¬°Pura Vida! This frequently used Costa Rican phrase translates in English to “pure life” and my oh my what, what a pure life Costa Ricans and their roughly 3 million tourists each year can live out to the fullest.

This was my first time traveling internationally since COVID stuck and I could not have been more ecstatic to finally go on another international adventure. This was also my first winter trip to a tropical country and it arrived at the perfect time.

One week before flying into San Jose, Costa Rica, I received the job opportunity of a lifetime! This time of change came quickly into the new year and to decompress from that whirlwind so early on was a blessing. Warm weather, sea breezes, and sounds of the jungle was just what my soul was craving to embrace this new path and Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Region did not disappoint.

Getting There

From Colorado Springs, we flew United Airlines to Houston, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and decided to stay overnight at the Springhill Suites by Marriott before flying out the next morning to San Jose, Costa Rica. After originally booking our round trip flights, COVID-19 changes occurred and totally messed up our arriving flight times. Luckily, we were able to find a solution that got us into Houston in the evening and then off to San Jose, Costa Rica in the morning. Our flight changes got us in about 30 minutes earlier, so double score!

Total flight time from COS – HOU & HOU – SJO was about 5 hours.

From the San Jose Airport, we had to find our rental car pick up driver outside the airport exit and ride over to the rental car location about 10 minutes away. We had a 4-5 hour drive ahead of us and the entire process could not have gone more smoothly. We made it off the airplane through customs and in our rental car transport in maybe 20 minutes and then getting our rental car was about another 20 minutes.

Our COVID-19 International Travel Experience

United Airlines does require passengers to wear masks at all times, except when chewing food or drinking water. We saw this being obeyed about 98% of the time. I don’t recall any customers having issues, but one flight attendant in particular on our return flight from SJO – HOU was chatting up a passenger frequently and would lower his masks so his nose and mouth were exposed for multiple minutes at a time.

Costa Rica did not require a negative COVID test prior to travel, however, they did require a health pass application to be filled out 48 hours prior to traveling to the country which was straightforward to complete online. Once the Health Pass is completed each traveler receives a QR code the airline employees will need to scan prior to boarding your flight to San Jose. We completed ours here.

The country also requires tourists to purchase tourism insurance which essentially covers you and potential expenses should you be exposed to COVID-19 during your stay in Costa Rica. We purchased ours through Saigor and it cost $175 for 2 people to stay 7 days. The policy number you are given after purchasing the tourism insurance is required upon filling out the Health Pass.

One week prior to leaving for our trip to Costa Rica, the United States enforced a new regulation in which all travelers coming to the U.S. from a foreign country must receive a negative COVID test 72 hours prior to getting on a flight to the U.S.

We were able to receive our COVID-19 PCR test at the hospital in Quepos. The hospital does require an appointment to receive a COVID test, however, it was impossible to schedule ours because they would NEVER answer the phone. We tried calling at least 20 times over multiple days and had no success. Luckily, we arrived at the hospital when they opened the day we needed the test and they were able to schedule us for later that afternoon. You will need your flight and passport information to complete their online form.

When we returned to the hospital later that afternoon, the entire process went quick and about 20 minutes later our COVID test was complete. We opted to receive our results via email in English and they arrived within 48 hours.

Upon returning to the airport for our first flight home, the negative COVID test is required to receive your return boarding pass. They simply look at the date of your test and the result and that’s it!

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