The first time I ate McDonald’s abroad was in Rome during my semester there in the spring of 2014.

My “burner” Italian phone that I occasionally loaded with money was dead. My iPhone didn’t work in Europe. I had been sitting on the Spanish Steps for over an hour with an Eagle Eye out for my two girlfriends, who I was supposed to link up with to try a famous apple pasta.

They never came. There was a transportation strike I didn’t know about since I’d been in town all morning on foot.

I was hungry. I was irritated. I was lonely.

Then I saw them: the Golden Arches.

McDonald's in Italy

In that moment, I swear I saw a spotlight shine down from the heavens, or maybe it was just the glare from a passing Vespa, but I knew I was saved.

Since then, McDonald’s (and Burger King, Starbucks, etc.) has been an oasis for me on my travels. Especially as someone who experiences travel-induced anxiety, the ability to follow a routine, no matter where I am, is a lifesaver.

Here’s Why I Eat McDonald’s in Italy

McDonald's in Italy

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McDonald’s Isn’t Lonely.

McDonald's in Italy

You’re supposed to eat fast food alone. People do it all the time, even when they’re not traveling. At McDonald’s, I can walk in, order, sit down in a booth by myself, and no one gives it a second thought.

I’m not pitied and I’m not bothered. I’m just allowed to eat. While I sometimes challenge myself while traveling and eat at a local sit down restaurant alone, indulging in regional foods, I typically don’t feel like working through the social stigma attached to eating alone.

Grabbing a quick bite from a fast food place or grocery store is just easier. And that’s okay.

It Offers a Familiar Routine.

McDonald's in Italy

I know what’s expected of me at McDonald’s. I know how to order and how to find a table. I know to clear my place when I’m finished eating and place the tray above the trashcan to return it, because the routine is the same in each restaurant, no matter the country.

One of my pet peeves is restaurants whose structure and concept isn’t immediately clear; one’s that you walk into for the first time and are like, “Wait, how does this work? Do I wait to be seated or just sit down? Do I order at the counter or from the waiter? Where do I pay?”

So in foreign countries, where literally everything else is brand new and in need of decoding, I take solace in putting my brain on autopilot for a little while.

When my friend Smoky and I were in Budapest, we booked an 8PM dinner cruise, but at 6:30, as the sun dipped below the skyline, the temperature plummeted. Our teeth chattering, our bladders full, and our fingers growing stiff, we sought refuge in a nearby Starbucks — walking in immediately felt safe and familiar, so the time flew past.

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It Has a Familiar Menu.

McDonald's in Italy

The basis of fast food menus is the same in most countries. It’s also always combined with pictures of the food and numbers, so if I get stuck behind a language barrier, I can locate the picture of the food I’d like and hold up the corresponding number of fingers.

This method came through for me in France, Turkey, and Costa Rica. And I didn’t even have to mime my drink choice in the latter because the beverage station was on my side of the counter.

There Is Guaranteed Wifi.

McDonald's in Italy

I typically just put my phone on airplane mode when I travel and look for free wifi along the way. This is because I only recently got an iPhone that has a SIM, so the idea of purchasing a temporary SIM is a new concept for me, and I have Verizon, whose international coverage would cost me more than my soul. Because of this, I’ve gotten pretty good at winging it, but knowing that anytime I see the golden arches I can reload a map or call my mom is very reassuring.

It’s also nice to be able to catch up on social media or research destinations while I’m eating alone, instead of just staring out the window…which I do sometimes, or people watch, but I don’t always want to.

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I Can Always Charge My Phone.

McDonald's in Italy

I carry a portable charger in my purse, but I also carry a charging cord and adapter because my phone is my camera and my safety lifeline.

If it dies, I know I could finesse the situation, but I just prefer not to. At McDonald’s, I can sit down at a table and plug my phone in, no questions asked. You don’t even have to buy anything; it’s just a familiar place to sit for a moment and catch my breath.

Locals Eat There (Sometimes)

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That’s the wildest thing about fast food. For locals, every single day of your once in a lifetime vacation is just another day. So why not eat at McDonald’s?

