Travel Inspiration Archives - This American Girl
You Must Travel the World… and This is Why

You Must Travel the World… and This is Why



Have you remembered yourself?

Forgotten yourself?

You know, your child self.




Yourself who lives in pure joy and wonder.

Yourself who knows magic.

Yourself who trusts what you feel, what you desire, what you believe, what you dream.

Your true self.

Your natural self.




So many of us have forgotten. Through the patterns we inherit from our parents and their parents, the trauma and limitations passed on by our peers, our education system, and the media, we squash the innate, authentic voice within who knows what we want and why we’re here.


As we “grow up” we lose the magic that we felt as kids until eventually we find ourselves numbed out leading a pretty mediocre life, feeling quite stuck and de-motivated to do anything about it.




Which is why we get so itchy.

We notice ourselves craving something without really understanding why.

And it’s this seeking, this desire for something more, that sends so much of us traveling.


Out on the open road


we find ourselves





When we travel, we forget who we were taught to be and we come back to who we truly are. We enter new landscapes, we engage with different cultures, and by separating ourselves from the voices that have dictated our lives, we have space to nurture and discover our uniqueness.


We play. We explore. We get uncomfortable. Stuff goes wrong. Stuff goes right. We figure it out. We learn. We grow.




We forget who we were taught to be, and we see ourselves reflected in our unfamiliar surroundings. We recognize ourselves in pieces of other cultures. We recollect forgotten pieces of our ancestry, our soul’s history, our collective human journey, as we cleanse ourselves in water temples in Bali or drink cacao with Mayan shamans or get lost in ancient forests and jungles.


In natural paradise receiving the wisdom of the hawk, the sloth bear, the wild cat, the hummingbird, the snake, the butterfly, we remember how it felt to live in harmony with the Earth. We remember our natural habitat.


Koh Yao Noi


And then… something within us awakens. We remember a way that we once lived and connected. As one tribe. As one piece of this diverse planet. One particle in this vast universe.


Once we’ve woken up this light within us, there is no going back to sleep.




So, travel changes us.


It shatters what we thought was reality and we began to question everything.




Then we go home.

Nothing makes sense anymore.

Maybe we even wish we could go back to sleep.


Some of us feel stuck in this moment.

Struggling against our surroundings wanting so badly to get out.

Fighting and fighting to break free.




Some of us run away.

We let everything go.

We roam and we roam and we roam.


But eventually, no matter if we go back to our old lives or we keep seeking around the globe, we all find ourselves in the same place. Wanting to feel that same high, that same expansion, awakening, aliveness that we used to feel when we traveled. And finding ourselves… lost… unable to get back there again.


This is when our journey actually begins.




This is when we stop seeking. We stop looking. We stop searching.


We start turning. We start tuning. We start feeling.





We feel the rolling hills, the sand dunes, the mountains, in every peak and valley in our form.

The power of waterfalls and volcanoes in our perseverance and strength.  

The waves of the ocean in our ever changing emotions.

The stillness of the Earth and every rock when we just slow down and breathe and be.

The beauty of flowers and butterflies and all of life’s sweetness when we soften open to love.


Thailand tall-2





and minds


our vast terrain.


We begin to know the world through ourselves.

Because we began to know ourselves by first knowing the world.




Travel wakes us up.

But that’s not where the road ends.





The path to truth and inner fulfillment reveals itself

when we remember

that the whole point of life

isn’t traveling forever

it’s actually love.


Phang Nga Bay


So travel isn’t IT

Travel isn’t the KEY

Travel is just the CATALYST

In every journey towards AWAKENING.


As we tune in and heal, use everything that happens in this life, every easy moment, every hard moment, every piece of pain, every burst of pleasure, we return home to our true nature. Beyond place. Beyond experience. Beyond circumstances.




We make feeling good, authentic, and loving our key priorities. We take care of our bodies, minds, hearts, spirits. We nourish and nurture ourselves. We let go of everything that stands in the way of loving ourselves, however uncomfortable or difficult or scary.


We free ourselves to move and travel as we please. To live in a high vibrational beautiful natural place that feeds our souls. To manifest the financial resources to care for ourselves and live our potential. We work as little as possible and create as much we feel inspired. We have fulfilling friendships and relationships and become part of loving community.




Then life asks us to share.

Life asks us to give our medicine to others.

Life asks us to stand up in our light.


We become beacons leading others home.




We share the message that there is so much more to life

than “ok” or “good enough”.


We share the message

that we all deserve to open wide to life

and create a world

of magic and bliss.


Phang Nga Bay


Which begins


And ends

With traveling the world.




So whether you’re

an enlightened guru

a powerful leader

a perpetual nomad

a brand new backpacker

an armchair traveler

a romantic dreaming up your escape

a perfect soul who feels lost, confused, and afraid


You must travel the world.




You must travel

To remember

To forget


One another

This World.



To begin again.


Coming Home to the Truth of Me

Coming Home to the Truth of Me

Ella Sri Lanka


There it is again.

The one I hate to see again.

