Costa Rica – The How, The Why, The What (Episode 132)
This week I had three different people ask me about our trip to Costa Rica, wanting to know tips and ideas for where to go, what to do, and how to do it. So...here you go! Nathan and I sat down right before this episode and went through all our pictures with the girls, and then we lay out the why, the how, and the what of our month in Costa Rica.
Taking an epic adventure with your family is so, so worth it
Costa Rica Dreams
When we took our ten year anniversary trip, just Nathan and I, we had some crazy epiphanies about our life. Taking a step out of our day-to-day for some much needed down time helped us gain a bit of perspective.
We started to look at our lives, and what we really wanted for our family, and what big dreams we had. We looked even deeper to the feeling behind the dream, and we came home with the determination to make a family shift.
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Where are we this week?
We've enjoyed taking our friends Jer and Holly Scherer out and about this week as they made their epic road trip from Minnesota!
We biked Shark Valley and saw 117 alligators, we kayaked John Pennekamp in Key Largo, and had some great times at the campground. So glad to play tour guide with some of our favorite spots!
Follow us on our journey on Insta as the FieldTripGypsies!
Our Big Dreams
On our anniversary trip, we talked about our dreams of travel. We went to the feeling behind it - the awe and excitement of a new and exotic place...and it just so happened that my brother, after spending 9 1/2 years in Africa, had moved to Costa Rica where he and his wife had recently had twins!
After much discussion, we decided to put a date on it.
I was chomping at the bit to make plans, so as soon as Nathan gave a date, I took off!! I remember the day I called him at work, telling him I just bought tickets for a month in Costa Rica!
It got real fast, as we made our plans...that basically involved finding a "home base" for the month, and having no plan whatsoever beyond that.
The big month was October, 2015. We didn't tell our girls until the day we left! Clara was 8, Ellie was 6, and Juliet had just turned 3 about a week before we left. Instead of having them hound us every day for when we'd leave, we made all our plans in secret, knowing our girls loved surprises, and had been begging about going to Costa Rica to see their cousins.
What made us finally decide to do something big like this? One thing after another seemed to affirm our steps. We started to see friends feeling stuck in their same patterns and falling into being "victims of circumstance." Friends and family members had some relationships rocked, and it was very apparent to us our time here is fleeting. There are no rollover minutes in life, and by the time we think we're ready for our "one day", relationships are often struggling or severed, health has declined, and/or, you simply have forgotten how to have fun.
So for us, our "why":
- We needed a family reset away from our fast-paced-high-stress "norm". We wanted more than a vacation; we wanted to experience life without our obligations at home.
- We wanted to give our children full-immersion opportunities. To go to a Spanish speaking country and navigate our way around a different culture.
- Our "why" - to see family, to explore Costa Rica, to go somewhere exotic together and be in a Spanish-speaking community... and to take action and make this a true part of our story instead of a dream and desire for "one day".
We had to figure out how to make this work - both time-wise and financially. The biggie was assessing our budget first and foremost. We started by looking at exactly how much we wanted to set aside as our max - so then we could add things in and know what our clear max was.
We set a budget of $10,000. Mind you, we were making good money with work, we hadn't done a big family trip before, and Costa Rica is not the cheapest Spanish-speaking country to visit!
- First, we booked our flight - tip - look for specials -the Hopper app can help you keep an eye on flights, TravelZoo can showcase some great deals, and check out any credit card reward points for a flight.
- Second, we made arrangements for our dog. We found a double-win - a place that not only would board her but train her as well.
- We asked the locals - we reached out to the people we knew who lived in Costa Rica, as well as scouring travel blogs and more to get a few key "anchors" that we wanted to be sure to add in, like Avalon in Santa Ana as our home base, a beach house in Nosara, and exploring the rainforest in some avenue.
- We opted to NOT tell the girls in advance about our trip. With them being 8, 6 and 2 as we were planning, we just flat couldn't handle the added pressure of our children hounding us about our trip every day. They had been begging for Costa Rica to see their cousins, and they loved surprises. So we decided to make this one epic surprise. We planned in secret for 9 months for this trip. On the day of, we sent the girls to the zoo with a babysitter in the morning and picked them up that afternoon, saying, "why don't we grab lunch, and then, I dunno, maybe we'll just fly to Costa Rica." And that's exactly what we did - flew out at 3pm and landed at our Costa Rica launchpad at 2am the next morning!
- I commissioned the girls' tutor to create "activity bags" for the girls - backpacks full of fun things for them to do on the plane to and from as well as the car rides there. It was so great because that was off my plate, and she came up with some awesome educational and fun things that kept them occupied. She even had them separated into three different sets so the things in it remained new and interesting throughout the month.
- Sell things - furniture, clothes, a garage sale
- Do a short-term rental on your house - through VRBO, AirBnB, or another creative option
- Check out www.TrustedHousesitters.com for a free place to stay (and some pets to watch).
We took in so many great places. Here are some highlights of places we explored:
Your Weekly Challenge:
Don't simply listen to this story of our grand adventure. Create your own!
Think hard about what you dream about with your family. Maybe there is a trip like this that you're dreaming of, and it's time to put a date on it!
Before you go, take a hard look at your family connections. What do you want your family life to be like? How will create something where you don't need a "vacation from your vacation?"
Enjoy a trip with your family. Know each other well, and take that into account with your planning. Like Seth Godin says, "instead of wondering when your next vacation will be, try to plan a life you don't want to escape from." Make this vacation a catalyst for the intentional life you want to live, and remember, the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.
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