Lessons Learned From Traveling to Costa Rica

There are many lessons to learn from traveling since it can be a great adventure.

You will find that everything you gain from it depends on your attitude.

In a world where ‘Not all those who wander are lost’ resonates with many, traveling reveals lessons akin to a hero’s journey straight out of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

No matter when you do it or why, if you have a carefree attitude, you will have fun and learn valuable lessons to take home with you.

Lessons learned from traveling to Costa Rica

I made a spontaneous trip to Costa Rica a few years ago.

There, I met up with my daughter, who had spent 2 months on a foreign exchange study during her senior year in college.

I dropped everything I was doing at the time to make the trip because I knew it was a chance of a lifetime.

Here are some of the highlights of our trip:

  • The beach– We walked on the beach at sunset and marveled at the sunset.
  • Crazy bus rides – We took bus trips all across the country and held our breath as we discovered that tourist bus drivers are daredevils! They drive incredibly fast over narrow winding roads.
  • Torrential rain – We were shopping on a hot afternoon in San Jose and suddenly caught in a torrential downpour. The water came down so hard and drenched us that we ran screaming back to our hostel and then burst out laughing.
  • Open markets – We explored open markets and tasted many new kinds of fruit we had never heard of. Even ordinary fruit tasted extraordinary!
  • Living modestly – We gained new awareness as we saw the type of cheap rural housing that people live in. We realized it is common for people to live there without cars and walk barefoot on the roads.
  • Volcano – We shopped for cheap handmade items and jewelry in Monteverde and went to Alajuela and saw the sometimes active Arenal Volcano.
  • The tour group – We bravely signed up for a tour group that took us to see toucans in flight and howler monkeys in the trees. That same group hiked with us deep into the rainforest, where an ocelot (wild spotted cat) suddenly jumped from the trees right before us!
  • La Fortuna and Baldi Hot Springs – We lounged and swam in dozens of natural pools, some of them with built-in bars.
  • Ferry trip – We hopped on a boat, floated across the Gulf of Nicoya to Paquera, and stayed in a hotel in the rain forest at Santa Teresa. The sounds of the rainforest at night are incredible!
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Here are 8 personal lessons I learned from traveling:

1. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive

The first thing I learned was necessary because I didn’t have much money to spend.

This may sound a little crazy, but the solution for me was that I sold my car to buy the ticket.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?

The airfare was the most expensive fee, yet I came up with $700 for it.

Then I had about $300 left for the trip.

I know it is hard to believe that I made the trip that cheap, but my daughter and I stayed in hostels (private homes open to travelers) and rode buses throughout the country.

We were in Costa Rica for 9 fabulous days.

Some places we stayed were only $20 bucks a night.

They were nothing fancy but adequate places to sleep.

It was different being without cell phones.

If we wanted to find a wifi connection to email friends at home, we had to look for a coffee shop or hotel.

2. Don’t overpack

I was an inexperienced traveler, so, of course, I brought way too much.

As a result, I dragged around a heavy suitcase for many days, which can be a miserable experience.

Lesson learned!

Pack light for your own sanity, so you can save yourself the trouble of carrying your belongings everywhere.

Luckily, I had just purchased a nice pair of athletic shoes which were perfect for hiking on the slippery trails in the jungle.

Besides having the right shoes, you should leave extra room in your suitcase for souvenirs so you don’t have to scrunch everything together and rip your bags apart when it’s time to leave.

3. Nothing goes as planned

I learned from my trip that you simply can’t plan everything in advance.

I had the crazy idea that when you go on a trip, everything needed to be arranged ahead of time (like where you want to go and where you can stay).

My daughter and I both discovered that if we tried to make many plans by looking at places on the internet, it just added confusion and caused us stress.

In the end, we decided to forget a definite plan, which was the saving factor of our trip.

We went to several key places and had some great experiences that we would not have had if we tried to plan it all in advance.

Our decision to go without a plan freed us to relax mentally and enjoy ourselves more.

