Costa Rica Rainforest Canopy Bridge

Welcome to the PRO Costa Rica Accepted Student Information page!  Navigate the tabs below for everything you need to know before your epic adventure!

To navigate back to your portal for payments, forms and due dates, click the My Account button above.

Stay Informed

Click here for the summer 2023 pre-departure master checklist!

Stay on track for your summer adventure with the pre-departure checklist.  Print it out, share with your parents and cross off items as you complete them.  Please note some items may only apply to specific locations, and this is noted where applicable.

  • Click below to join the 2023 GroupMe (links will be posted in late October)
    • Session 1 link
    • Session 2 link
    • When you join, post an introduction with your name, school and hometown!
    • If you’re looking for a flight buddy and/or a roommate, share that as well so you can connect with others looking for the same!
  • Follow us on Instagram and search the 5,000+ #LeadAbroadLife and @LeadAbroad tags

Get Ready to Take Off

Study abroad specifically – and life in general – has been affected since COVID-19 was identified in early 2020. COVID-19 will likely remain a meaningful risk in 2023 and continue to alter the way we deliver programs. However, we believe experienced study abroad programs such as LeadAbroad can continue serving students in a safe manner by mitigating these risks. We believe studying abroad can be a transformative experience. Travel and living in a new environment leads to personal, academic and cultural growth which cannot be replicated without leaving your comfort zone.

We trust best practices including a combination of vaccines and preventative behaviors such as social distancing, testing, masks, enhanced hygiene, etc. will be important tools to decrease risk while ensuring the life changing benefits.

Please review the following resources regarding COVID-19 and your LeadAbroad program:

COVID-19 Vaccine Policy

COVID-19 frequently asked questions

U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica

This section is for SESSION 1 dates ONLY

The LeadAbroad team will support you every step of the way when planning your flights!  Please review the sections below as well as the flights FAQ section above for information on the official group flight and tips for booking flights independently.

Important dates for PRO Costa Rica Session 1:

  • Monday, May 15 – students depart U.S. for San Jose; program begins
  • Friday, May 26 – program ends; students depart San Jose for U.S.

For steps on booking flights, please review the sections below:

Recommended Itineraries (SESSION 1)

  • LeadAbroad is currently reviewing all flight itinerary options to San Jose (SJO) on the program travel dates.  Recommended itineraries will be posted here by mid-November.  LeadAbroad will notify students and families once these recommendations are available.
  • We suggest booking flights over the holidays when students are home for break.  Students will submit their flight information to LeadAbroad shortly after Spring Break.

Airport greeting and group shuttles (SESSION 1)

Coming soon!

This section is for SESSION 2 dates ONLY

The LeadAbroad team will support you every step of the way when planning your flights!  Please review the sections below as well as the flights FAQ section above for information on the official group flight and tips for booking flights independently.

Important dates for PRO Costa Rica Session 2:

  • Monday, May 29 – students depart the U.S. for San Jose; program begins
  • Friday, June 9 – program ends; students depart San Jose for the U.S.

For steps on booking flights, please review the sections below:

Recommended Itineraries (SESSION 2)

  • LeadAbroad is currently reviewing all flight itinerary options to San Jose (SJO) on the program travel dates.  Recommended itineraries will be posted here by mid-November.  LeadAbroad will notify students and families once these recommendations are available.
  • We suggest booking flights over the holidays when students are home for break.  Students will submit their flight information to LeadAbroad shortly after Spring Break.

Airport greeting and group shuttles (SESSION 2)

Coming soon!

