"Gail-Jean"'s Travel Tips

Travel Tips, Do's and Don't's

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are traveling to a 3rd-world country.
While most of the "creature comforts" are available, some things are not so readily available (for example ATMs).

These tips and the recommended packing list have been put together
through years of experience.

By following these tips, you will be on your way to having a fabulous holiday with minimal stress!

  1. Take 200 dollars worth of $1/$5 bills and a pocket calculator for each traveler.
    You laugh now, but wait.
    After all the street vendors, beach staff, taxis, and various other "doo-dads",
    you will burn through this money, fast!
    These bills come in handy for such occasions.
    Also, you will not have a bunch of Costa Rican change upon your return.
  2. Pack lightly. Take minimal clothing.
    Take very few clothes. The atmosphere is casual.
    Most of your time will be at the beach anyway.
    You truly will not wear all your cute dresses and nice dress slacks.
    You are on vacation. You will probably not see these people again.
    Plus, there is on-site laundry facilities available.
  3. Do not use luggage with wheels. Use soft-side, no wheels luggage (a.k.a. duffel bags, back packs).
    Did you ever see "Romancing the Stone"?
    Remember when Michael Douglas throws Kathleen Turner's
    hard-sided luggage off the mountainside?
    To remember this scene is good!
  4. Take more than one swimsuit.
    One to wear while the other dries. And one that is just cute.
    (I always take 8!)
  5. Take plenty of cash (in small denominations). ATMs are not readily available.
    All the hotels can cash traveller's checks,
    however, a percentage is deducted as a fee.
  6. Take a daypack or fanny pack to keep your important belongings near
    for day-to-day outings, and money belts to keep money and your
    passport close while airporting.
  7. Take plenty of lip balm, bug spray!, sunglasses, sunscreen, and sunburn lotion.
    These items are available, however, they are expensive.
  8. Take a lightweight, protective over-shirt.
    This gauzy shirt serves as a coverup and sun protector
    --especially for fair-skinned/easy burning people.
    Go to Goodwill or raid someone's closet.
    It is not necessary to spend a lot of money for it.
    It will get wet and dry, a lot.
  9. Take "good" bug spray with at least 10% DEET.
    During low season, the bugs can be quite pesty.
    It is worthwhile buying effective
    bugspray to spray on your hat and clothes.
    You will have a more pleasant vacation.
  10. Bring your favorite foods.
    If you have a favorite cereal or snack, take it.
    My son craves beef jerky, I crave popcorn.
    It may not be available, or it may be very expensive.
  11. Take boxed soy milk or creamer.
    The milk in Tamarindo is different than most Americans' taste.
  12. Take tortillas.
    The bread is like Wonder bread.
    If that is what you like, then you are all set.
    If not, take the tortillas. We ususally take 2, 30-count packages and
    use them for breakfast burritos, wrap leftovers, etc.
    They are great for "out-the door" nutrition.
  13. Choose your shoes wisely.
    If you are going horseback riding, take something that covers your ankles.
    Heavy socks or surf sock work well, too.
    For casual walking and aerial canopy tours, take sandal-like Teva's, one's that wrap around your foot.
    Unless you are going to do some serious hiking, avoid taking heavy hiking boots.
    High-top sneakers are best.
  14. Keep jewelry to a minimum.
    Why have the stress about losing it.
    The locally made jewelry is wonderfully unique!
    Often using shells, seeds, and local wood, these necklaces and other items
    make great gifts, bring good memories, and help support their economy too!
  15. Take a disposable water bottle. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate--even planes,
    in cabs, buses, boats, and while hiking, riding horses or when fishing--EVERYWHERE!
    The water is quite good (read: safe).
    Use a Crystal Springs water bottle
    to refill for your trips to the beach or around town.
  16. Take bungee cords or rope.
    If you are renting a car and traveling with a surfboard,
    you will need something to secure the board to the car's roof.
  17. Take a pocket calculator.
    The calculator allows the freedom to know "what's up" when shopping
    and helps with exchange questions.
  18. No electrical adapters are necessary.
    The electricity is the same voltage, and the plugs/outlets are the same.
    However, to lighten your luggage load, it is a good time to cut, perm or braid your hair, or grow your beard.
  19. Take enough cash.
    Credit cards are okay--though use is limited!
    Also, you may pay a premium for using them at resorts or high-end merchants.
  20. The door-to-door and roadside vendor food is safe, and quite tasty.
    Often vendors will come to the door selling
    fresh squeezed orange juice, shrimp, and other food items.
    There is a German baker who solicits on-site. I strongly recommend the splurge!
    In general, the food is quite safe and very good.
    The roadside vendor food is fun and adventurous. You are truly experiencing
    the local flavor.
  21. Don't take your best sandals, sunglasses, or clothes. They may get ruined or lost.
  22. Tape your containers shut before packing. Store them in a sealable bag to avoid explosion.
  23. Consult the packing list for other miscellaneous items.

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Updated: January 16, 2004