Aug 202017
 

a. Season Matters When Traveling to Costa Rica: Living in Costa Rica I figured a way to enjoy traveling without spending too much but most importantly without having to spend my vacations among the crowds. And this is my conclusion: December to early April are the driest months and the peak of the tourist season, so you can expect higher prices, less rooms available and crowds. But late April, May, and October offer good weather with lower rates. Also between June and September and someties even November you will get good rates but not a very nice weather.

b. Costa Rican Water: Most people traveling around Central America are very concerned about how clean the water really is. And I have to admit was one of them until I found out that unlike most Latin American countries Costa Rica has a fairly safe water supply. Want some Proof?

Here is the fact that it is the only country of the region where Heineken allows its beer to be brewed. Salads are generally safe to eat because they usually use clean water to irrigate crops.

c. Money To Change or Not to Change! One of the most common questions travelers worry about is to change money before coming or not?

If you are going to change the money here are some recommendations:

1. Every country is different, but in Costa Rica don’t change money anywhere except BANKS and always bring a passport. Here is where you will get the best rates.

2. ATMs are plentiful, you’ll get the best rates however, you’ll pay the small ATM fee.

3. Very few places exchange travelers checks these days, and even fewer give good rates, plus they charge 1-2% on top of it.

Cash or Credit?

Cash is king in Costa Rica. Plus, whenever you go out, ask if for the cash (Efectivo) discount and chances are you ‘ll get 5-10% off. This can be done anywhere from tour operators, to hotels, to restaurants to pharmacies.

You’ll escape some places charging you 8% for credit card usages. Plus if you go to a local market, local currency goes much further than the dollar. You stand out less and feel more comfortable.

d. Waiting Is the Hardest Part That’s right, if you’re coming to Costa Rica be prepared to wait! In this country this is a norm. Nothing is on time in Costa Rica. Just doesn’t happen. Sorry to break it to you, but it’s so true. So come with lots of patience and besides, what’s the rush?

e. Bring plenty of Ziploc bags: Nothing stays dry there and since most people do rafting, swimming, waterfalls, or just crossing over streams, you’ll need bags to separate your wet stuff from your semi-dry. I recommend the “Big Bags” for clothes and shoes (bring at least two or three) and several quart-size bags. I tried to do laundry in the sink and air dry, but found it very difficult to dry most articles. I would also recommend bringing plenty of changes of clothes, especially if you’re an adventurous spirit.

f. Emergency Numbers: Luckily in Costa Rica the emergency number is 911. They speak English and are quite helpful. The problem though, is where are you? Costa Rica has one of the trickiest address and direction systems in Central America. So learn your address well!

Marina K. Villatoro, has lived in Central America – Costa Rica and Guatemala for over 10 years. She’s traveled these parts extensively and now loves to organize vacations to these amazing parts of the world. With her first hand experience, she can recommend the best options for you. Contact her for advice and to plan your perfect trip!

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Jun 212017
 

There are a lot of things that you may want to do as you plan to travel across Central America. Take note of a few travel tips that will help you find your way across your destination.

1. Practice Your Spanish: Part of the fun of traveling is trying to communicate with the local people and learning their traditions. In Central America you will always find nice people willing to let you know something interesting about their culture and to lend you a hand to practice. So whatever Spanish you know, use it!

2. How to Learn More About Local Culture: The best way to get to know the local culture from the country or town you’re visiting is not to go with a big tour group. It would be better to get a local, private guide. That’s because they will know more about what goes on in the town. Another thing that will help you get a better experience is to shop at small grocery stores, pharmacies and outdoor markets. In them you will not only meet the locals but you will also get inexpensive souvenirs.

3. Eat Safely When Traveling To Central America: So you are traveling to Central America and concerned about what foods are safe to eat?

a. I’ll start by saying that any food that has been boiled is generally safe, as well as fruits and vegetables that have to be peeled before eating.
b. You should also stay away from food that require a lot of handling before serving.
c. You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t drink the water in some countries overseas. This is why: Water supplies in developing countries are not treated in the same way as water supplies in developed countries. I would suggest you drink only bottled water when traveling.

4. Airport taxis: Central America, along with every other country in the world, has its share of crime. The majority of them start at the airport with pirate cabs, that offer a much lower fare, await the newcomer. Airport cabs are registered, each trip is logged in and accounted for. They will never rob you because the whole company has to answer for the misdoing. So spend the extra few bucks.

5. Check out the Countryside: Central America is home to some of the world’s most fascinating ancient sites that include Mayan ruins, church ruins, old buildings form its colonial days, incredible forests and much more. So where’s the point in staying in the in the urban areas? Go out, explore, there are tons of new things to do waiting for you out there.

6. Enjoying Foreign Food: When we travel to a different country we tend to look for what is familiar like Mc Donald’s or starbucks. In this case the advice would be to try the local dishes and not comparing them to the ones at home. Instead enjoy every new dish and flavor. I know that some dishes might look a bit weird but you will be pleasantly surprised in most of the cases. So go for it!

7. Useful Advice For Gifts When Traveling: Some of us like to take presents when traveling specially if we are traveling for a special occasion. If that is the case I would recommend putting it with the rest of your luggage. But there will eventually be some delicate things that you might want to take with you as a gift. Those must definitely go in your hand luggage. So a good thing to do before you even buy the present is to check hand luggage restrictions of the country you are leaving and the one you will be entering. Another good thing to keep in mind is not to wrap them as they are subject to security checks and may be unwrapped.

8. Overcoming Jet Lag: During the first day the most important thing to do is to STAY AWAKE. The secret is, once you arrive to your hotel, don’t stay there. Central America has tons of fun activities so Go out! Whatever you decide to do that isn’t in your hotel room or television induced, will help you make it through the day and you can hit the sack at a decent hour. This way, when you wake up the next day you’ll be more or less on local time and refreshed!

9. Long Road Trip Boredom Solved: Let’s face it, long road trips or long airplane flights can drive a kid and everyone around them crazy! There is only so much coloring, destroying, play doo-ing one can do. My solution: Portable DVD player. Yeap, that’s right! I know that traveling is about the bonding, plus they get enough TV at home. But after you’ve bonded for an hour or so on a five hour trip, you’ll be bonded out and ready for a bit of calmness.

10. Obvious Stuff We Sometimes Overlook: The first one is to wear comfortable shoes but sometimes shoes that may have been comfortable at home are not comfortable for traveling. And a second one is to do some research but skimming through a travel book doesn’t count! The trip will be a lot more smooth of you can map out a specific itinerary in advance.

11. A Couple of Things to Consider When Flying While Pregnant: I know that sometimes women who are pregnant for the first time want to go on a final adventure before they have to go crazy with diapers and feeding. That’s why I came up with a list of tips that will help pregnant travelers have a better trip.

a. A seat near the bathroom will facilitate more frequent bladder emptying.
b. An aisle seat will make it easier to get up for those trips to the bathroom.
c. Bulkhead seats have the most legroom.
d. Get up and take a short walk down the aisle once every half hour.
e. Don’t travel alone. You never know when you are going to need some help.
f. Don’t forget to get a medical certificate from your doctor.
g. It is also a good idea to carry your emergency contact number and your doctor’s contact number.
h. Do some research about clinics of the country you are traveling to in case of an emergency.

Marina K. Villatoro is an expat living with her family and traveling in Central America. Travel Tips for Central America.

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