In order to arrive abroad rested and ready to go, consider the following tips to make your flight experience as enjoyable and safe as possible:

  • Print ALL of your flight itineraries for the trip and have them easily accessible.
  • Do not start your trip stressed. GET TO THE AIRPORT EARLY. For most international flights, we recommend that you arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to departure.
  • Weigh your bags before you leave home. Check baggage size and weight restrictions for ALL AIRLINES you might be flying during the program.  Smaller budget airlines abroad usually have stricter baggage policies than the larger U.S.-based carriers.
  • Pack the following items in your carry-on.  If your checked baggage takes an adventure of its own, having these items with you will create less stress and allow for a more comfortable plane ride:
    • Two days worth of clothes
    • Medications/contacts
    • Laptop, cell phone, chargers, other electronics
    • Water bottle/Nalgene
    • Headphones/earbuds
    • Blindfold and ear plugs if you are sensitive to light/sound when trying to sleep on planes
    • Journal/books/Kindle/magazines
    • Program director’s phone number
    • Accommodations address
  • Be comfortable on the plane. Dress in layers so that you can easily adapt to the temperature.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluid while in the air. It is easy to become dehydrated when flying.
  • Know where your passport is at all times. When checking in at the airport, you will have to get your passport in and out of your bag several times; at each stop, be sure to take a moment for a passport check.
  • Reset your watch. As soon as you board the plane, reset your watch to the local time and try to get on a sleeping pattern that is consistent with your destination. Most students traveling will be on an overnight flight and you will be very grateful if you sleep. Also, remember that if you have to take medications at a certain time during the day or at the same time everyday you might need to adapt this prior to departure.
  • Make special meal requests if necessary. If you have any special requests, be sure to contact the airline at least 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Make sure you have a pen for any immigration forms.  Flight attendants usually distribute arrival forms shortly after take-off.  On these forms, note that you are a tourist, not a student.

LeadAbroad strongly encourages students to be mindful of their health prior to departure and while abroad.  Living in a new environment, eating different cuisine and adjusting to a new schedule can impact one’s immune system.  Before you travel overseas, students should examine the factors that contribute to their physical and emotional wellbeing so that they can stay healthy and get the most out of their trip.

  1. Review the Summer 2022 COVID-19 Code of Conduct.  Students should be familiar with requirements and recommendations to ensure a safe travel experience.
  2. Check that you are caught up on routine shots and vaccinations.  Consistent with the requirements of the Georgia Board of Regents, the following routine vaccinations are required for all students enrolled in LeadAbroad:
    • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) 2 doses
    • Tetanus or Diphtheria (Tdap or Td) must be up to date
    • Hepatitis B series
    • Varicella (Chicken Pox) 2 doses or date of disease
  3. Read and understand the CDC recommendations for your upcoming travel. The CDC website includes information on vaccines, medicines, packing lists as well as information to prepare students to stay healthy and safe.
  4. Make an appointment with your university’s travel clinic, dentist and other medical professionals. Students can proactively eliminate many potential health issues by ensuring they are in good health prior to departure. Additionally, during these visits, make sure your health records and prescriptions (including eyeglasses) are up-to-date. If you are taking a prescription medication, please ensure that you have enough for the whole program and that the medication is in the original container. If you self-inject prescribed medication, please carry needles and syringes with you. It’s important to understand that LeadAbroad will not distribute any form of prescription or nonprescription medication to students. We recommend every student travel with a medical kit.
  5. Be honest with yourself regarding your emotional health. Students that are concerned about their emotional stability or use of alcohol/drugs should address it honestly before making plans to travel. Contrary to many people’s expectations, travel does not minimize these problems; in fact, it can often exacerbate them.
  6. Contact us directly at info@LeadAbroad.com with any specific medical issues we should be aware of at least two months prior to departure.  Our team is better equipped to support you abroad if we know your health history and emotional health. Please share this information with us prior to departure.

Click here to view LeadAbroad’s health insurance policy on our insurance page.

Basic medical insurance is included in all students’ program fee. Please review the policy to become knowledgeable regarding the types of medical conditions and situations that are covered while you are participating on the program.  If you are injured or ill while you are abroad and need medical attention, you will likely need to pay for the treatment upfront, and if covered the money will be reimbursed by LeadAbroad’s insurer after submitting your claims form.  If for any reason you need to seek medical assistance while abroad, a LeadAbroad staff member will accompany you to the doctor. Please contact us first if you have any sort of emergency.