When I was in Costa Rica, I had been eating at mom and pop places, but everything there is so tourist-oriented that locals never seemed to be eating with us. On our last day, my friend Smoky and I ate at a McDonald’s in San Jose because we had to drop off our rental car at 1:00PM, but our Airbnb wasn’t available until 4:00PM. We needed to kill time, so to McDonald’s we went…along with every other young professional in the city.

So this is where they’d been hiding.

Men in suits. Women with fancy purses who looked like they just ran a board meeting. Moms with kids. Couples who probably had been married for 50 years. All together. At McDonald’s.

So go ahead. Judge me while you eat your artisan cheese in “the cutest little place that you just stumbled upon where nobody speaks English.” I’ll just be over here enjoying my french fries and memes. Everyone needs a break sometimes.

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Flying etiquette should be common sense, but unfortunately there’s nothing common about it these days.

If you are looking for ways to be polite on a plane, or just need a safe place to rant about others who are not, then this is the post for you.

7 Essential Tips for Flying Etiquette

*This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase an item via these links (or in the same session) I get some cash money, at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

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Prague, Czech Republic

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Cut Yourself Off

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Getting boozy at Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany.

Dierks Bentley may have made it sound like a blast (after all, the 737 was rockin’ like a G6), but getting drunk on a plane is one one of the trashiest things you can do and a huge violation of flying etiquette.

I’ve been stuck in a tube of metal hurling through the sky at 500mph with drunk girls too many times.

Two of the most memorable experiences:

  • My 8:30AM flight from Chicago to Houston.

I was going home to Houston for spring break, but the three girls behind me were just connecting  for a week of debauchery on South Padre Island.

One of them drank three Bloody Marys of her own before downing her friend’s when she got up to use the bathroom. Rows 17-20 were then treated to a graphic story of her exploits from spring break last year. Don’t be that girl.

  • My 10-hour flight to Paris from Houston next to the lady who inspired this post.

This girl drank like, six mini-bottles of Chardonnay in the first two hours of the flight and then got so belligerent with the flight attendant that she got cut off.

And I say “like six” because that’s how many I counted after she spilled over half of the last one onto my lap. Who knows. The discarded bottles were clustered around her feet. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple had rolled back a few rows.

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Pack with the Plane in Mind

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With my trusty travel backpack (and an angry mountain goat) at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Put your headphones, medication, and snacks in the small bag that will go under the seat in front of you. If you only bring a rolling suitcase, or would prefer to have all the leg room you can, get the things you think you’ll want from your bag out and place them in the seatback pocket.

Don’t be that girl; the one who needs to get into the overhead storage (STORAGE being the key word here, y’all) bin 50 times during a two hour flight and has so much junk with her that it spills over into her neighbor’s lap (side eye at you, Houston to Paris rowmate. I didn’t really want to read your Spanish homework, but you put it open on my tray table soo??) Please plan ahead.

Sit Up during Meals

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The Dining Room at the Royal Opera House in Vienna, Austria.

I’m of two minds on whether or not reclining your seat on an airplane is rude. I mean, I definitly hate it when my forward neighbor comes careening into my lap, but I also definitly like to lean back when I’m trying to take a nap.

  • So, my general rule for flying etiquette is this:

Only recline your airplane seat when you are 100% going to take a nap and always sit it up during the meal service. Nobody wants to eat out of their laps.

And, if the person behind you asks you to put your seat up, work with them. It doesn’t mean you are required to sit straight as a board for the entirety of your flight, but don’t be like my Houston to Paris rowmate who actually got out of her seat and almost tried to fight the gentleman behind her (who was well over six feet tall) when he asked her if she would put her seat up for a little while.

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Monitor Your Volume

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I can’t be quiet about my love for Selenas.

My lovely seatmate also played the entirety of Nicky Minaj’s Pink Friday on repeat while she took a snooze. I honestly love me some Nicki, but there’s only so many times you can listen to her jams blasting from your neighbor’s headphones before getting irritated.

Tbh “so many times” roughly translates to the first 30 seconds of the opening track. Seriously. There’s this amazing trick you can do where you take your earphones out, see if you can hear what you’re listening to when you hold them at your shoulders, and then adjust your volume accordingly.

This also goes for how loudly you speak. Please use your inside voice on airplanes. They are very small. We can all hear you.

