So you want to vacation in Costa Rica…

With your kids.  And your dogs.  For 6 weeks!  Everyone thinks you’re pretty nuts, some people think you’re awesome, and you think you’re probably a combination of both!  We planned and researched and were guinea pigs in this process so you don’t have to be!  Over the next couple of posts, we’ll highlight how to visit Costa Rica with kids, visit Costa Rica with dogs, and stay in Costa Rica long term.
This process was definitely not the easiest, and there were times I wanted to just give up, but now that we’re here in Costa Rica (and having THE best time), it was all absolutely worth it!!
I’m a virgo, so planning is my nature – but this was even a lot for me!  I had never planned or packed for a trip like this with kids along for the ride, so that was a huge added step. Traveling with the pups to a remote location was also new. When I took Murphy to France, I knew I could get most everything I needed there, and there weren’t ticks or toads that could kill him!
Keep reading for the first steps to your dream Costa Rica vacation!




The Kids

First step: get kids’ passports.  We expedited them just in case, and they ended up arriving just 7 days after we sent them off!  We were told 3 weeks, so that was a good surprise!  If you have small kids who can’t sign their own name, just print their name, sign yours and write your relation (mother or father).  And if you’re a non-traditional family (aren’t most of us?), know that you can have one parent fill out, sign and notarize this form, and they don’t have to appear in person at the passport office. Be sure they have it notarized and give you a copy of the front and back of their ID as well. If this is the case and you are only traveling with one legal parent, it’s a good idea to get a letter of consent from the non-traveling parent, stating that it’s ok to take the kids to your international destination.  Better safe than sorry!


Los niños enjoying snow cones en la playa!


The Dogs

Next up:  dog’s papers! Now this one was a little more difficult!  Only because almost every website I looked at had different information! (heading to France was much more cut and dry!  Read that experience here!) But I’m here to tell you that if you get this form filled out by a USDA certified veterinarian in the US within 2 weeks of your travel date and have it stamped by your state’s USDA office, you are good to go!  Here are the requirements for the form to be correct:
  • Your pup must be vaccinated for rabies no less than 21 days and no more than one year prior to entering the country. (Although, Costa Rica does recognize the 3 year rabies vaccine) Dogs and cats must enter the country at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the rabies vaccine.
  • Dogs must also be vaccinated against distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and parvovirus.
  • Within 15 days of travel, your dog must be treated for internal and external parasites (basically de-wormed and treated with a tick/flea medicine like K9 Advantix II, etc.) Your vet must administer these, and should do this at the same time as your health exam.
I made 4 copies of the Health Certificate as well as the pups’ shot records.  The copies don’t need to be stamped from the USDA, nor do they need to be translated into Spanish. (let my $30 phone call to the US embassy in Costa Rica help you out – please! Lol!)  The customs agent did take one of the copies to keep, so it’s important you do have them.
We flew with Murphy and Scotty in-cabin as our ESA animals, and it was a breeze when we went through customs.  Just handed them the health certificate and on we went!  Since we’re staying over 30 days, it looks like we’ll have to get a vet here to fill out another form before we leave.  I’ll let you know!
Since we’re traveling to Costa Rica in the “Green Season”, we were lucky enough to secure lodging with the dogs through a good friend of mine.  If you are traveling with your pups, there are some hotels that accept pets (Selina is one), but a great resource is VRBO or Airbnb.  There are plenty of houses that acceptan mascotas!



The Green Season

We are here in what the Costa Ricans (Ticos) call their winter.  Green Season is a fabulous time to visit.  You’ll find lower prices on lodging and activities, still fabulous weather, and some days you’ll have the beach all to yourself!  For us the “rainy season” has just meant many sunny days/mornings with rainy nights, perfect to chill on your deck or fall asleep to! We’ve had a couple of fully rainy days, maybe three in three weeks, but since we’re here for so long, it’s just a good excuse to get some work done!




The Work

Speaking of work…I’m sure you’re wondering how we’re able to just take off and live in Costa Rica for six weeks!  Well, we wouldn’t be able to do it if we couldn’t work from our computers!  We’ve gotten to this point with a lot of work and planning, and a whole lot of luck!  Aside from this blog, we spend most mornings (Eric spends most full days) working on our “real jobs”, for me that means designing websites and blogs and managing marketing and branding, while Eric is estimating electrical jobs!  So it’s not all fun and games…but it sure is amazing to do the work with an ocean view!




The Play

So far, most of our play has been spent at the beach or the pool!  We absolutely adore heading down to the main beach here in Manuel Antonio where our friend, Peluca (ask for him!), rents 2 chairs and an umbrella for about 5000 colones (less than $10 USD) for the day.  If you have the extra cash, chairs are a great idea…not only are they so much more comfy, but they keep you off the sand and away from the bugs!
We also started out renting Boogie/Body boards, but quickly realized the kids (and us!) loved them so much that we decided to buy two down at the Mini Price Store in Quepos, as that would be much cheaper than renting every time we go! Best decision EVER!  The kids will stay out in the ocean on them for hours, and Eric’s little one has come SO far with his swimming and getting his face wet because he loves doing it so much!



We’ve been seeing TONS of Squirrel Monkeys, Capuchin Monkeys, Sloths and Toucans!



Stay tuned for Part Two where we’ll review some local restaurants and some excursions!


Let us know in the comments what you’d like to know more about for your vacation in Costa Rica!


Thanks for reading y’all!!