The one I just can’t seem to end.

The one who knows the dark places I’ve been.


Ella Sri Lanka


It tells me I’m too fat

and just not very pretty

the same thoughts I’ve had

since I was eight and itty bitty.


It convinces me I’m awkward or annoying

fake and overbearing

that no one is actually truly

ever going to love me.


Ella Sri Lanka


It lures me to the men

who I know will just hurt me

keeps me repeating again and again

that same old painful history.


Ella Sri Lanka


It keeps me so small

trapped inside this box

because who the hell do I think I am

to ever free myself?


It warns me of the danger

and fills me with the fear

tells me all of the bad things that’ll happen

if I even dare.


Ella Sri Lanka


And every time I try

even if I succeed

I lose the taste of sweetness

cause it can’t help but berate me.


It refuses to let me celebrate me.


It tells me how I’m fucking it all up.

How no matter how hard I try it will never be enough.

I bounce between struggle and completely giving up.


Ella Sri Lanka


But as many times as I circle

around that old neighborhood

as many times as I get pulled

into those stories that are so old


if I can just remember

the voice that’s really me

in that very moment

I can set myself free.


Ella Sri Lanka


I remember that all the stories

don’t actually belong to me.

They were simply gifts

passed down through my ancestry.


All the voices of doubt

All the echoes of fear

All the worries of worth

I was just given to clear.


Ella Sri Lanka


I am not the voices

of any of my suffering

I am the angel who came to Earth

to bring about the healing.


Ella Sri Lanka


And when I just remember

the healing starts happening

I am breaking the cycle

just because I’m witnessing.


Ella Sri Lanka


Every time I let it

be whatever it needs to be

I am breaking the cycle

by simply allowing my feelings.


Ella Sri Lanka


And when I really let it

I see the gift it’s always been

when I really let it

I feel gratitude for where I’ve been.


Ella Sri Lanka


I see that every message

was teaching me how to love

by pointing to all the places

I still needed to learn to love.


Ella Sri Lanka


Even if just for a moment

I forgive every shadow of me

even if just for a moment

I am enough exactly as me.


Ella Sri Lanka


In the moment that I love it

I come home to truth of me

far beyond the stories

I return to infinity.


Why Costa Rica is the Best Place on Earth

Why Costa Rica is the Best Place on Earth

Costa Rica


I hear it all of the time.


Costa Rica


Costa Rica is so expensive.
Costa Rica is so Americanized.
Costa Rica is so yesterday.


Costa Rica


And to be fair, it’s actually true.


Costa Rica


Cross the border into Nicaragua and you’ll notice that suddenly people are speaking Spanish again.

Weave your way through Mexico where nearly every day is a fiesta and every town has a Mayan temple and witness how alive it is.

Venture into Guatemala and you’ll connect with indigenous communities and marvel at the authentic artisan crafts.

Go anywhere else in Central America and watch the prices drop at least in half.


Costa Rica


It’s easy to see why many travelers on the Gringo Trail skip Costa Rica completely.


Why would anyone spend time in the most expensive country in Central America…
with the most diluted culture?


Costa Rica08


Oh right, because it’s the most amazing country in Central America…

if not the world.


Costa Rica


Yep, I said it.

Despite the fact that it’s expensive and Westernized

Costa Rica is the most amazing country in the world.


I’ve traveled in over twenty countries across five continents and Costa Rica is the one place I always come back to.

It’s the one place I consider home.


Costa Rica


People often ask me, why Costa Rica?

What’s so special about Costa Rica?


Let me tell you…


Manuel Antonio


You’ll Never Find Nature This Good Anywhere Else


The first morning I spent in Costa Rica I walked out onto the golden sand jungle backed beach. I knew it was the most beautiful place I would ever see in my life. There were no hotels, no beach bars, and no boats. There were not even any people. There was only me and the wild. This rare freedom to simply be with nature is at the heart of why I love it so much here.


It may be small but Costa Rica contains 6% of all the biodiversity in the world and has the greatest density of natural species of any country. You see it the moment you depart from the airport and head anywhere. Mountains of foliage line the narrow highways, the calls of monkeys set the soundtrack for the day, wild tropical fruit falls out of the trees begging to be eaten, and gorgeous flowers and birds paint a rainbow of colors against the green landscape.




Miles of Pacific and Caribbean shoreline composed of white, black, pink, and golden sand are hugged by wild undeveloped jungle full of monkeys, lizards, sloths, tucans, tapir, armadillos, scarlet macaws, snakes, colorful frogs, and so many more. Butterflies and hummingbirds flutter and dance by. In the sea colorful fish, whales, turtles, and dolphins swim free. Wildlife lives everywhere.


One fourth of the country consists of national protected park housing abundant wildlife and stunning foliage. Costa Rica boasts cloud forests, rainforests, and dry forests, many consisting of primary forest. Waterfalls, mountain ranges, and volcanoes tower over glittering beaches. The nature is first and foremost what makes Costa Rica so special, and for me nothing is more important than nature.