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4. Don’t have expectations

I learned from my trip that it is not always a good idea to have expectations about the destination you are going to ahead of time.

It is better to go there, see and do what you can.

If you have a lot of expectations, you are just setting yourself up for disappointment when things do not turn out as you expected.

Things will go wrong; flights will be delayed, you may not be able to stay where you want to stay, and the weather may be bad.

It may take a while to get through the security at airports.

There are dozens of things that can go wrong on trips, so it is best to learn to go with the flow.

5. Relax and be spontaneous

When I went to Costa Rica, I did not realize that I was carrying around a great deal of stress in my life.

I was the caretaker to my elderly mother at the time, which triggered many frustrations and problems, and it was challenging for me to deal with.

So, the first thing I had to do on my trip was to learn to relax and unwind.

It took a few bottles of wine, shedding a few tears, and breathing the tropical air for me to calm down.

As I did that, I also learned to be spontaneous while visiting new places.

I learned to look for humor in situations and appreciate the places I went to, which changed my state of mind from being stressed out to laid back.

I slept better in Costa Rica than listening to sound therapy tapes on my alarm clock at home.

And the most enjoyable part of the whole trip was spending time being close to my grown-up daughter.

6. Be open to meeting people

When you travel, you learn to overcome your fears about meeting strangers.

You are exposed to new places, and meeting people can be enjoyable too.

Meeting new people everywhere was one of the best benefits of my trip.

I found myself talking to people I met in airports and restaurants.

Even those who spoke another language were interesting to meet, although the language was a barrier for me.

It helped that my daughter spoke excellent Spanish.

She became my guide, so in a way, she took on the role of “mom,” and I became like the “child.”

I depended on her to speak the language and help us do what we needed, like buying bus tickets or figuring out the money exchanges.

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I was out of my comfort zone, but my daughter was a capable tour guide.

7. The world is beautiful

Costa Rica is an amazing place!

It made me realize that the world has many beautiful places to explore.

I had been living in my own little world, but going to Costa Rica allowed me to realize that there is a great big world out there of fascinating places to go and things to do.

We marveled at the pastel-colored sunsets and walked barefoot in the surf.

My daughter and I discovered rainforests and animal species we had never seen.

We marveled at and were inspired by all the places we saw and captured with our pocket digital cameras.

8. Traveling gives you perspective

Traveling to another country enlarges your view of the world.

It helps you reflect on the many cultures there are and the history of different places.

For me, it gave me a new perspective on my own life.

Because I visited a place that did not have all the modern conveniences that we enjoy in America, I came to appreciate more the life I have.

I realize now how lucky I am to live in Boise, Idaho, and I cherish my family and friends more than ever.

I gained so much from my trip to Costa Rica.

It inspired me to rekindle my love for photography.

I am glad I traveled there and want to return, but one of the best parts of my trip was returning to my life here in Idaho.

Lessons learned from traveling apply to life

Each of these lessons learned from traveling can carry over into life.

Understanding that there are ways to experience things without spending as much money as you think will test your creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

Learning not to carry too much baggage into your new adventure can make life more pleasant.

If you don’t need it, then let it go!

Expecting the unexpected and keeping your expectations low are important life lessons you can learn from traveling.

Learning to relax and let things happen is another lesson that helps make your life better!

Meeting new people and understanding their culture will help you be diverse and open-minded.

Remember, the world is beautiful, and the lessons learned from traveling will offer you a whole new perspective on life.

Share some lessons you learned while traveling in the comment section with us!

Hi, I’m Karen. I’m a small town Idaho girl, railroader’s daughter, spiritual seeker, writer, photographer, artist, mountain climber, wildflower enthusiast, traveler, cyclist, swimmer, storyteller, photoshop ninja, obsessive about writing positive quotes and an old fashioned mom and country girl. I have high aspirations about loving life, inspiring others and living my dreams. I believe anything is possible. I’m a graduate of the Univeristy of Idaho and I own idahonaturals.com.
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