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Why Not Plan Your Vacation Yourself? — How to Decide

Which Travelers May Be Better Off Having Us Do the Planning?

Which Travelers May Be Better Off Planning Their Vacation Themselves?

For A Different Perspective, Here’s an Article From Forbes, "4 Reasons Booking Travel Online Can Be Hazardous To Your Vacation."

dmc511Stockton, CA Senior Reviewer
4 de 5 estrellas Reviewed September 2, 2013

I am an avid traveler and normally plan all my own trips, but for our Costa Rica adventure I was short on time and when exploring the choices of what to do on trip advisor, I came across Costa Rica Expeditions and boy was I thrilled with the experience.

Read the Entire Review Read All Our Reviews

Many people tell us they have trouble deciding whether to do their vacation planning themselves - using internet searching and guidebooks for research - then making all the reservations and arrangements themselves.

Indeed, for many people, doing their own planning is a genuinely better alternative. We know that our success depends on being able to separate ourselves from the hype in travel marketing. We don't want to encourage you to use us if it's not a good match. So as you read on, we'll help you make that key first decision in as unbiased a way as we can- including thinking through the pros and cons with you.

That way, our planners can spend all their time working only with those who will find it enormously more satisfying and nourishing to work with us. And, if we are a good match, you get to wholeheartedly become our partner in planning your vacation of a lifetime.

Please give us feedback on whether we've succeeded in being your objective, unbiased advisor - dedicated to whatever fits the facts, and only recommending what's in your interest.

Which Travelers May Be Better Off Planning Their Vacation Themselves?

Which Travelers May Be Better Off Having Us Do the Planning?

You can scroll down and click on the link to look at the kinds of travelers who have valid reasons to have us as their travel partner. Since they're our past guests, you'll hear from them in their own words.

First here are 5 kinds of travelers who may be better off making their own plans and arrangements.

Travelers with lots of time

They have a lot of vacation time and They are not like travelers who have just a week in Costa Rica and would feel distraught to lose 10% of their vacation wrestling with some problem with their plans, or a hotel reservation problem.

They have the sense that with enough time they could get all the rich experiences on their own, and they give less weight to our knowing how to schedule many more interesting experiences and encounters for them in every day.

Travelers with very little money.

They are simply unable to spend more money to prevent problems, get more experiences, have the benefit of guides, and maximize their lifetime memories.

Travelers who find adventure in things going wrong

These travelers have a high tolerance for, even a liking for, uncertainty.

Many of our guests (quoted in 'Which Travelers May Be Better Off Having Us Do the Planning?') rave about how smoothly everything went. But even with us, things can go wrong. The issue is whether you're willing to pay extra to minimize how often things go wrong.

The question is whether getting stuck, then rescuing yourself, is a big part of your enjoyment and adventure. If spending a day fighting with a hotel is an experience you could enjoy, win or lose, without spending the next day with a headache and indigestion, it may make sense for you to save the money for our planning.

Whether you want to remove such stress is often the determining factor in whether you're willing to pay more to have carefree experiences.

Travelers who love the detailed "do it yourself" process

Some people love to do their own planning. All the details of planning are a major delight to them.

In fact, some travelers love the planning process almost more than the travel experience. They love to study peer reviews and separate the wheat from the chaff. They find the planning so nourishing, they might plan 10 vacations in detail for every one they actually take.

With us, you take a more strategic role in the planning, by telling us in detail your interests and preferences on your Wish List. Then we do all the detailed planning, reserving all the places, cars, planes, guides, and other vacation details to get you the exact vacation that matches your interests. You come to us with your suitcase of dreams, expectations, and standards. You remain the star; we plan and manage all the backstage details - with you collaborating actively in tuning the itineraries we provide.

If doing it all is more satisfying to you than the all the benefits of working with us which you will find described here, you should plan your vacation yourself.

Travelers who love to be their own in-country guides, or hire their own guides

There is no way that travelers on their own can know as much about what there is to see the very month you are there, where to go to see what wild life at any particular moment, what to avoid, and how to learn the most from every hour, as an experienced local, who is a trained guide.

But for the self-guiding traveler, not knowing - and discovering whatever they are lucky enough to discover - is part of the adventure they want.

Which Travelers May Be Better Off Having Us Do the Planning?

If you are a traveler who values peace of mind a stress free experience and eliminating risks and hassles

If you are the kind of person for whom worrying about things going wrong seems to cause you as much or more stress than things actually going wrong, you should rely on us. You go on vacation to be in a unfamiliar environment, but paradoxically the fact that the environment is unfamiliar can make it feel more stressful.

We go to extraordinary lengths to make your experience as safe and as seamless as humanly possible.

