Preparing for your trip

Package: Captivating Costa Rica

Print this page and refer to it as you prepare for your trip!

Printed 12/06/2019. Please visit https://www.friendlyplanet.com/before-you-go/?tourId=200 for the latest updates.

Checklist

Item Due
Ensure you have a current passport valid for at least six months after your return date. ASAP
Complete your registration. You'll receive a link to the registration form after you complete your booking. Within 24 hours of booking
Request any additions or changes you may still want to make to your trip. (Fees and/or additional charges may apply.) 75 days prior to travel
Make your final payment, if any balance is due.
75 days prior to travel
Obtain any necessary travel visas and review any requirements for entry. See below
Print your itinerary and other final documents, which we will send you via email by 14 days prior to travel. Prior to travel
Print your policy documents, if you purchased travel insurance, and carry them with you. Prior to travel
Enroll in The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), if you're a U.S. citizen or national, so the State Dept. can locate and assist you in case of an emergency. Prior to travel

In addition, if you booked flights with your package:

Item Due
Book connecting flights to your departure city, if necessary. (Please confirm your international flight schedule first!) 75 days prior to travel
Make advance seat reservations for your international flight, if you have a preference. After receiving your e‑tickets
Confirm your flight times and any special meal requests with the airline, and print and carry a copy of your e-ticket. 72 hours prior to travel
Check in for your flights online and download/print your boarding passes (if available). 24 hours prior to travel
Arrive at the airport, ready for the trip of a lifetime! 3½ hours prior to departure

Documents

Passport, Visa & Entry Requirements for Costa Rica

U.S. citizens must have a passport which is valid for at least 90 days after your return date, though we strongly recommend at least six months. U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica for stays up to 90 days. See the U.S. Dept. of State website for more information.

If you do not hold a U.S. passport, please see the entry requirements.

Costa Rica requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry for passengers arriving from Yellow Fever Endemic Countries, such as Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador & Colombia. If your flight makes a stop in one of these countries, you may be asked to provide proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival in Costa Rica. Find a local vaccination center.

General Requirements & Guidelines

  • We provide visa & entry requirement information for the convenience of our travelers, and we try to keep it up-to-date. Ultimately, however, it is your responsibility to determine the passport and visa requirements that apply to you and to comply with them, including securing proper travel documents by the required deadlines and carrying them with you. Requirements are subject to change, sometimes without notice, and we suggest you verify them with the relevant embassy or consulate, the U.S. State Dept (if you're a U.S. passport holder), and/or with an expedited visa service such as VisaHQ. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding, your trip may be disrupted, and travel insurance may not cover your losses if your passport and visa are not in order.
  • To travel abroad, U.S. citizens must have a passport. In general, it should be valid for at least six months after your return date, and passports expiring before then should be renewed as soon as possible. We recommend that passports contain at least 2 blank pages for each country visited. If your passport does not have this many pages, you should obtain a new passport as soon as possible.
  • Any changes in names or passport information should be reported to us immediately. Airlines and cruise ships may deny boarding if the name on your passport does not match your tickets.
  • Minors (age 17 or younger) departing and/or returning to the U.S. without parents or with only one parent may be required by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) to present a notarized parental consent letter and/or unabridged birth certificate (more information). Many other countries have similar entry requirements, especially for minors traveling with a parent/guardian with a different surname; check with the consulates of all countries you'll be visiting to learn more.

Final Documents

Your final travel documents will be sent to you via email by 14 days prior to departure. These will include your daily itinerary, hotel and emergency contact information, and other relevant information. Please print your documents and take them with you. If you're departing in less than a week and haven't received your documents, let us know immediately!

Travel Insurance Documents

If you purchased travel insurance, please print your policy documents. If you purchased our protection plan, you can find a link to the full policy on our travel protection page. Carry this document with you when you travel, as it includes contact information for emergency travel assistance and instructions on how to make a claim.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

We encourage all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows you to receive important updates about safety and security issues in your destination, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy, as well as family & friends, to contact you in case of an emergency. To enroll or get more information, please visit the STEP website or any U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Flights, Transfers & Arrival

Questions about your flights before you depart? Read the information below first. If you still have questions, contact our air specialists at 800-555-5765 ext. 2 or air@friendlyplanet.com.