Also (wow this post is getting a little bit ranty), flying etiquette 101: if you’re taking a flight before 8am, maybe don’t speak at volume level 10000000 to the person next to you, even if y’all are best pals, until we are AT LEAST all the way to 35,000 feet. Have some compassion on the sleepyheads who don’t want to hear about your next meeting.

Take the Lead of Your Rowmates

friends in Boston

My buds and frequent travel buddies (Rachael and Brittney) at the MFA in Boston, Massachusetts.

Have you ever sat down on a plane and felt immediately trapped by a chatty Cathy? Or maybe you feel disappointed the man in 14C isn’t more chipper?

People want different things on planes. Some (most?) prefer to just get to where they are going and not learn their neighbor’s life story. Others are looking for a talking buddy. However, no matter which camp you fall into, it’s a important part of flying etiquette to maintain your civility.

If you don’t want to chat, a quick “Hey, I’m going to get some rest. Nice to meet you.” Or “Enjoy the flight! I’ve got some work to do.” should be enough for most to get the picture. If you are out here trying to make friends, be sure to be alert for the these subtle brush offs.

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Be Cool about Bathroom Breaks

Flixbus Budapest

At the baths in Budapest, Hungary. I definitly got OUT to pee because I’m not nasty AF.

As a lover of the window seat, I can promise you that I hold it as long as I can because I don’t want to bother you, but sometimes a girls gotta go.

If you sit on the aisle, even if you’re in a dead sleep, proper flying etiquette says that you don’t have the right to be irritated if one of your rowmates wakes you up because they need to use the restroom. People need to pee.

Unlike frequent access to the overhead bin, frequent trips to the bathroom are definitly something to accommodate.

Shower the Day of Your Flight

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Rubber Duckie, you’re the one. Houston, Texas.

I’ve started carrying peppermint essential oil to rub under my nose with me on flights because so many people seem to think it’s chill not to shower when they are about to embark on a hours-long journey in a metal tube with recycled air.

Please you guys. The day of your flight is not the day to skip your shower.

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Sometimes tight airline connections sneak up on you!

You thought you had two full hours to grab a bite to eat and wander to your next gate, but then your first flight has a mechanical delay and suddenly you have 30 minutes gate to gate.

Sometimes airline’s minimum connection times don’t take the reality of airport sizes into account, so even if your first flight is on time, you still have to channel your inner Usain Bolt to make it to your next gate.

We’ve all been there.

Flixbus Wifi limit

Munich, Germany

Here are my best tips for Tight Airline Connections

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Change Your Flight

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Vaduz, Liechtenstein

If the connection time the airline is offering you during booking makes you feel rushed, call the airline before completing your reservation and ask about booking a flight with a different connection.

There is usually a small fee for completing a reservation over the phone, but it’s always hundreds less than any potential change fees down the road.

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Disembark First

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Berlin, Germany

Speak to a flight attendant about mid-way through your flight about your options. If your first flight was significantly delayed, you can work with the onboard team to ensure a quick exit from the plane. I’ve been on flights before when they’ve asked us to remain seated so connecting passengers can bolt.

I’ve also seen people moved to the front of the plane during the final portion of the flight so they can hit the ground running to make one of their tight airline connections.

If your connection is on the same airline, the flight will sometimes wait for you if they know you’ve landed and are rushing over, but you have to speak up and check in with the cabin and ground crew as you go.

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Be Vocal During Security

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Vienna, Austria

This is especially important when traveling internationally, as you often need to go through security again, even if you are just a transit passenger. If the lines are long and slow-moving, you can approach agents at the beginning of the line to ask about your options, as some airports have “mercy” programs in which the security team will pull passengers from the line to help them make their tight airline connections.

But if you don’t speak up, they won’t know you need help!

If the officials aren’t interested in expediting the process for you, consider asking your fellow passengers if you can cut them in line. I’ve gladly let frantic travelers ahead of me at security when they have 20 minutes to take off and I have 90.

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Pack with Checkpoints in Mind

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Prague, Czech Republic

If you want to make your short connection, you need to prepare!

Don’t keep your ID in the darkest depths of your backpack. Make sure your toiletries are all under the limit and in a clear bag that’s accessible, preferably near your laptop so you can take them out at the same time. Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off.