Since there is no effective regulation of adventure sports or any kind of transportation in Costa Rica, we only work with a the ziplines, rafting companies, charter air taxis, etc. who pass our stringent safety survey

You’ll find us consistently punctual, but we recognize the possibility that we might be unavoidably late (for example due to an unannounced detour) so we have systems in place to call you on those very rare occasions that we are not going to arrive on time. Worrying that you have been forgotten and will lose a whole day of your vacation is lot worse than having to wait for a pick-up when you’ve received a call before the appointed time to inform you when we will arrive.

As with so many things in life the perception is almost as important as the reality. It is not enough for your vacation to be safe and hassle free, it also has to be worry free

For example, if you are worried that you might need to contact us and don’t have a phone handy, read Always in Touch.

Here’s what some of our guests said on Trip Advisor:

Great Stress-free Costa Rican Vacation!
Reviewed December 26, 2015
We had a wonderful one week trip planned out by Costa Rica Expeditions. We started out in San Jose, then went to Arenal with our naturalist guide Gustavo, who was extremely knowledgeable about the wildlife in the area and very friendly. We ended our trip in the Osa Peninsula at Lapa Rios. The trip planned out for us was relaxing, luxurious, and educational all at the same time. Every activity and hotel chosen to match our desires were perfect. This company will plan out a great trip for whatever type of vacation you seek without any of the stress, worries, or language barriers that typically accompany foreign vacations. John D, Miami, Florida. Read the whole review.
For the first time that I can remember I prepared for a family vacation without stressing!
Reviewed June 30, 2015
But when we arrived at San Francisco airport on the departure day we discovered that American Airlines had pulled our airplane out of service and we would miss our connecting flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Jose. On any other vacation this would have been a major headache and I would have spent hours trying to reconfigure hotels, flights and ground transportation. Instead I made one very brief telephone call to Costa Rican Expeditions and explained we would be arriving a day later than planned. I gave them our new flight number and that was it. CRE took care of everything else. -Ross D, California. Read the whole review.
There were three points during the trip when it was clear to me why using CRE was so great!
Reviewed February 15, 2014
1) During a transfer by boat on Lake Arenal, when we were on a beautiful boat with only one other couple, and the friendly boat driver stopped to show us lots of birds along the way. in contrast, I watched another group of 10 or 12 pack into a boat half the size which seemed to be sitting very low in the water.

2) Chatting at breakfast in a hotel with a woman and her parents who had rented a car to drive around the country. They were excited but clearly completely distracted by trying to figure out how to get from one place to the next, and also in need of a lot of advice for how to enjoy their day.

3) Sitting in the rainforest of Osa Peninsula. Our travel planner, Nadya, had recommended that we fly there for a 3-night stay - on my own, I would never have considered this, but it was the absolute highlight of our trip and I am so grateful that she encouraged us to make this part of our itinerary. Ardenp, Boston, Massachusetts. Read the whole review.

Read more Trip Advisor review excerpts on this topic.

If you are a traveler who values In-country experience

By relying on us, you'll have all your reservations made by our Travel Planner who lives here, and has local connections. Our Planners are backed by over 100 person-years of experience with things Costa Rican. They all speak English and Spanish.

In fact, you rely on our Planners, Guides, Drivers, Hotel staff - and the whole team of unsung heroes behind the scenes who you'll never meet. They insure that you see the “hidden Costa Rica,” indeed “the real Costa Rica,” because they all live here, study it, know it so well, and are totally dedicated to your vacation of a lifetime.

If you used even the several great books, or online searching, much of the information would not be up to date. By relying on us, you'll have the up to date information on the services and conditions where you're going, because your Travel Planner and Guides, our Drivers and Hotel Staff - all have constant feedback from our guests and our entire team in country. For example, they know which roads are closed, which special events are happening, and what's most worth visiting given the current season and weather - none of which is on maps. They collaborate with each other and you to maximize your adventures.

