Frequently asked questions
Do I need to bring money with me?
Our trip's are designed to be all-inclusive which means, technically you do not need to bring any extra money with you. That being said, if you would like to purchase souvenirs, alcohol, additional snacks or personal items, then you should bring spending money. On average guests typically bring $100-$150 extra depending on their spending habits and needs (not including tips).
What form of payments are accepted?
The majority of the places will accept a standard credit card or USD, however, more remote shops may only take the local currency of colones. If you would like to have the local currency with you, it is suggested to exchange money prior to leaving for the trip. You can go to most banks or currency exchange centers to do so. You can also exchange money in the airport near baggage claim. There will be limited to no opportunities to exchange money once we leave the airport.
If you plan on using a credit card, we suggest notifying your bank ahead of time to avoid any issues. We also suggest researching potential international transaction fees.
What are the accommodations like?
Each trip is different based on the specific itinerary. We recommend contacting your trip director or reviewing your detailed itinerary.
Generally speaking, the majority of our Costa Rica trips include unconventional accommodations in comparison to what most US citizens are accustomed to. This may include homestays in a private family home, remote off-the-grid lodges and wilderness glamping (glamorous camping!)
Homestays & Eco-Lodges:
Each homestay & eco-lodge is different, however, each location will include rooms that are in a seperated living area from the family. The homes are always clean and comfortable but often lack the same luxuries that we may be used to in a standard hotel. This may include: no/limited electricity, cold/room temp showers, and shared common areas such as the bathrooms and a kitchen. While they may lack these items, they are the most authentic living experiences available and support the local economy opposed to a large hotel chain. Many of our travelers enjoy these stays the most.
If your itinerary includes the overnight cave glamping, then you are in for one of the most memorable nights sleep of your life! The accommodations include an open-air cavern with a waterfall on one side. The sleeping area is a shared area with plenty of room to spread out. We provide clean sleeping pads, sleeping bags and a pillow for a comfortable nights sleep. The cave is outfitted with a full (beautiful!) kitchen, multiple bathrooms, cold water showers and candles and lanterns at night for light.
The accommodations above are environmentally friendly and use fans and the natural breezes to stay cool, there is no air conditioning.
On occassion we will stay in a standard hotel. This usually takes place either in San Jose or while staying at the beach. We rotate hotels depending on availibility and the group, however, they generally include AC units, electricity and sometimes a pool.
How are the room configurations set up?
All rooms are based on double occupancy with two beds. In most instances, you will have private sleeping quarters, however, some locations, such as the cave, will have limited privacy.
Single occupancy can be arranged upon request for an additional fee.
How many trip leaders will be on the trip?
Each trip is guaranteed to have at least one local Beyond the Map guide with the group at all times. The number of guides is dependent on the group size and the type of activities that we are participating in.
How long have you been traveling to Costa Rica?
We have been traveling to Costa Rica for over 10 years. We also partner with local guides that are from Costa Rica. We have guided a variety of groups from students to seasoned adult travelers all over the world and also in the United States.
How difficult are the activities on the trip?
The trip is designed to be challenging yet rewarding. Most of our guests consider our trips to be a mix of challenging activities with plenty of opportunities to relax as well. Many guests have also described our trips to be different than the types of trips they are use to. Be prepared for strenuous activities in various types of weather. The activities are meant to provide growth and learning opportunities. Some activities are very easy and consist of walking at most, while others require both mental and physical strength. We have taken travelers of all abilitiy and fitness levels to Costa Rica and each one of them were able to complete and enjoy the activities. We always say, anyone can do it as long as they have an open mind and adventurous spirit!
The only limiting factor could be prior health concerns or restrictions such as discomfort in water. If you are aware of any issues that may inhibit you from performing physical activities in natural spaces, please inform your trip director asap to assess the situation. Failure to do so may result in your inability to participate at best and dangerous situations for all at worst.
What should I pack?
We provide a packing list for each trip that will be provided to you by your trip director. In general, packing should be light as the traveler will be moving around their bags through the airport and throughout the trip. If you need more details about a specific item on the packing list, we recommend contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or waiting until the pre-trip meeting.
Do I need an adaptor for my electronic devices?
Nope. The plugs are the same there as they are here in the US. However, we do recommend a portable charger since many of the accommodations do not have electricity.
Do I need a passport?
Yes, each traveler is required to have a passport. The passport should be valid for at least 3-6 months after the date of travel. VISA's are not required. Please contact us for information about residency outside of the United States.
How are Costa Rican medical services?
Costa Rica is internationally recognized for its top-notch medical services, both public and private, thanks to its wealth of skilled surgeons and state-of-the-art facilities. For minor aches and pains, we will visit a local pharmacy. All pharmacies are required to have a licensed pharmacist on staff, and they can diagnose certain ailments and prescribe medication on the spot.
Your BTM guides will also have details and information for medical facilities throughout the trip area. Each guide is certified with CPR & first aid skills. That being said, our trips are often in remote locations and the nearest medical facility may be several hours away. We suggest purchasing travel insurance for any extreme medical emergencies or trip interruptions.
Do I need any vaccines?
There are no mandatory vaccines, but the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that travelers be up-to-date on routine vaccines (MMR, DPT, etc.), as well as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid.
What will the weather be like?
We will be traveling throughout various landscapes in the country. Because of that, weather can vary depending on the location. In general, expect warm (80-90's F) near the coastline, cooler temperatures as you move into the mountains (65-80's F) and very cool weather in the highlands (50-70's F). Costa Rica also has a dry season and a "green" or wet season. Be prepared for rain throughout the year with some periods of time having more rain than others.
Please contact your BTM trip director for specific weather information or visit an online resource such as https://costa-rica-guide.com/all/travel/best-time/ for more information.
What will the food be like?
Costa Rican cuisine is mostly mild and savory. Spicy food is uncommon, and traditional dishes go heavy on the Latin American favorites of rice, beans and local produce. Many meals are homemade with ingredients from the local gardens and are often vegetarian but at times also contain meats.
Are you able to accommodate special dietary restrictions?
Yes! Because meals are planned in advance, we ask that you give us 30 days notice of any food allergies or restrictions. Due to the remote nature of this trip, we will not be able to provide alternative meal options on the spot- prior notice is required.
Will we be able to contact home?
There will be some nights where the accommodations will have wifi and then some nights where we will not. If the cell phone has an international plan, then there will be more opportunities for contact. That being said, we encourage travelers to disconnect from electronic devices on this trip to enhance their experience.
We almost always try to stay somewhere the night before departure with wifi so that flights and transportation can be arranged, however, this is not always guaranteed so we suggest having those details figured out prior to leaving home.
Do we have free time?
Generally the days are filled with activities. There are some occassions where you will have some free time in the evenings while we are at our accommodations for the night. More free time can be included if arranged prior to the trip. Please see your detailed itinerary for more information.
Do I need to tip?
Tips for our local guides is not included unless otherwise stated in the initial contract/itinerary (tips are included on all school or university trips). On most trips, there will be one to two of our local guides that spend the entire trip with you. They never expect a tip, however, most travelers enjoy their company and feel that they deserve one. If you choose to tip our local guide(s), we suggest 15-20% of your total trip cost for the entire experience. For example if your trip cost was $1250, you could tip the guides $250 collectively for the entire trip.