7 Unexpected Lessons From Our First Trip to Costa Rica

Jumping into a Costa Rica swimming pool
  1. Laundry was harder to come by than we expected. All of the places we stayed had the option of sending it out with a service that charged by the piece, rather than having services where we could do it ourselves or offering prices by weight. As every family knows, laundry multiplies when left alone, so this is no small endeavor. We planned to do laundry twice, but ended up doing it once, at a cost of $76.
  2. My cell phone was a bit insistent that I unplug this trip, even though I was expecting to be reachable by text. Verizon told me I would have service and quoted me rates, but apparently my phone had different plans. We switched data off before we took off in Houston, and it was basically a brick with the ability to (sort of) connect to Wi-Fi once I turned it on in San Jose. With that said, I was appreciative of the Verizon text app, which did work when I was able to connect to Wi-Fi. Next time I think we will pick up a SIM card if we need to be reachable.Sim Card Cost Rica
  3. Google Translate is amazing – I wouldn’t want to be in the phrase book business these days. Be sure to “pin” the languages you need and complete the download at home so it is accessible offline.
  4. Have your photocopies of passports on hand while traveling – police may want to check them (especially when near borders with Nicaragua and Panama), and you will need them for hotel check-ins. You might want to have your arrival hotel make a copy of the visa page, as well, since it shows your legal entry to the country. You will only need the actual passport at the bank or to secure equipment/car rentals, so store them in the hotel safe or another safe place when not in use.US Passport in Costa Rica
  5. Wi-Fi is easy to come by, but not always in the places you expect. If it matters that you are connected, be sure to check the internet status when booking a hotel. We found most restaurants had a password protected network – just ask!
  6. The country has two currencies – Colones and U.S. dollars – and both are accepted widely. We found it convenient to carry some of each. Be sure to have small bills, though. I wouldn’t bother with anything larger than a $20. Check out current exchange rates here.Costa Rican Colones
  7. Toilet paper. In the trash can. Seriously? There’s a request that is tough to get used to.

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