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Your vacation time is precious. You probably don’t get it all too often, you work incredibly hard to afford it, and it creates opportunities for you and your loved ones to make once-in-a-lifetime memories. It is your time to learn, explore, indulge, and relax. In a world where work likely consumes most of your days, your vacation is your time to play.
Our job, as friendly and helpful travel confidants, is to remind you to keep your head in the game. Local news broadcasts informed us recently of some terrible accidents: two particularly sad accounts involving an international traveller visiting Costa Rica and a group of Costa Rican travellers visiting neighbouring Nicaragua; accounts that could happen anywhere, in any country in the world, at any time. When tragedies strike, we are reminded of the fact that although our vacation time is precious, our lives are even more so.
Sometimes when we travel we forget our vulnerabilities. We focus on the fun we are about to have, which can blur surrounding risk. We get caught up in the information we are anxious to learn, and momentarily forget what our experience and conscience have already taught us. We look forward to encountering what lies ahead, but often lose track of what is required to get there, safely, and then back home again.
For information regarding safety in Costa Rica (including our recommended tips, practices, and processes to help keep you and your family safe throughout your visit), please see our related blog post: Is Costa Rica Safe? Yes If You Travel Consciously, Cleverly, And With Common Sense. Here’s How. For additional suggestions regarding how to keep a level head despite the anticipation, excitement, chaos, confusion, and constant stimulation that comes with exploring a foreign country please see our recommendations below.
REALIZE YOUR REALITY
Your desire to travel to a foreign country requires you to embark on other people’s soil as a visitor. That makes you a target, for good and for bad. Some people will want to treat you kindly so you leave with fond memories of their home. Others may want to take advantage of you. When travellers forget their position in accordance with everyone around them they display their vulnerability. To best conceal this, acknowledge the target on your back the moment you step foot in a new country and do little to call attention to it.
DON’T ASSUME THAT OTHERS CARE ABOUT YOUR WELL-BEING MORE THAN YOU DO
Throughout our business, we choose to work with highly reputable hotels, tour operators, and transportation service providers who make safety a priority; they are licensed where necessary, employ trained and/or certified individuals, and have the required insurances and/or permissions to carry-out their operations. This being said, no one in Costa Rica will care for your well-being more than you (the same can be said about the citizens of the country you come from). You are responsible for yourself; at home and while on vacation. Be alert. Ask questions. If something doesn’t look or feel right then trust your instincts. If you don’t, and you are not pleased with what follows suit, you’ll regret it.
BE (AND REMAIN THROUGHOUT YOUR TRIP) ORGANIZED
Many of us are organized travellers; we make sure we have all of the necessary travel documents we need before leaving home, we carefully pack our bags, and we know our trip itinerary by heart. Then we exit the airport into the warm and tropical climate, and life is pura vida. We relax and tell ourselves not to stress about anything. We are on vacation after all. That is, until we lose our passport, have something stolen from us on the beach or the local bus, or injure ourselves taking an unguided nature trek. Somewhere between home and paradise we transformed from type ‘A’ to type la’Z’y. Although planning a trip is somewhat easy, staying organized throughout the ever-changing and always-surprising process of travel is far more challenging. The good news is, if you rely on organization as a method to keep your plans in check throughout the duration of your trip, then you will likely find yourself in control the entire time too.
PLAN FOR PLAN EXECUTION, TAKE YOUR TIME, AND DON’T RUSH
Let’s assume you waited months, or possibly years, for your trip. You planned every minute of every travel day to maximize the benefits of your vacation, and you are ready to ring every possible drop of learned knowledge out of an experience-soaked trip. Your attention to detail is undeniable, but somehow you’ve failed to account for a few pertinent and finite travel decisions; decisions requiring time and other resources to successfully execute the trip plan you ever-so-carefully crafted. No matter how anxious or excited you may be to do and see everything, accomplishing such an encompassing goal calls on travellers to look past their trip itinerary’s flashy highlights to spot gaps in the vacation’s flow. In other words, in order to accomplish all that you want to see and do during your trip, effective trip planning should be recognized for the raw, complex, and often Tetris-like building task that it is. Take the job of accurately estimating travel times between various destinations throughout your trip, for example. Doing so can avoid safety being compromised as a result of spur-of-the-moment taxi rides and bus trips that were not originally planned for. Or, consider the need to allot ample hours for overnight sleep or mid-day rests throughout your trip. Not doing so could lead to physical exhaustion, illness, or poor decision-making. In addition, scheduling meals (including meal times, meal locations, and adequate time to get to and from those locations) and keeping healthy snacks with you at all times can prevent long periods of hunger and lulls in your nutritional upkeep. These factors (ie. travel time, sleep/rest, and nutrition) tend to linger around the base of the travel priority pole, and allow lighter travel goals, including breadth of trip experience, information accumulation, and fun, to float to the top. Unbalanced priorities are road blocks on the traffic-free and smooth-sailing highway of a focused state of mind. Fortunately, the trick to maintaining clarity while wanting it all is easy: approach each part of the vacation piece by piece, destination to destination, day by day, tour by tour, and meal to meal. Doing so will allow you to compartmentalize various aspects of your trip, and concentrate on the now without being distracted by thoughts of what’s to come. It will also allow you to take your time and enjoy the present (hopefully without any regrets), and avoid panic, stress, and other outcomes of feeling rushed.
REMEMBER, IT’S JUST A TRIP
For some travellers, a particular vacation may be one of many trips they plan to make to Costa Rica. For other people, the vacation may be their one and only visit to the rich coast during their lifetime. The reality of the latter can lead to desperation, and, in extreme cases, to devastation. The truth of the matter is: some things, no matter how tempting, beautiful, or rare, are not worth it (“it” referring to whatever you choose to risk, such as your money, your time, or your life). A photo of you backed by a glorious sunset taken from a boulder 100 meters off the coast would be incredible, but it is simply not worth fighting a mighty and underestimated undertow for. Be adventurous, explore thoroughly, and try new things. Don’t try to be a hero. Your family, friends, co-workers, dog, and house plant need you more than Instagram needs your mid-ocean selfie.
QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: What suggestions do you have to help travellers keep a level head while visiting Costa Rica? Note: suggestions regarding travel safety are welcomed in the comment section following on our related blog post: Is Costa Rica Safe? Yes If You Travel Consciously, Cleverly, And With Common Sense. Here’s How.