Costa Rica10


People Respect Their Mother


More than any other culture I’ve encountered the people of Costa Rica have a deep connection with the natural world. They know the names of the animals, the medicinal uses of the plants, and treat the land with respect. In fact every Costa Rican I’ve met (living outside the city) reveres the natural beauty around them. They know the worth of the Earth and I find that so beautiful.


True, there may be many Americans here, but they’re the kind of Americans who build permaculture farms and teach yoga on the beach. Costa Rica has become a melting pot of people all connected by their love for mother earth.


Costa Rica


In Costa Rica, Nobody is Weird


Because in Costa Rica, everybody is weird.

Costa Rica has truly become a melting pot for all kinds of cultures and characters, yet everyone lives in beautiful harmony with one another. No matter how unusual someone may be, in my experience, white black gay straight sober-minded or fifty shades of crazy, he or she will be accepted and respected. People accept you, no matter how “weird” you are. Consequently in Costa Rica I feel at ease simply being myself, no matter how off the wall that can sometimes be.


Internet Addict  - 26


You Get to Be Alone, Hallelujah!


Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to experience true solitude in nature? Since traveling to Costa Rica, I’ve become completely spoiled in this respect. Thanks to environmental protection laws, most beaches in Costa Rica have ZERO development and are backed by pure jungle. You can walk for hours on deserted shoreline and swim with the sunset with no one else for miles. The more I travel the more I realize that having completely vacant stunning beaches to yourself is extremely rare. As someone who cherishes alone time, the absolute solitude is one of my favorite things about Costa Rica.


Costa Rica12


The Best Things Come Free


Ok, so a fruit smoothie may cost more than the hourly wage and a vacation rental may be as much as San Francisco, but when it comes to pure pleasure there’s plenty for free in Costa Rica. Swim in the ocean, hike in the jungle, walk down the beach, cut a coconut off of the tree, and enjoy the simple beauty of nature that doesn’t cost a thing. Sure, it’s expensive to live like a Gringo in Costa Rica, but it’s still entirely possible to live off the land, and there are less and less places in the world where that’s the case.




There’s a Different Flavor for Everyone


I can think of few other countries on Earth where you can watch the Caribbean sunrise and the Pacific sunset all in one day. Or how about kayak through mangroves, climb to volcanoes, and hike through cloud forest? You can snorkel live reef or surf barreling waves. You can visit indigenous cooperatives making chocolate and plant medicine or listen to reggae on the beach with Rastafarians. You can eat handmade Italian pasta then head out to dance salsa. You can chant to Hindu deities from a yoga temple or sing Native American folk songs from a sweatlodge. In Costa Rica, I often feel like I can experience just about anything.


Costa Rica13


The Lifestyle Can’t Be Beat


In Costa Rica a person discovers quickly just how little he or she needs to be happy. With such abundant nature and the warm climate things like walls and clothing no longer seem necessary. People embrace simplicity, which I’ve observed leads to greater happiness.


Tourists and locals get around the beach towns on foot or by bicycle, and most activities revolve around nature which makes fitness a part of daily life. A typical day in Costa Rica might include surfing, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, hiking in the mountains, swimming under a waterfall, or practicing sunset yoga on the beach.


Being healthy feels easy here and to me health = happiness. It’s no wonder Costa Rica has often been rated the Happiest Country on Earth.




There’s Magic. Pure Magic.


You know how there’s certain places in the world, where you instantly feel magic? Costa Rica is absolutely one of those places. Whether you’re watching the sunset while listening to the crashing waves or dunking your head under a waterfall, in Costa Rica the moments consume you and being present is easy. That’s when you feel the magic that’s been within you all along.


Costa Rica14


All That Pura Vida


Considering the beauty and abundance of nature and the relaxed attitudes of the people, there could only be one national mantra that would make sense: “Pura Vida”. Directly it translates to “pure life” but “pura vida” can be used to express many things.


Pura vida means forgetting your time clock and surrendering to the pace of nature. Turning off your alarm clock, stepping away from technology, and being completely present in your surroundings. Pura vida means letting go of an expectation to always have what you want, when you want it.


Run Like a Girl - 52


If it takes a while to get your latte in the morning, “pura vida.” If the monkeys wake you before sunrise, “pura vida.” If your bus breaks down on the side of the highway, “pura vida.”


Pura vida means choosing the path of happiness regardless of your circumstances. You can say pura vida on a sunny day as appropriately as you can in a storm. You can say pura vida when you’re falling in love and when you’re heartbroken. You can choose to see the pura vida in every single situation that life delivers you.


I can’t imagine anything more beautiful or worthwhile than that.


Pave Paradise  - 17


That said, not all destinations in Costa Rica are created equally. Some places are overly developed and touristic. To get the lowdown on the best of the best that Costa Rica has to offer, get my ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica:





So, You Want to Move to Costa Rica? Read This!

So, You Want to Move to Costa Rica? Read This!

