Having Fun Kayaking in Costa Rica
Having Fun Kayaking in Costa Rica

During my travels, I do sometimes see unfortunate tourists that have gotten sick during their visit to Costa Rica. While this is a total bummer, it doesn't have to ruin your trip, and it isn't dangerous for travelers to be sick in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has a health care system and standard drugstore medicines available for anyone. Sometimes you can't avoid getting sick while you travel, so here are a few things you should know about how you can get medical care while in Costa Rica.

General Medicine

Travelers will be happy to know that they can find standard over the counter medicine that they use in the United States, like Advil, Acetaminophen, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and more, locally in Costa Rica at drugstores. These medicines might have different names, but you should be able to find what you need, or ask an employee to help you pick the right medicines.


Costa Rica has highly trained and educated doctors that can help foreigners, and should not be avoided. While some travelers might be hesitant to go to doctors while traveling, it is important to remember that the local doctors are the most familiar with tropical diseases, and they will be able to treat you and get you healthy faster, so you can get back to your Costa Rica adventure!

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One of many types of Bottled Water in Costa Rica
One of many types of Bottled Water in Costa Rica

Food and Water

The water in Costa Rica is perfectly safe to drink, but tourists might not be used to the water, and it could cause them to feel sick. This has more to do with an individual's sensitivities, and less to do with the actual water quality.

Bottled water is always recommended while traveling, and for Costa Rica tourists, just to avoid the chance that you might get sick and have to cancel or delay your exploration of Costa Rica. The same can be said about the local food; while perfectly safe to eat, an individual might have their own sensitivities that cause them to feel sick after eating.

This is mostly due to eating foods that are different than their normal diet. Introducing new foods with new spices can result in some difficulties with digestion. A good rule to follow is to try to stick to foods you are more familiar with for the majority of your meals, and only dig into a special local dish occasionally.

Vegetables and fruits tipical from Costa Rica
Vegetables and fruits tipical from Costa Rica

Reasons you get sick on Vacation

Understanding some of the reasons that travelers get sick on vacation might help you prepare so that you can stay healthy.

There is so much to do in Costa Rica, that I'd hate to see you holed up in your hotel room for even a day!

1. Diet

Like I mentioned above, your diet can be a big influencer of your health while you travel. Your body and digestive system are used to your daily diet, so when you travel you have to be careful about what you eat.

Not only are you eating foods that are new, but you might also being eating in different patterns. If you normally eat your meals at set times during the day, travel can throw you off. It's not only the food you eat, but when you eat it, or don't eat it, that can impact how you feel.

When you travel, you are also eating out often. If you are used to home cooked meals, this could be a shock to your system. Try to balance your diet as much as you can by picking up some foods from the grocery store when you can, instead of eating out the entire time you travel.

I always suggest that on the first 2 or 3 days of your trip to Costa Rica that you eat the local yogurt. This will help your gut get used to the local bacteria that most of the food and water have. Just go to a local market or grocery store and pick up a few cartons of yogurt, trust me you won't regret it.

2. Dehydration

In the excitement of travel, people can often forget about the basics, like drinking water. Staying hydrated is really important in helping to fight off germs and bugs.

No matter if it is while you are heading to Costa Rica, or once you arrive, keep some bottled water handy, and I know that you'll stay healthy enough for zip lining, crocodile tours, surfing, and hiking in my diverse country.

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3. Exposure During Transportation

There is no way to avoid taking some public transportation when you are traveling. From the plane ride, to buses and taxis, you are bound to be exposed to someone that is battling a sickness.

Sometimes, travelers encounter flight delays after they are boarded and the air circulation is poor. Other times, a previous traveler left their germs behind for you. When flying, try to keep your vent open with air flowing through. If you travel with disinfectant wipes, you may want to do a quick swipe of your tray table and seat back pocket when you get to your seat.

General medicines can be purchased in Costa Rica
Most medicines can be purchased in Costa Rica

4. Forgetting Your Medications

In the chaos that usually occurs right before a big trip, it is easy to forget to pack something as vital as your daily medications. In these situations, you should contact your doctor or the local hospital to try to get some replacement medications.

Of course, using a comprehensive packing checklist can help you avoid this tough situation, and keep you in prime health for all the exciting things that Costa Rica has to offer.

Girl leaning on a post on the beautiful Punta Leona beach
Girl leaning on a post on the beautiful Punta Leona beach

Pre Travel Steps to Avoid Illness

Staying healthy on your well deserved trip actually starts before you even start traveling. I have picked up many tips from all the amazing visitors that I have come across as I travel through Costa Rica, and I'm going to share them with you so that you're ready to conquer all the adventures you want to have.

1. Take Your Vitamins

Taking vitamins on a regular basis will better prepare your body to fight off all the germs it encounters during travel. Try getting into the habit of taking a multivitamin, and be sure to pack them when you head out to Costa Rica too.

2. Get Lots of Sleep

I know I'm usually restless with excitement before a big trip, but it is important to get as much sleep as you can before and during travel. Sleep is a great way for your body to recuperate and get prepared to fight or recover from illness.

3. See Your Doctor

If you think you have been exposed to an illness, make an appointment with your doctor for before you travel. They can give you more tips, and can recommend a few more ways for you to get and stay healthy.

4. Relax

In the days leading up to your big trip, try to clear your calendar. Having a booked (or, let's face it, overbooked) schedule that leaves you running around and run down will have a big impact on your health and state of mind for your trip. Slow down and relax, and you'll be less susceptible to sickness.

I can't wait to see you, happy and healthy, in Costa Rica, Pura Vida!