Here's What Rick Steves Loved Most About His Vacation In Costa Rica

There are many reasons to travel, from family vacations to work to exploration. What if your day job is traveling, though? Where would a travel expert go to unwind when traveling is their job? For Rick Steves, that place is Costa Rica, and it's easy to see why. It's full of sheer tropical beauty, surfing, swimming, and animal encounters, such as diving with sharks or seeing sloths up close. You can have a pretty unforgettable vacation in Costa Rica doing all of these things, but that's not what Steves mentions loving about the destination on his website. The thing that charmed him and made it a true vacation was that he and his family could unplug. 


Steves wrote, "Our lodge was off the grid, powered by its own generator; there was no air-conditioning, just fans. But for being away from it all, it was perfect. Kayaking up a lazy lagoon, daydreaming through a plush garden of sticky flowers, learning the art of the hammock, munching fresh-baked cookies, enjoying a little personal downtime with tiny lizards — even a workaholic could be thoroughly on vacation here." It sounds like a dream — we could all probably benefit from a bit of personal downtime. 

Rick Steves's unplugged time in Costa Rica and what to take from it

It's easy to see why Steves was so happy in Costa Rica. He mentions that traveling Europe is work for him and that this was a family vacation. (Europe might be on your own getaway bucket list, but it's different for everyone.) The thing is, so many of us bring our laptops on vacation, answer emails and texts when we're supposed to be relaxing, or check social media so we don't miss anything. It's not that we need to do nothing but hang out with lizards and eat cookies, though. There are plenty of offline activities to do on vacation where you don't have to have your face glued to a screen, and Steves took advantage of this during his trip.


He mentions finally getting to surf for the first time, which is something you can also do in Europe, of course. (Praia do Norte in Nazaré in Portugal holds the record for the biggest wave ever surfed.) By the end of the trip, he said that his son couldn't believe he hadn't looked at his phone in a week. Steves said, "I reflected on how travel refreshes our bodies, minds and souls — and then redirected my thoughts to a land where the flora and fauna is more...European."

How to unplug during your vacation

Not all of us can go off the grid like Steves, but we can definitely unplug more during vacation. In fact, we probably should. While you want to be reachable in emergencies, constantly looking at emails and texts can make you think of work. Cassie Mogilner Holmes, professor of marketing and behavioral decision-making at UCLA Anderson School of Management said, "The constant connection makes us feel time-constrained, because there's so much we can be doing, and we get stressed that we can't do it all." Mogilner Holmes suggests that we practice staying offline for six hours, which she's done with her students. She says that, while they initially kept grabbing their phones, " the end of six hours, there's this revelation that whatever they're doing feels more rewarding and productive."


It's worth practicing no-screen time before vacation so you don't panic while doing it for the first time. In addition, you can delete social media apps from your phone (or put them in a folder several pages into your phone display so you don't check out of habit), and even the email app if you can get away with it. Put an away message on your email and let people who may contact you know that you won't be reachable. Avoid telling people they can call you in an emergency unless you absolutely must. Finally, turn off news alerts for a bit. Now, sit back and for goodness's sake, relax.