Costa Rica Rewind

Wow, I haven’t written for almost a month. I can’t say anything too exciting has happened in the past month. I’ve just been busying being an almost adult. I filed my own taxes fairly successfully. I purchased a couple of things for my trip to China. I’ve been working part-time at High Desert Rheumatology. Reading, watching tv (especially dramas in Chinese), and working on some small side projects fills in the rest of my time.

In just a little over two weeks I will be in China. But before I write in detail about that trip. I thought I would rewind a little and talk about Costa Rica. I realized that I haven’t shared much travel advice. So here’s how I went about planning my three months in Costa Rica.

The first thing I did was to look for an inexpensive way I could live in a country. That’s when I stumbled across workaway.info where you work in exchange for room and board. I had also looked into woofing (organic farming), but would have had to pay for individual countries/regions. The attraction of workaway is that there are other types of jobs, from teaching to being an au pair to house sitting all around the world for just one fee. It’s only 25 euros to have an account for two years.

In June and July, I looked through all the postings of farms in Costa Rica and chose maybe twenty favorites. Then I contacted about four of them. I received responses from two. I let them know that I was planning on going to Costa Rica in October. You can read about why I chose Costa Rica in my post “Venturing to Central America.”

In July I purchased roundtrip plane tickets for $780.07. $40 of that was for booking with a travel agent. Here’s the itinerary for that trip.

TRAVEL DATE AIRLINE DEPARTURE ARRIVAL
10Oct13 UNITED AIRLINES
UA 4938
DURANGO, CO
Time
9:47am
DENVER, CO
Time
11:01am

10Oct13 UNITED AIRLINES
UA 1516
DENVER, CO
Time
1:19pm
HOUSTON GEO BUSH, TX
Time
4:35pm
10Oct13 UNITED AIRLINES
UA 1565
HOUSTON GEO BUSH, TX
Time
6:04pm
SAN JOSE CR SJO, COSTA RICA
Time
8:47pm
08Jan14 UNITED AIRLINES
UA 1097
SAN JOSE CR SJO, COSTA RICA
Time
7:30am
HOUSTON GEO BUSH, TX
Time
11:25am
08Jan14 UNITED AIRLINES
UA 737
HOUSTON GEO BUSH, TX
Time
12:50pm
DENVER, CO
Time
2:19pm
08Jan14 UNITED AIRLINES
UA 4875
DENVER, CO
Time
3:43pm
DURANGO, CO
Time
4:57pm

Around that time I also booked a hotel with shuttle from the airport for my first night in Costa Rica. It was $116.39. A bit more than I had wanted to spend, but for my mom’s security and my own I decided it was better to be careful as this was my first time in foreign country on my own and I was getting in after dark.

I continued to work full-time at Animas Credit Union and was able to save up several thousand dollars. There wasn’t much else to do but wait. I quit working a couple of weeks before my flight. This gave me time to pack and take care of stuff around the house. I did not have to worry about applying for a visa because you can get up to 90 days in Costa Rica upon entry into the country with just a valid passport.

I had a successful flight into Costa Rica. I eventually made it to the first farm, Finca Chinchilla. Here I stayed for a month and a half. The first three weeks were free because I was staying long-term. I then paid four dollars a day. When I left at the end of November I paid $100.

I then did four days of vacationing. Food, hostels, buses, park fees, and a tour totaled about $135. I only ate at restaurants three times. The other food costs I split with friend. We just used the hostel’s kitchen.

I then went to the second farm, Villas Mastatal. This farm was considerably different from the first. The work was quite different as was the cost. Although I “volunteered,” I paid $12 a day to stay there. However, I worked fewer hours and really this was eco-tourism. It was the way in which the owners made a living. Basically it was like a hostel, but on an organic integral farm. I stayed here thirteen days and spent $180.

I returned to the first farm, Finca Chinchilla for the last part of my trip. I paid them another $56 for two weeks.

The final five days I was in Costa Rica, I went to a beach on last time and toured San Jose. I didn’t spend much because I couchsurfed for three nights.

In October 2013 I had $1288.94 in my checking account and about $220 cash. When I left January 8th I had $706.72 left in my banking account and about $30 cash. I had already paid for the Holiday Inn and airplane so I did not need extra for that in my checking account.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs of this trip:

Plane Tickets $780.07
Holiday Inn $116.39
ATM and money processing fees $6.22
Finca Chinchilla $156
Villas Mastatal $181 ($1 for an hour of internet)
Tucan Hotel-two nights $20
Backpackers Hostel-two nights $24
El Cactus Hostel-one night $18
Hotel de Mar-one night $12
Maleku Hostel-one night $15
Tours and entrance fees-$75
Food-$70
Transportation (mostly buses)- $55
Extras (gifts, souvenirs, donations, etc)-$100
Exit fee $26.80

Grand Total=$1665.48           excluding plane ticket=$885.41 (spent in country)          about $295 a month

Wow that took me way longer to catalog than I thought it would. This is an estimate. I can’t remember the exact amount of cash I took so I may be off by as much as $30.

Honesty I could have spent less if I hadn’t stayed in the Holiday Inn the first night, but now I know for next time. I don’t begrudge spending the money though. The hotel was really great, the staff was friendly, the breakfast was satisfying, and the ATM was right next door. I’ve included links for all the hostels I stayed in. I recommend all of them especially Maleku Hostel which is less than five minutes from the airport and includes a free airport shuttle. All hostels have free wifi, a kitchen, and book exchange. I hope that I’ve inspired someone else to travel. A few months of hard work and saving and you can go almost anywhere you desire. If you have questions, comment below or message me 🙂 I’d be happy to answer any questions.

Next I’ll be working on cataloging my expenses for China. This trip will be very different in nature. Therefore very different in cost. Happy traveling!

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2 thoughts on “Costa Rica Rewind

  1. Good to see you back at it. What marvelous detail, you have a wonderful planning ability. Your event with the bus and how far things turned out to be at the beginning might be helpful. We all run into such challenges when traveling and learn how to deal with them. At least I think
    I remember you had a bit of a discovery at the outset??
    Very much looking forward to reading about and seeing photos of the next chapter of your adventures. Buen viaje.
    Padrino

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