While planning our trip to Costa Rica, I kept coming across tourism sites reminding Americans that it’s only a 3-hour flight away from Miami. That would have been fantastic. But for us, using primarily frequent flyer miles to accommodate four people traveling from Atlanta… we left the house in the dark of morning and arrived in Costa Rica via direct flight, in enough time for our 15 month old, to nap. That was a relief and he is a camp at travel. He was 15 months on our first international trip.

Granted, we are an adventurous bunch, and the Wiesen family philosophy of travel still holds: “The vacation begins the moment you lock the door!” We whooped and hollered all the way down the hill as neighbors slept on in anticipation of another day at the office. But I knew that with two weeks of road tripping in Costa Rica ahead of us, we’d want to land as softly as we could in the country. We chose to rent a Villa in Atenas, that had a main house and guest quarters. My husband, myself, and our son Alex in the main house. My in-laws and my mother in the guest quarters. It was beautiful.

Here are five smart choices I made in our planning that I highly recommend to any of you planning travel to Costa Rica with young children.

1. I chose a Villa in Atenas rather than bustling San Jose.
Many travelers with flights arriving late (like ours) or departing very early (like ours) assume they’ll have to spend at least one night in the city of San Jose, even if it’s not on their list of sites to see or even in the right direction. Calmer, friendlier Atenas is not only closer to the International Airport, but it’s on the path to popular Poas Volcano National Park, La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano, and many hotels located there are a mere 10-minute taxi or shuttle ride from the airport.

2. I chose a Villa that includes a complimentary shuttle service.
Knowing that someone from the villa would be there waiting for us with a van that would seat all six of us—rather than splitting our six between taxis upon arrival in a strange land—was a tremendous relief and felt like pure luxury (especially after some of the adventures this family’s had using public transportation to and from airports). Though we would need our own rental car for our trip, I saved that detail for the following day. To get this service, you don’t have to stay with a multi-national chain “airport hotel,” either. We were greeted with a sign by the locally owned

3. I arranged to have food waiting for us at our house. 
Our villa was fully equipped with all the comforts from home. Because we keep kosher, we had to kasher the kitchen when we got there; run the dishwasher, boil the cooking utensils and bought paper plates and plastic wear for the duration of the trip. When I asked, the our house manager, he was happy to arrange to arrange and deliver food from the shul (synagogue) in Costa Rica. Though we would have lunch on the flight, it would still be some hours until we reached our destination, and there were no guarantees how much Alex would eat during our travels—or when. With a plate of fresh fruit and their assorted plate of chips, chicken fingers, fruit, and fish, I not only knew that we wouldn’t go to bed hungry but that our arrival after the long day of travel would feel all the more festive.

4. Home made breakfast.
For travel with young kids, I am always a fan of being able to cook breakfast, especially for the picky eaters. In this case, arriving late and arising somewhat disoriented in another country, it was a relief to know the six of us wouldn’t have to start out hungry on our first full day, looking for a place to eat that we might all agree on. It was all right there at the Villa, ready when we were, no missing breakfast at hotels, due to jet-lag. Andrew our house manager, arranged for food to at the house. How do we do this…we contact the Rabbi in Costa Rica, made some phone calls and food and other delights were package and delivered.

Having your rental car delivered to you at your villa? Priceless.

5. I chose a car rental agency that delivers to your Villa—and picks up. 
After losing countless hours of our lives and vacations waiting in lines at airport car rental desks for cars we’ve already reserved and in some cases paid for, this was a true delight and worth every penny (in this case about $7 U.S. for drop off and the same for pick up with locally owned Vamos 4 x 4)! We could enjoy breakfast at the house and let the Alex swim until the car arrived and I was finished with the paperwork. Genius!

Contact Info:

Andrew Partain
Sales Associate
RE/MAX Best Climate-Mejor Clima
Across from Coopeatenas Gas Staion
Atenas, Costa Rica
Cell: (506)8702-1052 (Spanish & English)
Office: (506)2446-4929
USA: (507)573-5244
CR Blog: http://atenasbestclimate.blogspot.com/
Each office is independently owned and operated

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