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How To Plan A Trip To Costa Rica For Free Step By Step

How To Plan A Trip To Costa Rica For Free Step By Step

NOTE: The content on this page was last updated on October 30th, 2017.

ARE YOU BUILDING YOUR COSTA RICA ITINERARY AND NEED HELP ARRANGING YOUR DESIRED TOURS AND ACTIVITIES ACCORDING TO THE NUMBER OF DAYS/NIGHTS YOU WILL BE IN COSTA RICA? CLICK HERE TO ACCESS OUR FREE CUSTOM DAY TOUR ITINERARY INFORMATION REQUEST FORM; SIMPLY LET US KNOW WHICH EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE IN MIND FOR YOUR TRIP AND WE CAN RECOMMEND THE BEST WAY FOR YOU TO COORDINATE THEM THAT WILL MAXIMIZE TIME AND MINIMIZE COST. PURA VIDA! 🙂

plan a trip to Costa Rica
“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

NEED TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA? WE CAN HELP!

A few nights ago, I was daydreaming about how often travellers ask us how to plan a trip to Costa Rica. I had just caught the tail end of the Academy Award winning movie The Help and I let Aibileen’s words “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” sink in. I also bawled like a baby at the end (spoiler alert!) when little Mae bangs on the windowpane for her beloved friend’s return. I wondered if fictitious little Mae would remember her maid’s words of wisdom that seemed to sweep her off her tiny feet each time they were recited, rightfully spoiling the toddler with insight and inspiration. I wondered if the help could do just that: aid in bringing about change in the mindset of the privileged by planting the civil rights seed and sprouting a new hope.

On a much more trivial note, I started thinking about the help we provide travellers with when they set out to plan a trip to Costa Rica. With incredibly loose reference to the word “help”, (stripping it of any association with or leading up to the Civil Rights Movement in its use throughout this post), I would like to think that our style in assisting travellers build their ideal vacation is similar to the confidence-building strategy employed by Aibileen towards her precious Mae. You is kind. You is smart. You is important. That you are, you can, you will attitude resonates well with us and is something we hope comes across boldly throughout our writing and our work. If there is any one message that we aim to offer travellers throughout our business practice at Pura Vida! eh? Inc. it is that all travellers can plan their own trip to Costa Rica no matter where in the country they plan to go, when they plan to travel, or how much money they have to spend–no Costa Rica vacation package, paid itinerary help, or travel agent fees required. With a little help (in its most basic and Utopian form: encouragement) anything is possible.

Allow us to be the Aibileen to your Mae. Let us work for you and with you. Let us shower you with support so you can cleanse yourself with confidence. Let us hold your hand and lead you far enough until you’ve listened to us, leaned on us, and learned from us as much as you need before giving it a go on your own. Oh, and while we’re at it, we’ll show you how to plan a trip to Costa Rica for free, and in the most cost-efficient way possible. 🙂

plan a trip to Costa Rica
Let’s get started on this step-by-step journey together, shall we? (Nikki; Playa Samara)

HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #1: GET TO KNOW COSTA RICA

Put your mind at ease early by familiarizing yourself with the country and learning some of the basics of Costa Rica travel

Start with the following blog posts:

The above articles provide introductory information about Costa Rica, including safety tips to put your mind at ease with respect to travel in the country, suggestions regarding the best times of year to travel, and helpful airport information to keep in mind as you research flights.

Proceed to “HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #2” when you have read the above texts.


HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #2: DETERMINE YOUR VACATION WINDOW

Figure out how much time you want (or are able) to travel to Costa Rica for

If your vacation time is limited (i.e., by work and/or school demands), you may not have much say in this step of the Costa Rica trip planning process; the number of days/nights that you have to travel for may already be decided for you. However, if you are able to take a more flexible approach to your Costa Rica vacation planning, use all or some of our Costa Rica Itinerary guides (linked to below) to figure out which trip duration would be the best for you, and to learn how the process of planning a trip to Costa Rica differs according to the number of days and nights you plan to spend in the country.

Proceed to “HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #3” when you have determined how many days/nights you wish to travel to Costa Rica for.

