The cost of a Costa Rica School Trip depends on two significant variables: airfare and in-country program expenses. In general, the trip can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 per person.
We at Costa Rica Explorations try to keep the price fair for the student, the trip group, and the providers.
How much can airfare to Costa Rica cost?
When booking your flights to Costa Rica, remember there are two international airports where 25 different airlines connect Costa Rica with 38 different destinations around the world. The Juan Santamaría International Airport in San José can be more convenient if your itinerary goes to more than one destination in the country. But consider the Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, it is only a 3.5 hours drive from San José, and it is common to find great airfare deals.
Airfare to Costa Rica from the United States can cost anywhere from $300 to $800-$1000. The price will vary depending on the departure city and the time of the year.
Usually, you can find more affordable flights from the East Coast of the United States. Departures anywhere on the West Coast and Northwest of the United States and Alaska and Canada departures are more expensive.
Traveling to Costa Rica during the peak season (December to April) could also be more expensive. If you need to go during these dates, book as far in advance as possible. You can also find some great deals during that time because there is a larger inventory and more frequent flights during this time of year.
What in-country factors affect the cost of a Costa Rica School Trip?
The other factor that affects the cost of your Costa Rica School Trip is the length of your stay in the country and what you decide to do while in Costa Rica.
The duration of the program
A Costa Rica School Trip should be at least a week-long, to make sure your students can see the country and have a variety of quality learning activities and interactions.
The ideal length for a School Trip is 8 – 14 days. With that many days, you can include the learning activities to meet the curriculum requirements, and you can also ensure a real Spanish and cultural immersion. Also, with this amount of time, you can involve your group in meaningful community service projects and local volunteering opportunities as well as more recreational activities.
The longer the trip, the higher the cost, because you have to add the cost of extra activities, lodging, transportation, guide services, and food for those additional days.
The diversity of destinations
To have a meaningful and memorable Costa Rica School Trip, you do not need to see the country from coast to coast and border to border.
The more destinations you decide to include in your itinerary, the more expensive the trip will become because you need to consider transportation between destinations, which is costly and will increase your carbon footprint!
At Costa Rica Explorations, we recommend that for a week-long trip, you do not include more than two destinations; this is to ensure optimal time for quality learning opportunities and for fun. A two-week-long trip can incorporate more destinations.
Another thing to consider is that specific destinations inside Costa Rica can be more costly than others. Those destinations that are more remote will have more expensive lodging and food due to access.
The type of accommodations
In Costa Rica, you can find all kinds of lodging accommodations for any budget. Youth hostels and small rooms in rural areas are usually the more affordable places to stay in. From there, you can find hotels and exclusive lodges that can cost more than $500 a night.
With student groups, you can consider using what we call in Costa Rica, Cabinas and Bed and Breakfasts. Both of these types of accommodations allow for a more affordable, yet cozy and controllable environment. A more boutique accommodation choice will enable your students to feel safe and happy and will allow you as the responsible adult chaperone to keep a closer eye on your students. Bed and Breakfasts are well-known establishments; cabinas are basic and independently arranged rooms, usually with a small kitchenette inside.
The types of activities
As a general rule, adventure activities are more expensive than nature activities. For example, a white-water rafting adventure will make your trip a bit more costly than if you choose to do a Safari float or mangrove boat tour. Another example, going canyoning or taking a ziplining or canopy tour, will also be more expensive than walking the trails of a forest that also on hanging bridges.
Private trip vs. join up with another group
The size of the group, especially if you want to keep the activities private, also affects the cost of the trip.
It’s probably the best to use private transportation to move your students around Costa Rica, instead of opting for public transportation. But when it comes to lodging and activities, be open to using places where other travelers are staying. This not only will keep the trip under budget, but also think of it as an opportunity for your students to meet other people and have different learning experiences.
Now, if your group is big enough, and you wish to keep everything private, it is possible to do so without making the trip more expensive.
What’s included in your Costa Rica School Trip?
The final price of the Costa Rica Student trip will also be affected by what you decide to include. You can make it all-inclusive, or you can choose to leave certain things open like meals and activities.
Another important thing is the number of guides you wish will accompany the group. The ideal would be to have a guide to accompany the group to help you with safety and organization, but also to give your students insights about the country. Having a guide with you on the trip might elevate the cost, but in our opinion, it is money well spent.
Extra expenses to consider
Also, like in any trip, there are always additional expenses to consider. For example, checked baggage is never included in the most basic airfares. Also, depending on your travel itinerary, you will need to buy meals, snacks, and water at airports.
We highly recommend purchasing international travel insurance, not only to avoid expensive costs in case of an emergency but also to cover possible inconveniences with your flights and/or lost luggage.
Also, we recommend that your students have extra pocket money for snacks, souvenirs, and drinks like bottled water if desired. Note: In Costa Rica, you can drink water out of the facet unless otherwise specified. There are a few regions such as places along the Caribbean Coast and other remote areas that do not have potable water.
Last, tipping is common in the tourism industry, so your students should also budget money for tipping drivers, guides, activities’ guides, and other services.
Booking a Student Travel Program
It is very important to take all of these expenses into consideration when planning or booking a student travel program for your group. Make sure to confirm with your student travel operator which items are included and which are not included within the total cost of the in-country program itinerary. Please use the contact form below to inquire about planning a student trip to Costa Rica with us.
Mónica Quesada is an award-winning photojournalist from Costa Rica who loves to show off her country! That is why she has also worked as a photography tour leader since 2007 and she has been the leader of volunteering programs since a very young age. You can see her work at www.mqcphoto.com.