It’s important to note that this medical insurance is not ‘travel insurance’ and therefore does not cover the cost lost or stolen luggage or cancellation of the trip. Students may purchase travel insurance independently through an outside provider. For more information on the different types of travel insurance you can click here.

To apply for a U.S. passport, click here. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must thoroughly research passport and visa requirements for citizens of your home country.  **New passports can take between 4-5 months to process. We strongly recommend all summer 2022 students to apply for a passport no later than December 2021.**

If you already have a U.S. passport, check to confirm the following:

  • the expiration date is February 2023 or beyond
  • the passport has at least two blank pages
  • Your name is spelled correctly

If your passport does not have all requirements above, you must renew your passport before traveling abroad.

All students are required to submit passport information via the passport form in the LeadAbroad portal 60 days before departure.  Please do not submit a passport that is expired or in the process of being renewed.  When your new passport arrives, you can then submit your form.

For more information on documents for travel, visit the Department of State passport website or their Students Abroad section.

Pre-Departure Orientation

**Your orientation is not complete until you submit the Pre-Departure Form & Orientation: Program-Specific Form (available closer to departure) in your portal. Please submit this form to verify you’ve completed all orientations.

➡️ Click here for the PRO Costa Rica packing list!


Suggested Donations for Costa Rica

Most Wanted (in order of need)
  1. Allergy Medications for Children and Adults: (Cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), Fexofenadine (Allegra))
  2. Anti-fungal creams: Clotrimazole, Terbinafine, Tolnaftate, Ketoconazole
  3. Hyrdocortisone 1% cream
  4. Acetaminophen for Children (suspension, chewable, droppers)
  5. Naproxen (Aleve 200mg)
Other Needed Donations
  • Cough syrup for Adults and Children (Dextromethorphan, Guafenesin, Ambroxol)
  • Gastic: Antacids (Tums), Ranitidine (Zantac)
  • Children’s and Adult Multivitamins
  • Antibiotics for Adults and Children: Azythromycin, Amoxicillin, Ciprofloxacin
  • Vaginal Infection Treatments (Monistat, Myconazole, Nistatin (Nistat), Metronidazole (Flagystatin))
  • Strips for Glucometer Brand: FreeStyle Optium ONLY

Here is a formal letter for soliciting donations. Feel free to download, print and distribute it when seeking donations on behalf of ISL.

Below are the directions for bringing donations safely into Costa Rica.

1. Please print out two copies of the Customs Letter on the next page.

2. Keep one copy of the letter in your suitcase on top of your donations (place your donations in the bottom of your main suitcase under your clothing), and keep the other copy of the letter with your passport and ticket, in case you are asked about your donations.

3. To avoid unnecessary delays when going through customs, do not offer the Customs Letter to an official unless they go through your bags and request an explanation. (If you offer the letter to them, you will eventually be cleared, but they will be obligated to check every piece of your luggage and possibly that of other team members as well.)

Here is a letter for customs when you arrive in Costa Rica if you are bringing donations.

Details available after Spring Break!

Strengths Assessment

One of the first workshops you will participate in is examining your “signature strengths.” All students must complete this assessment before departure.  Look for the “Strengths Assessment Form” in your portal approximately 30 days before departure.

BEFORE STARTING, PLEASE NOTE:

  • Only begin the assessment when you have 20-30 minutes to complete in one sitting. You will not be able to log back in or restart if you exit out.
  • Print your results and bring it with you abroad.
  • Submit your top 5 strengths on the Strengths Assessment Form in your portal

If you do not see your name on the list of access codes, please email info@LeadAbroad.com to request your code.

