misc. questions

Old Feb 5th, 2005, 06:01 AM
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misc. questions

We leave in March for CR, and I have some nitty-gritty type questions for all you experienced travellers:
1) For a family of five, six days, how much cash would you recommend bringing? We will be staying in Tabacon, Manuel Antonio, and San Jose. Will we be able to use travellers checks/ATM card/credit card? Or should we load up on cash and pray nothing gets stolen.

2) Regarding things getting stolen, will our cash, passports, valuables, etc. be safe left in our hotel room? Or do we need to keep these things on us at all times? (I've been reading so much about theft on these boards.)

3) What will the temperature be like end of March in the above-mentioned areas? Should we bring pants/long-sleeved shirts?

4) Will we need insect repellant?

5) Will we need an electrical adapter? If so, what kind? (My son wants to bring his I-Pod.)

6) What would you recommend we wear when doing a zip-line? Shorts? Pants? Doesn't matter?

7) Should we bring along a Spanish phrase book? Any must-know phrases you can recommend?

8) Anything else I forgot to ask? I appreciate your patience with all these questions!

blackmons is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2005, 07:58 AM
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I've only been to CR once, and am planning another trip in March as well. I'll try to answer your questions. Hopefully one of the other posters that have much more experience than will add.
1. From what I've read on this forum Travelers checks are a pain. It seems you have to cash them at a bank. I've read that the ATM machines work pretty well if you run out of cash. Credit cards work also.
2. I think and hope that those things are safe in your room, NOT IN YOUR CAR though. When we were there 4 years ago we did not have any trouble.
3. the higher elevations can be cool...Arenal and San Jose for instance.
4. Maybe, bring something with DEET
5. Not for hairdryers and that sort of thing, but don't know a thing about ipods.
6. pants
7. Yes, the lonely planet has a nice small one.
I hope I helped a bit.
Have fun!
tbelgian is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2005, 09:21 AM
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Cash is hard to plan. So much depends on your day to day activities. Depending on the hotels, you could possibly use credit cards for your tours that you set up through them. Some of the larger attractions do accept cc's. If you are going to be investigating on your own you will need more cash for entrance fees to smaller places. Your hotel tour desk could be a good source of info regarding who takes what in the area. You can get cash advances from ATM's and if in a real bind go into the bank-this could take a good bit of time. Make sure you have your passport if going to the bank. Notify your cc company of your trip. Some people have had charges denied because they were out of the ordinary. We did in Puerto Jimenez once. Some places do add on the 6% bank fee to cc transactions. Have plenty of $1's for tips. Nothing over a $20 unless paying for a larger hotel bill. You can go into the bank to change larger bills into smaller ones. There is one little bank window at the Tobias airport for instance that lets you change $ into colones or dollars-you don't need this info but someone else might.

Quite a few of the larger hotels now have safes in the rooms. If they don't, we always arrange to leave important papers and money in the hotel safe. Unless going to the bank, keep a copy of the info page of your passport with you and the real one in a safe at the hotel.

It could be cool in San Jose. Tabacon-that area could have cool spots and warm. La Fortuna itself tends to lean towards the hot side. It cools off as you increase altitude. MA will be hot.

Have insect repellent with you. I have gone entire trips and not needed it but there have been times when I practically bathed in it in some places. You could go to the same place every day and not have a problem and then wham, there they are.

The electrical current is the same as the U.S. The only problem I have seen in some of the smaller places that have electricity is that they don't have outlets with different sized prongs like we do. Most do these days. Whether you even have outlets to use could change from hotel to hotel. I suspect your hotels will be okay. We have an ipod also that we use for bird calls as well as music and have not had any problem in most places recharging.

As far as a spanish language book. Most places have people who speak enough english to help you out. It wouldn't hurt. Just remember, if you need a book to speak spanish because they don't speak english....you probably won't understand what they reply back. Case in point...I was in a little town outside of Acapulco and my husband made me ask where the bano was (he speaks fluent spanish), after getting my nerve up to sound silly, I asked. No clue as to where they were telling me to go LOL. It was more complicated than a quick point to, over there. Basic polite phrases like Gracias(thank you), por favor (if you please)(una aguila por favor-one beer please) are good to be comfortable with. The numbers one through ten might come in handy although fingers help there. Con (with) is a good word to know as in cafe con leche/azucar (coffee with milk/sugar). When passing someone (Tico/Tica) a little buen dias (good day) is a nice gesture (some people shorten it up even more than I did to just dias), another option would be a big smile from you and a "pura vida", in someplaces in the afternoon they say adios. If you hear algo tomar or tomar algo-they are asking if you want to take something to drink. This is where a little everyday spanish word book would come in handy so you know the words for tea or soda or whatever.

Jessie_ is offline  
Old Feb 5th, 2005, 05:56 PM
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<will our cash, passports, valuables, etc. be safe left in our hotel room?>

I haven't traveled in Costa Rica but I would never leave those things in a hotel room anywhere in the world. Hopefully there will be a safe at the front desk, lock boxes in the lobby, or a safe in the room.

I have never had a problem with theft from hotels in many many trips to Mexico, but then again I don't carry anything of particular value, and lock up my passport, plane ticket, extra charge card, and get money from an ATM every few days.
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 02:31 AM
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I know travelers'checks aren't popular on this board, but they were helpful to us last summer. We didn't have a car with us so if we ran low on cash, instead of getting a cab to take us to an ATM, we'd cash travelers' checks at the hotel desk. Granted, the hotels were never able to cash a lot, but fifty dollars was able to get us through several times so that we didn't have to make that trip to a nearby town for cash.
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Old Feb 6th, 2005, 07:11 AM
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Hi Laurie -

One tip our credit union gave us was to use a Visa debit card instead of an ATM card. If the ATMs ("cajero automatico") is down - and this does happen - you can get cash from a bank. You can also get larger quantities than you could from the ATM - handy if you want to pay the hotel bill and avoid the 6% credit card surcharge. As mentioned earlier, bring your passport.

Bring a DEET-based insect repellent. Some items like bug spray, contact lens solution, and a few others are subject to 100% duty in CR and are therefore very expensive to buy there. We used DEET and had no problems until the last night - we neglected to use any, my wife got bitten and brought a case of dengue fever home. This is *not* the kind of souvenir we had in mind...

I carried our passports in a front pocket at all times. I'm just more comfortable with that, especially after an immigration official in Korea tried to steal my passport once. The hotel safe is also a good option. We didn't bring jewelry other than wedding rings and costume pieces. We never felt as though there would be any problems, but didn't want to present any opportunities, either. If you can't afford or don't want to lose it, don't leave it in the hotel room.

We found that english was spoken more outside of San Jose. Know the phrases that Jessie mentioned, plus "Habla usted ingles, por favor" (do you speak english, please). My spanish is above phrase book level, and I often couldn't understand the responses I got - so don't count on being able to communicate in spanish...its fun to try though!

Above all, relax and enjoy yourself - it will all work out fine!

Ears is offline  
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