Many people have asked me when I started planning my weekend trips in Costa Rica. I started planning my weekend trips around 5 hours after I arrived to my host home. Luckily, my roommate had done her research and had hostel recommendations, and a clear plan. I definitely recommend researching before and compiling a list of what you want to do while in the country. However, even with the numerous hours she spent researching we did not accomplish all we wanted and some of the information was false.
Our tico tour advisor was immensely helpful in getting us deals and recommending hostels for the weekends. We would usually on Monday send Jason a list of what we wanted to accomplish for the following weekend and where we wanted to go. We would list the prices we had found and he would send back cheaper deals for possibly different places. He would also let us know from connections and other students if the ratings were true to the hostels.
For example this past weekend we knew we wanted to go to La Fortuna. We sent him a list with hot springs, waterfall, hiking trails, and the Arenal Volcano. We also sent him the duration we wanted to stay and the bus schedule we had found through online.
He replied reassuring us of the correct bus station and a hotel for one night that we requested that included everything we wanted except for the waterfall for 60 dollars. This was a great deal because hot springs are usually 40 on their own and the hiking trails range from 8-12 dollars. The waterfall was only a extra 8 dollar fee. This also included an all inclusive resort that fed us a buffet breakfast, had HD tv, wifi, ziplining, horse back riding, butterfly garden, alligators, 6 waterslides, 5 hot springs, wet bar, and 4 pools. The deal for 60 dollars was too sweet to pass.
These are the essentials you need to know to plan a trip:
Budget: How much am I willing to spend?
Packing: How much do I need to bring? (For example some places provide towels and shampoo)
Duration: How long do I want to stay there?
Transport: How am I getting there? (Refer to last blog post) How much is the bus and how long is the ride?
Food: Is any food included? (Many tourist areas are very expensive for food… don’t let the menu price trick you they add on an extra 13% and 10% fee after you make that purchase)
References: What have I heard about these places? Are these reliable sources?
*Always ask the tour expert with your university or program if there are any deals or student discounts! These are life savers and money savers!
Now that you have the main questions answered what do you do next?
Consult with your program representative and double check the transportation schedule the day before you leave. Many of the buses can change stations or times because low passenger quantity or bus strikes. Always double check the night before that you can get a bus. Arrive 30-45 minutes earlier than the departure time to ensure you have a seat (sometimes they over sell and you have to stand for hours), and in case there are any last second changes for the stations.
I also recommend if you are timely to get your bus ticket before the day of leaving. Our last trip we had to leave at 6:15 and they usually fill up buses 30 minutes before prior departure. We had to leave our house at 5 am to make it to the bus stop and get our tickets. This is why if you can afford the inconvenience to get the tickets earlier please heed my advice and do so.
Now that you have consulted with the expert and you have your ticket your almost ready to leave. The last step before leaving is packing (assuming you have already booked your hostel). Pack a small backpack or duffel bag for a weekend trip. You will recognize even on weekend trips its easy to over pack. Only take the essentials. You can put duffel bags under the bus so you will not have it in your way. Also if you have Spotify download songs before entering the long bus rides (found this out the hard way).
And with that your ready to embark on your journey!
Enjoy your weekends with these few steps you’ll be a pro weekend planner!