Buses, Planes, New Countries!

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2012

The Trip To Panama Begins!! It is not exactly a straightforward process to get to our area of Panama, so the next few posts will be about the trip. There are a number of ways to go about it depending on where you want to fly from. I got a deal from Ft Lauderdale that I bought, so I took the bus to that city. Once in Panama City there are also choices on how to make the next leg of the trip. So, one thing at a time, starting with leaving Sarasota.
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We took the greyhound bus from Sarasota to Ft Lauderdale. It went great and made me think – Why didn’t we think of this before?! I will definitely consider bus travel again. The buses are comfortable with large seats. There is free WI-fi and electric outlets if you want to use your computer, recharge your phone, or anything else that needs electricity and/or internet. You can nap, watch the countryside go by through the large windows or as I did, chat with my traveling companion. The bus stops at most of the cities along the way so you can get out and stretch, buy a snack, and take a break which is nice. There are also facilities on the bus if needed.
When I went on line to buy my bus ticket, I saw that you can get a pass for a week, a month, two months, whatever works for you and for the length of the pass, you can ride the bus anywhere it goes at any time. That sounds very cool, and way more affordable than planes. On a return trip to the US I might consider doing this. There is so much of our country that I haven’t seen and if time isn’t an issue, why not?
So, the bus trip was a success. I think it was $43, if I remember, or was it $40? First step accomplished! When we arrived at the bus station there was taxi’s on hand so it was no problem to grab one for the trip to the airport. This was about $20.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I learned something new at the airport. I know that to go to Panama without a visa or residency card, you are required to have the resources to get out of the country again – credit card, $500 cash, or a return ticket. But, Spirit Air insists that you have a return ticket. Cash or credits cards don’t work. They wouldn’t even begin the check in process until I bought a return ticket. So, I now have one for Dec 20th and if I don’t use it, I’m out $135 (not the end of the world, so we will see what I want to do when the time comes) So, check in took a very long time while we sorted this out and shopped for a ticket cheap enough, within the time frame, etc. that met my needs. I was very thankful that we had plenty of time. Security wasn’t bad as security lines go but there were enough impatient and frustrated people mouthing off to make the wait interesting. I thought one lady was going to come to blows with one of the employees who wouldn’t let her cut to the front of the line.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Travelling with Spirit Air –
I got a heck of a deal on a ticket ($58) from Ft Lauderdale to Panama City. BUT if you take this airline you must expect extra costs. It cost me $83 for two bags, one carry on and one checked. The checked bag should have cost me $25 more because it was overweight but by the time the ticket guy had done the whole check in thing (with the return ticket and all), he realized he had forgotten to charge the extra and he wasn’t about to do it all again. So, if you use Spirit be sure to check their website for all the extra fees. Even a seat preference will cost you.
Travel with Spirit is definitely no frills. The seats are very basic, not especially comfortable, vinyl covered, and they don’t recline. It was late at night and this made napping more difficult. There is no food service, and not even any beverage service. Again, you have to buy anything you get. Spirit Air will get you there as advertised but it is as basic as you can get and you will pay extra for every little thing. Still though, with everything added up it was still cheaper than the next least expensive option that I found, and now I know how it is on Spirit if I use them again.An aside – you can bring an empty drink bottle through security and fill it up at a water fountain later. That sure beats paying airport prices for a bottle of water.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I was a bit concerned about arriving in Panama City that late at night but it was no problem. There were a lot of other people on the plane, and quite a bit of activity in general in the airport. There were plenty of taxi’s available as well. Our driver wasn’t too chatty but he got us there in short order and charged us a fair price (expect around $30 because it’s a drive from outside the city with luggage, and the driver has tolls to pay). I had called the hotel ahead of time to let them know we were arriving very late and as expected, there was a guy at the desk ready to check us in. So, all in all things went very well with no complications or unexpected issues.
It sure felt good to lie down on that hotel bed!! It was a long day and we were tired. I would say this was a very successful first day of our journey. We had made it from home in Sarasota, Florida, to our new country of the Republic of Panama! The next posts will tell of the continuation of the journey and our further experiences.
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About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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6 Responses to Buses, Planes, New Countries!

  1. Ismael says:

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  2. Aline Bullis says:

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    Like

  3. Tami Hagstrom says:

    Hello, I do think your website could possibly be having internet browser compatibility problems. When I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in I.E., it’s got some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, great website!

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    • kristc99 says:

      Thanks! It seems OK at the moment but I’ll keep this in mind and check in other browsers in the future. Sorry for the slow response. Your comment got caught in the spam filter for some reason.

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