Who doesn’t want to travel like a rich girl sometimes? As much as I love rougher, more culturally immersive types of travel, I’m by no means immune to the siren song of the luxury retreat – especially since I had kids. I’m not especially rich, but I do like to travel as if I am every now and then; and an ideal place to do that is Costa Rica.

A peaceful, prosperous and stable nation located in the tropics of Central America and with coastlines on both the Pacific and the Caribbean, Costa Rica has twice been ranked as the happiest nation on earth – and its incredible combination of natural beauty, beaches, diverse flora and fauna plus a gorgeous climate and lots of accommodation options make it a very solid destination for a seriously opulent experience. Here are a few tips to help you travel like a trust fund princess, without (necessarily) going on a major splurge.

Book yourself a luxury villa

Costa Rica beachfront rentals combine the luxury you’d expect from a resort with the privacy and independence of your own home-away-from-home. Each villa is equipped with a wide range of amenities, such as iPad docking stations, outdoor showers, and of course wifi, and offer concierge services similar to those of a hotel. After a long lie-in in bed, chill out by the pool, cook up a storm in the kitchen, watch the waves crash on the beach from the ocean-facing deck, or stroll down to the sea for a snorkeling session. In the evening, use the gas grill to prepare a barbecue dinner and chat late into the night with your travel companions as the cicadas chirp in the darkness… Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? You don’t even have to be rich to staillas are available for every budget, and you can share out the costs by bringing friends or family along. I challenge you to spend a few days in one of these villas and not leave feeling like a rich girl!

Fly in style

So what if you can’t afford to fly business or first class? That doesn’t mean you have to feel like you’re in coach. Read our guide to flying coach class in comfort, and have a look here for tips on how to get the best chance of an upgrade.

Regardless of where you’re going and which carrier is taking you there, let’s face it – airports are generally not that relaxing. Overcrowded, overpriced cafes, limited seating, heavy hand luggage and long layovers or delayed flights (especially at hours when most civilized people are sleeping) are all a recipe for a stressful journey that feels the opposite of luxurious. However, even if you’re only flying economy, you can still pre-book airport lounges for as little as $15 using the Lounge Buddy app; sometimes you might even be entitled to use a lounge for free if you’ve got, say, a particular credit card or insurance plan.

Focus on quality, not quantity

If you don’t have the cash to spend 2 weeks in a luxury villa, then four days will do the job just as well. You can spend the other ten days at a hostel, a campsite, a homestay, or couchsurfing. Life is all about balance and variety – too much of anything becomes dull and monotonous eventually! There are loads of options for budget accommodation in Costa Rica, and there’s a lot to explore off the beaten track. Costa Rica has become well known for its eco tours, of which there are options to suit every budget. Book your villa for the end of the trip so that you can enjoy a heady hit of indulgent luxury after roughing it.

Discover the wildlife

Costa Rica is famed for its incredible array of flora and fauna, and in my opinion nothing makes one feel richer than spending time immersed in nature – particularly when that nature is tropical rainforest. Parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, and other brightly plumed birds of paradise are all native to this magical country, and bird watching is a popular pastime. Due to the varied nature of Costa Rica’s terrain, the country also boasts an impressive level of biodiversity; sloths, tapirs, monkeys, tree frogs, butterflies and ocelots are only some of the wildlife you might see if you can get a little off the beaten track.

Hit the beach

Okay, so beaches are a staple of many a summer holiday, luxury or not. But there are beaches and there are beaches. Pale, silky sand, clear turquoise water full of brightly colored fish and corals, excellent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities… These are the hallmarks of a luxury beach experience. Costa Rica has a wealth of options to choose from; head to Playa Grande at Tamarindo on the Pacific ocean for the quintessential stretch of white sand, full of wildlife such as nesting birds, leatherback turtles and large lizards; or for something with a calmer and more laid-back reggae vibe, try Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast.

Are you planning to visit Costa Rica? Have you already been? Let us know in the comments below!

*This post was sponsored by luxuryretreats.com