5 Tips For Visiting Costa Rica

5 Tips For Visiting Costa Rica

Here's how to make the most out of your Costa Rica experience!

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If you're planning a trip to Costa Rica anytime soon, you're in for a treat! Costa Rica is beautiful and can be so much fun -- not to mention a surfer's complete dream. This summer I lived in the heart of Costa Rica studying Spanish and traveled all over the country exploring. Costa Rica has everything from mountains to rain forests and beaches to cities, there's seriously something for everyone here.

Costa Rican people or "Ticos" are some of the most kind-hearted and genuinely happy people I have ever met. The quality of hospitality you will see here is unmatched! To make the most of your experience here, check out the following tips!

1. Use your Spanish!

Before traveling to Costa Rica, I assumed that most people there would speak both Spanish and English. Needless to say, I was completely wrong. There were a few English speakers at the hotels we stayed at and a few excursions we went on, however, the majority of Ticos spoke Spanish only or had very limited English. Even if the only Spanish you know is from high school -- use it! They will appreciate it so much and will be so happy that you're speaking to them in Spanish.

In order to save yourself from a translation disaster, download the app "SpanishDict." It has insanely good translations and you don't need wifi or cell signal for it to work! This app is a life saver!

2. Exchange your money at the airport and use Costa Rica's currency "colones."

Most places in Costa Rica will take American money and even give you change in colones if that's what you want, however almost every place has a slightly different exchange rate. In order to make sure that you get the best exchange rate, be sure to exchange it at a bank in Costa Rica or the airports.

3. Always have a copy of your passport (or some other official form of identification) on you at ALL TIMES. 

Similar to international travelers coming to the United States, you must always have proof of who you are. You will also need to show your passport or a copy to check in to your hotel. This is SO important!

4. Don't spend the whole trip trying to get the perfect Instagram picture. 

On your Costa Rica trip, try and disconnect yourself from the rest of the world and focus on the serenity and beauty that will surround you. Who cares what Susan posted on Facebook or if Chad snapchatted you today -- you're in freaking Costa Rica!

Costa Rica is truly such a tranquil place that is perfect for disconnecting and "recharging" yourself. Let yourself relax and truly take everything in.

5. ¡Pura Vida!

You'll hear that saying at least 15 times a day while in Costa Rica, it means the pure life or the good life. Basically, Ticos are genuinely always carefree and happy and this one saying embodies the entire culture. It's pretty comparable to our saying "go with the flow".

So, when you're in Costa Rica don't think too hard about anything. Don't be scared to do the zipline or white water rafting. You're in Costa Rica -- live it up! ¡Pura Vida!




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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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10 Easy Ways To Survive A Summer Trip To Rome

I went through it all so you don't have to.

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Ever since I was young, I dreamt of visiting Italy during the summer time and having my own little Lizzie McGuire moment. However, when I got there, things weren't exactly as dreamy as I expected them to be. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved Rome and would go back in a heartbeat if I could. But at times, the heat was unbearable and made things quite frustrating for my family and me.

If you're planning a trip to Rome this summer, or maybe in the future, here are my tips so you can be able to make the most out of those scorching summer days.

1. Pack cool and lightweight clothing.

Gianna Alfanno

First things first, pack warm-weather-ready outfits and expect to be sweating all day long. Bring nothing but shorts, sleeveless or short-sleeve tops; perhaps those flowy pants that are trendy right now, skirts, and dresses.

NOTE: If you're visiting the Vatican and want to enter the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica, make sure to pack an appropriate outfit. Since it is a holy place, there's a dress code you're asked to respect, which comes down to cover your shoulders and knees.

2. Wear comfy shoes during the day.

You're going to be walking a lot and the streets in Rome are very uneven, so I recommend you wear sneakers or shoes you know you can walk miles in without complaining. My sister learned the lesson the hard way. Our first day in Rome, she decided to wear sandals 'cause they "looked cuter," but ended up having blisters and foot pain by the afternoon. Comfort over style, girlies.

3. Stay hydrated.

Gianna Alfanno

Have a bottle of water with you at all times and don't worry about running out, the tap water in Rome is potable. You'll come across a lot of water fountains on the street, known as nasoni, where you can fill them up again or splash your face to cool off.

4. Bring sun protective accessories.

Gianna Alfanno

Whether it's sunglasses, a hat, an umbrella, or all three of them, bring along your own form of shade.

5. And a fan!

Gianna Alfanno

There's little to no breeze in Rome during the summer, so a folding paper fan or one of those mini portable electric ones are nice to have in your bag.

6. Don't forget your sunblock.

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Speaking of sun protection, make sure to put on some sun lotion before taking on the day. This is something I always forget, but it's an easy and effective way to prevent sunburn.

7. Take the tour bus.

Gianna Alfanno

Those double-decker sightseeing tour buses are actually a great deal. They take you to the most popular landmarks in Rome, so you don't have to walk that much. You hop off and hop back on wherever and whenever you want. And if you're wondering, Ubers are very rare in the city and taxis tend to be a complete rip-off.

8. Make some room for gelato.

Gianna Alfanno

They don't call it "Eataly" for nothing. Italians eat a lot but try not to fill yourself with pasta and pizza. There's nothing better than a couple of ice cold, creamy scoops of gelato on a hot summer day.

9. Plan ahead and book your tickets online.

Lines can get really long and you don't want to stand under the sun or within a sweaty crowd for almost an hour. A lot of attractions in Rome offer "skip the line" tickets you can purchase online beforehand.

10. Beware of pickpockets.

This last tip has nothing to do with surviving the heat, but is still very important to pass on. Summer is the high season in Rome, so thieves are lurking everywhere. Don't put anything in your back pockets and always be aware of your surroundings. If you can, buy a backpack with hidden zippers or one difficult of opening without you noticing. If not, bring your regular backpack, but carry it in front of you.

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