How do I join this program?
Please complete our online form. We’ll contact you within 2 business days to set up a phone call. There’s no fee to complete the form but once you fill it out you will have the ability to reserve a spot on the program by paying a $250 deposit towards the program fee.
What are the eligibility requirements?
In order to participate, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a high school graduate, and 18 years or older by the program start date.
Where will I be staying?
Accommodation at quality hotels, hostels, and cabanas is included throughout the program. Rooms will be multi-shared. For the program week based in the Monteverde and Arenal area, two nights will be camping-style accommodation.
When should I book my flights?
We will send out detailed information on flight booking 6-8 weeks prior to the trip start date. In many cases we will give you the “green light” to purchase flights earlier than this if we already have the minimum group size required to move forward.
How is transportation within Costa Rica handled?
All in-country transportation is included in your program. We will use private transportation (bus or shuttle) for the group. At some points, public transportation might be used. This is all arranged by your group leader.
With whom will I be traveling?
While participants may come from all around the U.S. (and sometimes beyond), they share an interest in learning how communities around the globe are embracing sustainable practices, particularly when it comes to environmental concerns. Participants are typically between 18 and 25 years of age and may be joining the program during a summer or winter break from college, as part of a pre- or post-college gap year, or as an alternative spring break. Groups range in size between 8 and 16 travelers.
We aim to form strong group dynamics through intro activities, discussions, and shared adventures.
Who is leading the program?
An experienced group leader with education and international program leadership backgrounds will be with the group from start to finish. You will have their contact number in the days leading up to the trip.
How hard are the physical activities like hiking? How will I know if the physical activities are suitable for me?
While we will not be trekking extensively, your itinerary will contain strenuous and physical activities (across varied terrain and in different weather). It’s important that you’re open to and comfortable with this type of physical activity. If you have any doubts as to your physical ability to participate on the program, we welcome you to contact us.
In addition, this is a fast-paced program and we’ll be keeping busy (and having a huge amount of fun). Be ready to stay engaged so you can make the most of the trip!
Will I have assignments to complete?
No. We’ll be sending you some short readings and resources to add context to your experience, which we encourage you to check out before or after the trip. While we won’t be collecting “assignments” or providing grades, the program works better when everyone participates to the fullest in the day-to-day activities of the trip.
What does the program fee include?
As a nonprofit organization committed to creating accessible intercultural experiences, InterExchange sets pricing carefully. In addition to everything listed under What’s Included, your program fee covers the costs of program design, site visits, application review, one-to-one advising, and other program administration. Please also see our refund policies.
Is my flight included in the program fee?
No, the cost of your flight is not included in the program fee.
Will I need to pay for anything while I'm in Costa Rica?
There’s usually no need to spend anything while on this trip, but we suggest having a small budget in case you want to purchase any snacks or souvenirs, and to have as an emergency fund. We suggest you call the phone number on the back of any credit/debit cards you plan to travel with and inform the bank that you’ll be in Costa Rica. This helps avoid having your account flagged and/or temporarily blocked in the event that you use the card(s) while abroad. It’s generally easy to withdraw local currency (Colones) by using a US bank card, but your bank may charge an international withdraw fee, so you might want to avoid withdrawing money more than once. US dollars are accepted in many establishments in Costa Rica. However, plan to use Colones as it’s best to adapt to local customs and not everyone will take USD.
How do I book my flight?
You can book your flight using your choice of online or other booking services. (We do not book group flights.) We’ll provide windows of time in which you must arrive and depart from SJO airport. We can assist you with booking your flights, should you need.
Does the program include insurance?
Your program fee includes international medical insurance, including accident, sickness, and emergency evacuation coverage. This covers all activities included on the program.
However, we strongly recommend purchasing trip cancellation insurance at the time of paying your initial deposit to hedge against any unforeseen circumstances that could come up on your side.
What will the food be like?
With very few exceptions pertaining to regions that we will not be visiting, water from the tap is safe to drink in Costa Rica. Costa Rica can accommodate most dietary needs. Breakfast is traditionally gallo pinto, which is rice and beans often served with plantains or patacones, avocado, eggs, and toast. On this trip we will occasionally eat more western food if desired by the group. Local fruit and fruit juices are also very common.
What if I have dietary restrictions?
The program can accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free diets. If you have any other specific dietary concerns or restrictions we would encourage you to let us know upon signing up so that we can ensure there won’t be any difficulties accomodating them. Once you are booked we will collect further information about any allergies or dietary restrictions so that your group leader is aware.
Do I need to know Spanish to participate in the program? Can I practice during the program?
No language skills are required for participation. Most activities will be conducted in English but along the way you can practice here and there with our guides and community representatives if you like. If you’re hoping to improve your Spanish we can help you arrange an additional week (or more) of Spanish immersion before or after the program in San José or at the beach in Manuel Antonio, through our friends at another great agency. Ask us for details!
Can I spend more time in Costa Rica either before or after the program?
Of course! If you plan to arrive in Costa Rica early, you must still meet the group at SJO airport or make your own way to the group accommodation at a specified meeting time. Let us know if you have any doubts about doing so. If you plan to continue traveling after the program, you are welcome to do so.
How is participant safety and wellness taken into account on this program?
Most importantly the group travels together, your leader will never be far and you’ll have their phone number in case of any emergencies. Costa Rica is a very safe place, with petty theft being the most common concern but your group leader will provide some general safety tips on your first night in Costa Rica. Should you require medical attention during the program your group leader will help you get to the most appropriate facility. Also, travel medical insurance is included on the program (usually you would pay out of pocket and submit a claim for reimbursement once you’re back home).
As a precaution we suggest you avoid carrying around large sums of money, not counting money in public, and being vigilant as usual when using an ATM machine, and being mindful of your surroundings, especially when taking photos. If for any reason you require transportation for personal use (for example if you stay in Costa Rica after the program), stick with official taxis, public buses, and licensed tour providers.
Why should I travel with InterExchange?
InterExchange has facilitated purposesful travel experiences for young adults since 1968 and is a U.S. Department of State-recognized sponsor for Exchange Visitor programs in the U.S. and a provider of powerful educational adventures outside of the U.S. While we’ve been around for decades, we develop bespoke group trips that cover specific topics that young adults most care about today. This allows us to reach an audience with shared interests so that the group experience is very much a part of what people remember about these trips!