Applications will be posted by April

What are program leaders?
On the LeadAbroad team, the program staff are the coaches and program leaders are the team captains – they set the tone and encourage other students by creating a strong sense of community through service projects, social outings, group chats and creative stories. They are the peer leaders who step up when needed and make other students feel included. Whether you’re joining us on GO, LEAD, DIRECT or PRO, our program leaders will help make your experience abroad impactful and lasting.

Why should I apply?
The more you put in, the more you get out. That’s why we have two awesome leadership opportunities on your program abroad. Whether you are your squad’s go to party planner, you’re passionate about giving back or you’re a wizard with video editing, we’d love to invest in you and your talents!

We have two types of program leaders on PRO, so there are multiple ways to plug in on the ground.

Community Leader (apply online through your portal): Do you love connecting with new people and making sure others aren’t left out? Our community leaders are our program “ringleaders” who help make a big program feel a little smaller. Our Community Leader (CL) program is an awesome way to make the most of your summer experience, meet others and build your resume. CLs will experience an extra level of investment from our staff (and fun invites), opportunities for social media highlights and a connection with other like-minded students on the program.

Media Leader (apply online through your portal): “If its not on camera, it didn’t happen” is your mantra. Are you someone who makes videos for every trip you go on? Do you have a “fancy” camera for special events or have an interest in photography? Are you already planning out your end-of-program video or following local photographers on Instagram? Sign up to be a media leader & put your skills to use!

Ready to dive into this leadership role?  Apply on the link above, or navigate to the “Community Leader Application” in your LeadAbroad portal!

In-Country Details

Roommates are emailed to students approximately 2-4 weeks before departure

To request a roommate, please submit the Roommate Form in your online portal by the posted due date.  Forms submitted after the due date may not be reviewed.  Once roommates are posted, we cannot make any changes.  If you’ve already submitted your roommate form but wish to make a change to your request before the form due date, please email info@LeadAbroad.com ASAP.

Session 1: Click here for your program itinerary!

Session 2: Click here for your program itinerary!

Please note: this itinerary is subject to change at any point before or during the program. Closer to departure, we will send you instructions on downloading the Trip Plans app so you have real-time access to the schedule.

There are many ways to stay in touch while traveling abroad. Wireless internet is available throughout our hotels.  Please note that internet speeds can fluctuate depending on traffic. Internet can be slow and unpredictable, especially when all students are trying to upload pictures or watch videos at the same time. We ask all students and parents to be patient with the internet. Students will have more success using the internet if they use it at off-peak times.

LeadAbroad requires students to have cell phones while abroad for risk management purposes. Students can:

  • Bring an unlocked phone and buy a local SIM card upon arrival
  • Add an international package to current phone plan

With Wi-Fi available in all locations, you are encouraged to utilize internet texting apps (iMessage for iPhone to iPhone, GroupMe, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts) to communicate with program staff and family and friends at home.

In addition, we integrate technology into our communications and risk management strategy to keep students safe. Therefore, we require students to download the following applications on their phone prior to departure:

  • GroupMe
  • Find My Friends
  • State Department Smart Traveler
  • Facebook

If there is an emergency at home while you are abroad, our team will support you and your family in every way possible.  Should any friends and/or family need to contact LeadAbroad, please have them call our U.S.-based domestic team at 404.720.5657.  For emergencies, dial extension 710 when prompted.  Our on-call team will assist with the situation and get in touch with your program staff as needed.

Click here for a budget planning worksheet.

This worksheet will allow you to understand costs outside of the program fees and airfare.  Review this section in detail and email us at info@LeadAbroad.com with any further budgeting questions.

Before you leave, call your bank and credit card company to notify them that you will be traveling abroad. Give them the dates and countries of your itinerary, including any layovers. Debit and credit cards can been blocked after transactions abroad because your bank may assume it is a fraudulent transaction. 

To access funds, debit cards are the best way to access cash overseas. ATMs are available everywhere we travel. Debit cards with Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Plus signs are the most widely accepted. There may be a transaction fee for using ATMs abroad; therefore, it’s important to understand the fees associated with using your cards overseas. Keep a record of your debit card and PINs with someone at home.