Costa Rica


Want to wake up and watch the sunrise over the ocean? To spend your days surfing, doing yoga, drinking out of coconuts, and taking long naps in a hammock? Want to have the jungle for your backyard?


Want to watch the sunset every night with live music? To have potlucks on the beach with your neighbors? To buy your food from farmers on the side of the road? Want to snuggle inside and watch a rainstorm?


Costa Rica


Want to wait days for your clothes to dry? Or clean gecko poop off of your counters? Sweep cockroaches off of your floor? Watch mice eat holes in everything?


Want to wake up before dawn from the sound of crowing roosters? Want to wake up at midnight from the sound of screeching bats? Want to come home to a tarantula, a snake, or a scorpion in your bed?


Costa Rica


Want to lock everything that you own in a safe? To watch your possessions rust, mold, and fade? Want to work for $2 an hour and spend ten of it on a bag of quinoa? Want to work online when all of the electrical lines break?


Do you want to live in Costa Rica?


Costa Rica


Of anywhere I’ve traveled to in the world, Costa Rica is the only place that really feels like home. It’s the place where it’s easiest for me to relax, the place where I feel the strongest sense of community, the place where I feel the happiest and healthiest, and the place where I feel completely fed by nature.


But even after coming here fifteen times, I’ve never decided to settle down and live here. And time will tell if I ever do. Because living here, actually LIVING here, isn’t all sloths and sunsets.


Whether you plan to come for a month, a year, or perhaps forever, I’ve written this post to help you understand what living in Costa Rica is really like.


Costa Rica02


Getting a Visa


Oh, right, that whole inconvenient thing. Yes, you do need a visa to be in Costa Rica. And technically, you cannot LEGALLY live here without applying for legal resident status (more on that later.)


North Americans and many other passport holders will receive a free, automatic three month tourist visa at customs. That means you don’t need to apply for it, you just need to show up. However, they will want to see “proof” that you are leaving the country within ninety days.


Except maybe you don’t want to buy a return ticket. And maybe you want to stay longer than three months. In this case, you will need to either purchase a fully refundable ticket home (these are usually expensive, but you can cancel within 24 hours) or purchase a bus or shuttle ticket to a neighboring country. Regardless of whether you’ve decided to “live” in Costa Rica, you MUST leave the country within 90 days.


Tourists without residency are legally allowed to own vehicles, property, businesses, and generate income from self-employment.


Costa Rica


“Living” in Costa Rica on a Tourist Visa


Admittedly, there are plenty of people living in Costa Rica on tourist visas. It’s become a common practice for foreigners to leave once their 90 day visa is up, cross the border into Panama or Nicaragua, spend a few days there, and then return and receive another 90 day stamp. I know people who have somehow been doing this for years. That said, if they decide to investigate and crack down, the penalties can be severe. You may not even be allowed back into the country for TWELVE years.


If you don’t want to take that risk, I recommend going on longer trips between visa runs. I.e not “living” in Costa Rica. I have a million Costa Rica stamps in my passport, but it has never been an issue in Immigration, because I always leave before my visa ends, and I travel all over the world for long periods of time. (Note: this is totally legal.) I imagine a passport with only Costa Rica and Panama stamps might look suspicious, and constantly going in and out may not be legal.


Costa Rica


Becoming a Legal Resident


If you legitimately want to live and work in Costa Rica, you will need to apply for residence status, which I hear is a long and difficult process. Most qualified candidates include business owners investing a significant amount of money, retirees with a consistent pension of at least $1,000 per month, parents or siblings of a child born in Costa Rica (some people choose to have their baby in Costa Rica for this reason), and those legitimately married to Costa Rican nationals (it’s strict). I’m not an expert on residency since I’ve never applied, so I recommend you consult this article: Costa Rica Residency.


Costa Rica


Renting a House


Finding a place to live in Costa Rica is often the bane of my existence. Most expats own their own houses, and it’s far more profitable for people to rent their places as vacation rentals than as long term residences. As a tourist, you typically have to book something months in advance, there’s little selection, and rates skyrocket during holidays.


If you have the money and you know you love Costa Rica, buy a place. It’s a great investment, you can have a property management company make sure it’s rented when you’re not around, and you’ll never have to worry about renting a place. For everyone else, I recommend joining a community Facebook group for the specific location in Costa Rica where you want to live.


In Puerto Viejo we have a page where people post the houses they have for rent, usually much lower prices than you’ll find with property management companies. I have (and currently am) renting with a property management company, but it is definitely more expensive this way. For a two bedroom house close to the beach, expect to pay anywhere from $350 per month to $1,000 per month.


Costa Rica


Getting Around


Most people get around by bicycle in the flat beach towns of Costa Rica. I find it to be a healthy, fun, environmentally friendly, and efficient way to get around. You can usually find used bicycles for sale from $30 to $100 in local Facebook groups, or you can buy new bicycles for $150 to $250. If you’re planning to stay just for a few months, you can usually sell your used bicycle for the same price or a little less than you bought it for.


Local buses are limited, running infrequently and rarely on time, but they’re a good option for going further distances.


