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We promised we wouldn’t stop traveling after kids so when Kennadi was 4 months old, we got her Passport and booked our first international trip to Costa Rica! She was 7 months old when we traveled and I have to say, I think she was the perfect age for our first big trip. Read below for important information on traveling to Costa Rica with a baby.
Traveling looks very different with a baby involved but it is SO worth it to share the experience with them. There are many things to consider when traveling with a baby and hopefully this post can help.
Safety and Choosing Costa Rica
Safety was definitely my husband’s main concern when we were researching where we wanted to travel. For me, safety was a priority but I really wanted to make sure we could have nonstop flights to wherever we went. And preferably not a huge, drastic time change for our first international trip with Kennadi. I had traveled to Costa Rica in 2019 and absolutely fell in love with the country. Costa Rica has such a variety of activities and sight-seeing to offer and the people are SO incredibly nice! I never felt unsafe when I visited, even driving across the country. For us, Costa Rica is only a 6 hour, nonstop flight from Los Angeles. My husband was bummed he didn’t get to travel with me on my last trip to Costa Rica so after discussing safety and flights, we chose Guanacaste, Costa Rica!
An important thing to plan for when traveling internationally with a baby is access to health care. We personally chose to purchase travel insurance to make sure we wouldn’t run into any issues if we needed to go to an emergency room or hospital. My husband, being a medic, prepped a huge first aid kit with everything we would possibly need for ourselves or Kennadi in an emergency. For Costa Rica specifically, bugs are a concern. We only had issues with mosquitoes and luckily Kennadi didn’t get bit at all. We packed bug spray and wipes and used this on Kennadi every night.
I wouldn’t say I love to pack but I do love having everything planned to make sure I don’t forget anything. Aside from our everyday items we needed for Kennadi, there were some specific things we needed to bring and plan for when traveling to Costa Rica.
- Sleep: We made sure to call our resort (prior to booking) to make sure they had cribs available. We did not want to have to bring a pack n play on the airplane so this was really important to us. When we got there, the crib was a pack n play and it was perfect. Tip: Make sure you bring your own crib sheet! You never know what they will have or how clean it will be. Thank goodness we brought a crib sheet because they had the mattress wrapped with a shower curtain as the sheet, haha!
- Bathing: We opted against packing a travel or inflatable bath for her. It was going to be another item to pack that we didn’t find necessary. Our room did not have a bathtub but we had a huge walk in shower. I just took Kennadi in the shower with me to bathe her and it was extremely easy.
- Feeding: This is really dependent on if you are breastfeeding, pumping, and have started solids or not. For me, I exclusively pumped and supplemented with formula. Kennadi was also eating solids and purees. We packed a cooler with her bottles and frozen breast milk to bring with us on the plane. We also brought premixed/ready to pour formula (bring an extra bottle just in case), two squeeze pouches per day, and Gerber puffs. Two other must have items for us were the Baby’s Brew Portable Warmer and Elvies!
- Eufy Camera: This camera is one of our absolute favorites for traveling with a baby. I personally don’t feel comfortable without having a monitor on Kennadi while she is sleeping. For $40, this camera makes the perfect monitor! At our resort, the rooms had a separate bedroom and living room. We chose to have Kennadi sleep in the living room so it could stay dark and we wouldn’t have to worry about noise in the bedroom and waking her up. With that being said, the Eufy Camera made for a perfect monitor. It is small, lightweight, and easy to set up. As long as your resort has wifi, you will be able to connect to it on your phone and voila, you have a monitor!
- Diapers and Wipes: I cannot emphasize this enough, make sure you bring enough! Of course, we could have found diapers and wipes in Costa Rica if we absolutely needed to but it would not have been easy. Our resort did not have any diapers or wipes in their shop and the closest store was a 30 minute drive. We ended up counting how many diapers we went through in a day at home and then added 2 to that number and packed that amount for the trip (knowing this would be more than enough since she would be in a swim diaper during most days.)
