AN ANXIOUS TRAVELLER’S GUIDE TO COSTA RICA

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Hola! During and after my incredible Costa Rica trip, I had a lot of messages from people asking questions with their worries and concerns over travelling to this country. Most of them were the same topics, same anxieties, same fears which were spotting them from making the journey.

There are so many reasons why you should go to Costa Rica. The incredible waterfalls, the impressive rain forests, the amount of amazing wildlife opportunities and the lovely Costa Ricans themselves.

 

READ MORE: 8 BUCKET LIST ITEMS TO TICK OFF IN COSTA RICA

 

When you pile up reason not to visit somewhere, you’re giving yourself reasons not to do it. You’ll probably make things out worse than what it really is when the truth isn’t that bad. Anxiety, worry and fear is just a barrier to overcome your next adventure.

I’ve always been worried about travelling to Central or South America but Costa Rica is a great country to start off with

 

READ MORE: AN ANXIOUS TRAVELLER’S GUIDE TO…

 

There’s so many more reasons to visit Costa Rica than to avoid it. So let’s address the reasons why so many of you are missing out on visiting such a beautiful country.

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PUBLIC TRANSPORT

The most questions I got were about the Public transport as apart of the tour. I’m not surprised because this was the main reason I was worried about doing this tour. 

It’s a lot different to any other tour I’ve done before. Usually the deal is, you get your own bus which you travel with in your group. It’s your private transportation. You know that’s yours for the week/s and everyone kind of has their selective seat.

Not on this trip. 

On the first day, we took a private transfer, then a public coach, then a public bus (which was also called the chicken bus as the locals bring their chickens and goats on board but to my disappointment we didn’t see any) and then a boat. 

I found the first day the most difficult but it was all worth it. All these different methods of transport were to get to the isolated town of Tortuguero which is on the Caribbean coast line of the country. It’s stunning. 

The locals have been protesting to STOP them from building a main road to the location or it would destroy the wildlife and rain forests. So you’re doing the country a favour by visiting the country to contribute to the local economy and to save the wildlife.

After Tortuguero, we pretty much had a private transfer for the rest of the journey except the last leg. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I originally though it was going to be and I feel like I’ve helped Costa Rica by battling my own fears.

Arenal Volcano National Park Costa Rica

Private Transfer in Rio Celeste

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Private transfer to Tortuguero

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Boat to Tortuguero

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Private Transfer to Santa Rosa

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Tortuguero

 

$$$ DOLLARS OR COLONES

I was very confused about how much money to bring on this trip but also how much to bring in each currency. There was also the decision on how much to take in cash and how much in card? So many decisions. 

So how many Dollar Dollar bills do you need?

I took half my money in cash and the rest was put on a currency card in Dollars. I always take a currency card with me to secure a good exchange rate. I also take my debit card and credit card but store them in different places. Just in case. 

I did take all my cash in Dollars but looking back I wish I took the majority in Calones. Why? This is due to the exchange rate out in Costa Rica. More the locals working it out. Sometimes they do get it wrong. Make sure you know the exchange rate or have an app to double check. 

I did have an incident where one restaurant was going to charge me $10 more than they should because they got the exchange rate wrong

Colones money is really colourful too and has an animal on each amount. Kool money!

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HOME STAY WITH STRANGERS

I have social anxiety so I struggle with meeting new people. This really shocks people because I am a friendly character. Due to my anxiety, I was really worried about this part of the trip. 

It wasn’t just who I was staying with but where I was staying. We were literally in the middle of nowhere and some of the girls in our tour tried to google it and google couldn’t even find it!

The host families are apart of a project where they also have a farm. The group was split 4 people to each family but we all met up for meals and activities. 

Our host family didn’t speak a word of English but they were adorable and looked after us really well. Our tour leader was on hand in group scenarios to translate but stayed in their own house during the stay.

We didn’t actually stay in the house. We stayed in an extension to the house or another house on the property. Our host family had 2 additional rooms and our room had 5 beds so only me and another girl had a choice of 5 beds between us. All equipped with mosquito nets. 

I did download an app to help me translate into Spanish, just conversations I couldn’t communicate with sign language or gestures. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought and they were lovely people. 

They cooked lunch, dinner and breakfast for us at the community center and they showed us there dance moves. You’ll also get a bonus farm tour and explore how they make a living.

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All the host families and tour group together

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My homestay

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Farm tour

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COSTA RICAN FOOD

I’m always worried about food as a fussy eater but more so for Central America. Let’s be frank. I was worried about having diarrhea. The poops. The s**ts. Basically spending a few days in the bathroom rather than enjoying my time. 

This didn’t happen to me once. 

I had some amazing meals in Costa Rica. We ate out at restaurants most nights and had some meals prepared for us my the host family. Every meal was delicious. 

Costa Rican meals are mostly chicken and beans. They also love rice in every meal, including breakfast. Yes, rice for breakfast. 

We also did an exotic fruit tasting on our way to Santa Rosa. You’ll be able to taste all the fruits and pick your favourites for just a few dollars. 

If you’re not as adventurous, Costa Rica also has a lot of American food on the menu. I did partake in a few pancake breakfasts and hamburgers on a few occasions. 

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TARZAN SWING AND SUPERMAN ZIP LINES

I’ve previously done a zip line in Canada but never like this. In Monteverde, they have the longest zip line in Costa Rica, two Superman zip lines and a Tarzan Swing.

I wasn’t going to partake in this activity but when most of the girls wanted to do it, I thought why not. I’m so glad I did.

I knew what to expect so I wasn’t nervous or anxious at all….till the repel. I wasn’t expecting it and then I’m falling (by repel) to the ground. Adrenaline going it was then time for the next zip, then the next. It was consistent. No breaks. Back to back.

The longest zip line zoomed across some amazing scenery through the clouds. It was an incredible experience.

The Superman zip line was something else. You fly through the air face down and not holding onto any ropes. What a rush!

The Tarzan Swing was a bit more difficult. I didn’t really know what it was till I was standing on the edge of a platform. You fall from the platform and swing back and forth till you slowly reach the ground. 

It took me about 8 minutes to get the courage to fall but I’m so proud of myself for doing it. Just give it a go and go when you’re ready.

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MOSQUITOES

I did get bitten to death on this trip. There’s no sugar coating it. A few members of the group did get bitten but it wasn’t as bad as other countries I’ve visited, Alaska being the worst for mosquitoes

I am allergic to Mosquito bites, so my bites were a lot bigger than everyone elses in the group. 

You’re most likely to be bitten in the rain forests and on the beach at night. I highly don’t recommend going to the beaches after sunset as that the time for the sand flies to wake up and they’re not pleasant.

My best advice is to buy mosquito repellent from the country your visiting. The ingredients are better in local sprays than ones you buy in your own country. They’re actually more attracted to ones you bring from home. So buy one when you get there.

 

SNAKES, LIZARDS AND ALL THE CREEPY CRAWLIES

I went to Costa Rica for the wildlife. I love seeing animals in their natural habitat but I wasn’t expecting to see so many poisonous and scary creatures too. 

I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to creepy crawlies. I did have a little cry and scream at the sight at some of these creatures. 

We saw tarantulas, snakes and frogs but the worst for me has to be lizards. Not a fan. They’re pretty quick too. Luckily, our tour leader and my room mate was on hand to save my life on several occasions. 

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