Some expats and locals do own cars, quads, or scooters. You don’t have to be a resident to purchase a car, but even the crappiest cars are expensive because of import tax. The weather is very unkind to vehicles, so expect to make constant repairs.


Costa Rica


Speaking the Language


What’s that, you don’t speak Spanish? The good news is, most of the Americans I know who live in Costa Rica don’t either. It sounds absurd, but it’s actually challenging to learn Spanish in many of the beach towns in Costa Rica, because English is spoken so readily. This is particularly true in Puerto Viejo where most locals have Afro-Caribbean English speaking roots.


I do recommend that you take some basic lessons so that you can interact with taxi drivers, bus drivers, house cleaners, gardeners, and the other people who don’t speak English. Besides, it’s a beautiful and enjoyable language to speak, and speaking the local language will greatly deepen your experiences and connections with locals.


You can get private lessons in Costa Rica for around $10/hr or enroll in a Spanish Language school. I also like the podcast Coffee Break Spanish.


Costa Rica


Bringing Your Kids


If you have young kids, Costa Rica has some excellent Montessori and Waldorf schools. I recommend researching the international schools in the specific towns that you’re interested in relocating to. For more information on moving to Costa Rica with kids, I recommend this article: Moving to Costa Rica With Children.


Costa Rica


Bringing Your Pets


Friends of mine have brought dogs down with them to Costa Rica, and as you can imagine, the dogs love it. However, you do have to consider the many wild animals, tropical diseases, and aggressive dogs that live here. For more info, check out Moving Pets to Costa Rica.


Costa Rica


Getting Mail


The first time I came to Costa Rica, I asked someone how the mail system works here. “From the USA?” she asked, “DON’T DO IT!! IT NEVER COMES!”


Since then I have had things sent from the USA, but they take a very, very, very long time. It may stop in customs, and you’ll have to go to the capitol to pick it up. Theft is also common, so sending anything valuable is pretty much out of the question. What people typically do, is have friends coming down from the USA carry things for them in their luggage. You can also use FedEx, UPS, and DHL but it will also be slow.


In the past I have had things sent to San Jose and then shipped them down to Puerto Viejo through a service called “encomienda” where the goods are dropped at the bus station in San Jose, taken via bus, and you can then pick them up at the bus station where you are.


There’s also no address system in Costa Rica, so everything is described in proximity to landmarks, like 200 meters from that restaurant that has the best ceviche. Zip codes are not used widely either. Most people use post office boxes, but these can have long wait lists.


Costa Rica


Staying Connected


You can get cell phones anywhere (but the phones themselves are crappy and expensive) with inexpensive pay as you go SIM cards. Grocery stores, pharmacies, tourist shops, and electronic stores carry them. I recommend bringing down your own unlocked smart phone and putting in a local SIM. You can get unlimited data coverage for as low as $20 a month!


Many vacation rentals, most hostels/hotels, and many restaurants have wifi. However, it’s not reliable so if you need consistent wifi, I recommend purchasing an internet hotspot that you can use with a local SIM card.


Be prepared for lots of dead zones and loss of service during storms.


Costa Rica


Paying the Bills


One of the most surprising things about Costa Rica, is that it’s extremely expensive compared to other Central American countries. Especially if you want Western luxuries. Thanks to the hefty import tax, cars cost double what they would in the USA, alcohol can be very expensive, and a small block of goat cheese costs $10. Keep in mind, this is still a country where the general wage is $2 an hour. While it’s not an excuse, this has made me understand why theft is so common here.


If you want to live “comfortably” by Western standards, expect to spend $1,000 to $2000 per month living in Costa Rica, and be willing to sacrifice many luxuries. This is still very low compared to living in the USA, but not as cheap as many people imagine.


Save money by using a bicycle instead of a car, eating less imported food and more local food, and spending your time in nature, which offers totally free entertainment.


Costa Rica


Making a Living


Working in Costa Rica is hard. There aren’t many well paying jobs and most places require legal residency (enforced by law to protect Costa Rican citizens). Even if you are a legal resident, the wages will be significantly lower than they are in Western countries. This is why I even know Costa Ricans who leave and work seasonally in the USA or Europe. Personally, I’ve never tried to find work here, because (aside from the fact that it’s not legal) I make more money in two hours of writing online than I would make working an entire week in Costa Rica.


In my opinion you have more or less two options: create a business for yourself or work online. If you want to earn money online (which also gives you the freedom to travel anywhere in the world) check out my article How to Travel and Work From Anywhere. I’ll discuss how to open a profitable business later on.


I do have some friends who work in Costa Rica without legal residency. Some simply do work trade, which doesn’t pay but usually offers free lodging and food, a good option for long term travelers with money saved. The ones who earn the best wages do some sort of Marketing or business service, working for a tour agency or big hotel.


I also recommend reading my articles How I Afford a Life of Constant Travel, and You Can Too and How to Travel the World When You’ve Got Absolutely No Money.