Land Only Option: If you purchased this package without flights, you are responsible for booking your own flights to the destination. (Please review the itinerary carefully, as some packages start and end in different cities, requiring "open jaw" flights.)

Flights & tickets: If you selected flights with your package, we generally book your flights and issue tickets within 1–3 business days of your booking. However, flights cannot be booked more than 300 days prior to travel. If you are departing more than 300 days in the future, we'll book your flights once they become available. If you requested flights from another city, our air specialists will research the best options and send you a tentative flight schedule and quote for your approval.

Once we have issued your tickets, we'll send you an "e-ticket receipt" which contains all of your flight information, including times, carriers, an airline booking reference number, and an e-ticket number. If you have not received this, or have questions about the flights we booked for you, please contact our air department. You will not receive paper tickets. We recommend you print and carry a copy of your flight details, including the airline booking reference number and e-ticket number, as some airports require this to enter the terminal. You do not need to reconfirm your flights with the airline prior to your departure, as we will handle this for you.

Want to reserve specific seats?

That depends on the airline. You can usually request a window or aisle seat, and sometimes specific seat numbers (but not exit row and bulkhead seats) ahead of time. Many airlines now charge a fee for this, and such fees are not included in your package price. If you have a seat preference, let us know when you book, in the special requests section, or email us at air@friendlyplanet.com after you book. Then:

If your airline does not charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll happily pass along your seat request to the airline and confirm they received it (though we cannot guarantee it will be honored).

If your airline does charge a fee to pre-assign seats: We'll let you know. You'll need to contact the airline directly to request your seats after we have issued your flight tickets, and fees are payable directly to the airline.

If you do not request specific seats: The airline typically assigns them within 24 hours of departure. If you do not like your assigned seats, you may be able to change them, subject to availability, when you check in online or at the counter. Learn more about Advance Seat Reservations.

Want to request a special meal?

You can enter special meal requests when you book with an agent or complete your online registration, shortly after booking. We will relay your requests to the airlines and our representatives abroad, but we cannot guarantee they will be honored. Please double check meal requests with your airline 72 hours before departure, and with our representatives upon arrival.

Looking to earn frequent flyer miles?

You may be able to earn frequent flyer points for your flights on this package. Contact the airline directly once you receive your tickets to enter your frequent flyer number in your flight record, or enter it when you check in. As you travel, check your tickets or ask the check-in or gate agent prior to boarding each flight to ensure the number has been entered properly. And just to be safe, keep your boarding passes and passenger receipt as proof that you have actually flown the miles you want credited to your account.

Interested in upgrading to business class or premium economy?

Cabin upgrades may be available on this package. Ask us about price and availability when you book online, in the special requests section. Please note that our special contracted airfare rates generally do not permit upgrading with frequent flyer points, and that upgrade requests may incur change fees if tickets have already been issued.

Flight Schedule

If you selected flights with your package, you may review the sample flight schedule(s) below. This information is for general planning puposes. You will receive your your actual flight schedule and details by email once we issue your tickets.

Airlines may change schedules at any time, even after flights have been confirmed, and we are not responsible for such changes. Please confirm your flight schedule prior to booking any connecting flights and again 72 hours prior to departure.

American Airlines' toll-free number is 1-800-433-7300.

Connecting Flights

If you plan to purchase connecting flights to your departure city, we strongly suggest waiting until 75 days prior to departure (and after you make your final payment) to ensure materialization and to reduce the chances that your international flight times might change—since airlines sometimes change schedules even after flights have been booked. Before purchasing connecting flights, always confirm the times for your international flights first. Leave at least 3½ hours connecting time between flights, and if you're traveling within a few weeks of Daylight Savings Time changes (in March and November, when flight schedules may change even more dramatically), allow 5–5½ hours between flights. Nobody likes waiting around the airport, but missing your flight is far worse!

