Since I boarded my first international flight to Paris at age 17, I’ve developed a bit of a travel obsession. In college I quickly decided to major in international business and ended up teaching English in Hong Kong, studying abroad at London School of Economics, conducting research for my thesis in Turkey, planning and presenting entrepreneurial ventures with local students in Argentina, and stopping in to visit Austria, Italy and Switzerland along the way. Life has been quite an adventure since that first high school Europe trip, and I don’t see things slowing down anytime soon.
When I was deciding where to work after graduation, it was pretty obvious to me that I’d be happiest at a company where I would have potential for international travel and/or international job placement. I was also a bit worried about having time to travel internationally for fun, since I won’t be having summers off from this point on (unfortunate side effect of entering the real world). Thankfully, I was offered a position at a well-respected international company with a great vacation package – and I was sold.
I’ve been in the “real work world” for about 5 months now, and I’ve been on two long-weekend domestic trips: one to San Francisco and one to Chicago. But this week, I’m using a chunk of vacation days and going on my first international trip of 2013 to COSTA RICA.
Why Costa Rica?
A friend of mine from work and I realized that we both had 5 vacation days left in 2013, so we started talking about places that we could go in November that would be warm. After vetoing Hawaii due to crazy expensiveness, she suggested we look into a beach in Costa Rica. We spent some time researching and planning, and since neither of us has been to Costa Rica before, it was a bit of a challenge picking out what beach we should go to and what other stuff we should see. But let’s be real: planning is half the fun
We realized pretty quickly that Costa Rica has a lot more going on that just beaches. The country has an impressive number of active volcanos, which are often surrounded by hot springs and waterfalls. The country is covered by rain forest, and there are a ton of national parks protecting sections of the forest. And of course, there are a wide variety of beaches on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the country.
We are flying into San Jose on Saturday and spending the night, then heading out to Arenal Volcano/La Fortuna to check out some waterfalls, hot springs, rainforest, the lake and of course the volcano. We’ll spend two nights there and then go to Tamarindo beach for three nights to kayak, hopefully take some surfing lessons, and just chill. Then it’s back to San Jose to stay our last night, and we’ll be flying out next Saturday.
The thing that made this trip so difficult to plan was the transportation problem. My friend and I didn’t want to rent a car (and a private driver is a bit out of our budget) so we basically had to restructure our original itinerary based on where the buses go in Costa Rica. And since we are going to be riding buses around the jungle, we decided it was offically time to take the plunge and become real backpackers.
Despite having done some pretty low budget traveling around Europe over the past few years, I’d avoiding buying a legit backpack. But after my last multi-country trip spent dragging my tiny rolly bag, school backpack and increasingly heavy tote bag around Europe and feeling like a Christmas tree, I knew it was probably time to take the plunge. Since rolling a bag around the rain forest just sounds awful, my friend and I both became official backpackers for this trip. (I did pretty well on the backpack-I got it on sale at REI. As tempted as you may be to order a pack from Amazon, make sure you go to a store and try it on first. I had no idea how much difference the torso length makes on these packs, and how much it varies from pack to pack. Also ladies, make absolutely sure you are getting a women’s backpack – it really makes all the difference).
The Adventure Begins
We woke up to catch our first flight out of Nashville this morning BEFORE the crack of dawn (as in 4:00am) and I’m writing this post on the flight from Houston to Costa Rica on about 4 hours of sleep… so please forgive any typos. I’m sure I’ll find them tomorrow and get a good laugh out of my poor tired spelling problems. But regardless, couldn’t be more excited to get out of the U.S. for a week and have an adventure. See ya soon!