It drives me crazy to be stuck behind travelers in the security line who don’t seem to know what is expected of them, even though there are signs and security agents everywhere explaining the procedure.

Some quick things to remember when packing for short airline connections:

  • Liquids, gels, and aerosels must be less than 100ml (3.4 oz) that fit into a 1 quart (or smaller!) clear bag.
  • Your laptop should be taken out of your bag and placed into a bin by itself.
  • Don’t put anything in your pockets while going through security.
  • You might not need to take your shoes off; it depends on the airport. Listen for instructions.

This way, you won’t be scrambling through security. You can progress through it quickly and be on your way to your gate in no time.

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Study the Airport Map Before Hand

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Vienna, Austria

This step is usually undertaken by travelers who know they have a short connection because it was assigned during booking. You can check the airport website for the campus layout and make note of which terminals their airline uses and how they are connected.

However, for surprise short connections born out of delays, you might not have this luxury. Luckily, most airlines have maps of the major airports they service in the seatback magazines. It might also be worth it to pay for in-flight wifi so you know what to expect when you land.

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Use the Facilities during Your First Flight

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Rome, Italy

Stopping for a bathroom break can cost you precious minutes when trying to make a tight connection! Instead of waiting in long lines for the airport bathroom, make sure to use the facilities on the plane.

A good time to go is when the captain announces your initial descent, this way, even if you have an active bladder, you can make it to your next aircraft before you need to go again.

I spent about 10 minutes waiting in line for the toilet at Charles de Gaulle in Paris last fall, and ended up arriving at my gate at 10:10…for my 10:10 flight because the passport control line was so long. 0/10 would not recommend.

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Make a Note of your New Terminal and Gate

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Bratislava, Slovakia

Take a picture of it on the screen, text it to yourself, write it on your hand, whatever you have to do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been running through an airport chanting “2A” to myself and have suddenly been like “Wait…what’s my gate?” Having to find the monitors, stop, and check again costs precious time.

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Literally just Run

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Bratislava, Slovakia

Sometimes you just gotta book it. I connected through Paris Charles de Gaulle both to and from my Grand Tour of Europe last fall and due to an apparent lack of staff, it was packed both ways.

On the way in, I was late getting off my flight from Houston because the jetty had an issue attaching to our plane, but luckily there was a man on my flight who was also going to Berlin. He was going there to run the marathon, so he sprinted ahead and let the ground grew know I was on my way.

On my way back, it was all up to me, so as I ran through the airport in flip flops and superman pajamas pants, I tried to concentrate on just not throwing up. I made my flight, coughing up a lung and probably with shin splints, but I made it.

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Know Your Rights

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Budapest, Hungary

Airlines usually have a minimum connection time, so if you miss a tight connection due to no fault of your own (like long lines at passport control, or delayed first flight for mechanical issues), you can work with gate agents to rebook your flight at no charge.

If the next flight to your destination isn’t until the next day, the airline should provide lodging and food vouchers, but you usually need to bargain for them.

Remember to be polite! In many places (including the USA!) there are no laws around passenger rights, so kindness will get you a long way.

If you miss one of your tight airline connections due to weather, airline employees are usually not willing to book you into a hotel, but they will work with you to rebook your flight.

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Fighting on vacation is an unfortunate reality of travel.

Fighting on vacation Fighting during vacation Arguing during vacation Arguing on vacation

some of my best friends from college during our “senior week” trip to Cape Cod, right before graduation in May 2015. Brittney, Cassidy, and Rachael. Taken by Lauren!

Too many hours in the car, the stress of a new place, and the exhaustion of jet lag are all things that can make even the best of friends start actively hating each other.

I’ve been in situations over the years where I needed to take a step back. My sister and I went on a Grand Tour of Europe together and I swear to God I wanted her dead because of how loudly she breathes while sleeping. Another time I had a terrible migraine on this bus ride with a random baby that wouldn’t stop crying, so I kept fantasizing about just stoping the bus and leaving it with a nice couple at a gas station.

Both terrible, terrible, intrusive thoughts.

So how do you work past these instead of always arguing on vacation?

You have to address the triggers and make a conscious choice to be zen.

Quick tip to avoid fighting on vacation: you can’t control others’ behavior, but you can control your own. 

