When should I arrive in and depart from the host country?
Plan your flight to arrive in San Jose, Costa Rica (airport code SJO), anytime between 11:00 AM and 5:00PM on the first day of your service program.
Plan your departure from San Jose after 7:30AM on the final day of your service program.
Provided that you submit your flight itinerary to us, your team leader or a hired driver will be at the airport to meet flights scheduled to arrive between 11:00 AM and 5:00 PM. This coordinated schedule will assist in assembling the team for transportation to the host community.
The service program commences with the evening meal on the first Saturday of your program.
Will someone meet me at the airport?
Yes, provided you send your flight itinerary to Global Volunteers at least two weeks in advance of the service program arrival date, and you arrive within the prescribed arrival window. A driver holding a Global Volunteers sign will meet you outside the airport.
What should I do if my flight is delayed?
If your flight is delayed or you miss a connection, please notify Global Volunteers as soon as you know your new arrival plans so your team leader can arrange your transportation to the hotel. If your flight is scheduled to arrive within our prescribed window, we will pick you up even if your flight is delayed.
What should I do if I arrive before the program begins?
If you choose to spend time in Costa Rica before the Service Program begins, please meet your team for dinner at the hotel by 6PM on the first day.
FOOD AND LODGING
What type of lodging is provided?
Teams are lodged in a family-run, tourist-class hotel in comfortable double-occupancy rooms.Single rooms are available for an extra fee.
What are the laundry arrangements?
The hotel in Santa Elena offers a laundry service. There is also a laundry facility in town.
What is the electrical power?
Costa Rica's electricity is the same as the United States (110V AC at 60Hz).
What is the local cuisine?
Costa Rican cuisine is simple and prepared without many spices. Breakfast offers fresh fruit, cereal, eggs, yogurt, juice, toast, Gallo Pinto and coffee or tea. Lunch and dinner will be a wide range of beef, chicken, and pork dishes, as well as fresh vegetables or "picadillos"- chopped stews. Soup and tortillas are common.
Can special diets be accommodated?
Avoiding meat is not a problem. Strict vegetarians are more difficult to accommodate. Consider bringing familiar foods to supplement your diet if you have special needs.
Will potable drinking water be provided?
Yes, plenty of clean bottled water will be provided.
What are the principal health risks?
When working outside, you must take care to avoid sunburn and heat exhaustion. Wear sunscreen, a hat and protective sunglasses, and drink plenty of water.
What health precautions should I take?
For general recommendations, consult the following sources:
Centers for Disease Control
Health Canada Online
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Travel Health Online
Is the water safe to drink in the host communities?
We recommend that you obtain a water bottle, and keep it filled with bottled water that will be provided to you by the team leader.
Is it safe to eat food purchased from street vendors?
We strongly recommend that you do not purchase food from street vendors.
What type of insurance do you recommend?
We strongly recommend medical insurance that covers you while you are outside your home country, and trip cancellation insurance. Your travel agent can refer you to travel insurance providers. Global Volunteers will provide you with emergency medical evacuation insurance.
What is the local currency?
The currency in Costa Rica is the Colon.
What is the current exchange rate?
Where can I exchange money?
You can exchange money at the airport, and at the three banks around the host community. The airport exchange may be closed on Saturday when you arrive. Dollars are accepted for transport between airport and the San Jose hotel. There are three ATM machines in Santa Elena, there may be a surcharge of up to 10 percent, they most likely will depense colones.Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted. Taxis are cash only. We recommend you keep your dollars and as you make purchases in Sta.Elena you will get enough colones back to manage. Outside of Santa, Elena you need to trade in colones rather than dollars.
Can I use cash, credit cards or checks?
Credit Cards are widely used in tourist centers, and are excepted in some rural areas. Travelers checks and American Express are not recommended. The most widely recognized credit cards are Visa and Mastercard. Cash is definitely the easiest option. Please note that banks often will not exchange torn, worn, or defaced bills. US$100,$50 bills are seldomly accepted. Please bring smaller bills. You will need your passport to change dollars at a bank.
How much money should I bring with me?
Your service program fee covers your daily food, lodging and project transportation expenses. Your free-time budget depends on your spending habits and whether you want to take advantage of weekend excursions and/or evening events. Weekend tours can cost up to US$450, service providers welcome cash. Your souvenir budget is entirely up to you!
Note: The departure tax for air travelers is USD $26. Traveler's checks are reluctantly accepted, and there is a USD $1 surcharge per check. Credit cards are also accepted at the airport to pay for your departure tax. We highly recommend you pay with a credit card, or with Colons, dollars, or a combination thereof. The airport tax can also be purchased at the Banco de Costa Rica in Santa Elena with your passport.
How can my family contact me while I am in Costa Rica?
In the event of an emergency, your family should refer to the emergency contact sheet that you will receive prior to your departure for Costa Rica. Please leave a copy with everyone who might need to reach you.
Can I make international phone calls?
There are public phones and faxes locally available for you to use for international communication. In Santa Elena, the guest rooms do not have phones.
Is internet service available?
There are Internet cafés in downtown Santa Elena. Please consult your team leader for additional information concerning location and usage policies. If you choose to bring a laptop, you will need a password for the connection that the hotel manager can provide for you. A few local coffee shops also have wireless connections if you are ordering a meal.