The #1 Mistake When Traveling to Costa Rica

Costa Rica Travel Hiccup

After running a travel company in Costa Rica for the last 17 years, I can tell you many things I have learned along the way. Most of them, I feel we have been able to get under control. But there is one particular event that we have yet to master. This is the most common mistake when traveling to Costa Rica. It is not a major issue. But if everyone did it the fluency of the airport would change dramatically.

The most common mistake when traveling to Costa Rica happens right when you arrive. It is when you are first arriving in Costa Rica at San Jose or Liberia Airports. Everything seems fine until you get to immigration. The immigration officer looks up at you and says, “Where are you staying tonight?”. The answer for most is usually the name of the town you will be staying in. Most say with such a heavy English accent I am sure the customs office has little to no clue what you are referring to. But even if he does as many speak English, it won’t matter. The answer he is looking for is an exact address.

An Exact Address

If you are paying for an all-inclusive adventure trip or you are just planning to walk out of the airport and catch an uber, think again. You will soon realize you have to take a few minutes to figure out the exact address of where you are staying. This usually involves taking out your cell phone, google an address, and write it down on paper. Remember, the exact address of where you will be staying is what they need.

The problem is that people that sign up for adventure trips and expect to meet the guide outside of the airport can care-less about what the exact address is of their first hotel.

Quite frankly, that is why they are paying the travel agency to do all the nitty-gritty work for them so they can walk out, find their name, and get to the hotel as quickly as possible.

For those on the other extreme, like the backpackers. They plan to figure it all out when they get there. They don’t know the exact address of where they are staying either.

Quick Fix

The solution to avoid the most common mistake when visiting Costa Rica is simple.   You must simply show up with the name and address of any hotel your heart desires. The responsible and correct thing to do is to know where you are staying. Know the address and have a slip of paper in your passport to give to the customs officer. 

If all of this fails, just say you are staying in “La Cueva” because you are “Morado de Corazon”. This is what the die-hard soccer fans of the San Jose’s team Saprissa and they refer to their stadium as “La Cueva,” and they are “morado de corazon” which means their “heart is purple,” referencing the team colors.

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