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Breaking up trip & rent car question

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Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
85 posts
10 reviews
Breaking up trip & rent car question

We are spending 5 nights in a house in Dominical. Was originally thinking we'd rent a car in San Jose when we fly in, and drive to and from (about 3 hours or so?). Now I'm thinking it might be nice to add one night and break up the long trip back by spending one night near San Jose-- Finca Rosa Blanca Hotel. Especially since our flight out of San Jose back home is around 11:30 a.m. I don't love the Quepos (I'm a total wiener) and we need a car for the week anyway, that's why I thought we'd just rent in San Jose. Does this sound like a good plan, both as to the choice of hotel for the last night & also as to the renting and returning a car in San Jose?

Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
Level Contributor
10,553 posts
59 reviews
1. Re: Breaking up trip & rent car question

I do not know about the hotel, but you need to be close to the airport so renting a car for a week, and returning from Dominical the day before is very wise indeed. As for the car, you will need to rent a 4x4 type of vehicle if your house is located above the road, on the hill side. All roads there are steep and requires an all wheel drive car. You will have to be at the airport latest at 9 am so check also the distance between Finca Rosa Bianca and airport (Alajuela).

Level Contributor
15 posts
225 reviews
2. Re: Breaking up trip & rent car question

You can also take a cheap flight from San Jose to quepos and rent a car in quepos. on Our trip we stayed the first night at the peace lodge ( aboutn30 min from San Jose) . I loved every second in this special place! I would suggest staying closer in your last night for easy access to the airport.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,656 posts
26 reviews
3. Re: Breaking up trip & rent car question

Finca Rosa Blanca is a lovely place and it would be fine to stay there the night before your flight home. Their website says "15 minutes from the airport" but I think you can count on 20-25 minutes, depending. Still -- certainly appropriate for an 11:30 flight. (And much better than Peace Lodge!)

I would say you should be at the airport 3 hours ahead of time, no later than 2.5 hours - so plan on arriving at 8:30 - 9 am. You could always return your rental car the day before and then have the hotel arrange your transportation to the airport to save some time. Returning a rental car in Costa Rica is a much more lengthy process than in the US.

Once at the airport, you will need to pay your departure tax and fill out the form (have a pen, your passport number and your flight information handy) and then stand in line with everyone else on your flight to check in. Most airlines will not let you board if you have not checked in at least an hour before your flight.

Dominical, Costa...
Level Contributor
185 posts
10 reviews
4. Re: Breaking up trip & rent car question

My experience and the advise I give my guests if they want to make full use of their time in Dominical is to leave for the airport 6 hours before your flight is scheduled to take off. This allows 3 hours for the return trip, 1 hour to return the car getting you to the airport 2 hours in advance with a little buffer time built in should you need it.. I have never had an issue arriving two hours (although they do recommend 3 hours) before the flight and all my guests that have followed the schedule above made their flights. Some guests feel more comfortable staging closer to the airport the night before and if you do, I agree with the person that suggested checking the car in a day early to reduce the cost of the rental and take advantage of the hotels's airport shuttle service. Several car rental companies allow you to return the car to your hotel and will pick it up from there. Check out the limitation on the amount of weight you can bring on the regional flights. It used to be 25 pounds including carry on before you had to pay extra.

Costa Rica
Level Contributor
25,656 posts
26 reviews
5. Re: Breaking up trip & rent car question

How early to arrive at the airport will depend on several factors: how many other flights are leaving around the same time with the same airline as well as how many other flights are leaving around the same time, in general.

Sorry, Dave, I would never recommend arriving only 2 hours ahead of time. Maybe they will have to spend a bit of extra time in the airport - but it's worth it to me to avoid missing an international flight.

Of course, if you figure a good "cushion" into the trip to the airport, that makes a difference.

Many people recommend not traveling that kind of distance on the same day as an international flight. Too many things can happen: accident, breakdown, landslide, protest, flooding, etc. I've ridden the bus probably 500 times from where I live (4 hours from the airport) to the airport and always remember the time that a river overflowed and there was some flooding across Rt 1 and we were delayed about 2.5 hours. I ALWAYS spend the night before a flight somewhere near the airport.

Staying near the airport gives people a good chance to get some last minute shopping done and avoids the huge exhaustion after a 3-hour drive (that can be stressful) and then all the stress associated with a flight and then getting home after the flight.

Also - if you don't spend the last night near the airport and plan on being there 3 hours ahead of time and happen to get to the airport super early, you can pay your departure tax, fill out the form, check in and then grab a taxi and go get something to eat or do some shopping and then return and go through security and get to your gate for boarding.

Edited: 12:32 pm, June 22, 2013
6. Re: Breaking up trip & rent car question

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