Are you planning or thinking about going to Cuba soon? There seems to be a lot of confusion about traveling there. The biggest question I got was “Can I still go to Cuba?”
Yes, you can.
I went getting my visa using the Journalism option. I did this because I planned on doing posts like this. They asked for no proof or anything. Will go more into that (non existent ) process in another post.
Here are some tips while you’re planning your trip:
1. Know some Spanish Brush up on your Spanish before you go. It’s really difficult to communicate because most people that you will encounter don’t speak English fluently. There will be miscommunications and for simple things like asking directions, you probably won’t understand. Download an offline app that’s a translator.
2. American debit cards and credit cards don’t work there Book everything you can possibly book online before you get there. This way you can use your cards and you don’t have to worry about bringing extra cash to pay for things like Tours and your place to stay. Trust me– this is probably the most important tip.
3. Don’t think you’ll have WiFi. WiFi is practically nonexistent. Not really, but it’s hard to come by. Extremely. You have to buy one hour WiFi cards that are around 1-2 USD. Then you have to go to a WiFi Park-literally a Park , or a hotel. So I suggest if you have to work still , Cuba is not the place to vacay. Prepare to be disconnected. I was without WiFi for a day and a half and the other days I only had access for about 45 minutes.
4. Have a budget set out and stick to it. Cuba isn’t really the place to go with the flow. I’m a free spirit and very go with the flow. That didn’t work for me here. Once you create your budget– try to stick to it as best as possible. In order to do this, you must do your research ahead of time. How much are typical meals ? How much is a ride to Veradero? This will help you with negotiations also. My budget was shot toward the end so I learned the hard way. Have a thorough plan before you go.
5. Where will you stay? Everyone books their place ahead of time, but if you are really about that life- you can book a cheaper place when you get there. People will ask you.
Apartment? Casa Particular?
Also research what area you want to stay in. I stayed in Habana Vieja (Old Havana). It’s not for everybody so just research.
6. Do you need luxury? Luckily myself and Jessica who met me down there have been to third world countries before so we knew what we were getting into. (Not sure if Cuba is necessarily considered third world but it’s definitely about 20 years behind) Make sure you and your crew are okay with that. You will be asked EVERYDAY for money on the streets- not in a threatening way. You may be in an old car that’s uncomfortable, you may not have central air in your place, etc… Is Cuba really the place for you?
7. Experiences Figure out why you want to go so you can plan. Are you looking for a cultural experience, the beach or the mountainside? Figure out what you’re looking for. If you want to go to museums, plan everything out so you know what days they’re open and how much, typical wait time. Etc… bottom line – you need to prepare and have your research together.
8. Recommendations Look for recommendations. This was super helpful for me. It can get extremely overwhelming figuring out a place to stay. Where to find a tour guide to go to Viñales! Where to get a nice meal! These things are helpful if you know ahead of time. I was so overwhelmed before my trip because it was maybe 700+ options in my price range for Airbnb and about 300 in the area I wanted to stay in. It was truly overwhelming for someone like me when I have too many options. Try a Facebook group like All About Cuba– just do a search and request to join. Take in all the info. There are tour reviews and more. It was helpful to have an idea before I got there.
9. Travel lightly Buildings may have narrow hallways and steep stairs. Carrying heavy suitcases around is a bit much. Also it’s super hot and humid- you really don’t need a lot.
10. Prepare to be unprepared LOL. That’s the biggest piece of advice. It’s an interesting place to navigate. It can be frustrating so at certain points, you’ll just have to rock with it. Just go and enjoy.
I will do additional posts about my trip and where I went, where I stayed and what I truly thought about Cuba.