Traveling alone is a funny thing. Those that haven’t tried it are often the biggest critics and those that have are the strongest advocates. If you are someone who has traveled alone or is planning to, you might be looking for a little more clarity. There are a lot of misconceptions about traveling alone:
- There will be no one to talk to
- I’ll be unsafe
- I won’t be able to do anything because there will be no one to do it with
- Etc., etc.
However, there are many amazing opportunities solo travel affords. While there are many guides out there on traveling solo, this is a guide that will walk you through the reality of traveling solo in Costa Rica, even in the COVID era. Specifically with tips and advice on how to make it the best experience possible!
The benefits of traveling alone
There are many benefits to traveling solo, there is a lot to learn and plenty of adventures to be had if you are open to them. Here are a few of the big ones:
Be selfish, do what you want to do all the time
Solo traveling is the ideal time to be as selfish as you have always wanted to be. When traveling solo, you are your own boss and you decide what you want to do each and every day. There is no compromising or arguing, just you and a grand adventure.
So on the days you want to push yourself and try something new, you can! And the days you want to spend in a hammock reading that airport mystery novel with no judgement, you can! Traveling solo means you are the master of your own destiny, and you can make your vacation exactly what you want it to be.
Meet new people
Although many people think traveling solo means spending all your time alone, in reality this is rarely the case. Traveling alone is actually the perfect opportunity to meet new people – other travelers, locals, people you sit next to on the bus, the possibilities are endless. Even in the COVID era, with safety protocols, you can meet people (it doesn’t hurt that Costa Rica is so warm and nearly everything is outdoors!)
When traveling solo, chatting with the people around you can lead to so much:
- Lots of good connections
- Learning opportunities
- Plenty of adventure
It is one of the best parts of traveling solo, the opportunities to meet people you otherwise would not have back home or traveling in a group.
Push your limits
For many people, going on a solo vacation is a little bit outside of their comfort zone, and that is a great thing! Pushing your limits and learning new things are necessary components of a fulfilling lifestyle.
Traveling solo is a great opportunity to get outside of the norm and do something new and exciting. There are no expectations on who you are supposed to be or how you are supposed to act. You can take this solo experience and embrace spontaneity, adventure, and excitement. In Costa Rica, this could mean going for a zipline tour or jumping from a waterfall. At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, you can push your limits and try paddling out to the lineup to catch a green wave!
Grow and reflect
All of this adventure and meeting new people and spending time with yourself is really all about creating space to grow. A solo vacation in Costa Rica can be used as an incredible chance to get to know yourself a little better. To push your comfort zones. To reflect and see yourself grow into more of the person you want to be. We are never done learning and improving who we are, solo traveling can highlight these things all while creating incredible memories in a tropical, jungly, beach-y paradise.
At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, we strive each week to push ourselves and improve our business. We want our guests to do the same, we aim to educate, inspire, and empower each guest to make a positive change in their life.
Join group activities
When traveling solo, it is important to keep a balance between alone time and time spent with others. Solo traveling does not mean you have to be lonely and reflective 24/7. While these things are wonderful for many reasons, it is also a good idea to join group activities and to meet people.
Costa Rica is a wonderful place to go on a solo vacation because there are so many opportunities to join group activities – between ATVing, ziplining, whale watching, snorkeling, coffee farms, and jungle hikes there are loads of options to enjoy the country with new friends. Costa Rica as a country has protocols for citizens and visitors alike to stay safe in the COVID era. As mentioned above, it doesn’t hurt that nearly everything is outdoor!
At Bodhi Surf + Yoga, our surf and yoga camps involve us doing many of our activities as a group. From our surf and yoga lessons to the communal meals and a waterfall visit, Bodhi Surf + Yoga is the perfect place for solo travelers looking to connect with new people in an active and healthy environment.
Getting around solo in Costa Rica
Getting around Costa Rica is fairly simple and reliable. When in San Jose, you can use Uber to get almost anywhere for a fraction of the cost of a regular taxi. The bus system throughout the country is also fairly good. It is a smart idea to look into routes ahead of time and show up to the bus station an hour early so you can purchase a ticket and make sure everything is running smoothly. The bus schedules change frequently so it can be difficult to plan everything down to the minute. If you plan on taking the bus, just be willing to go with the flow and don’t travel with too much of a time crunch. That being said, most of the busses are air conditioned, very comfortable, and much cheaper than a private ride. However if you prefer to ride solo, there are many options available for that too.