Credit cards can be used similarly to debit cards at restaurants and shops abroad. Most major credit cards are honored abroad (i.e. MasterCard and Visa). Similarly to debit cards, credit card companies use the current exchange rate for your transaction. Call your credit card company to understand the fees charged per transaction.

Costa Rica also widely accepts USD as a currency. We recommend that students bring some cash (in bills less than 20s) with them to Costa Rica. Note that having large sums of cash can make students unnecessary targets, so a few hundred dollars is plenty. Students can use their debit card to get additional cash.

The program fees cover most of the costs of being in country, but you will need to provide additional funds for:

  • Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner are included during the service portion of the program (first six days). Breakfast is included in the remaining locations.  A final program dinner is also included.  All other meals will be the student’s responsibility.
  • Incidentals: Laundry, taxis (though our accommodations are in very walkable areas)
  • Free time: Independent evenings and additional adventure outings
  • Gifts and souvenirs

Budgeting can be a challenging and personal process. On average, if you eat all the group meals, eat something casual for lunch, go out for dinner, drink mostly water and keep additional activities to a minimum; you will spend between $20 and $30 per day.  Know yourself and your budget plan to avoid any surprises. Here are some sample local costs to help you plan:

Meals: Costs for dining out are less expensive to those in the US; typically, prices for dinner range from $8-$15. Most people spend about $10-20 per day on food. Costa Rica has a range of restaurants from five-star dining to casual chain restaurants. Food is part of the Costa Rican culture and should be enjoyed, but having causal nights out can help students stay on budget.

Internet/Cell Phone: Students are encouraged to bring their phone with them from home so they can reach the Program Director in an emergency. In addition, students will have access to wifi at the hotels and in local restaurants and cafes.

Taxis: Students will be in towns that are walkable and will not need taxis to go to dinner.

Laundry: Students can pay to have their laundry done at La Dehesa before leaving for La Fortuna.  Laundry is also available in La Fortuna at the end of the program.

Other Activities: As we get close to departure, we will post optional activities below

To charge your electronics abroad, you will not need an outlet adaptor since the outlets are the same as the U.S.

We encourage students to be mindful of their electronics while traveling. It is wise to conceal electronic devices when walking around as iPhones and laptops can be attractive for theft.

LeadAbroad’s Emergency Response Protocol provides a system for coordinating the management of emergency services for all participants in our study abroad programs. In-country staff are the first point of contact for students on the program in the event of an emergency and assume leadership of the emergency situation until other resources (e.g., local police, etc) are available. However, in the event that the staff are unavailable, the following guidelines are provided here in case you, as a participant in the program, need to handle an emergency.

  1. Ensure safety: Your first priority is to safeguard the safety and well-being of yourself and other program participants. Do whatever is reasonably necessary to ensure safety.
  2. Seek medical care: Obtain any emergency medical care for affected participants as soon as possible.
  3. Control emotions: Remain as calm as possible. Do your best to diffuse any growing anxieties that may be occurring among participants.
  4. Communicate (as applicable). Depending on the nature of the emergency, it may be necessary to contact medical or emergency services, police or local law enforcement or the US embassy.
  5. Ongoing support: Continue to monitor, aid, and communicate status updates as the situation progresses.
  6. Debrief: Meet with LeadAbroad staff to discuss the situation, how it was handled and steps that were taken to resolve the emergency.

Reducing Risk Abroad

LeadAbroad takes many steps to reduce risk abroad.  You will be registered with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. The benefits of STEP include the following:

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
  • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency.
  • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

You will be given a keychain with emergency contact numbers and the address of our accommodations.

Please review the following resources to ensure that you are informed on how to have a safe and healthy trip abroad:

CDC recommendations on preparing for a healthy trip
State Department travel recommendations for student travelers
State Department recommendations for women travelers

All students are required to be familiar with all program rules.  Please click here to review on our policies page.