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What to Know Before You Go – Costa Rica Horticulture Study Tour

Begin Preparing Now!

  • Begin saving now.
  • Begin getting is shape for walking up and down hills so you will enjoy opportunities for moderate hikes when we get there.
  • Be sure that your Passport will extend at least six months beyond the return date
  • Registration Form

Resources to Prepare for the trip

Tropical Plants of Costa Rica: A Guide to Native and Exotic Flora by Willow Zuchowski

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel

Monkeys are Made of Chocolate by Jack Ewing

What to Know Before You Go
Visit your doctor four to six weeks before your trip to ensure you have all the vaccines or medicines you may need.

Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Information for Travelers to Costa Rica

Vaccination Needle
Routine Vaccinations

Check with your Primary Care Physician to confirm you have received routine vaccinations:

  • measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine,
  • diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine,
  • varicella (chickenpox) vaccine,
  • polio vaccine, and
  • yearly flu shot

Your Primary Care Physician will advise you on which additional vaccinations are required. Most travelers receive the following vaccinations prior to traveling in Costa Rica.

  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid

These are recommended to prevent illness from unlikely exposure to contaminated food or water. We do not anticipate visiting any places with unclean drinking water or exposure to contaminants.


Ask a guide about the water conditions in each area before drinking tap water or eating raw vegetables or food from roadside vendors. Bottled water will be made available to you daily.

What To Pack

Clothes – Comfortable

  • Layers
  • Long sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Long Pants (light weight, quick to dry)
  • Rain Gear (Umbrella, Jacket)
  • Sun Hat
  • Shoes that can be worn in wet places
  • Hiking Boots or other sturdy closed toed shoes for walking


  • 1 Credit Card (Master Card, or Visa)
  • 1 Debit Card
  • NO Travelers Checks
  • Notify your bank that you will be traveling in Costa Rica so they do not put a stop on your card when charges show up that are outside your normal range.
  • Save cash for the $40 Costa Rican export tax you will pay when you leave.


  • Leave a copy with a friend or relative
  • Bring your passport


  • Camera with extra batteries and memory cards
  • Small Flashlight
  • “Unlocked” cell phone
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Anti-Diarrhea Medicine
  • Day Pack / Fanny Pack
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Portable clothes line, pins and laundry soap
  • Wash cloth
  • Journal

Be sure to leave a list of what you packed at home, in case your suitcase is stolen.


Preparing to Go
U.S. Passports & International Travel, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs

  • Alerts & Warnings
  • Quick Facts
  • Assistance for US Citizens
  • Embassies and Consulates
  • County Description
  • Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws, Special Circumstances
  • Health
  • Travel & Transportation
  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

Central Intelligence Agency World FactBook – Costa Rica

  • Introduction
  • Geography
  • People and Society
  • Government
  • Economy
  • Energy
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Military
  • Transnational Issues

Things to Expect

  • Some places charge you to use the restroom ($0.80 – $3.00)
  • Sometimes the toilet paper is in the bathroom rather than in the individual stall.
  • Many places request that you put toilet paper in the trashcan rather than in the toilet.

Many people speak English, but everyone appreciates it when you speak Spanish, here are a few useful phrases:

  • Please – Por Favor
  • Thank you – Gracias
  • You are welcome – Con Gusto or de nada or mucho gusto
  • Pleased to Meet you – Mucho Gusto
  • Where is the restroom? Donde esta el bano

There are lots of on-line translators like google translate

Consider brushing up ahead of time with a class or computer program like Rosetta Stone.



  • Many of the places we stay will have WiFi.
  • There is no need to add international calling to your cell plan. Whatsapp: https://www.whatsapp.com/, is a example of a popular app for free wifi talk and text. Everyone you plan to call or text will need to download the app. All that is required to use it is a wifi connection.
  • If you bring an “unlocked” cell phone, for less than $15 you can purchase a sim card in Costa Rica and prepay minutes so you can make calls within Costa Rica (this does not allow you to make calls outside of Costa Rica).


Written By

Photo of Dr. Lucy BradleyDr. Lucy BradleyExtension Urban Horticulture Specialist (919) 513-2001 lucy_bradley@ncsu.eduHorticultural Science - NC State University
Page Last Updated: 2 weeks ago
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