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Common triggers: 

Exhaustion

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My friends Elizabeth, Char, Meagan, Mary, and me on an orientation trip for our study abroad program to a Mozzarella farm in Campania, Italy in January 2014.

People are cranky when they are tired. This is a given. Advice like “make sure to get a good night’s sleep!” is trite. Sometimes that’s impossible.

What is possible, however, it not setting yourself up to fail. Do hostels make you restless because of squeaky beds, thin mattresses, and inconsiderate roommates who turn the lights on at three am? Don’t stay there! Ask your traveling partners if you can book a private room, at least every couple of nights.

Can you never get to sleep on long-haul flights? Then don’t try to hit the ground running on your first day and pretend like you’re well-rested. Take it slow. Pace yourself.

Does your partner snore or just breath freakishly heavy when they sleep (like my sister)? Always bring some ear plugs, just in case or have a soothing sounds playlist queued up on your phone.

You can’t always guarantee you’ll sleep well, but you can still create a relaxing environment for yourself.

Quick tip to avoid fighting on vacation: avoid “one night stands” and stay in each location for at least two nights to ensure better sleep. 

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Hunger

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Nik, Emily, Jessica, Mike, Rebecca, Maggie, and myself in Florence, Italy. April 2014.

Let’s be real: I get hangry even when I’m not traveling. It’s realllly hard to handle even minor inconveniences when you’re starving, so don’t let yourself get to this point!

Sometimes you have to skip lunch so you can see everything you wanted in a city or the local cuisine doesn’t sit well with you. Still no reason to be a brat! Always, always, always, have an apple and snack bar in your purse. If you’re going on a shorter trip (like less than a month) bring five or ten RXBars (or the like) with you to nibble on until you can sit down for or cook a meal.

Quick tip to avoid fighting on vacation: a collapsible water bottle like this one is a great way to avoid being a butthead due to dehydration.  

Different Interests

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My literal other half, Siobhan, and I at Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island May 2017. Luckily we both love historic houses.

If your boyfriend wants to stop for a coffee one more time, you might have to end the relationship. Your best friend has no interest in shopping in Paris? She’s the worst!

Traveling teaches us that we don’t have as much in common with our loved ones as we might think we do. Your mom might be a foodie and want extravagant sit down meals three times a day, while you would rather just eat a sandwich while running between monuments and museums.

It can be really frustrating to feel like you are “wasting time” on a trip you’ve been really excited for. To avoid fighting on vacation because of this, you can try a “quid pro quo” approach in which each person in the group gets to pick one activity each day OR you can occasionally split up. Which brings us to…

Quick tip to avoid fighting on vacation: occasionally suck it up and do what the other people in your group want to do, even if it means missing out on something you wanted. 

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Too Much Time Together

Fighting on vacation Fighting during vacation Arguing during vacation Arguing on vacation

Me, my sister Kerry, and my mom Debbie at Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas. We spend a looooot of time together 🙂 March 2017.

This seems to be a bigger obstacle for couples or friends traveling pairs to overcome. After a few days of just one person, you might be desperate to interact with a human being who isn’t them or just really want some alone time.

So take the day off!

Your best friend can spend the evening at the theater while you people watch in a coffee shop. You can check out that sale while your boyfriend sleeps in. These mini solo adventures are the perfect way to recharge, so that the time spent together is enjoyable and not tense.

Quick tip to avoid fighting on vacation: communicate beforehand to find out what the rest of your group absolutely doesn’t want to do, so there’s time to schedule concurrent activities.  

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Stress

Fighting on vacation Fighting during vacation Arguing during vacation Arguing on vacation

My sister Kerry and her husband Chris taking the time to destress in the Dead Sea. November 2017.

When you miss your bus, mess up your hotel reservations, or get lost, it’s so, so easy to start blaming the rest of your group or start lashing out because you are scared or stressed. Stressful things will happen when you travel. Things will definitly go wrong. That’s still no excuse for fighting on vacation. This is where mindfulness comes in.

You have to actively decide not to be angry. Not to respond to your boyfriend’s, or sister’s, or best friend’t goading. Let them be angry! Let them lash out! Choose to be calm.

