I had quite a vacation 2 weeks ago. I went to Panama City, Bocas Del Toro and Costa Rica. I learned quite a few things and had a lot of negative experiences that I’ve never encountered while traveling before.
I went to Panama without having a good working of knowledge of Spanish. This was a good and bad thing as that it meant that I had to learn fast to survive. All of the places I went were amazing. It was incredibly sunny and everyone was laid back.
Some of the issues I encountered:
- My sunscreen (Coppertone SPF70, bought new) was completely worthless (And deemed so by my dermatologist)
- This resulted in an extremely bad sunburn that I’m still getting over today. (The redness not the painful burning and other symptoms)
- My electronics failed.
- My phone’s screen broke mid-trip by falling onto gravel. Note: Cellphone repair shops in Costa Rica don’t hold Google phone glass and screens. It’s just not a popularly held phone.
- My camera had issues with the buttons inside of the electronics. That means that I could only shoot with manual mode. Also, Nikkon seems not to be interested in making cameras anymore. So buying a new point and shoot in Panama wasn’t an option.
- My credit card just completely broke. (The card, not account issues). Unfortunately this happened in a place where the mail doesn’t work.
- The sun burn that I got completely put me out of doing anything while in Costa Rica. This was rather unfortunate but it means you should give yourself time to heal.
- Companies who sell aloe products generally suck. They should be required by law to report how much aloe is in the product. Only the pharmacy provided me with a 100% aloe product that helped the bad sunburn that I had.
Some of the things I learned/realized:
- Buying a replacement phone with the internet while travelling helped a lot. It seemed like a “large” ($60) extra unneeded expense, but it helped a lot when trying to find things and navigating.
- Always carry backup forms of payment. I’ve travelled to europe with only a debit card and some spare cash. I was lucky that I had both forms for payment. Also, carry the local currency in different places in your luggage.
- If you’re going to be in extreme direct sun (at the equator) Sunscreen with zinc oxide is a must.
- I should have carried a much better first aid kit than what I had.
- I got an offer for a $99&$129 first class upgrade for my flight back. The $99 offer I got for the SJO-IAH flight was worth it. I wish I had taken the $129 offer for IAH to ORD as that it was a lie flat seat. Also, if your checkin is failing when you get this offer, do what I did: Call the airline and get it resolved. (Thank you United!)
- The general advice I got from fellow travels is to pack for one week’s worth of travel. (And wash while you’re there) That would have lightened the load I had by a lot.
- The people in Costa Rica and Panama were extremely laid back, but things still work. You don’t have to be aggressive with following up with everything.
- Google Translate is terrible to converse back and forth with. Complex sentences don’t translate very well. (I found this out when trying to buy a bus ticket from Panama City to Bocas more than 1 day in advance)
Will I go back to Bocas del Toro and Costa Rica? Absolutely! I will probably even go back to Panama City.