We’re Cancelling Our Costa Rica Trip – How To Call An Audible On Your Trip In 2021

COVID-19 is frustrating. We just had to cancel our trip to Costa Rica that was supposed to happen in less than 48 hours. The country was one of the only places in the world that was allowing U.S. citizens in without the need for vaccination, negative testing, or quarantine periods (the latter-most being the biggest selling point.)

Additionally, our plans were based around excursions that enabled us to maintain social-distance and were all outside. Unfortunately, news from the end of April highlighted a huge spike in positive COVID tests, leading to a shutdown in the capital region that started this past Monday. While we were not going to be within 3 hours of the capital (our flight landed in the smaller, northern airport of Liberia) we inevitably decided to cancel our trip.

There are currently 403 ICU cases in the country, which takes up all available beds. Locals are restricted from driving after certain curfew times. There are a shortage of tests being done. Due to all of this, we did not wish to put any unnecessary strain on the medical system here. We feel awful about cancelling our reservations at some absolutely beautiful homes during a time when the country’s economy can really use the help, but we look forward to staying at them once the situation is a bit safer.

The Airbnb reservations were simple enough to cancel, with the one downside is we missed a cancellation policy by a few hours which meant we had to pay for the first night and a service fee (~$140). Our travel insurance and car rentals cancelled easily with a couple emails. Now here is where this story changes…

Since we purchased our American Airlines flights before April 1, we had no change fees and we could change them to another flight or receive flight credit to be used within a year.

After some intense searching, price-checking, communicating back and forth, breaking for a delicious barramundi lunch, and asking each other “are we sure?” a million times, we successfully switched our trip to Tulum, Mexico!

I feel really weird putting that into a small paragraph that is only one sentence long because of how intense this was due to the time constraint we were facing.

Mexico doesn’t require a negative test or quarantine period and the positive test statistics are on par with Maryland, where we live.

Due to the change in flights, we bumped our arrival time to the mid-afternoon and actually received a $200+ flight credit that we’ll use later this year. That’s essentially a pre-paid trip somewhere!

In an effort to maintain distance from the more crowded hotel zone and to splurge on ourselves a little bit to get out of the funk of losing our initial trip, we booked a stay with what looks like an incredible eco-resort. I’m excited now and I hope we made the right choice.

QUICK READ: Costa Rica Locks Down Central Valley

Less than a week before we fly out to Costa Rica, the country has implemented a lockdown of non-essential businesses in the central valley (the area around the capital city of San Jose) due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Luckily for us, none of our destinations have been affected and are not labeled as areas with rising cases, though the concern is obviously present.

This is definitely coming with great disappointment to the country’s Ministry of Tourism, which has been counting on a rebound in foreign visitors during 2021. Quite the opposite has occurred, with numbers a fraction of what they were last year which was a fraction of the year before.

To combat that, the government has exempted tourist-friendly entities like hotels from its lockdowns in an effort to encourage visitors, citing a warming statistic – in the first four months of the year, less than 1% of foreign visitors tested positive when they were leaving the country. Additionally, they are promoting the country’s eco-tourism sector which encourages social distancing.

We’ll be doubling down on our efforts to remain safe, but look forward to a little R&R nonetheless.

Purchasing Travel Insurance For Costa Rica In 2021

We have an upcoming trip to Costa Rica – our first international trip since the start of the pandemic. The country opened its borders to U.S. citizens last November with no quarantine, negative test, or vaccination requirements.

We’re covered.

That gave me pause for a long while before inevitably deciding to purchase our plane tickets and prep for this trip. A few key reasons I felt safe to do so are that Costa Rica was one of the first Latin American countries to start vaccinating their citizens and there is a good culture of social distancing, sanitization, and mask-wearing in the country. With no standing army to fund, the country’s budget goes toward a very good healthcare system here. I also work in an environment that puts me in close contact with a lot of people on a daily basis. This trip may just limit my exposure to other people for a week or so. We won’t be entering any areas that are deemed “Orange Zones” where cases have increased. Flying into the smaller Liberia airport (rather than the usual San Jose airport) and driving around the north-west portion of the country, we’re avoiding all of the areas that have had any kind of problems.

While there are no quarantine, negative test, or vaccination requirements, there are a few things that Costa Rica does require before you can enter the country:

  • Fill out an online Health Pass with basic info and stating that you’re not experiencing any COVID-related symptoms.
  • Must have Travel Insurance that covers a minimum of $50,000 in COVID-related cases and $2,000 in extended lodging expenses.
  • The U.S. does require a negative test within 72 hours of your returning flight.

In the past, I’ve traveled with World Nomads insurance, however the verbiage on their policies led me to believe they wouldn’t cover COVID-related medical expenses. Without the 100% certainty and some recommendations from a few vlogs and blogs, I went with Trawick International who has an insurance policy, called the Safe Travels Voyager, designed specifically for Costa Rica’s requirements. For about $55/person, we’re covered for more than the country’s minimums.

This will be my first flight since pre-COVID, so I’m interested to see how different the travel process may feel. If the journey is what we remember, this whole atmosphere is definitely one not to forget.