If you are having a hard time staying calm in a tense or scary travel situation, I find it helpful just not to respond at all. Sometimes I even separate myself from the group. I don’t mean that in a “huff off and pout” sort of way, I mean it in a, “Hey, I’m going to go sit on that bench for a minute so I can think of a game plan” sort of way.

Arguing on vacation can also be avoided through preventative communication.

Quick tip to avoid fighting on vacation: assign group members with tasks according to their strengths before the trip, like navigating, driving, translating, negotiating, etc. This way, in a time of crisis, there’s no fighting over who needs to take the lead. 

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Fighting on Vacation: In Conclusion

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My chum Bethany and I in Prague, October 2017.

Mindfulness and communication are key to a great trip. If you find yourself getting a little heated, quickly work to address the trigger. Am I hungry? Tired? Bored? Then you can work to fix it.

Remember: talk to your group about interests, budgets, and accommodations BEFORE YOU LEAVE. 

You can avoid like 75% of potential fights if all group members are upfront about their expectations; however, if things aren’t going well, if your traveling companions are excessively irritable or unwilling to compromise, just remember: take a deep breath, get through this trip, and then choose not to travel with them again.

Happy traveling!

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My recent girls’ trip to Costa Rica was a beautiful disaster.

It was my first time traveling to a non-European country as an adult and was the perfect storm of just enough under-planning, language barriers, physical weakness, and random accidents.

But I still had the time of my life.

Here’s everything that can go wrong in Costa Rica (but hopefully won’t for you):

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San Jose Costa Rica Traffic

Waiting for our Airbnb host in the monsoon.

Your friend Smoky could have a family friend who doesn’t speak much English who graciously picks you up at the airport, but then you get stuck in traffic and roast in the car and when you finally break free from the gridlock and arrive at your Airbnb, your GPS actually can’t find it and leads you in circles around the block for nearly an hour.

Your AirBNB host might be super gracious and come out to meet you to lead you to the apartment, but as soon as she steps outside there is a surprise monsoon and she gets soaked and you get soaked and Smoky’s family friends get soaked and no one is really happy about it.

San Jose Rainy Season

Soaked, but at least glad to know where we were staying.

Your AirBNB host might let you check in early even though you made her essentially take an extra shower, but as she’s finishing up the preparations you hear her mutter “Hay agua en mis zapatos” and it takes a second to register, but you figure out she’s got water in her shoes and you later find out she recently received them as a birthday gift.

You might have some shoe troubles of your own and wear a new pair of Birkenstocks that were supposed to be comfortable walking shoes, but you didn’t break them in well enough, so you rub your feet raw on the arches and toes and tops on day one of a walking-intensive trip and have to soak them in a plastic container you found under the sink and hope for the best.

San Jose Art Musuem

Peep the shoes that would betray me

You might have to pee so badly on the drive to Arenal that you pull over at a little bodega that’s essentially in a cave, but it’s raining again, so you can’t tell if you’ve wet yourself or if it’s just the rain and then end up peeing into a toilet with no seat for legitimately 47 seconds while rain pours through gaps in the ceiling.

When you get to Arenal, Smoky’s phone might have no service and it’s getting dark and starting to rain and when you arrive at what looks like Costa Rica Sky Adventures there’s no hotel in sight, so you drive helplessly up and down a really steep hill for like 30 minutes and nearly back into a ditch and you’re almost in tears, but then you spot a security guard, but he doesn’t speak English and once again another kind Costa Rican is getting drenched by a sudden onset monsoon trying to help you find your Airbnb. Only to find out that the little house you’ve been driving past for this entire time is where you were supposed to be all along.

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Arenal Airbnb Costa Rica Sky Adventures

Our Airbnb in Arenal! At Costa Rica Sky Adventures

Costa Rica Sky Adventures

The Jurassic Park View

When you collect yourself emotionally you might want to go get dinner, but the place your host recommended is closed, so as your pull into what you thought to be an abandoned driveway to turn around, your headlights illuminate a man peeing and you obviously startle him so he panics and starts trying to hide, but he can’t stop peeing so it’s just going everywhere and the stream is swinging back and forth as he looks for a hiding spot and you might urge your friend to drive faster and desperately call “Lo siento!” out the window at him as you speed away.