Airport Transfers

If you purchased this package with flights, scheduled group airport transfers at the destination are included. When you exit customs, please look for our representative holding a Friendly Planet sign, who will cheerfully escort you to your transfer vehicle and assist with your luggage.

If you purchased this package without flights, transfers are generally not included. In most cases, private transfers are available for an additional fee; contact us for price and availability. Or you may instead arrange your own ground transportation to the touring program start and end points, usually the first and last hotels listed in the itinerary.

Arrival Complications

We make every effort to ensure our tours run smoothly and trouble-free. We don't expect any problems, and nor should you. But when things don't go as planned, here's what to do:

  • You miss your flights, or your flights are cancelled: Please call us immediately. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox, with a phone number at which to reach you, and we'll get right back to you.
  • Your flights are delayed and you're worried about missing your included transfers: Please contact us to let us know about the delay, and we will notify our partners in destination. If you are arriving on one of our group flights, or booked your own flights and supplied us with the details, our partners will be tracking your arrival and will plan accordingly.
  • Your package includes transfers, but you can't find our representative at your destination: Don't panic—they may have been unexpectedly delayed. Wait up to 30 minutes. Then contact our local partners in destination, listed on the emergency contact page of your final documents. If you can't reach them, call us. If it's outside our normal business hours, leave a message in our emergency mailbox. If all else fails, make your own way to the starting hotel (or cruise port), and we'll refund you the cost of your transfer.

Packing & Luggage

Baggage allowance: Most airlines now charge a fee for checked luggage. Often, these fees must be paid directly to the airline. Please review your carrier’s baggage policy or contact the airline directly to verify their specific policy in regards to checked bags. If you are booked on an airline that charges for checked luggage, we recommend that you prepay for the checked bag if possible.

Learn more about Baggage Allowances on your international flights. Note that our baggage allowances may be less than those for your international flights. If you exceed the baggage limits, you may be subject to excess baggage charges levied by the airlines and/or by Friendly Planet.

Regardless of the limits—we recommend a smaller size and weight for both your checked and carry-on bags. It's so much easier and faster for you to get around when you have fewer, lighter bags! For your carry-on, consider a soft-sided bag such as a duffel rather than a hard clamshell-type case, which may not fit as easily into overhead compartments or under your seat, especially on buses. For your protection, we suggest your checked luggage have a TSA-approved lock.

Luggage tags: We will mail you Friendly Planet luggage tags with your invoice. Fill in the luggage tags with your name and contact information and attach to each bag, including carry-ons and camera cases, so that your luggage can be identified should it get misplaced during your trip. However, we are not responsible for lost or damaged luggage.

What to pack: Check out our blog post on our Top 10 Must-Haves for International Travel. Pack smart: put your travel documents, medications, one change of clothing, and other essentials in your carry-on, in case your checked baggage is misplaced. And pack light, for your own comfort and convenience. For clothing, we suggest packing a variety of separates with climate and comfort in mind.

What not to pack: U.S. law forbids you to carry hazardous materials aboard aircraft in your checked or carry-on baggage or on your person, including explosives, compressed gases, flammable liquids & solids, loaded firearms, poisons, corrosives and radioactive materials. Common examples include paints, lighter fluid, fireworks, mace/tear gas and oxygen bottles. Restricted materials may vary by airline and destination. Some items, in quantities of no more than 70 ounces total, may be carried within baggage, including medicinal or toilet articles such as hairspray, perfume and certain medicines that are necessary during your journey. Please check with the airline and/or visit the FAA website prior to travel if you have any questions.

While on Tour

What to Expect

This leisurely-paced, independent tour requires minimal walking and is suitable for most levels of physical fitness. The Hanging Bridges Tour in Arenal is approximately 1.9 miles in length and requires a higher level of physical fitness to fully enjoy the tour. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations that can be windy and bumpy at times. Transfers will be on a shared shuttle and may have limited rest stops. This tour does not include a tour guide or escort.

Remember that you're a guest in someone else's homeland, and that you're traveling to experience their country and culture. Be sensitive to local customs and manners, as many things may be done differently than what you're used to. And while we have made every effort to secure modern and comfortable accommodations and transportation, please note that the standards in other countries may be different from those you are accustomed to at home. Overall, you will find a polite, positive, patient, and open-minded approach generally yields the best travel experience!

