Visiting Costa Rica in the Summer of 2014 is one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself to date. I’m not much of a romantic, but this trip taught me that it’s entirely possible to fall in love with people in less than 10 days.
This wasn’t my first trip out of the country, but it was the first trip I took on my own as an adult, and it felt good, really good! During my first year teaching, I started saving every month in order to take full advantage of my first true summer break (trust me, it’s so much sweeter when you’re the teacher). Because it was my first semi-solo trip, I went with a tour group. I say semi-solo because I wasn’t exploring completely alone, but I also didn’t take a friend or know anyone in our group prior to landing in Costa Rica. I went with EF College Break for several reasons: (1) I was familiar with their company after my high school history teacher took us on a trip with EF Tours, (2) they book and plan every detail from the flights to where you will stay in each city, (3) even with their great all-inclusive prices, they offer monthly payment plans leading up to 30 days prior to departure, and (4) you’re traveling with people in your age group (EF College break books trips specifically for ages 18-28, but they have sister companies that book for other cohorts as well). Going this route was really a wonderful way to get my feet wet as a traveler, and I can’t say enough great things about the experience overall.
I think one of the main reasons that this trip was so special is that our group was very small. Many tour groups average anywhere between 30 to 50 travelers, but our group had less than 20 including our awesome tour guide and driver. Since our group was smaller we were able to take a large van around the country, rather than a big tour bus, and we were able to get from point A to point B much quicker that way!
If you’re an adventure seeker, this is the country for you! Costa Rica is incredibly affordable and offers up almost anything an adrenaline junky could ask for. In just 10 days we trekked down to waterfalls, hiked up to volcanos, kayaked across lakes, soaked in hot springs, road up mountains on horseback, jet skied in the ocean, zip lined in the cloud forest, and ran into more than a few sloths!
Being able to spend every day all day exploring with the same group of people allowed us to build wonderful relationships. I still keep in touch with almost all of the people I met in Costa Rica on social media, and even made a life-long-soulmate-of-a-friend that I’ve visited multiple times back in the states. While the views were spectacular, the people I took the views in with were so much more memorable.
If you’re debating on taking a trip on your own, the only way to do it is to jump in with both feet! It’s impossible to explore a new place in the world without learning something new about yourself, and you’re never truly alone unless you’re afraid to say hello!