In 2000 I saw an advertisement in the local paper offering $99 airfares to Costa Rica. This seemed to good to be true but it wasn’t and I booked an airfare for the next week. The total was about $150 with taxes and fees. This was a charter flight and was landing in Liberia rather than the usual destination of San Jose.
My next step was to head to the library and check out the cheap travel books. The “Lonely Planet” and “Let’s Go” books are the ones that seem most useful to me for those on a shoestring budget. I located a small beach town nearby that had several budget accommodations.Â I also talked my friend into going with me which would allow us to share some travel expenses and also make the travel experience more enjoyable.
Everyone else on the flight was going to the destination resort which was sold as a package with the airfare.Â That option was much more money than we planned to spend. After arriving at the airport we negotiated on a taxi ride to the village for $10. This was the same price people were paying to go to the resort which was in another town. After arriving in the village we checked out several hotels before making a decision. My limited Spanish was helpful here. The hotel cost was $14 a night so we only had to pay $7 a night each. This was a very basic room but it was all we needed.
Meals were very cheap. We paid no more than $2 to $3 a meal and often even less. Beer was only 75 cents. These were all local restaurants. This village had no major hotel and had limited tourist activity so prices were low compared to resort towns.
Our activities consisted mostly of hanging out at the beach and hanging out at one of the bars. The beach was free and the bar was inexpensive. We also went on a zip line tour which was $50 each but well worth the price and cheaper than usual since we were visiting in the off-season. Hanging out at the bar was a great experience because we were usually the only Americans there and it was interesting conversing with the locals and the European tourists. It is much easier to experience a foreign culture if you are not surrounded by people from your own culture.
My total cost for this vacation was under $300. Although I took this trip in 2000 it could still be done for not much more money today. The company I booked the flight through, Worry-Free Vacations still has $99 airfares on a regular basis. The taxes and fees will be higher though.Â Meals and rooms can still be had for roughly the same money. If you are willing to go off the beaten path and travel off-peak you can enjoy an international vacation on the cheap.