Costa Rica Weather

She wasn’t a fan of getting constantly soaked

When you get back to your room you might forget you put your phone charger in the front pocket of your bag and panic when you “can’t find it” so you send Smoky out to the car to search for it cause you’re not dressed, but she can’t find it either and makes multiple trips and then starts panicking herself because she can’t find HER other charger (even though she didn’t even bring it) all the while putting her life at risk because there’s some sort of animal out there and it legit sounds like the Chubacabra.

Costa Rica Zipline Costa Rica Sky Adventures

Soarrrrin Flyyyyin

(and the power might go out in the middle of the night because of the rain, so when the air conditioner reboots it might start beeping and flashing a bright white light for like EVER so it’s a good thing you don’t have epilepsy)

The next morning, you might sign up for zip lining, but you might do what Smoky did and only mentally prepare yourself for one 20MPH swing 500 feet above the Costa Rican rain forest with Costa Rican Sky Adventures, but when you suddenly have to do five more, you panic and feel like you’re gonna pass out midair.

Costa Rica Arenal Lake View

On the hike we took after ziplining. It was her jam. I was dying.

It might take you over 3 ½ hours to drive from Arenal to Monte Verde (even though they are only 13 miles apart) cause Costa Rican roads are low key insane and it could have been raining so you have to dodge hella landslides and eventually you’re basically off-roading on a rocky path in your little two wheel drive and you’re high up in the mountains and it’s so foggy it looks like the planet where Luke Skywalker finds Yoda and you might become so emotionally attached to the car in front of you for pointing out the potholes, that after driving behind it for a good 90 minutes you might shed a little tear when it turns off the path.

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Costa Rican Roads

Views on the way to Monteverde

When you get to Monteverde, you might be excited about staying in your super cool and chic refurbished shipping container, only to find out that it’s like 1000000 degrees inside because you can’t open any windows because it’s like the planet of the moths outside and there are tons of bugs inside too and the wifi doesn’t really work because it’s literally a metal box.

Monteverde Sky Forest

Not as cloudy as I hoped

When you go on the local coffee tour, you might misunderstand the guide and think she said it starts “one kilometer from the parking lot” when in reality it’s more like one mile, so you’re walking down a dirt road into some freaky thick mist and cars of other tourists are driving past looking at you like you’re an idiot. Then after the tour, there might be another sudden onset monsoon and you’re trapped in the visitor center for like an hour after you wanted to leave because you need a ride to your car.

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Don Juan Coffee Tour

Covfefe in the rainforest

When you get to Manuel Antonio, you might get upgraded to a room with a view and everything might seem to good to be true, but if you’re like Smoky it’s your actual worst nightmare because the hotel literally has an iguana infestation and they’re constantly scampering all over the place and one might even bite you because you tried to feed it a banana.

el faro beach hotel

My little Amigo

El faro beach hotel

Before the betrayal

You might forget to put on sunscreen the day you spend the whole day at the beach, but it doesn’t really LOOK like your getting burned because your skin is still its usual milky white, but then all of a sudden you can’t even bend your legs anymore because they are TOAST and your shoulders are practically burned shut and everything hurts. Even looking at photos of the ocean might make you feel sick.

El Faro Beach Hotel View

EL Faro Beach Hotel has a GREAT view of the Pacific

Playa Manuel Antonio

Posing on Playa Manuel Antonio

Costa Rica is really hilly, so you might keep forgetting to take the parking break off and wondering why the car shakes and shudders when you try to back it out and when you finally return it, you have to take an Uber to your Airbnb by the airport and since there are no addresses in Costa Rica you have no idea where you’re actually supposed to go, so you’re left to fend for yourself and end up walking in ankle deep mud alongside a railroad track with a girl who speaks no English looking for it.

And when you finally find it, you’re so freaking tired that you crack and eat at Denny’s.

BONUS: since Costa Rica is one of the only countries my dad has been to…

Costa Rica Fishing

Dad’s photos that actually turned out

You might be my dad and be down near the Nicaraguan border on a fishing trip in the 80s and you can see some super sketchy government activity going on, so you try to take photos of it every time your boat passes, but when you develop your film expecting to expose a conspiracy, it turns out you faced the camera the wrong way and you just have a bunch of photos of your armpit.

The dress I’m wearing is from Dress Barn. 

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