Costa Rica


Paying Your Taxes


If you’re not a legal resident and you’re working in Costa Rica, you’re either working online and earning wages outside of the country or you’re earning money under the table. In either case, don’t worry about paying taxes in Costa Rica. Woo hoo.


Sales tax is 13% and import duties are 50-90%! Now you understand why cars are so expensive here. License plate fees are paid annually but are low, and property tax is also much lower than it is in the USA.


Tourists need to pay a tax whenever they leave the country of around $25.


Costa Rica


Opening a Business

Many friends of mine who live full time in Costa Rica own and operate businesses, and while it’s certainly not easy, it can be very rewarding. I see people making their dreams come true every day whether they’re building yoga studios, opening cafes, or renting out vacation homes. Many of whom started with tiny investments but were willing to put in the elbow grease. You can start as small as setting up a stand at the farmer’s market.


For practical details on how to make it happen, read these articles:
Opening a Business in Costa Rica
Costa Rica Business FAQ


Costa Rica


Getting Shit Done


Here comes the hard part, actually getting anything done. The sunshine, the ocean, the dance parties, the community gatherings, the waves, are all HUGE distractions. Wonderful, beautiful distractions, but distractions nonetheless.


Most people living in Costa Rica operate on “Pura Vida Time” which means you can’t expect a quick response, people are rarely on time, and you’ll probably get stood up a lot. Quickly you may begin operating on Costa Rica time yourself. You’ll become more relaxed and less motivated to “hustle.” It’s difficult to balance but the key is to remember your dreams and your goals while also allowing yourself to live the pura vida lifestyle.




Buying “Stuff”


One of my favorite things about Costa Rica, is that you can’t really buy anything. Nothing that you would want anyway. It’s nice, materialism doesn’t matter so much. But when you do actually need something, it’s not so great. Even in the capitol city of San Jose, it’s nearly impossible to find nice clothes, housewares, or electronics. What you will find will be expensive as well. I recommend bringing what you need down with you.


Costa Rica


Surviving the Environment


I’m pretty sure that I was born to live in Costa Rica. I’ve always loved humidity, I don’t mind being dirty, and never in my life have I been afraid of snakes or bugs. I know that this is not the case for most people.


The heat can be intense, and you may find yourself sweating… constantly. If heat really gets to you, consider living away from the ocean at a higher elevation. In towns like La Fortuna and Monteverde, you will actually need a sweater in the evening because it’s so cool.


For the insects, try to keep your home environment meticulously clean. Don’t leave fruit on the counter even for 10 minutes. Wash your dishes immediately, keep your bed made, and make sure to always have everything picked up off the floor.


Insect bites can be particularly frustrating. Slather your skin in coconut oil when going to the beach to keep away sand fleas and wear long, loose pants in the evening to avoid getting mosquito bites. I also recommend you read my article, How I Cured Myself of Mosquito Bites Forever.


Costa Rica


Staying Healthy


The tropics are not always kind to the Western body. Strange fungal infections, stomach bugs, and parasites are not uncommon. I recommend traveling with or making your own high quality probiotics (read my post How to Travel the World and Never Get Food Poisoning). Drinking fresh young coconut water daily will help with all viruses and infections and eating fresh papaya seeds will help kill parasites. I also recommend using coconut oil on your skin to keep infection away.


I travel with an essential oils kit as well, which has made a huge difference in my health routine. Learn more about that here.


Costa Rica


Feeding Yourself


The same way it’s hard to buy quality “stuff” in Costa Rica, it takes quite a bit of effort to buy quality food. Forget about nice supermarkets, it’s more like corner stores and road stands. Fortunately most towns have a weekly farmer’s market with organic produce and other goodies. Some even have organic delivery services, and Nosara, Costa Rica has a lovely little organic grocery store open daily.


I usually stock up on veggies, greens, tortillas, coconut oil, and eggs at the Farmer’s Market, then supplement throughout the week with organic fruit stands and the local fish counter. In most touristic towns you’ll also find delicious and some healthy restaurants too.


Costa Rica


Making Friends


…is easier than you might think, and harder than you might think. In Costa Rica people tend to be less busy, more relaxed, more community oriented, and more spontaneous. Whether organizing a full moon ceremony, attending a beach BBQ, or simply having conversation, its easy to find people to connect with. However, it can be very difficult to really… get in. In Costa Rica, people come and go constantly, which has made many locals and expats hesitant about giving new visitors a chance.


I recommend regularly attending community events and getting involved in different community Facebook groups if you really want to become part of the community.


Costa Rica


Making Enemies


…happens much more easily than you might think. Most towns in Costa Rica are very small, which means gossip and drama occur regularly. My advice is to be patient and respectful of local culture, be very mindful of the words you speak, and learn to respond to all manners of drama with humility, peace and love.


Costa Rica


Falling in Love


…also happens more easily than you might think. People are half naked most of the time, unbelievably fit and beautiful, and sex is always in the air. However I’ve found it very challenging to cultivate a healthy relationship here. As a woman, I’ve struggled with the local culture where fidelity is practically nonexistent. Many friends of mine have suffered in these relationships, some with children, with an unfaithful partner who they also support financially. (Read more in my post There Are Many Shades of Black.) Most men I meet in Costa Rica who do have the qualities I’m looking for, leave and move on to the next destination before there’s time for a romance to even develop.


