Planning for Trips






During my time abroad, I have had the great opportunity to partake in quite a few excursions, both through my program and school trips, and also more recently by my own accord. Unlike my experience with “traveling” within the United States, or quite frankly just within my home state of Illinois, everything in Costa Rica has been much more accessible and easier to reach than I could have imagined. While moving about within the city of San Jose throughout the week, it is easy to forget that the whole country of Costa Rica is basically the size of one US state (around the size of West Virginia as I have heard, to be more precise), and yet that is the reality of the size of this small Central American country. Despite its small size, however, it is jam packed with such incredible biodiversity, landscapes, and rich with culture, making it yet again easy to forget how small it is when getting about.

In respect to getting around, my experience has been very enjoyable, and it also has allowed me to grow a sense of independence as I navigate this new terrain, both on my own, and with new individuals I meet along the way. Having moved about, it has also taught me about traveling and made me aware about the essentials that I should carry with me while venturing. Here are a few things of recommendation depending on the destination.


Misc. Utilities:

– Portable charger

– Regular charger

– Money in change and a card

– Bathroom essentials (Toothbrush + toothpaste, floss, travel size shampoo/conditioner/shower gel, etc.)

– Sanitary products

– Hand sanitizer

– Masks

– Water bottle

– Small emergency kit

– Not needed but recommended: headphones

– Clothing (obviously)

— Shirts and pants (or shorts) [amount depends on days away, and type depends on occasion or activities planned]

— Underwear and socks [amount depends on days away]

— Walkable shoes


– Beach essentials:

– Towel

– Sunscreen

– Bug Spray

– Clothing:

— swimsuit(s): depending how long and whether you may have an access to a pool where you are staying, I recommend at least 2


– Hiking/sturdy shoes or boots

– Hat

– Long pants (preferably with pockets)

– Long sleeve shirt (unless very hot – then at your discretion)

– Hair ties

– Flashlight if doing a night hike

– Small dry towel

Ultimately, as a final note reflecting on this new experience traveling on weekends and exploring Costa Rica, I would definitely recommend taking advantage of the weekends that you have while abroad. Try to plan your days or at least weekends in advance to have an idea of where you want to go and can go based on your availability, and also to book travel destinations in advance. If it’s your first time navigating stays, I recommend searching for Airbnb’s and cheap hotel or motel options to save up for activities that you may find out about when about. Planning this all in advance will also definitely be very helpful for budgeting all together. Lastly, never hesitate to ask around and to speak to other students about where they have gone or are going. Breaking out of that comfort zone and approaching people will help you not only figure out things regarding planning trips, but it can also help with making friends and make your experience overall more enjoyable.

Post note — A few of the places I have had the opportunity to visit that I recommend going to if you ever end up in Costa Rica:

– Manuel Antonio National Park

– Tarcoles River

– Poas Volcano

– Grecia and Sarchi Artisan towns

– Arenal

– La Fortuna

– Carara National Park

– La Selva Biological Station

– Guanacaste

– Jaco