Bodhi Surf + Yoga guests have transportation provided from the San Jose Airport straight to the property. This means minimal stress and a quicker ride in a great air conditioned van with our longtime, reliable, and safe driver, Wali. Check out our blog posts for more detail on how to get from the airport to Costa Ballena.
Try to learn some Spanish phrases
No matter where you go, as a solo traveler it is a good idea to learn the basics of the language. Even if you don’t have the time to take proper classes, googling and practising how to introduce yourself can make a big difference. Basically, no matter where you are, people like to see that you are trying. Not to mention that as a solo traveler it could help you get around, meet some locals, and experience things more “off the beaten path”.
We really like the program Duolingo. It is an app available for smartphones that teaches languages from Spanish and French to Hindi and Turkish. They do a great job of making learning a language feel like playing a game and they cover vocabulary that is very useful for travelers.
To help you prepare
In Costa Rica, the main language is Spanish. Although many people speak English, it is always appreciated when tourists show off a few phrases or initiate a conversation in Spanish. Here are a few go-to Spanish phrases you can learn prior to your solo vacation in Costa Rica:
- Hola/adios = Hello/goodbye
- Gracias/con gusto = Thank you/you are welcome
- ¿Como esta? = How are you?
- Me llamo… = My name is…
- Soy de… = I am from…
- ¿Habla inglés? = Do you speak English?
- ¿Donde esta el bano? = Where is the bathroom?
- Me encanta surfear con Bodhi Surf + Yoga = I love surfing with Bodhi Surf + Yoga
- ¿Quiere ver mi pose de árbol? = Do you want to see my tree pose?
Be open to adventure but always stay safe
One of the main concerns when preparing for a solo vacation is safety. It is super important to always stay alert and aware of your surroundings, no matter where you are in the world. There is a balance to be had between being open to adventure and staying safe. Costa Rica is generally a pretty safe place, the main issue we have is petty theft. Here are some tips for staying safe on your solo vacation in Costa Rica:
- Don’t walk alone at night, take a taxi
- Don’t carry a large sum of money all in one place
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry or expensive accessories
- Do not leave your items unattended at the beach
- Only use licensed and reputable guide companies
- Dress a little bit modestly
Here are some of our other blog posts about safety:
- Is Costa Rica Safe? Common travel risks and how to avoid them
- 5 Safety Tips for Travelers in Costa Rica
My own experiences as a solo traveler in Costa Rica
After having lived here for several months and having traveled significantly throughout the country, I can say my experience in Costa Rica has been better than I could have ever imagined. As a recently graduated, 23-year-old, single woman, loads of people questioned my decision making when I told them I would be moving alone to a foreign country. Loved ones were concerned for my safety. Friends thought it was too far away. And I’m sure plenty of people did not think I would stick with this and make it last.
I couldn’t be more pleased to report that this was not the case. It has been a really incredible experience where I have met loads of interesting people. I made a few mistakes and learned from them. I saw and experienced parts of the world I never thought I would. And most importantly, I grew in ways I never knew I needed to.
Lessons learned, good times had
Traveling solo, especially as a woman, can be daunting. During my time here I have gotten lost, been ripped off by a taxi driver, broken a computer, and had a few minor health issues. Yet even with this in mind, I am so glad I took the leap and came here on my own. Now I know what I am capable of and what amazing adventures await at the edge of my comfort zone:
- I have learned to surf and I am getting better each day I go in the water.
- I have met some absolute pals that make every day a laugh.
- I have been able to practice my Spanish on a daily basis, and my work is rewarding and interesting.
If I hadn’t come down here on my own, who knows if I would have found those things. So if you are on the fence about a solo vacation in Costa Rica, all I can say is take the leap! Bodhi Surf + Yoga is the ideal place to have a solo experience that is challenging, enriching, and rewarding. You won’t regret it.