Here’s what some of our guests said on Trip Advisor:

I started my plans with my local travel agent, but found more comfort with Costa Rica Expeditions…
Reviewed October 27, 2015
and also found better ideas and pricing on some matters. Their knowledge is far superior than what i could expect from my local travel agent. MARSImperial, Los Angeles, California. Read the whole review.
Elena, When we began talking, I thought I was giving you an easy assignment…
Reviewed April 2, 2015
…a group trip (group provided) in which everyone would do the same thing each day. Well, it didn't turn out quite that way! With your help, we refined our daily schedule and activities, to be sure, but didn't believe we would be asking you about language school, home stays, arrival on different days and different flights, extensions to the beach...the list is long and you accommodated us all with a smile. Jim S. Read the whole review.
I started planning our trip earlier this year and quickly realized I needed assistance!
Reviewed July 2, 2015
Our trip coordinator, Nadya Shaw did a spectacular job in planning our itinerary. I doubt any personal research can beat her experience or knowledge of Costa Rica, excursion companies or hotels in the country. We took her recommendation on everything except for our final hotel stay and I must say, I wish we would have gone with her recommendation. Dhruv B, Scottsdale, Arizona. Read the whole review.
But the real proof of the pudding was how great the trip was.
Reviewed March 31, 2015
Based on our preferred dates, price range and interests, CRE pulled together a proposed itinerary in a matter of days. We tweaked it a bit, and then put down a deposit. It was incredibly easy, and surprisingly affordable. At every step, our email contact person was courteous, fast, and thorough. But the real proof of the pudding was how great the trip was. Every lodging was fantastic, every transfer was smooth as silk, every guide or driver was full of personality and information. The pacing was also great--we were very active and saw a ton, but were not overwhelmed, and had just enough down time to appreciate that we were on vacation. We even added an activity at the last minute, and the logistics were just as smooth and flawless as the activities we'd scheduled months in advance. We are not typically tour types, but this trip was put together much more efficiently and better than we could have done ourselves, JER0095, Boston, Massachusetts. Read the whole review.

Read more Trip Advisor review excerpts on this topic.

If you are a traveler who values world-class guiding

To have the best possible vacation, and add whole new dimensions, we recommend a great guide, one of the best in the country.

Over the years of selecting guides and studying the characteristics of guides that guests rave about, we've found a higher standard than being a “good guide” who has lots of knowledge and experience.

In another league is the great guide, the world-class guide, who goes beyond finding things, pointing them out, and telling you interesting stories about them. In a minute, we'll describe how they enable you to personally, directly experience everything yourself.

But first, let's describe the good guide. After all, knowledge and experience are essential.

Guided or on your own you might be detained by road accident up ahead. On your own this kind of experience can be very frustrating. With a good guide you can expect it to be turned into an adventure, pointing out animals, plant, and events along the way. Good guides make the most of unexpected events.

Good guides can take you to local businesses. They know where and when to go, and not go - including where “off the beaten track” adventures are. You'll see the country and its wildlife through your guide's eyes.

Good guides can take you to a rural school visit, a local crafts exhibit, a parade, a holiday mass, the deserted beach next to the crowded beach, cooking classes, hair braiding, best little restaurants to eat at, indeed edible fruit along the trail or river - you'd likely miss out on if you were on your own.

Now, let's add the qualities of a great guide, a world-class guide

Merely good guides have their repertoire of facts and stories of things they've seen, done, and heard. You find yourself spending a lot of your time listening to them telling you about their experiences.

In contrast, great guides ask questions to tune in to your values, your style of learning, and your style of moving through the adventures. And they notice what fascinates and excites you, to infer what you might not be able to ask for and articulate. They tune in to your pace, what interests you the most, and where you are hungry for more knowledge and experiences.

They have an uncanny sense of when you need to rest, or when to leave you alone for a while to share with your travel companions.

They put you at the center of each experience, helping you discover things that will become your own stories and lifetime memories, not theirs. Your Costa Rica, not just theirs. They are expert at helping you get the most customized direct, personal, first-hand experiences from every hour.

With great guides, it's subtle. They are not intrusive. They bring you to the experiences, and let the magic take over. You may find yourself smiling and wondering what they are doing to enable you to have such personal experiences.

And you may not notice the things they are avoiding. For example, when they talk with your driver, or local merchants, they don't leave you out. It might never occur to you that they are always bringing you into the experiences by translating, and enabling you to interact in an authentic way.

Such firsthand experiences are spontaneous, serendipitous, unique, and personal. With a great guide, you are immersed in a rich and complex awareness of what you see, feel, hear, taste, smell, and say to yourself and others. You are free, not controlled, to interact, to be surprised, to challenge yourself if you want, and to be delighted.

We can usually pick one of our guides for you with specialized knowledge of things you personally care about most. For example we can give you one of our guides who is a great photographer, or who specializes in making things exciting for kids, or who is an ornithologist, or who is a frog expert, or who is a climate change and ecology expert, or who knows where to take you to see stone carvings.

Your Travel Planner and Guides will arrange special locations, celebration events, special dinners, watching a parade, picnics on the bank of the river, or a private nighttime giant sea turtle nesting expedition on an isolated beach that others don't know about---all chosen on the basis of what they have learned about you.

To sum up, good guides orchestrate; great guides facilitate.

