Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Costa Rica 2016 - Post 1: Booking Flights

It's booked! Our 2016 trip is underway. It's so funny how this one played out. Yesterday, at this time, I had no idea where we were going. I was looking into Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Aruba.

On Sunday, I was flying home from my LA trip with my 3 girlfriends, when I decided to sign up for the Spirit credit card. I use Spirit often on my trips, because of their low fares and their mission - they only charge you for what you use. The cost of everyone's soda or pretzels or wi-fi are not hidden in the price of the plane ticket. I only drink water on flights, and never snack, and never use the wi-fi, so I refuse to pay for everyone else to have those luxuries.

I'm waiting on my application for the credit card to be approved, but because I signed up in flight, just for applying, they gave me 2500 Free Spirit Bonus Miles.

So, because I had Spirit on the brain, I decided to check out their Twitter. I never use Twitter, but I know companies use it to advertise sales. And bam - right when I hit their page, I see a sale for the day.

I was thinking "Holy sh*t!" mixed with a bit of "Ha! Yeah right!"

After looking more into the rules, I realized that this might be tough to figure out. There were several places that were excluded, only a few dates that worked, you had to book by 11:59 p.m. TONIGHT, and more.
But, I tried my luck anyways. Spirit doesn't fly to Belize, so that one was out. Cancun was on the list of excluded places, so that one was out. There were no Cabo flights scheduled, and Aruba only flew out and in on Saturdays, and this deal had to be on Tuesdays. I plugged in the information for MSP to Costa Rica and, for two people, including bags and seats, this was the total cost -

I was dumbfounded. I knew it wouldn't totally come out to "99% off" but still, this was a good deal. Costa Rica flights for ONE person, lately, have been around the $450-$500 range. For $504.88, I could get TWO people to CR with 2 checked bags and all the seats picked out for my Jan. 26th through Feb. 2nd trip. This was actually the picture I actually sent to James.

After work, I rushed home to talk to James about it. I wouldn't book anything unless he was sitting right next to me and we were doing it together. He was in doubt the entire time. "There's a catch!" he kept saying. We sat on our bed for a few hours just plugging in dates, places, and information. James didn't want to book flights unless he knew a bit more about Costa Rica. He knew his friend went there twice and LOVED it. So we Googled some towns and attractions. He also wanted to see what hotels and Airbnb's were running, so we had to look at a few of those.

And there was also the fact that, on the way there, we had to leave MSP at midnight, layover at Fort Lauderdale at 4:30 in the morning for 6 hours. Also, on the way home, we'd have another layover in Fort Lauderdale for 4 hours, and not get home until midnight. Personally, I liked this idea. I could get a break in between flights, eat a big meal, stretch my legs, catch a cab to the beach, take a walk, etc. It's going to suck to have to go to work the next morning, once we get back, but big deal - I'd have just experienced Costa Rica!

Then James said something surprising...

He told me to plug in the dates January 26th to February 9th. I did, and realized he was thinking Tuesday to the NEXT Tuesday, meaning 2 weeks in CR. I was shocked, excited, and nervous as we waited for the page to load. At any minute, he could have said "Ha, never mind, that's too long, forget it." But he didn't. And then the page came up.

Pretty sure my face said it all. I looked up to the ceiling with this huge, huge smile on my face & didn't say a word. James just laughed at me, but I think he was just as shocked as I was. Immediately, we began talking about what 2 weeks in Costa Rica would mean. Leaving our dog, Jack, is not easy for me, and we talked about ways we would work through leaving him. We could have James' parents come to the farm daily to feed him, water him, and let him out of his large kennel to run. We could keep him at my sister's house, with her 2 tiny dogs. We could board him. My brother could house sit and take care of Jack the way we do. Obviously, we had choices.
Next came work. Do I have enough vacation days? I just so happened to have just under the 11 work days I would need to take off. I could work out the other 2 hours with them. (Hopefully!) James is laid off in the winter, so that is an easy one.
Check the calendar - do we have anything going on during those two weeks? Nope.
Double-think things.
Are we sure we want to leave for 2 weeks? We just bought a house!
But, now's the time to do this, before we have kids...

Then James said "It's up to you." And I said "Do you want to do this?" He said "It would be pretty cool, but it's up to you."

So I clicked BOOK. And we're booked.

My heart races every time I think about it.

We still need to talk transportation. James doesn't like the idea of a rental car, but I don't like the idea of stressing out over buses. I love the freedom a car gives us. After doing some research, I've discovered that many people say it's "just fine" to rent a car in CR. Just drive slow, watch for pot holes, and don't cross water in the road. Also, go through a local car company, because they quote you the mandatory CR insurance. I've already contacted 4 companies. Now I just need to convince James this is the way to go.

As far as places to stay, I have to figure out our itinerary first. I want to use Airbnb the entire time, but James would "feel better" with hotels. He is so skeptical! I think I can easily persuade him on this one, once I show him the price differences.

We don't want to stay in just one place. We want to see as much of CR as possible! We're looking into this itinerary, made by Matt & Jenn at "Two Weeks in Costa Rica."

There is a lot to be done, but I wanted to start documenting this trip from the start. We cannot wait to experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

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