Sunday, March 25, 2012

Our 9-Day Itinerary

Our trip to Costa Rica was the first itinerary I had ever planned. All of my prior vacations had been planned by someone else (e.g. cruises and family road trips). On top of that, I knew very little about the country when we booked our flights. With the incredible deal that we knew could disappear at any moment, it was a buy-now-plan-later decision to vacation in Costa Rica.

To be honest, planning the trip was almost as fun as the trip itself. It had become my hobby to learn everything about Costa Rica, research possible destinations and pick up basic Spanish. I checked out books at the library and read countless blogs and articles online. Then, I began our working document.

Our Google Doc for our Trip

Our Google Doc on Costa Rica was divided into the regions of the country: North Central, Central Valley, North Pacific Coast, Central Pacific Coast, South Pacific Coast, North Caribbean Coast, and South Caribbean Coast. There were two major factors we considered in our outline: 1) the length of our trip and 2) the airport we were flying into. San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, is where most international traffic comes through but we were flying into Liberia airport which is much further north. Not wanting to spend money on domestic flights nor spend too much time traveling, this immediately ruled out the southern part of the country.

My roommate, who had recently spent 2 weeks in Costa Rica, also suggested that we skip San Jose completely. She said that if she had to shorten her trip to a week, she would choose to sacrifice her time in San Jose to see/do other things instead. We agreed, thinking that we would check out the city when we flew into San Jose airport on a future trip.

We also decided to rule out the Caribbean side. We only had enough time to visit one side of the country: Pacific or Caribbean. Since surfing was a must and the best surfing is on the Nicoya Peninsula, the Caribbean would also be added to the future trip to-do list.

Our 9-Day Itinerary for Costa Rica

From then on, it was a matter of connecting the “Must See/Do” with the “Best of Costa Rica” and that revealed the major destinations that would guide our itinerary: Volcan Arenal, Monteverde, and Mal Pais. Mauricio, aka our rental 4wd SUV that we would pick up in Liberia, would take us between destinations.

Between the lack of free time to do further planning (work was crazy for me and insane for Ignas, to say the least) and a craving for spontaneity, this actually ended up being the extent of our planning. Though, the day we were flying out, I did book a hostel for the first night. I wanted to be certain that we had a place to rest after our red eye flight and plan the next move. After that, we would wing the rest.

For the most part, we actually stuck to this itinerary but we also did a lot more than the blue line implies. That will be for the next blog post... :)

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