Here’s what some of our guests said on Trip Advisor:

The most remarkable part of the trip was our naturalist guide!
Reviewed July 14, 2014
William Granados, who was with us through all of our travels in CR. He knew everything about everything and explained it perfectly for my son and for me, he made sure that we got everything we wanted at the resorts, and is just an all-around great conversationalist and great guy. The most remarkable example of the service we were given was when we’re starting the long drive/boat ride from SJ to Tortuguero, William had figured out that the highway would probably be blocked by a taxi strike and arranged a flight to get us there. Brian973, Morristown, New Jersey. Read the whole review.
Without him we would have missed out on so much!
Reviewed April 21, 2015
Eduardo was an amazing guide. He is extremely knowledgeable and personable, without him we would have missed out on so much of the history, culture and adventure your country has to offer. Byritz. Read the whole review.
Gustavo Camacho, our guide and naturalist, felt like family by the end of the trip.
Reviewed December 8, 2015
He was helpful in every way and handled our large group of people (including five children) with ease. I learned a tremendous amount about the country's wildlife and culture. The entire experience was simply amazing. Jadaemhebl,Vidalia, Georgia. Read the whole review.
Made us feel as though we were part of their daily excitement.
Reviewed August 8, 2015
The thing that made this trip outstanding was the warmth, care and professional delivery of services provided by the wonderful guides who were native Costa Ricans. Our week long guide, Jonathan, was friendly, informative, funny, caring, and put service above self. Our group included 8 college friends who were all 60 years old +. We get together often but this trip allowed us to be adventurous, test ourselves and at the same time afforded more laughing with our many guides then I thought was possible. These young man were authentic, sincere and made us feel as though we were part of their daily excitement. They were a great combination of "take charge" and helpful at the same time. They made us all feel very young. DCP09 Read the whole review.

Read more Trip Advisor review excerpts on this topic.

If you are a traveler who wants flexibility and spontaneity

Many travelers cherish flexibility and spontaneity while on vacation. Some even want to decide what to do each morning based on the weather and their moods. These travelers often conclude that using professional travel planners and guides would limit them, when just the opposite is the case---as long they let us know that flexibility and spontaneity is important to them.

These travelers often conclude that using professional travel planners and guides would limit them, when just the opposite is the case---as long they let us know that flexibility and spontaneity is important to them.

When we discover that flexibility and spontaneity is important to our guests we build in flexibility and spontaneity with a much wider gamut of choices than most people could discover on their own.

Here’s what some of our guests said on Trip Advisor:

The holiday was pitched exactly as we wanted it…
Reviewed March 9, 2015
And directed to please the three adrenalin loving teenagers as well as their conservative parents. It was not only the value for money that was so appealing. It was the extraordinary attention to detail with follow up emails and advice for every part of the tour. Further, we changed our plans a couple of times and this was dealt with efficiently and economically. Our family has done a lot of travel but this was by far the best travel agency we have used. A H Melbourne, Australia. Read the whole review.
The pacing was also great-
Reviewed March 31, 2015
We were very active and saw a ton, but were not overwhelmed, and had just enough down time to appreciate that we were on vacation. We even added an activity at the last minute, and the logistics were just as smooth and flawless as the activities we'd scheduled months in advance. JER0095, Boston, Massachusetts. Read the whole review.
We loved the balance of activities and tours with rest and relaxation!
Reviewed January 9, 2015
At one point we had to test CRE's ability to make changes within a short time frame and they were able to do so perfectly. Tracey B Los Altos, California. Read the whole review.

Read more Trip Advisor review excerpts on this topic.

If you are a traveler who values being taken care of like a friend or family

Sometimes our guides and trip planners invite our travelers to their homes, their school, their church, etc. Not to mention their hearts.

Here’s what some of our guests said on Trip Advisor:

You feel like family or maybe royalty!
Reviewed January 3, 2014
This group created a perfect trip for us. davidsol1, Cambridge, MA. Read the whole review.
We were treated just like the millionaires!
Reviewed May 5, 2015
Thanks to Costa Rica Expeditions, we had the best travel experience ever. We highly recommend them. -Darlene P, Payson, Arizona. Read the whole review.
Seem to know who we were!
Reviewed January 14, 2015
The taxi drivers and guides were always on time, seem to know who we were and provided excellent unforgettable service. The company emailed and faxed to the hotel our itinerary for the next day. -Joan B,Grimsby, Canada. Read the whole review.
Makes you feel like Cleopatra carried aloft by a litter!
Reviewed August 23, 2013
Read on to the end to see what I mean. ChasPappas Rochester, Minnesota. Read the whole review.
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