A little preparation goes a long way when traveling to Costa Rica, but the tourist-oriented country makes it possible to "drop in" and make the trip spontaneous from leaving the airport to catching the flight home. With eco-tourism at feverish levels, a pre-planned, pre-reserved vacation is not required. With a good guidebook, a sense of adventure and a free spirit, Costa Rica is the location for spontaneous and planned travel.
To enter Costa Rica, a passport in good condition is required. According to the State Department, Costa Rican authorities may deny entry if the passport is damaged in any way. In addition, valid round trip tickets must be shown. Without a return flight, Costa Rica requires a entry visa. U.S. citizens may stay for a maximum of 90 days without a visa being required. Be prepared to pay a departure tax. If traveling with minor children born in Costa Rica, a special permit is required from the Costa Rican embassy or consulates in the U.S. prior to travel. Otherwise, extreme delays may occur when exiting the country with a minor child.
Bring copies of current prescriptions and bring all medication your personal health requires. Medication is not widely available outside of San Jose or a few other major cities. Check with health insurance providers about coverage outside the U.S. Update vaccines and acquire medications for potential disease four to six weeks prior to departure. Bring and wear breathable water repellent clothing. Rain gear is a necessity in terms of a waterproof jacket, poncho or slicker along with a hood or rain/sun hat. Shoes need to be comfortable for walking and open toe sandals are not advised off the beach. DEET-based insect repellent in a high concentration is the one to carry. An around-the-neck passport and money wallet is a necessity to protect identification and currency from theft.
Preparing for contingencies
Travel with a backpack, daypack, or rolling duffel for convenience and security. Always keep your luggage within reach. Packing a flashlight, pocket knife, water carrier, first aid kit, and phrase book are good contingency requirements. Adventure- and eco-tourist providers require licenses from the Costa Rican government, so only licensed providers should be used when traveling in the country.
Article Written By Eric Jay Toll
Eric Jay Toll has been writing since 1970, influenced by his active lifestyle. An outdoorsman, businessman, planner and travel writer, Toll's work appears in travel guides for the Navajo Nation, "TIME" and "Planning" magazines and on various websites. He studied broadcast marketing and management at Southern Illinois University.