Safety tips to travel in Costa Rica or anywhere else

Nowadays, in the times of internet, travel has evolved to be an experience that you can do without any advice or guide whatsoever. You get into your phone and you arrange easily two weeks -or two years for that matter- vacation and everything seem to go perfectly well.  However, sometimes it simply doesn’t.

And safety is, and will always be a priority when you travel.

So! Let’s start!

Destination Costa Rica

Before starting the trip

  • Give your contact information and travel plans to a close person, either a family member or friend
  • Get and bring color copies of your passport.
  • Always have your embassy information with you.
  • Inform your bank you are traveling so that your cards will be allowed to be used elsewhere.
  • Leave valuable jewelry at home.
  • Leave additional credit cards at home.
  • Download some useful Costa Rica apps.
  • Get travel insurance.
National Theater of Costa Rica

In the City

  • Keep your camera in your bag when walking around the city, only take it out when you are to take a picture.
  • Don’t wear clothes to draw attention.
  • If you are using a backpack, it is better to manage it in front of you than on your back.
  • Check yourself if someone pushes, pulls you or bumps into you and make sure all your belongings are there.
  • (For men and in San José: watch out with the prostitutes that grab you in the street).
  • If you think you’re being followed, go to into the closest store or a public building and ask to call the police.
  • Don’t walk around San Jose at night. Always take a taxi or Uber if you will be going out. And send a picture of the plate number to your friend at home.
  • Ask your hotel staff what the reliable routes and the places to avoid are.
car rental in costa rica

If You’re Renting a Car and Driving

  • Make sure you have the car rental information with you as you come out of the airport and confirm that the person picking you up is a representative of the agency.
  • Check that your car has the safety equipment and that works well.
  • It is a requirement to have your original passport with you when you’re driving in Costa Rica
  • Buckling up is mandatory in Costa Rica even on dirt roads.
  • When leaving the car, lock the doors and make sure all windows are rolled up.
  • In many places in Costa Rica, you will find open parking places with people guarding them. They will charge a small amount for them to watch the car. Hateful as it is to admit it, it’s easier to pay them than not. But don’t rely on them for the security of your car.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Don’t pick up anyone on the way. Sometimes we feel tempted to pick school students or people that somehow look vulnerable. (Not to talk about hitchhikers). Don’t.
  • If someone signals you to pull over, don’t. Drive to the closest gas station, store, hotel or public building and then check. If something is amiss, call your car rental office.
  • If you are stopped by a traffic officer who is attempting to bribe you, you can report them to 911 or the car rental company or 911. It is illegal.
  • If you have a flat tire, pull over to a reliable place, replace the tire and then ride to the nearest office of your rental agency to get it fixed. You can also go to the gas station or to a tires place to get it changed. Do not trust anyone who will guide you in an office in the interior to help you.
  • Know that flat tires are not covered by insurance.

Booking Tours

  • Book with a certified tour operator that is registered on the VisitCostaRica.com website.
  • Ask for a written confirmation when pre-booking tours.
  • Don’t buy tours on the street or beach, even if it’s cheaper. Other than the fact that usually these companies or people are not regulated or have insurance, it can be dangerous.
  • If you feel the tour operator you hired were reckless in any way, you can report them to 50622995811.

When Staying at a Hotel

  • Use the safety box.
  • If you suffer a crime at your hotel, report it to 911 and file a report to the OIJ.
  • Keep your hotel doors and windows locked.
  • If you are asked about it, never give the information about your hotel, and always say that you are traveling with someone.
  • If you see other guests accompanying outsiders in, ask the front desk as many hotels do not allow this.

When Staying at a Vacation Rental

  • If using a service like Airbnb make sure of the safety of the place in every regard.
  • Read the cancellation thoughtfully and check in and check out policies.
  • In the case of Airbnb, it sometimes happens that they hire staff, but they cannot be as strict as hotels in employing, please do not trust anyone to go to their homes, or take you somewhere.
  • Get a Costa Rican SIM card, so you can call your host whenever you need it.

At a Restaurant

  • Check that the prices on the menu include tax and service fee (they have to, but as a way to make the rates look lower, they sum it later).
  • Review your receipt and ensure that the costs were correct.
  • Never hang your bag on your chair back or put it under.
  • Keep it somewhere you can see it.
  • Don’t accept any invitations from strangers, especially if you are a solo woman. A woman alone for some men invites to interaction just by smiling.

When Getting Gas

  • If paying by debit or credit card, get out and keep an eye on your credit card.
  • Verify the amount they are charging is the same as on the meter.

For any adventure tours

  • Please listen and make sure you understand the safety instructions. Sometimes the tour guides English is not as good as it should and you are embarrassed to ask further questions. It is better to pass through a bit of embarrassment than to have an accident.
  • If the tour guides say that they cannot go on, or even start the tour due to weather conditions, don’t push it, they know.
  • If you are rafting, zip-lining or horseback riding and the weather seems too harsh and you are nervous about doing the tour, please do not do it. Follow your gut.

General Tips

  • Use only banks or approved exchange booths to change money.
  • Make ATM withdrawals during the day.
  • Have a picture of the immigration stamp in your passport on your cell phone.
  • Don’t have a lot of cash with you in any part of the trip. Use your room safety box.
  • Never walk alone in the evening to unfamiliar places or streets. If you feel nervous, find a public place.
  • We suggest buying a pre-paid Costa Rica sim card (You can get it at the airport in the Kolbi (Phone company) booth.  (PICTURE)
  • You can get international roaming plans from your provider, but the benefit of having a Costa Rican phone number is that you can call local companies or in case of emergency.
  • Always have a bit of cash with you, preferably Costa Rican colones. (With ¢12,000 -$20- would be enough)

In Case of Emergency

Before you travel: Get travel insurance.

Lost/stolen passport

  • Report your stolen/lost passport to your country’s consulate or embassy without delay.
  • Call to  OIJ and file a report.
  • Your embassy will give you a provisional replacement passport. You have to travel to your embassy. All embassies and consulates are settled in San Jose.

Car accident/break down

  • If you get into a car accident, you can move your vehicle if there is an understanding between both factions (or vehicle and object) and if none was hurt, one of the drivers takes responsibility, or it is required to move for traffic flow purposes.
  • You also need to report the accident to your car rental company promptly. If you don’t, you can be subjected to further fines or not be covered by insurance. In case of injuries, call 911.

Theft

  • File a report in the OIJ/Costa Rican police.
  • Keep a record of all your paperwork so you can get compensated from your travel insurance (a great reason to buy travel insurance).

Health Emergency

The emergency number is 911.

  • If you are taking any medicines, carry a list of the active ingredients. Also, bring a photocopy of your prescript if you are using opioids. Write down if you have any medication allergies.
  • If possible make a small plate with your medical condition and have it on a chain your neck or wrist.
  • If you have a medical issue where you may need primary care, have in mind the hospitals and clinics around your hotel. Always carry with you a paper with the conditions and requirements you need.
  • Costa Rica has universal social security so, by law, public hospitals have to treat anyone who may need care and medicines, as well as procedures, are free.
  • If you go to a private hospital, keep the paperwork for insurance purposes.

However, it is its origin it basically means that if you cover all corners you may play it very safe. Please do.

And if you are traveling with us remember that our 24/7 service is here for you and willing to answer any questions, wishes or needs of your trip in Costa Rica!

Leave a Reply