Costa Rica is an eco- and adventure-tourism capital located in Central America, bordering Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south with lush rain forests, a colorful wildlife, tropical beaches, and year-round great temperatures; a paradise for nature lovers that we were intrigued by to visit as well. Let’s start right away with a first lesson learned from this trip; I usually am quite the planner, but somehow I must not have properly reviewed the weather before booking this trip as I booked it for early November, which is towards the end of the rainy season; however, we did have some rainy days there that unfortunately crossed some of our plans.
So first tip, carefully review not only the temperatures, but also the average precipitation and rainy days specifically for the region you are planning on visiting in Costa Rica for the time frame you are considering. It seems like such an obvious part of the planning process, but trust me, when you get into the excitement of booking a trip, especially booking it for an extremely low cost, it can quickly slip your mind.
For a list of factors to consider when choosing a destination, read this post “A Guide on how to Choose a Destination for your Travels“.
Flights: Saved Approximately $680
I booked our flights for free using my FREE Spirit miles. For anyone who just started reading my blog, feel free to refer back to this post where I go into more details into the Spirit Airlines Frequent Flier program and why I fly with Spirit.
I continue to use my Spirit World MasterCard® credit card for the majority of my spending; I found it, at this point in time, to have the most value for my travel plans, earning 2 miles for every $1 I spend.
Total actual cost paid: $80.40
2 x $11.20 = $22.40 for govt. taxes
2 x $29.00 = $58.00 for departure tax (see below)
To avoid any award ticket booking fees with Spirit, you must book at least 180 days in advance; depending on when you book, these fees can quickly add up:
- $15 if you book your award ticket between 21 and 179 days prior to departure
- $75 if you book your award ticket between 7 and 20 days prior to departure
- $100 if you book your award ticket 6 days or less prior to departure
One thing you can unfortunately not avoid is to pay the departure tax when leaving San Jose. Before you will be able to check-in, you will be required to pay a $29.00 per person departure tax; when you enter the airport, turn right and walk all the way to the end of the airport and on your right-hand side the main counter (for you to pay the tax) is located. We only waited about 5 minutes in line as it moves pretty quick.
The departure tax can be paid in U.S. Dollars, Costa Rican Colones, or a combination of both. This is the perfect chance to get rid of any colones you still have left and pay the remaining difference in U.S. Dollars. The workers at the counter were very friendly; I just gave them my remaining colones, they counted them and then let me know how many U.S. Dollars I still owe them. I ended up having enough to cover one person’s fee entirely plus a little bit of the second one, so I only had to pay $24 after getting rid of my remaining Colones.
Accommodation: Saved $202
This time we wanted to try something new and not stay in a normal accommodation; after a few hours of research, we found this tree house on AirBnb that we both felt was a great choice for our next little adventure. I used a $25 discount within my account and paid the remainder of the balance with my BarclayCard, which I was then able to pay off with my points, bringing my cash spent to $0.
The tree house we stayed in was located in the hills of San José, particularly Escazú. The tree house itself was an interesting experience and I would only recommend it to people who have the right expectations and are fine to be out in nature.
This tree house was not a ‘resort’ or built for guests, it is a tree house located on a couple’s property that was built by the man living there for his 5 year old grandson; it is not ‘sealed’, so occasionally you will find some guests inside including crickets, spiders, and other insects. Luckily the tree house is located at about 1400 meters above sea level, so at least you don’t have to worry about pesky mosquitoes. If you are a nature lover, this could be the perfect place for you!
I have always wanted to experience what it would be like to live or stay in a tiny house, so this crossed off two of my bucket list activities in one, staying in a tree & tiny house. The tree house itself is quite small, only at about 20-25 square meters (215 – 270 square feet), but it has pretty much everything you need; a small bathroom (unfortunately the hot water was not working though), a little bar area with a coffee maker, a small living space with a futon and a small tv, and a loft that fits a queen mattress. There is definitely some space left to add some other things to make it even more homey (for example a fridge, a microwave, and more comfortable couch, and a few cabinets), but it is very cute as it is as well.
The view from the tree house down on Escazu was absolutely stunning and the nature all around the mountains was magnificent with lots of beautiful birds (including humming birds and voulchers) and butterflies and everyone seems to have at least 2-3 guard dogs, some of which are left outside of the property to guard.
What didn’t help was that I had been looking up the weather and temperature in San Jose, because I didn’t know the tree house was actually 300 – 400 meters higher in elevation than the city, where the weather was much cooler; we only brought t-shirts and tops and we were quite cold after 5 pm as soon as the sun went down, so make sure to take something warm with you as well if you are traveling to those parts of Costa Rica.
The couple that owns the property is in their 70’s and they are such sweet people and were such a pleasure to meet and learn from! They made this trip even more great and were very helpful in helping us navigate and plan. If you ever plan on visiting Costa Rica and you don’t need a large, luxurious space, we would highly recommend this tree house.
Transportation: Saved $130+
We flew out of the Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood Airport into San Jose, Costa Rica. To save some on parking fees, we used an off-airport parking facility located only 1 mile from the airport, which cost $20 for the entire stay (I used a promo code to receive an additional 15% off their rates). A free shuttle drove us to the airport and also picked us up; everything was very convenient with very little waiting time.
The off airport parking company we used was US1 Airport Parking. Normally, parking costs $15 per day at the FLL airport (4 x $15 = $60), saving us $35 on parking fees.
To save on transportation costs, we decided not to rent a car and had planned on taking the bus from the airport to the guesthouse, to get around during our trip, and to get back from the guesthouse to the airport. A taxi from the airport to our tree house (as well as back) would have cost $45-$50 each way.
This made the whole trip more authentic, allowing us to connect with some of the locals and get more familiar with the area trying to find our way to the tree house.
Our Little Adventure in San Jose
Things to do in San Jose
Food: Saved $50+
Every morning, we received breakfast (at no charge) on the porch and were able to just be out in nature and enjoy the fresh air, the sunrise, and the company of great people. Another great perk of this tree house listing. In addition, we were also invited to eat dinner and lunch with them as well, which was very nice and delicious. The times we were in town, we looked for the ‘sodas’ to try some local authentic food, which was very inexpensive, but delicious.
One thing we did notice though is that the prices are overall higher than we expected. Besides the low-cost transportation, the fruits and veggies you can buy on the side of the street, and the food in local ‘sodas’ and bakeries, the cost of well known restaurant and fast food chains as well as stores (WalMart, mall stores, etc.) is actually higher than what we are used to.
Approximate Costs saved: $1,062
Total spent: $206.40 (includes souvenirs)
Have you ever stayed in a tree house? How did you like it? Would you ever do it again? I’d love to hear about your tree house experience.
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