Eating & Drinking

The meals included with your package are listed in the itinerary. For all other meals, you're at liberty to dine where you like. Your hotels will have several dining choices, from coffee shops to specialty restaurants.

Please see above for special meal requests.

Special Needs & Requests

Please see above for special meal requests and seat requests. If you have any other special requests, including wheelchair or electric cart assistance, please mention your request when you book with an agent, or in the special requests section when you book online. We will do our best to accommodate them!

Country FAQs

Fast Facts about Costa Rica

Overview

Capital: San José
Population:  4.857 million
Currency: Costa Rican colón (CRC), but U.S. dollars (USD) are accepted as legal currency throughout the country
Languages: Spanish
Drives on the: Right
Time zone: CST

Health Precautions & Vaccinations

Costa Rica requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon entry for passengers arriving from Yellow Fever Endemic Countries, such as Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador & Colombia. If your flight makes a stop in one of these countries, you may be asked to provide proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival in Costa Rica. Find a local vaccination center.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are no other required vaccinations for travel to Costa Rica, but immunization against typhoid and hepatitis is recommended. Also ask your doctor about malaria suppressants if you will be visiting the Pacific southwest region or the Caribbean shoreline. Be sure to take insect repellent and suncreen!

Center for Disease Control
World Health Organization

Weather

Costa Rica is a year-round destination. Temperatures in San Jose and the Central Highlands are mild and springlike. The mountains can be cool at night. Coastal areas tend to be hot and steamy, but hot and dry in the Pacific northwest.

December through May is Costa Rica's relatively dry period. June through October tends to be wetter, but as a result the vegetation looks even more verdant during this time.

Tipping

Most restaurants include the 13% restaurant tax and the 10% service charge. Check the bottom of the menu or ask your server if the charge is included. Add a small tip on top of the 10% service charge if you feel the service was excellent.

Money & Credit Cards

U.S. credit/debit cards are widely accepted throughout Costa Rica and typically offer the best exchange rate.

Always notify your bank prior to departure to avoid any problems using your credit or debit card abroad.

Shopping

Shop for pottery, traditional miniature painted oxcarts, jewelry made of semiprecious stones, hand-painted feathers, wood carvings, leather goods, and other high quality handicrafts. Tasty local treats such as coffee, rum, coffee liqueur, macadamia nuts and hearts of palm, also make great souvenirs.

Electricity & Power Adapters

Voltage: 110-120 volts. Plugs A & B. You will probably need a voltage converter and plug adapter in order to use U.S. appliances. We recommend getting a universal adapter and converter kit.

Learn more about electrical standards around the world.

Cell Phones & Internet

Want to take your cell phone, tablet or laptop, but not sure how to get cell service or wifi? See our blog posts on using your cell phone abroad and the top 5 ways to get Internet abroad.

Notes & Fine Print

The Travelers Registration page must be completed, including all passport(s) information, within 24 hours of your reservation being completed. If we have not received this information, your reservation will be subject to a higher airfare and/or cancellation. A link to the Travelers Registration page will be provided via email when your reservation has been completed. Additional charges for flights from cities other than Miami will be charged within 24 hours of your booking. The Manuel Antonio extension requires that your flights be confirmed separately by the airlines. Please note that it typically takes 3 to 5 business days to confirm your extension flights with the airline, and that we will notify you immediately upon confirmation of the flights. This extension also requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate.

Terms & Conditions: Please check out the terms & conditions for this package.

Cancellations: If something comes up and you need to cancel your trip, please let us know as soon as possible. All cancellations must be made in writing. Cancellation fees vary by package; please see the cancellation fees for this package.

Materialization: This package may require a minimum number of passengers to operate. In the unlikely event that your departure must be cancelled due to lack of participation, we will notify you prior to the final payment due date, and offer alternate dates of travel or a full refund. Please do not purchase any domestic connecting flights, or other services which are dependent upon the operation of your package, until this time.