Looking for other Costa Rica info? Consider reading our other post:  What To Know About Playa Jaco Costa Rica (Jaco Beach)

HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #3: RESEARCH COSTA RICA DESTINATIONS

Explore our Costa Rica Travel Blog to familiarize yourself with Costa Rica’s most popular destinations and not-to-miss hot spots

You may find our related blog posts helpful:

You may also benefit from reading the various articles we include under each category broken down by city:

Tip:

  • If your flights to and from Costa Rica are not yet set, allow your destination interests to influence your airport/flight plans to minimize transportation time as much as possible. For example, if you are interested in visiting a Central Pacific beach you may prefer to fly into/out of the San Jose SJO Airport, whereas if you are interested in visiting a Northern Pacific beach you may prefer to fly into/out of the Liberia LIR Airport.

Proceed to “HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #4” when you have determined which airport you would like to fly into and out of and which Costa Rica destinations you would like to visit (note that only a rough idea of destinations if needed during this step; a list of exact cities/towns/beaches need not be narrowed down quite yet).

plan a trip to Costa Rica
Nikki in La Fortuna (Arenal) and Ricky in Monteverde

HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #4: SELECT SPECIFIC COSTA RICA TOWNS/BEACHES TO VISIT ACCORDING TO YOUR TOUR/ACTIVITY PREFERENCES

Use our recommended “top-down approach to trip planning” to narrow down the destinations (i.e., the Costa Rica cities, towns, and/or beaches) that you would like to visit, as well as how much time you should spend at each place.

Read our related blog post Planning A Vacation To Costa Rica? READ THIS FIRST! (which provides an explanation of our “top-down approach to trip planning”), followed by our blog posts How To Save Money On Costa Rica Tours and Costa Rica Tour Transportation: How To Use Tours To Travel Between Destinations. These three blog posts will help you understand (in sequence):

  1. Why tours/activities should be decided on first since they influence most other trip decisions
  2. How a lot of money can be saved by making your tour/activity reservations the right way
  3. How precious vacation time can be maximized (and travel time minimized) as a result of smart tour/activity planning

Once you’re convinced that tours/activities are the holy grail of Costa Rica trip planning, browse through our online Costa Rica Tour Discounts database to:

  1. Gain an understanding of the tours/activities available in Costa Rica and which interest you
  2. Determine which cities, towns, and/or beaches would be the best to visit according to the tours/activities that interest you the most
  3. Determine how many days/nights you should spend at each destination according to the number of tours/activities you wish to participate in while in each area

If you are unsure whether you would like to participate in guided tours/activities during your trip, you may find our related blog post helpful: Guided Tours In Costa Rica: Are They Necessary, Valuable, And/Or Worthwhile?

Fortunately, travellers can quickly and easily search our recommended tours/activities in our Costa Rica Tour Discounts database according to a multitude of factors, including the following:

If you would rather read about our specific experiences participating in many of Costa Rica’s best tours and activities, you can do so by exploring our blog posts below:

Proceed to “HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #5” when you have determined: a) which tours/activities interest you the most, b) which destinations (i.e., which cities, towns, and/or beaches) would be best to visit according to the cities/towns/beach areas where your preferred tours/activities are run to and from, and c) the ideal number of days/nights you should spend at each destination in order to have enough time to see and do what you wish to experience in each area. Before proceeding to the next step you should also have an idea of the order in which you would like to visit each destination (i.e., “destination X” first, “destination Y” second, and so on).

Looking for other Costa Rica info? Consider reading our other post:  Silencio Trail La Fortuna Arenal Volcano Hike
plan a trip to Costa Rica
Ricky; Royal Corin

HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #5: CHOOSE YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS

Decide on and reserve your ideal accommodations in accordance with the number of days/nights you plan to spend in each area according to the outcome of STEP #4.

Before you reserve your preferred Costa Rica accommodations, familiarize yourself with our related blog posts:

In addition, you may not want to miss our Costa Rica Accmmodation Recommendations and Reviews.

Tip:

  • Don’t miss the hotel promotions section of our Costa Rica Promotions department to access our free “Pura Vida! eh? Exclusive Promotion” discount promo codes. Simply give the Costa Rica hotel our promotion code at the time of reservation and you instantly save our advertised discount amount off the reservation cost. On average, our free Costa Rica promo codes help travellers save 15-25% off the cost of Costa Rica hotel rooms.