All that said, I do know some happy couples living here, some who even met in Costa Rica. One in particular told me, “Keep following the path that makes you happy, and the right people will come into your life.” And so, so, very many beautiful friends, whom I love with all of my heart, have come into my life because of this place.


So that’s what I keep doing. Trusting that my heart will lead me where I need to go.


Will you do the same?


Want more information on Costa Rica like safety tips, what to pack, the best beach towns, and an entire healthy eating guide? Get my 150 page eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Costa Rica.




I’m Sorry, But I Have to Run

I’m Sorry, But I Have to Run

Manuel Antonio


I’ve gotten a lot better about adjusting when I come back to the civilized world.


Santa Teresa


I struggle less in the traffic.

I shiver less in the cold.

I blend more with the crowd.


Manuel Antonio


I listen patiently as people talk in circles about their unhappiness in their jobs.

I smile and try to understand as they talk passionately about possessions and material things they have, can’t afford, or want.

I remember that I too was there once.


Puerto Viejo


I choose to see the positive in a world full of pavement.

I dance when I wake up in the morning, play with my hula hoop, walk barefoot as often as I can.

Even if people stare.




I focus on gratitude.

The joy of shopping in a grocery store, or washing my laundry, or having reliable wifi, or ordering anything I could ever want on




But in truth, I’d rather eat from the trees.

I’d rather wear muddy rags.

I’d trade strong internet for a real connection.

I’d give up my kindle, Mackbook, or Canon to be back in the wild.


Puerto Viejo


I’ve gotten a lot better about surrendering when I come back to the civilized world.


Costa Rica


I concede rather than fight.

I submit rather than struggle.

I accept that this is the way things are.




Sometimes I even wonder, if maybe I could stay.


Costa Rica


I imagine myself re-cultivating.

Getting back to a steady career.

Throwing parties in my fancy apartment.

Dressed to kill in shoes that kill.


Puerto Viejo


I imagine myself re-committing.

Finding a man who’s on the path of entrapment.

Falling in love with his dreams, then awakening in a cage.


La Fortuna Waterfall


But sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m just hiding.

If the sadness and separation from the real, rawness still rules me.

If all the comforts in society can’t really soothe me.

If I’m only buying in so that I can survive.


Sloth Puerto Viejo


I wonder if I’ve lost my essence.

My inspiration.

My joyfulness.

My me-ness.


Puerto Viejo


I’ve gotten a lot better about surviving when I come back to the civilized world.


Iguana Santa Teresa


I escape into the world of my work.

I justify my existence through “progress” and persistence.

I dissolve into the online world.


Manzanillo Puerto Viejo


But I wonder if I’ve gotten better about being here, because I pretend that I’m not actually there.


Arenal Volcano


I wonder if I’m becoming one of them again.


Bri Bri Waterfall


One of them who gets road rage in traffic.

One of them who grows addicted to work and “achievement”.

One of them who looks at a screen more often than the sky.

One of them who talks through a computer most of the time.


Cabo Matapalo


I wonder if I fool myself.


Costa Rica


If I fool myself into thinking that yoga studios and green smoothies are enough.

That spending an hour a day in a park is enough.

That looking at pictures of nature on Pinterest is enough.


Puerto Viejo


Could I settle, for ‘enough’?


Puerto Viejo


But then my aching heart reminds me.


Puerto Viejo


My aching heart reminds me, how it feels to stand alone in the ocean, with no one for company but the trees.


Howler Monkey Costa Rica


My aching heart reminds me, how it feels to look into the eyes of a monkey.


Santa Teresa


My aching heart reminds me how it feels, to press my body so hard against the sand, the edges disappear and I remember who I am.


Nosara Playa Guiones


My aching heart reminds me

to run.


33 Inspiring Travel Quotes Guaranteed to Give You Wanderlust

33 Inspiring Travel Quotes Guaranteed to Give You Wanderlust



You know when you read something, and it’s as if somehow the person who wrote it broke into your heart, dug out your feelings, and turned them into words? It’s like for the first time, you’re reading out loud, what you’ve known inside all along?


There’s something tremendously healing, when we witness that someone else feels what we feel. It reminds us that we’re all connected, and we’re never alone.


That’s exactly how I felt when I was reading these quotes today. Many made me laugh, some made me cry, and all of them made me remember, that no matter the cost or the challenge, travel is always worth it. Here are my favorite travel quotes, guaranteed to inspire wanderlust. Enjoy!




“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese


(Photo taken in Uluwatu, Bali on the Bukit Peninsula.)


lao tzu


“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu


(Photo taken in Dominical, Costa Rica.)




“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous


(Photo taken on Koh Nang Yuan near Koh Tao, Thailand.)




“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them – wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain


(Photo taken in a food market in Battambang, Cambodia.)




