View Full Version : Smart Travel series

04-01-2016, 04:37 PM
I'm going to be posting abridged and edited versions of the chapters in yet another of my upcoming books, which, like most of my other books, will probably be published at least 2 years after the originally proposed date.

Smart Travel will be my most eye-opening and counter-culture travel publication, Ever. In this "short" series on Ticaland, I won't be giving away all of my information for free. You have to pay for the book to get all of the good stuff. This series is not specific to Costa Rica, but it is certainly relevant to Costa Rica and most of the planet. You'll read some information which I have posted in the past... but some of this information has never been published before... by me, or anyone else. You'll be scratching your head over some of this stuff, but I guarantee that 100% of this information is perfectly true and correct.


Let's start off with this brain-bender from Chapter 3 of Smart Travel...

You're a typical middle class person in the USA. You work 40 - 50 hours per week, and you get 3 or 4 weeks of vacation time each year. You make enough money to travel during your vacation time, alone or with your family. So... how does the vacation planning process work for you?

1) If you're typical, you choose your vacation time for the upcoming year before you begin to plan your vacation.

WRONG! That's exactly the Opposite of what you should be doing. You should already have a vacation plan, and a couple of contingency plans, Prior to choosing your vacation time.

2) It's time to start planning your vacation. Visit any of the travel planning or travel booking sites that you like. It doesn't matter... they're all equally worthless... and here's why...

What do All of those travel sites ask you to do, to begin searching for vacation plans and/or ideas? They all ask the very same thing... Which City/State/Country do you want to visit, and what are your travel dates?

WRONG! Asking the traveler for his desired destination is absolutely NOT the question that you want to ask him, when you're beginning to plan a vacation for him. Every single time that you plan a trip by first inputting
the location and travel dates into a travel search engine... You're Doing It Wrong!

3) It's time to book a flight. All of those travel sites offer several options for your flight search, except for an option to sort by ticket restrictions and/or booking codes.

WRONG! Those search engines aren't giving you the most important sort criteria during your airline ticket search.

04-03-2016, 04:08 AM
1) I can purchase a flight from JFK to LHR on one airline, and I can purchase the exact same flight as a codeshare with another airline, for the exact same price. Those tickets are identical.


2) Booking with the airline directly gives me the very best ticket price, and the very best benefits for a ticket of that price.

it depends...

04-06-2016, 11:20 AM
Smart Travel tips for Costa Rica

As with many other destinations, there are a lot of misconceptions about Costa Rica.

In addition, there is a lot of misinformation contained in the various guidebooks and on the websites which are specific to Costa Rica. As I've stated many times, websites such as TripAdvisor are full of incorrect an misleading information. Frommer's, Fodor's, and Lonely Planet are all full of inaccurate information. Part of my job is to read these books every time a new edition is published. It takes more than one highlighting pen to highlight the errors in one of those books.

To make matters worse, there are a lot of expats who spread misinformation. Do not believe anything that you hear from the so-called experts hanging out at the bar at the Sportsmens Lodge. Listen, but verify. I'm not saying that these guys aren't trying to be helpful, its just that sometimes they don't know what they are talking about. Unfortunately, there are guys who have been living in Costa Rica for over 30 years, who don't have a clue. You will get some good insight and information from some of these guys, most of whom genuinely believe that they are helping you... but you MUST verify all facts and information which are of importance to you.

Here are some examples:

1) Sunscreen and Mosquito Repellent are expensive. No, they are not, unless you buy them at the wrong place. I purchase high-quality, brand-name mosquito repellent for $4 (4-ounce bottle), and sunscreen for $5.50 (10-ounce bottle) right here in Costa Rica. It's not difficult, but Frommer's doesn't know where to shop in Costa Rica.

2) Electronics in Costa Rica are expensive. Only if you buy them at the wrong place. Cheap smartphones and notebook computers can be purchased here, if you know where to look. It's all perfectly legal, name-brand equipment.

This misinformation about Costa Rica being "expensive" is due to one thing, which I have run into in other countries... There are TWO economies: The Tico economy, and the tourist/expat economy. In the stores where Ticos shop, prices are far more reasonable. But the Ticos don't want Gringos to know that those stores exist, and they do a very good job of keeping that information a secret. The Costa Rican economy depends upon the extra income generated by Gringos who overspend. Even if a location appears to be "All Tico", it's probably not. If you, as a tourist, or even a long-time expat, can find the place, then it's NOT a "Tico place." The only way that you'll find these places is to be taken there by a Tico, or by some miracle stumble upon it completely by accident. As you may have guessed, these stores are FAR, FAR away from any location which a Gringo might visit or where a Gringo expat might live. There is really nothing like this in San Josť... you'll need to get outside of the city, but not by much.

04-06-2016, 12:42 PM
3) You can't get that in Costa Rica. In this post, I am particularly referring to food & beverage items. This is a fallacy. Whatever it is, you can find it here, with just a couple of caveats. The main caveat is that you might not be able to find a specific brand. You can find almost any food or beverage here, but it might not be the brand that you want. I should warn you that some of this stuff is imported illegally. It costs a lot and takes a lot of time to obtain approval to import an item into Costa Rica, and many people/businesses just bypass that system altogether. Just make sure that the product is still sealed and in date. The shop owner could theoretically get in trouble, but this activity is largely ignored. As the purchaser, you aren't breaking any laws, unless you are distributing or reselling the product.

In the past, I have tried to share this information over on CRT, but those assholes just don't deserve to know this stuff. I wouldn't lift a fucking finger to help a single one of them. This is my information, and I'm not sharing it. I won't even share it with my best friends, but that's for a different reason, and I'll tell you why...

As I have delved deeper into this world, I have made a lot of good contacts, and many of them have had me swear strict confidence. They don't want Gringos getting Tico prices or publicizing their importation practices. There's no point in telling my friends where to get this stuff, because if I do, when the Tico shop owner sees the guy, he'll assume (correctly) that I told the guy how to find the place, and then I'll get cut off. What I do for my friends is do their shopping for them. They tell me what they want, and I go get it.