How to plan a trip to Cuba
Up until recently Americans had a hard time visiting Cuba, thanks to a ban. Nowadays the ban was lifted, however it is still quite difficult to travel there. Make sure you do your research well before hand as not to land in hot waters.
You can’t travel for leisure
There are 12 types of visits to Cuba approved by the American government for its citizens. The “support for the Cuban people” must be one of the easiest ways to visit Cuba and spend time with a local family. This means you’ll be rather free to plan your time as you wish.
Be careful how you book your flight
You should also know which charters are authorized to fly to Cuba, as you can only book a ticket with those. What’s more you must do through an authorized travel service provider or tour company. Two companies that offer such services are Cuba Travel Services and ABC Charters. There is a loop around this, if you fly first to a 3rd country that doesn’t have such travel restrictions. The country can be either Canada or Mexico and it might even be cheaper. Even if you fly from a 3rd country, you still have to comply with the 12 categories.
Hard to find a place to stay at
Because of the ban, along with other problems, Cuba somehow lack the logistics and infrastructure to support the increase influx of tourists. This could mean that your luggage could be backed in the airport for several days. Private houses are your best bet, and give you a better insight to Cuban lifestyle.
Don’t rely on your debit or credit card
Cuban stores say they can accept your credit or debit card, however they lack the machines to actually do so. Make sure you bring in enough cash, but not US Dollars as there is a 10% tax on the exchange rate for this currency. Bringing in Euros or British Pounds is a better deal for you. Cubans use pesos, but tourists use cucs. Wherever you see a price shown in cucs, it means you can virtually pay with US Dollars as well, but ask first just to make sure.
Keep your receipts
If you buy anything in Cuba, make sure you ask and keep the receipts – you’ll need to keep them for up to 5 years back in the States, by law. These receipts are most likely used to check on whether your trip was indeed for the purpose you said it was.
Go on a cruise
While flying might sound a bit difficult or complicated, a cruise to Cuba could be easier and ore pleasant. Currently there is at least one cruising company allowed to sail to Cuba, and while you will still have to follow some protocols, you might actually have a better overall experience.
Be sensitive about what you talk
You can generally talk about anything with the locals, including politics. Don’t be surprized if they don’t want to touch the subject with strangers though.