“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


(Photo taken on a boat ride to Koh Phangan, Thailand.)




“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” – Anatole France


(Photo taken in Playa Guiones, Costa Rica.)




“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon


(Photo taken in Ayutthaya, Thailand.)




“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins


(Photo taken in Kuta, Lombok.)




“I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation- a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any Here. They spoke quietly of how they wanted to go someday, to move about, free and unanchored, not toward something but away from something. I saw this look and heard this yearning everywhere in every states I visited. Nearly every American hungers to move.” – John Steinbeck


(Photo taken in Taghazout, Morocco.)


understand each other


“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but, by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou


(Photo taken in Koh Rong, Cambodia.)




“In an all-blue world, color doesn’t exist. If something seems strange, you question it; but if the outside world is too distant to use as a comparison then nothing seems strange.” – Alex Garland, The Beach


(Photo taken in Chefchaoeun, Morocco.)




“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher


(Photo taken in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.)


see the world


“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury


(Photo taken in Imsouane, Morocco.)




“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it’s lethal.” – Paulo Coelho


(Photo taken in the La Amistad National Park, Costa Rica.)




“Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.’” – Lisa. St. Aubin de Teran


(Photo taken in Koh Chang, Thailand.)




“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” – Albert Einstein

(Photo taken at Kuang Si Falls in Luang Prabang, Laos.)



“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.” – Pico Iyer


(Photo taken on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam.)


the fishermen know


“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” – Vincent Van Gogh


(Photo taken at Otres Beach, Cambodia.)




“I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless newborn baby – I just don’t care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it’s mine. Because it looks exactly like me.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love


(Photo taken on Spain’s Costa Blanca.)


travel courage


“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.” – Paulo Coelho


(Photo taken in Koh Tao, Thailand.)




“If I’d learnt one thing from traveling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don’t talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.” – Alex Garland, The Beach


(Photo taken in the San Blas Islands, Panama.)




“I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown, eat interesting food, dig some interesting people, have an adventure, be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently, you’re going to see your president differently, no matter who it is. Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You’re going to get a sense of what globalization looks like. It’s not what Tom Friedman writes about, I’m sorry. You’re going to see that global climate change is very real. And that for some people, their day consists of walking twelve miles for four buckets of water. And so there are lessons that you can’t get out of a book that are waiting for you at the other end of that flight. A lot of people — Americans and Europeans — come back and go, “Ohhhh.” And the lightbulb goes on.” – Henry Rollins


(Photo taken in Hanoi, Vietnam.)




“Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.” -Lewis Caroll


(Photo taken at Paradise Valley in Morocco.)




“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road


(Photo taken in Cat Ba Island, Vietnam.)




“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius


(Photo taken in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica.)




“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost


(Photo taken at Kuang Si Falls in Laos.)




“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float; to gain all while you give; to roam the roads of lands remote; to travel is to live.” – Hans Christian Andersen


(Photo taken in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.)




“It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B. It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.” – Cheryl Strayed, Wild


(Photo taken in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica.)




“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” – Anthony Bourdain


(Photo taken in Uluwatu, Bali on the Bukit Peninsula.)




“When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends on them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life. At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive.” – Paulo Coelho


(Photo taken in Marrakech, Morocco.)




“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” – Unknown


(Photo taken in the mountains at Akchour in Chefchaoeun, Morocco.)


one more bite


“Travel is little beds and cramped bathrooms. It’s old television sets and slow Internet connections. Travel is extraordinary conversations with ordinary people. It’s waiters, gas station attendants, and housekeepers becoming the most interesting people in the world. It’s churches that are compelling enough to enter. It’s McDonald’s being a luxury. It’s the realization that you may have been born in the wrong country. Travel is a smile that leads to a conversation in broken English. It’s the epiphany that pretty girls smile the same way all over the world. Travel is tipping 10% and being embraced for it. Travel is the same white T-shirt again tomorrow. Travel is accented sex after good wine and too many unfiltered cigarettes. Travel is flowing in the back of a bus with giggly strangers. It’s a street full of bearded backpackers looking down at maps. Travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was. It’s the rediscovery of walking somewhere. It’s sharing a bottle of liquor on an overnight train with a new friend. Travel is ‘Maybe I don’t have to do it that way when I get back home.'” – Nick Miller


(Photo taken in Cambodia, during this experience.)




“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau


(Photo taken in the San Blas Islands, Panama.)


instpirational quote


“And then one day, you get it. You get it that happiness is a choice. You get it that you set the rules in your life. You get it that you don’t have to live in a box. You get it that the great big open world is full of possibility. You get it that even in the darkest of nights, you have nothing to fear. You get it that you are strong, capable, and worthy. You get it that you can do anything. You get it that creating the life of your dreams is entirely up to you. You get it that freedom has been there, waiting for you, all along.” – Me, This American Girl


(Photo taken in my home, my love, my heart, Costa Rica.)


What are your favorite travel quotes, that inspire you to see the world?