I returned home from a year of teaching English in South Korea on July 7, 2014. A month later I went on a family vacation to Costa Rica.

Each round-trip flight to Liberia, Costa Rica from San Francisco cost about $930. But now you can fly to Costa Rica on Southwest Airlines with points.

We stayed at The Westin, an all-inclusive resort in Playa Conchal, for a week. It cost $175 per person, per room based on double occupancy.


There are 7 restaurants to choose from. You can order any menu item in any quantity. You can order any alcoholic beverage from any bar with no limits (we drank so many mojitos). Each room comes with a mini bar which is restocked twice a day, as well as 24-hour room service.


You can stay on the property and relax in one of the pools, or walk to the beach.

Even if you don’t venture too far from the hotel, you’re still bound to encounter some wildlife.


For roughly $50 per person, you can take a river boat tour. Our tour guide was great. He would point out birds, bats, and insects, and tell us everything about them.

At one point along the river, he pulled the boat over and tied it to a tree. Within minutes our boat was swarming with monkeys. I guess they must be used to humans because they were crawling all over us. It was all fun and games until one monkey peed down my back, and another monkey bit my step-sister’s thumb.


Then we encountered some hungry crocodiles .


Our other action-packed day included zip-lining, horseback riding, a water slide, a mud bath, and a pool filled with natural hot spring water.


For our final full day we visited the small town of Tamarindo. There are several souvenir shops. You can take surfing lessons for $50, which my step-sister did.

After lunch my brother and I decided to walk around town, and it was interesting…

I can’t tell you how many times locals stopped us on the street, offering to sell us drugs. They weren’t even trying to be subtle about it. They’d just say “Hey, you want some cocaine?” When we said no, they’d just offer us another drug.


After traveling to so many countries on a shoe-string budget and staying at the cheapest hostels available, it was nice to live like royalty for a week.

It may be expensive, but if you can at some point, treat yourself to a resort.

Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.