Proceed to “HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #6” when you have determined which Costa Rica accommodations you wish to stay at (according to the ideal number of days/nights you should spend at each destination in order to do/see all you wish to experience in each area).

plan a trip to Costa Rica
Nikki; in one of the many, many, many rental vehicles we have driven over the years

HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #6: CHOOSE YOUR METHOD(S) OF IN-COUNTRY TRANSPORTATION

Decide on and reserve your ideal transportation arrangements

Imagine each Costa Rica destination that you intend to visit as a dot on a map–now is the time to connect them. If you haven’t yet decided how you would prefer to travel throughout Costa Rica from place to place, you may find our related blog posts helpful:

Tip:

  • Don’t forget to browse through the transportation service promotions and vehicle rental promotions sections of our Costa Rica Promotions department to access our free “Pura Vida! eh? Exclusive Promotion” discount promo codes. Simply give the Costa Rica transportation service provider or vehicle rental agency our promotion code at the time of reservation and you instantly save our advertised discount amount off the reservation cost. On average, our free Costa Rica promo codes help travellers save 20% off the cost of shared shuttle services in Costa Rica and 25%-50% off the cost of a Costa rica car rental.
Looking for other Costa Rica info? Consider reading our other post:  Support Humble Businesses? Visit Monteverde Villa Lodge In Monteverde!

Proceed to “HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #7” when you have determined which Costa Rica transportation services you will rely on to get from point A to point B and so on for each leg of your trip.

plan a trip to Costa Rica
Ricky and Nikki; van-boat-van from La Fortuna to Monteverde (or vice versa)

HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #7: SECURE YOUR TOUR/ACTIVITY PREFERENCES

Reserve the Costa Rica day tours and activities (that you discovered an interest in during STEP #4) through Pura Vida! eh? Inc., home to 1000 discounts and cash back savings for Costa Rica trip items

In preparation of making your Costa Rica day tour/activity reservations, you may find our related blog posts helpful:

When you are confident and ready to make your tour/activity reservations, do so through Pura Vida! eh? Inc.. As per its unique operation, no money or credit card information ever passes through the company in order to maintain travellers’ privacy!

Click here to access Pura Vida! eh? Inc.’s online Tour Reservation Form for free discounts for Costa Rica day tours!

Not sure how to best arrange the Costa Rica day tours/activities you have in mind for your trip? No problem! Pura Vida! eh? Inc. offers free custom Costa Rica day tour itinerary planning help here.

Click here to access Pura Vida! eh? Inc.’s online Custom Costa Rica Day Tour Itinerary Information Form

Proceed to “HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #8” when you have secured your Costa Rica day tours/activities (together with all other Costa Rica trip items). You’re almost done! 🙂

plan a trip to Costa Rica
What to pack and what not to pack…

HOW TO PLAN A TRIP TO COSTA RICA STEP #8: CONCERN YOURSELF WITH TRAVEL EXTRAS

Now that your Costa Rica trip has been planned, reserved, and confirmed, prepare yourself for other facets of the travel experience

You may find our related blog posts helpful:

Whew! You made it, and if you’re like most other travellers who have used our Costa Rica Travel Blog and/or Pura Vida! eh? Inc. to plan a trip to Costa Rica, you have an amazing trip to show for it that encompasses who you are and what you want to get out of your visit. Yes, the entire process is time consuming, and yes, it takes focus and determination, but that’s what Costa Rica travel is all about. That’s also why Costa Rica is not a typical all-inclusive resort destination that calls for little effort and boasts little reward (well, unless you consider escaping home reward enough, short of discovering, experiencing, and falling in love with a new country, culture, environment, cuisine, sense of adventure, and quite honestly, a more pura vida sense of self). Instead, it packs more punch than you could ever fit into your suitcase, which is why travellers who invest time, energy, and interest into calculating and intricately piecing together parts of their Costa Rica vacation get so much more out of it than gift shop souvenirs and a tan. Costa Rica simply offers too much to miss out on, so congratulations for not selling yourself and your hard-earned vacation short. You is kind. You is smart. You is important. And, you are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime.