- Car Seat / Stroller: We use Nuna Pipa car seat and Uppababy Vista V2 stroller for every day use but did not want it to get banged up during travel. We opted for the Chicco Bravo and Keyfit 360. My husband already had the car seat in his truck so we found the matching stroller on Facebook Marketplace. This stroller was AMAZING for our trip! We needed the car seat for our rental car in Costa Rica and on the plane. The car seat snapped right onto the stroller which was really convenient for the airport. Once we were at our resort, we used just the stroller during the day and reclined it for naps.
- Carry On: We brought a small carry on suitcase for the important things we might not have been able to replace had the airline lost our luggage. This also was really helpful in not going over the 50 lb. weight limit for our checked luggage as we put many of the heavier items in the carry on. In the carry on we had Kennadi’s formula, squeeze pouches and food, first aid kit, crib sheet, Owlet, Eufy camera, pool float, diapers and wipes, and some of her outfits and pajamas.
For more on packing for a baby, click here.
Flying with a Baby
I am pretty sure flying with a baby makes every parent pretty anxious. I know we were! Luckily, Kennadi did way better than we expected. Our flight times were ideal; her bottle and nap time were right around take off. I think this made a huge difference in how calm she was during the flights.
For an in depth guide on flying with a baby, click here.
Westin Reserva Conchal: Guanacaste, Costa Rica
We ended up booking our trip through Costco. We love Costco Travel because their packages include everything! Our package included the resort with all-inclusive meals and drinks, flights, and private transfers to and from the airport. The only thing we booked separate was our rental car (and only because we needed it just for a few days and not the entire trip.)
Costa Rica is a large country with a lot of different things to offer! For this trip, our priorities were to relax on the beach and see the rain forest so we chose Guanacaste region. Then we decided on a rental car so we could also visit Monteverde Cloud Forest. The last time I visited Costa Rica, I also visited Arenal in addition to Monteverde and Guanacaste. I HIGHLY recommend Arenal but not with a baby. What makes that region so amazing is all of the activities. Unfortunately, zip lining, white water rafting, hot springs, and bungee jumping just don’t really work with a baby but older kids would absolutely love it!
Once we knew we would stay in Guanacaste, we looked over our options and chose Westin Reserva Conchal. This resort stood out to us because it was all-inclusive, had large rooms (necessary for baby stuff), was family friendly, and had a private beach. The resort was beautiful! It was a lot more spread out than we had anticipated but our room was right by the pool and restaurants and they have golf carts to help move around the resort. The staff was incredibly friendly and were obsessed with Kennadi! We heard “Hola baby” nonstop all day long. It honestly made our first trip with her even more special with the staff loving all over her and being so accommodating.
Renting a Car
As mentioned, we opted to rent a car for 3 days of our trip. We knew we wanted to do a day trip to Monteverde to hike in the cloud forest. We chose 3 days so we could also do two half day trips to surrounding areas.
Our rental car actually came with a baby car seat but we still chose to bring ours since we were going to use it on the plane. Well, thankfully we did because the “baby car seats” in Costa Rica were forward facing toddler seats. Definitely would not have worked for a 7 month old!
Driving in Costa Rica is a whole adventure in and of itself. The roads on the way up to Monteverde are extremely windy and mainly dirt. Luckily, every rental car you will find has four wheel drive and trust me when I say it is a necessity! Make sure to pay extra for the hotspot in the car so you don’t risk losing signal when trying to navigate unfamiliar roads.
We didn’t have much of an itinerary for our trip aside from the days we planned to leave the resort. I will get to those below but figured it may be helpful to share how we enjoyed vacation while (for the most part) sticking to our baby’s schedule.
One big change when traveling with a baby, no more sleeping in on vacation! At home, Kennadi’s sound machine turns off at the same time every morning. We didn’t do this on vacation but she still woke up around her usual time each morning. I didn’t mind since I needed to pump in the morning. I would wake up and pump while I got ready for the day. Once Kennadi woke up, we fed her and then got her dressed. We would grab our pool stuff and her bottles, load up the stroller, and then head to breakfast.
Kennadi took her two naps poolside almost every day. We laid her down in the stroller, shaded her, and turned on the stroller fan and sound machine and she slept perfectly.
