you in the planning process. Also, each one of our destination guides includes our favorite activities.

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Research good local restaurants

tamarindo at night

Anyone else a serious foodie? The first thing I research when traveling anywhere is where I can get fab food. I then read every menu and pick out exactly what I’m going to eat. Pathetic? Possibly….

Anyway, in each of our destination guides, we have some of our fave restaurant options if you need ideas.

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Purchase travel insurance

Costa Rica coffee plantation view

I am pretty bad about purchasing travel insurance (and Thomas always lectures me about it), but I strongly suggest you purchase some while planning a trip to Costa Rica. It’s important to remember that Costa Rica is a foreign country which your body is not used to. I’ve had some weird things happen to me here (you can read about my swollen face drama here) and most of the things have been primarily because I am in an unfamiliar environment.

We like World Nomads for travel insurance because they cover a lot of adventure activities (which you’ll probably be doing in Costa Rica) which other travel insurance companies usually do not cover.

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Finalize Your Budget

San Jose Costa Rica

Alright, now that you have basically everything else planned it is time to finalize your budget. This is the stage where you can write down your max to spend in each category of your trip. If you need a good app to keep track of how much you are spending while traveling, we like the free app called Trail Wallet.

You can check out our other favorite free Costa Rica apps here.

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Pack

sunset in Costa Rica

Yeay! It’s time to pack! That means it’s almost time for your trip! We have a complete packing list for women here and a complete packing list for men here. We also have a list of must-have gear for traveling in Costa Rica.

Planning A Trip to Costa Rica – Board Your Flight to Paradise!

parador Costa Rica

Yeay! It’s time to board your flight to the paradise that is Costa Rica! Get ready to have so much fun!

As promised, here is your free PDF checklist. Enjoy! Planning Checklist (54 downloads)

If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comment section below. We love to hear from you all!

 

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Yeay! You are planning a trip to Costa Rica! Get ready for some serious fun, adventure, relaxation, and more! Here is a complete list to help you in planning your trip to Costa Rica with tons of info plus a bonus printable checklist for FREE! Yeay! You are planning a trip to Costa Rica! Get ready for some serious fun, adventure, relaxation, and more! Here is a complete list to help you in planning your trip to Costa Rica with tons of info plus a bonus printable checklist for FREE!

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Sarah,

    Really good stuff here.

    Agreed on picking spots; the place has so many brilliant towns to visit that it is incredibly difficult to whittle things down. During our first 2 month trip we spent a month in Quepos, then we spent the 2nd month visiting Montverde, Playa Potrero, Atenas and Nueva Arenal. On subsequent trips we stayed DEEP in the jungles around Bribri as well as jaw-droppingly beautiful San Gerardo de Rivas, living right beside Rio Chirripo for the month.

    Ryan

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