15 Mar CUBA TRAVEL TIPS
We recently spent the weekend in Cuba and it was the most amazing little getaway. Cuba is a beautiful country that definitely needs to be seen and explored. Here a few tips before planning your trip.
1. Know your exception – You can legally travel to Cuba under 12 exceptions regulated by the U.S. Treasury Department. There is no license required if your travel falls under one of these exceptions. We were able to travel to Cuba under an “educational – people to people experience.” A passport and a visa are required to travel as well. We purchased our visa from our airliner at the time of departure.
2. Health insurance – The Cuban government requires all foreigners to carry proof of travel medical insurance. This was already included with the purchase of our flight. Double check with your airline to see if it’s included as well.
3. Lodging – Book your stay at an AirBnb or “Casa Particular” to save a significant amount of money compared to the hotels in the area. We booked our stay through AirBnB for only $75 per night and we had an entire studio apartment to ourselves. By staying at an AirBnB you have the opportunity to really get to know your host and it’s a great way to be introduced to the Cuban culture and lifestyle. Some homes have options to include meals as well!
4. Bring cash – U.S. debit and credit cards don’t work in Cuba so be prepared with enough cash. Be sure to convert your money to Euros prior to leaving the states. The U.S. dollar is heavily taxed in Cuba so this is a good way to get around that since the Euro is 1 for 1 with the Cuban convertible peso (CUCs). Once you arrive in Cuba you can then convert your Euros into CUCs. Also ask for smaller bills for taxis and tips.
5. Prepare to disconnect – While you’re in Cuba you will have very little access to the outside world. The internet is still up and coming so you won’t find an abundance of wifi areas like you do in the U.S. It’s actually very difficult to find wifi and when you do, you’ll need to purchase a special wifi internet card for access. U.S. cell phones don’t work in Cuba either. This was honestly one of my favorite parts of our trip. It was amazing to disconnect and really focus on each other the entire time.
6. Offline Apps – Since your phone won’t work in Cuba, it’s helpful to download some offline apps before you leave to assist with maps and directions. I downloaded several different apps but my favorite was Maps.Me. This app was essentially an offline Google Maps and also included restaurant and entertainment suggestions. You can also save favorite locations for easy reference which came in handy when we had to figure out how to get back to our AirBnB.