April 29th, 2010 — Budgets
Obviously it’s important to know how much you’re going to spend when you’re visiting foreign countries. In terms of costs, Costa Rica is one of the mid-range destinations within Central America. It’s cheaper than Belize and the popular spots in Mexico, but it’s more expensive than Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and some parts of Panama. So what does that mean? How does that translate into a daily budget? Well everyone has different spending habits, but here’s a rough estimate on a few budget levels for traveling around in Costa Rica:
Daily Travel Expenses and What to Expect in Costa Rica
Hardcore Budget Backpacker: $15-$35/day
Hardcore budget travelers who don’t mind really roughing it can get by for really cheap in Costa Rica if they just stay put in one cheap location and don’t at restaurants. There are many places to stay within the country that offer extremely cheap lodging, like $5/night hammock rentals or even just sleeping under the stars on a remote abandoned beach for free (just don’t forget your mosquito net in either case). Hostels will run between $8-$18/night for a bed, and if you go to the grocery store and stock up on cheap food to cook in the hostel your food budget can be dramatically reduced to around $2-$5/day thanks to abundantly cheap carbs like pasta and rice. If you want to eat out and get a few beers every once in a while, your food costs will quickly be more than your nightly lodging, as most meals at cheaper restaurants aren’t particularly cheap and range from $3-$8 per dish, and beers are often $2 at restaurants. So, for hardcore budget backpackers, your daily expenses are really in your control, it’s just how strict you want to be and how sick you get of eating rice and noodles three times a day.
Backpacker / Budget Traveler: $25-$40/day
Much the same story as above, but let’s assume you’ll be in a hostel rather than a $5 hammock and you plan on eating out for most of your meals at cheaper restaurants with an occasional beer or two.
Mid-range Budget Traveler: $40-$75/day
This is basically the same as above except you’ll get yourself a private room rather than a hostel dorm bed. Sometimes your bathrooms will be shared, and often hot water will be nonexistent. For this range you can eat out for most of your meals in a day at cheaper local restaurants, but if you spend closer to $75/day then you won’t have to be as strict.
Upper-end Budget Travelers: $75-$120/day
You will be traveling well at this price level, staying in nice places with good amenities, with plenty of privacy and hot water. You’ll be eating out at nice restaurants, and you’ll be able to do more daily guided activities like white water rafting, jungle hikes, surfing lessons, etc.
Vacationers / Luxury Travelers: $120-$1000+/day
This category is basically for resort travelers, people on shorter vacations who are looking for all-inclusive packages, and those who indulge in lavish luxury travel (if you can afford to be a luxury traveler, do you really need to worry about budgets?).
So as you can see budgets range all over the place and they really depend on the type of traveler. I’ve known people to scrape by on $15/day in Costa Rica by sleeping in a hammock, eating rice and ham three times a day, then having a few beers at night with their friends, but they are really pushing the limit of budget travel in the country. If you want to backpack around, travel by local buses, stay in hostels, eat out cheaply but often, go surfing, get out drinking, and so on, plan to spend $40-$50/day or more. If you’re a couple and you want private rooms and nicer dinners, plan on spending about $100-$150/day. Really you need to plan according to your spending habits and travel style, because Costa Rica can cost almost whatever you want it to!
Check out some tips for cheap travel in Costa Rica
April 7th, 2010 — Travel Photos
Lava Beds National Monument is located in the high deserts of Northern California near the town of Tulelake. The park contains over 700 caves, lava tubes, ancient Native American art sites, and even historic battlefields. Well worth a visit.
April 5th, 2010 — Travel Photos
You need a vacation, right?
March 30th, 2010 — Travel Advice
Generally, yes, Costa Rica is in the tropics and has a significant amount of rain forest and cloud forest, but that doesn’t mean it rains all the time. The east coast (Caribbean side) rains a lot more than the west coast (Pacific side). The driest region is the North West region around Nicoya and Liberia, particularly the coastal areas of Tamarindo and Playa Flamingo. Malpais and Montezuma are more prone to rain than the northern beaches, but are usually dryer than other coastal towns as well. The wettest coastal regions are the Caribbean coastal towns of Limon, Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, and Manzanillo.
The Summer Dry Season, also corresponds with the peak tourist season of Costa Rica, and is from December to April.
The Winter Rainy Season, which is the low season in Costa Rica, is May through November.
Despite the names, either Summer or Winter seasons can both be dry and rainy, weather uncertainty is just part of the tropical experience. Most tropical rain storms last a short while and blow through relatively quickly, providing sun again in no time, however there are some days (and weeks) of nonstop rain, particularly on the east.
The Caribbean coast seems to ignore the typical seasonal patterns, and is much more likely to have rain at any time of year. In fact, the picture above is of a massive storm that inundated the Caribbean coast for several days straight in the peak of the supposed ‘dry season’. The amount of rain when it falls is tremendous, often with more force and volume than an indoor shower!