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: What steps have you found useful as you plan a trip to Costa Rica?

Pura vida!

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10 thoughts on “How To Plan A Trip To Costa Rica For Free Step By Step”

  • I’m planning a trip with my fiancee for the first week of April (thankfully 2 weeks before Easter this year — less crowds) and have found your websites to be immensely helpful so far!

    We have 8 days to work with and a cannot miss experience for us is Corcovado. Would it be too much to try and visit Monteverde and Arenal after the 3 day Corcovado hike? Our itinerary (location wise) currently looks like this:

    Day 1: Arrive SJO, fly to Puerto Jimenez
    2: day 1 of Corcovado 3: day 2 4: day 3 – boat to Drake (on Surcos tours website, they say they can taxi your luggage to Drake from Jimenez — is this reliably safe in your opinion?)
    5: Fly to SJO early AM, private van to Monteverde
    6: Jeep-boat-jeep to Arenal
    7: Private transport to hotel near SJO in early evening
    8: Depart SJO

    Sorry if this post is in the wrong place! Things are starting to become overwhelming, and I would love your input!

    • Ryan –

      Sounds like you have your hands full, AND you’re going to have a great time!! 🙂 We always love it when travellers have that “see and do it all” mentality. It makes for a busy vacation, yes, but an incredible one too!

      Also, congrats on the upcoming wedding! I’m sure you and your fiancee are going to love Costa Rica.

      With 8 days, we’ll be honest. Corcovado, Monteverde, and La Fortuna/Arenal (with a stop in San Jose in the middle) is tough. Definitely not impossible, however, and since we’re all for exploration, we say: go for it!

      The first thing I will suggest is reading our related blog post here: https://costaricatravelblog.com/2013/11/08/should-you-visit-la-fortuna-arenal-monteverde-or-both-destinations-during-your-costa-rica-vacation/

      The above post helps travellers determine whether they should visit La Fortuna/Arenal, Monteverde, or both destinations during their trip. There is no sense trying to cram a trip into both La Fortuna/Arenal AND Monteverde if–after doing a little reading–you determine that one of the two locations doesn’t interest you all that much.

      Assuming that you decide you definitely want to visit both, I can confirm that it will be possible. The downside is that you will have little time in both locations to actually experience each since some of your trip time will be eaten up by travel time.

      Quick question… where exactly do you plan to stay on the Osa Peninsula? I ask only because if you are able to get to Puerto Jimenez, you could potentially fly from there to La Fortuna/Arenal (most likely with a stopover in San Jose), which would allow you to skip the entire stop in San Jose and drive to Monteverde. If you headed to La Fortuna/Arenal first, you could do the opposite of what you initially planned–you could visit La Fortuna/Arenal, then jeep-boat-jeep to Monteverde, then use private transport to get to your hotel near SJO. Since Monteverde does not have a domestic airport, you don’t have the option of flying into Monteverde via the Osa Peninsula, so if you opted to visit Monteverde first, you would need to do as you plan to do and take the private van from San Jose to Monteverde. You may find that flying to La Fortuna/Arenal (visiting it first before Monteverde) will save you precious travel time, but that will entirely depend on where you plan to stay when visiting Corcovado.

      Regardless of whether you opt to visit La Fortuna/Arenal or Monteverde first, you will have about a half day in each location. This is usually enough time to participate in one tour (in each location), but not much more. Don’t miss our La Fortuna/Arenal and Monteverde tour discount databases for savings to help with the vacation budget! 🙂

      La Fortuna/Arenal Tour Discounts: https://puravidaeh.ca/category/costa-rica-tour-discounts/arenal-la-fortuna-tour-discounts/
      Monteverde Tour Discounts: https://puravidaeh.ca/category/costa-rica-tour-discounts/monteverde-tour-discounts/

      Pura vida!

  • I was there at Costa Rica and the experience was unforgettable.Its natural diversity, Costa Rica is still a stand out. Thanks to a longstanding tradition of preserving its natural assets, much of the country’s verdant rainforest still stands, opportunities for nature-based adventures abound and the beaches on both coasts are in exceptional nick.

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