Due to motorcoach size restrictions and to ease transfers, you should bring only one checked suitcase (no more than 50 lbs. and 62 linear inches = L + W + H) and one carry-on bag. Airlines are getting much stricter about luggage dimensions and weight for both checked and carry-on bags. For further questions about luggage restrictions, please contact your airline at their toll free number or their website.


Do not pack valuables (passport, laptop, money, etc.) in your checked bag. Pack the minimum amount of items you think you’ll need—then reduce by half. Remember, you’re responsible for your personal belongings throughout the trip. Clothes can be layered and laundry done if necessary. Airport security rules keep changing, but we recommend packing razors, nail files, scissors, Swiss army knives, etc. (any item that airport security might consider a potential weapon) in your checked bag. Large size liquids and gels must also be packed in your checked bag. Any carry-on liquids or gels must be in 3 oz. containers or smaller and all must fit in one single quart-size clear plastic bag. Place this bag in the bin provided at the security checkpoint for screening.

Some packing hints:

  • Squeeze the air out of shampoo and other containers, then store in sealed plastic bags in your suitcase. These often pop open in flight.

  • Pack tightly, rolling or folding your clothes. Be sure to leave room for souvenirs.

  • Bring a collapsible bag or backpack to carry with you during day trips and sightseeing.

  • Check the weather for your destination and pack accordingly. Lightweight cotton clothing is recommended. Bring clothes that dry quickly. Jeans are NOT recommended. Pack rain gear; a jacket/sweater for cool evenings; comfortable, sturdy walking shoes; watershoes/sandals and swimsuits. Layers of clothing which can be easily added or removed are helpful. Bring sunblock, hat, sunglasses, etc.

Also consider packing: A compact umbrella, insect repellent, small packs of tissues or wet towelettes, single-use or digital cameras, battery chargers, alarm clock, extra plastic bags, small collapsible day-pack; plastic water bottle; high fiber snacks.

Travel Documents

You are responsible for carrying your passport and other essential documents. Keep all originals with you in your carry-on bag; do not pack in your checked bag. Make photocopies of your passport, travelers’ checks, credit card numbers, etc. Keep one copy with you (separate from the originals); leave an extra copy with someone at home in case any of your belongings are lost or stolen.


Bring enough of your prescription medications (in their original vials) to last at least the length of your tour. Keep a copy of your doctor’s note stating the generic name of your prescription, reason for taking and recommended daily dosage with your travel documents. If you have allergies, bring the appropriate emergency treatment with you. Bring vitamins, aspirin, lip balm, over-the-counter remedies for colds, motion sickness, and digestive problems. Pack medicines in your carry-on bag. Unless labeled “no potable” tap water is drinkable in Costa Rica. As always, check with your doctor before travelling abroad. For further information, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.


Costa Rica uses standard 110 volt AC current. It’s helpful to bring a 3-prong adapter.

Phone Calls

Calls from hotels can be expensive; post offices, pay phones, local phone cards or US calling cards may offer better rates. Contact your phone company for calling card details. Contact your cell phone provider about service in Costa Rica


You may need to exchange US dollars into local currency for purchases (though dollars are accepted at some places). This is automatically done when paying with travelers checks or credit cards or withdrawing cash at an ATM. Most major credit cards are accepted, but some smaller businesses only accept cash. Travelers’ checks are secure, but can be time-consuming to exchange for local currency. Check with your bank about the acceptance of travelers’ checks. ATM pin numbers are typically 4 digits.

The colón is Costa Rica’s standard unit of currency. Remember to budget for any meals, drinks and incidentals that are not included in your tour cost, as well as tips (see below).


During your tour you will meet local people. If you have exchanges (especially if you visit or stay in homes), you may want to give a small gift in appreciation. The most meaningful gifts are those which say something about who you are and the area of the world you come from. Postcards from home or small souvenirs from your state (or school/university, if you are a student) would be appropriate and thoughtful.


As a group: It’s customary to tip your escort and bus driver. Suggested guidelines: Tour escort and bus driver: $2-$3 per person per day. Tips are not neccesary on guided tours.

Individually: In restaurants, 10% is usual. Many restaurants include 13% tax and a 10% service charge (look for I.V.I. on the menu and bill). You may want to leave an additional 5%-10% if service is exceptional. Porters and bellhops get approx. $1 per bag. You should leave $1-$2 per room per night for hotel housekeeping staff. Keep small amounts of local currency for coat-check and restroom attendants. Taxi drivers do not expect a tip.