If you’re looking for the highest likelihood of sun and the driest experience, go to the Northwest Pacific Coast from December to April, and you should be happily inundated with plenty of sunshine. There’s a reason Tamarindo and Flamingo are popular destinations, and part of that is the nearly constant sun blessing the area.
March 28th, 2010 — Travel Experiences
On the Indonesian island of Bali, there’s a day where public displays of affection are no longer shunned, and in fact it’s encouraged. The ancient kissing ritual is called Omed-Omedan (or Med-Medan), and consists of young boys and men chasing down young girls for a kiss. Right at the moment of the kiss, the watching crowd usually splashes the couple with water.
The event is now called ‘Sesetan Heritage Omed-omedan Festival’ and usually takes place in the middle of March, and attracts local Balinese and outside tourists. The best place to watch (or participate) in the event is usually in Denpasar, but be sure to ask a local to be sure.
You can read more about Omed-Omedan at The Jakarta Post.
[ Picture credit: Flickr ]
March 24th, 2010 — Travel Photos
A beautiful sunset in Malaysian Borneo. In the distance you can spot Kota Kinabalu, the highest mountain peak in South East Asia. Click the image for a full resolution version at 1600×1200 to use as a desktop background.
March 23rd, 2010 — Cheap Travel, Travel Photos
Santa Barbara is one of the more beautiful cities in Southern California, featuring a year-round warm mediterranean climate and an amazing coastline backed by the Santa Ynez mountains. Surfing, skateboarding, biking, and beach life make up a significant part of local culture, due in large part to the presence of the University of California Santa Barbara campus. UCSB also helps to keep the town a relatively affordable place to visit for budget travelers, with hostels available for $20 a night, and plenty of cheap eats around the UCSB campus and the Isla Vista neighborhood.
Santa Barbara resources:
March 14th, 2010 — Travel Photos
This is the largest waterfall in Lesotho, a small nation that is entirely landlocked by South Africa. With nearly the entire country over 5000 feet in elevation, it is scenic and mountainous, with snow often forming at the highest elevations.
March 12th, 2010 — Travel Photos
Torres Del Paine National Park is located within the Patagonia region of southern Chile. Known for it’s dramatic peaks and beautiful mountains, there are also plenty of glaciers, lakes, rivers, and wildlife to be seen. The best way to see the region is on a multi-day hiking trip during the southern hemispheres summer months between December and March.
[ some pics via TheWanderYear ]
March 10th, 2010 — Travel Advice
Backpack and bag preferences are going to vary tremendously from person to person based on their travel needs. People have a tendency to overpack so sometimes getting a smaller bag can force you to minimize your travel weight. Be sure to get a backpack that is proportional to your size, and although many offer adjustable straps you will still want to be sure to get one that is appropriate to your bodies frame.
Requirements of a Good Travel Backpack:
* Lightweight – it’s going to be on your back, you don’t want to lug around a 600lbs gorilla suitcase
* Lockable zippers – most packs have the hole ring to attach a lock to. Use it when on busses, leaving a bag at a hotel or hostel, etc
* Internal frame – this is a given for nearly all backpacks nowadays, but be sure yours has one too. This helps distribute the weight load and makes carrying weight on your back infinitely easier. It also forces the backpack to maintain its shape when getting tossed around by baggage handlers.
* Adequate padding – be sure that your pack has adequate padding in the shoulders, hips, and against the back.
* Appropriate size – get something that is appropriate for the amount of stuff you’re going to have with you. Nearly everyone overpacks, so sometimes a smaller backpack helps you to pack less.
Generally speaking it is best to get a backpack that doesn’t look overly gaudy or fancy, theft is always a potential hassle on the road and the less you stand out the better. That doesn’t mean you need to get the ugliest backpack known to man, but you might want to consider avoiding anything that is super flashy. Most travel and backpacker packs are not flashy, but some suitcases and duffle bags are covered in expensive designer logos, and that is definitely something to avoid in many parts of the world.
The bottom line is you should get something that works for you and that you don’t mind looking at.
Recommended Travel Backpacks & Bags
Osprey Pack Waypoint 60 Travel Pack – Mens – Myself and three of my friends have one of the Osprey Waypoint series packs and we all love them. If I had to personally recommend a backpack, this would be it. It’s got plenty of space, a front loading zipper for easy access, a detachable daypack for outings, and the entire pack folds itself into an enclosure that hides all the straps making it easy to check-in to planes. Disperses weight very well, has held up to a lot of use and abuse in various climates, and has literally been around the world with me. Highly recommended.
Osprey Pack Waypoint 60 Travel Pack – Women’s – Exact same pack as above but for women. Highly recommended.
Arc’teryx Miura 50 Backpack – Arc’teryx makes high quality lightweight packs that have incredible weather and elemental protection. They’re extremely comfortable to wear and come highly recommended. Sizes vary, so pick one that works for you.
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Thrive 90L Bag – This is practically a suitcase that is disguised as a backpack, making it perfect for traveling. It’s got many of the features of the Osprey Waypoint mentioned above, but the cost is a bit less.
There are tons of options for bags out there, check around Amazon.com’s backpack section for many more.