Well, here we are. As I’m writing this we are driving back to Tamarindo for an overnight stay. Then we are off to Liberia in the morning to head to the airport. It has been swell, Costa Rica. We have really enjoyed our extended family vacation.
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But why take an extended family vacation? We get asked this all the time! Why Costa Rica? Why after you JUST had a baby?!
Well, recently having our son is the main reason why we decided to travel. It is a great bonding experience that many don’t ever get the chance to take. And we won’t have another opportunity for quite some time to have another extended family vacation.
I left work when I was pregnant to be home with Jack after he was born, and Brett was going to take paternity leave. Living in snowy Edmonton, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to take a very much needed vacation.
After having Jack, I found myself struggling with severe postpartum depression.
With Brett’s insane work schedule, and caring for a newborn in a city where we didn’t have any family- I found myself struggling. Every day was a battle just to get out of bed. Jack had a difficult time nursing at first. He was very colicky. And he had spent the first 8 days of his life battling sepsis in level 3 NICU. To say the least, the first two months were hard on everyone.
I eventually sought out treatment in the amazing Postpartum Unit at the Royal Alexandra. I spent many weeks in therapy, and Brett left work immediately for paternity leave, to care for Jack and support me. Let me tell you, ladies, find yourself a man (or woman), who has your back, ALWAYS. By far the biggest, and most helpful support I received (and continue to receive) was from my husband.
But I got through it! And I’ve been able to keep PPD away for 5 months!
So here we are, hitching a ride in a locals’ truck, speeding along a bumpy road to Tamarindo. Sadly, we are ending this journey. But let me tell you, it was so worth it. If you ever get the chance to take an extended family vacation, use the savings. Or save for a year. Do whatever it takes.
Throw a dart at a map and just GO!
You will look back on your life and think, “damn, I wish I had the guts to go travel!” Just because you have kids, doesn’t mean you can’t take an amazing 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 months, or even a permanent vacation! You can do it, it just takes courage, determination and planning.
Or don’t plan. And just wing it, and have the best experience of your life, like we did.
Because life is short. And the time we get to spend with our son together as a family is precious.
Read my blog post about travelling with a newborn, and how we made it work! And then check out the 6 reasons why you should visit Costa Rica during the rainy season if you’re looking for inspiration. Because there is without a doubt, that this place has a piece of our hearts, and we will be back.
But until then.
Here are a few tips you should NEVER do while travelling on an extended family vacation.
- Do NOT overstay your visa! Even by 1 day! Seriously, it is no joke!
- Do not rent long term places without seeing them first, if you are on a budget. No matter how desperate you are.
- Do not bring jackets, wool socks, sweatpants, etc, to a warm destination. Even if it’s “winter” there. You will be lugging around a whole lot of baggage that you will never use. And it is just embarrassing. Even for 3 months, you really only need a couple outfits. And don’t even think about bringing suede or leather, they will mold.
- With that being said, do not rent a place without A/C provided. You must have A/C (in a humid climate). Things you never knew could mold, WILL MOLD. Like Car seats. Then you have to disassemble a car seat that you don’t have instructions for and pray to the heavens you can remember how to put back together again. And then pray it won’t mold again after that!
- Do not leave the house without pictures of your passports and visa stamps, ever. Just don’t. You never know when you’ll be asked for it, for even the number. But a photo usually works just fine, unless you’re crossing the border.
- Don’t avoid making friends with locals, and other expats just because you have a kid. Your kid (ours anyway, because he’s so darn cute!) is an incredible icebreaker. People are super curious how you manage to travel with a baby (or kids), and will usually ask you about it. Being an expat can be super lonely if you don’t put yourself out there.
- Don’t forget the Imodium. And take dukoral. Water can be fine is some areas, but if the pressure drops, and they’ve been fixing the local plumbing, it’s best to just buy bottled water.
- Do not leave home without literally packing a suitcase full of diapers and wipes. We did this and it was a pain, but it was the best thing we could have possibly done for Jack. Diapers and wipes are way overpriced in Costa Rica, or anywhere south of the States really. And we almost made our entire trip with our stash. But when we ran out, it was tough. If you are in a small town, chances are your one grocery store is a short drive away. But if you don’t have reliable transportation, you could end up playing poop roulette! Then frantically trying to find a last minute ride to the store!
- But lastly. Don’t be scared. Do not panic when you get pulled over for a routine passport and visa check. And don’t be cold to locals if you’re embarrassed that you can’t speak their language. It is a privilege and honour to have visited such a beautiful country, and they welcome you with open arms.
So I hope this inspires you to bite the bullet. Even if you’re the single gal, and an extended family vacation is definitely not on your radar. If I’ve learned one thing from taking this trip, is that we will without a doubt be planning the next one as soon as we get home.
Vancity, what’s up?