Experience with Flexi Drive Vacation?
May 27, 2010 6:48 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone taken a flexi drive vacation? Is this kind of thing safe?

We are planning on booking a great deal on a trip to Costa Rica. It's a flexi drive trip, meaning they give you a rental car, maps and a cell phone and there are reservations at 42 hotels all over the country. We talked to the lady on the phone and she said that you just show up in San Jose, and they book the first night there for you, and from then on you choose where you want to go.

You are not allowed to book any hotels sooner than the morning before your hotel stay. This concerns me, because while we're excited to have an adventure in Central America, we don't speak fluent Spanish, and don't want to end up sleeping in our 4x4 and murdered because all of the hotels are booked. It makes me nervous to not have planned reservations ahead of time. Has anyone done this kind of trip before or know anyone who has? I tried googling and I see other packages out there, so it seems to be a common thing, but I can't find any personal experiences.
posted by ejames to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I haven't been to Costa Rica, but my experience in other Central American countries is that there's never really an issue of not finding a hotel room. It might not be your first choice, but you can always find a place. In three months of traveling in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras, I never once made a reservation and never had to look for more than 20 minutes. I was on foot with a backpack, too!

I would recommend bringing a guidebook, though.
posted by lunasol at 7:17 PM on May 27, 2010

Costa Rica is a very tourist-friendly country, and very nearly everyone in the tourist industry speaks english, so you should be fine on that front. If this is a common package, I bet it's because it works, so I'll bet you have a great time and not too many problems.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:25 PM on May 27, 2010

Best answer: I've been to CR a few times and the flexi drive seems to be somewhat uneeded. Getting a room at a nice mom&pop hotel in Costa Rica is a matter of just showing up. Your first choice might not have rooms. But there will be nice rooms available in all but the most remote places. A rental car, a map, the Lonely Planet Guide and a phone is really all you need. And a phone is optional.

The only places you might need reservations are the big American or European hotel resorts. Or Tabacon in Arenal (the rooms, but you can always get a ticket to visit the hotsprings part of the resort)

I hope you're kidding about your worries of getting murdered sleeping in your car at night. Although you shouldn't keep valuables in your car, if you had to sleep in your car you'd be safe (unless you're in an ultra seedy parts of San Jose and then you'd probably just be woken up and robbed, not killed).

I would suggest that you try and get to your destination town in the afternoon before the sun goes down. The roads by the beaches and mountains/volcanos are narrow and it isn't like they're lit well. You also beat some of the others looking for rooms.
posted by birdherder at 7:43 PM on May 27, 2010

Instead of being worried about getting murdered, you should worry about killing yourself with the car. I would say Costa Rica is very safe from a crime perspective, however, I have never seen as many horrible car accidents as I have in Costa Rica. Driving up and down the panamerican highway I saw three horrible car accidents in my ten days there with multiple (disfigured) bodies. We had a local guide drive us and I felt that was a really worthwhile expense after seing the conditions there. Costa Rica is amazing, but be safe!
posted by Brennus at 4:21 AM on May 28, 2010

Response by poster: birdherder: I'm definitely kidding about getting murdered. I was mainly concerned because I've never heard of a vacation package like this and didn't want to end up stuck without a room while I'm down there.

We do plan on arriving in the afternoons so we don't have to drive at night. The only issue is we don't want to spend our last day in San Jose, since we already have to spend the first day, so we may be making the 5 hour drive from Tamarindo to try and catch a flight in San Jose the same day. Not sure how that will go.

Brennus: Safety is key, so we'll be driving as safe as we can.

Thanks to everyone for their quick response. I think we'll be booking today. It's nice to not have to decide today which cities we want to go to.
posted by ejames at 8:13 AM on May 28, 2010

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