At the Westin, you had to have reservations for the restaurants for dinner. Their options were 6 pm or 8 pm. Neither of these were really ideal since Kennadi usually gets her bottle around 7:15 pm. The first two nights, we opted for the 6 pm time slot. We ate our dinner and then rushed back to our room to feed her and put her down… but then we were stuck in our room. And she was pretty fussy both nights at dinner.
On the third day, they only had the 8 pm time slot and it turned out to be perfect and is what we stuck with for the rest of the trip. With the later dinner time, we didn’t have to leave the pool or beach as early to go to the room to get ready. After we got ready, we changed Kennadi into her pajamas, turned the lights off, and fed her. This worked out well for me too as I did my night pump during this time. Once she was asleep, we laid her down in the stroller, covered the stroller with a blanket, and headed to dinner. Luckily for us, she stayed asleep every night (even when we transferred her to the pack n play.) It was SO much more enjoyable to be able to relax at dinner not being on a time schedule or trying to keep her entertained and happy. We were able to have drinks after dinner and just enjoy time as a couple but with her sleeping in the stroller right next to us.
Monteverde Cloud Forest
In my opinion, this is a must see and completely worth the drive. If your baby doesn’t typically do good in the car, then maybe skip it because it is a very long drive and makes for a long trip. We did it in one day, which is not ideal, but can definitely be done! Monteverde was a little over three hours from our resort. We decided to leave at 5 am in hopes of arriving in the town around breakfast time. We had everything packed and in the car the night before. We kept Kennadi in her pajamas and put her straight into the car seat. She stayed asleep until her usual wake up time (yay!) I was able to pump and feed her while we were driving, thanks to the Elvies and Baby’s Brew. She entertained herself the rest of the drive until we arrived for breakfast.
We chose to have breakfast at Orchid in Santa Elena and it was delicious! It was nice to stretch out and eat after the long drive. Once we finished breakfast, we drove to the entrance of the Cloud Forest and got ready to hike. We packed our Ergo 360 Carrier and it was great for hiking. We were hiking during Kennadi’s nap time and she fell asleep in the carrier. We had her bottle with us for when she woke up. It took us around three hours to complete the entire loop in the forest.
When we were done hiking, we had enough time to go back into town, Santa Elena, before needing to drive back. We had lunch at Taco Taco…best tacos ever! Then we grabbed coffee at Café Monteverde for our long drive back (make sure to purchase some coffee beans to take home!) We did not want to be driving in the dark because it showed rain in the forecast. We did get rained on (which was pretty scary on their roads) but made it back to the resort right after sunset. Driving 6 hours in one day with a baby was not the easiest; our drive back had a few stops for diaper changes and breaks but it was worth our fun day in Monteverde!
When we realized Tamarindo was only 20 minutes from our resort, we knew we had to visit the famous surf spot. We drove there one morning after breakfast and headed back to the resort around lunch time. Tamarindo is a really small town with one long main street. The shops are on one side and the beach is on the other side. We brought the stroller and it was NOT easy pushing it around. It would have been much better to have worn her in the carrier but we left it at the resort. We didn’t surf but we did spend time on the beach, shopping, and visited Volcano Brewing Co.
Llano de Cortez Waterfall
We had looked up a few different waterfall options and this one seemed to be the closest and easiest hike wise. It took us a little over an hour to get to the main parking lot for Llano de Cortez. It could have been time of year (August) but it was completely empty! After we parked, we followed the path towards the entrance and could already hear the water. We quickly realized it was only a few flights of stairs down until you are at the waterfall! I was carrying Kennadi in the Ergo Baby carrier and it was really easy.
There were locals down at the waterfall who were SO accommodating. They showed us the best walking paths and took tons of pictures and videos for us. The waterfall was stunning! I would not miss this if you are traveling nearby! On the way back to the resort, we stumbled upon a small microbrewery, Numu in Liberia. The beer was great and the owner was amazing. Definitely recommend a quick stop there!
Overall, traveling to Costa Rica with a baby takes some planning but it was so much easier than we expected and completely worth it! Do not hesitate if you are debating on traveling with your baby to Costa Rica. You will have an incredible experience!
Are you planning a trip to Costa Rica? Already traveled there? I would love to hear about it below! Have questions? Comment below or connect with me on Instagram! And don’t forget to subscribe to be notified of new blog posts.
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