Planning a budget travel to Costa Rica
Costa Ricans enjoy the highest standard of living in all of Central America so prices are correspondingly higher than neighbouring countries. Good news is that it is still Central America and the exchange rate is very favourable, making budget travel to Costa Rica very manageable. Transport and accommodation can eat up your budget very quickly but there are several ways to cut corners.
Costa Rica is a small country. This helps a lot in the transport department because you can walk or cycle for a large part of your trip. These options are environmentally and pocketbook friendly and will allow you to see parts of the country that you would otherwise not notice. There is bus service throughout the country should you wish to travel a longer distance in one go, but these are intermittent and can be quite uncomfortable as many of the rural roads are not paved. Hitchhiking on the back of a cattle truck is a relatively safe option, although not recommended to girls traveling alone.
One of the best ways to reduce accommodation costs is to bring a tent. This small initial investment can save you quite a bit of money as camping rough is legal throughout the country. As long as it is public property, you can, quite literally, pitch a tent wherever you like. In most cases, if you politely ask the farmer or landowner they will let you spend the night in their field or garden. Don’t be surprised if your host insists that you dine with them as well. If this happens, you must graciously accept. Costa Ricans are very friendly and enjoy the company of interesting people.
You will find that it is a little bit more difficult to eat on the cheap in Costa Rica compared to other countries. In Europe, the most common way to save money is to buy food at the grocery store rather than a restaurant. In Costa Rica, it is possible to get a home cooked meal at a Mom & Pop stand for 2-3USD. The proprietors often grow their own ingredients on a plot next to the shop so you are guaranteed fresh food every time. In the larger towns and cities you should be able to find cuisine of any type. You can be rest assured that your mid-trip craving for spaghetti can be accommodated while on budget travel to Costa Rica.
Another way to save some money and have an adventure is to offer to help with fieldwork or farm chores for a day. You will learn more about Costa Rican culture in those hours than you would ever do on a bus tour. The farmer will likely be slightly perplexed at your willingness to do manual labour on holiday but you’ll probably get a whopping home-cooked dinner and a place to stay for you efforts, not to mention a head full of memories.