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Cuba Packing Suggestions and Trip Preparation

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cuba group tour

Packing List

Please note, the list serves as a guideline and much depends on your personal needs. Here are some general suggestions:

  • Passport
    • Recommended 2 photocopies as backup
  • Daypack/small backpack
  • Rain protection outerwear w/hood
  • Baseball or wide-brimmed hat
  • Sandals
  • Shorts, t-shirts, pair long pants, long sleeve top(s)
    • Recommended quick-dry material
    • Layered clothing
  • Comfortable running or hiking sneakers
  • Hiking poles (collapsible)
  • Bathing suit
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Light jacket
  • Camera gear
    • Body and lenses, tripod, memory cards, extra batteries or recharging gears, etc.
  • Cash
    • USD is not accepted and will be used for exchange purposes only at the airport.
    • See “Currency, Credit Cards…” section below
  • Money belt

Toiletries & Other Essentials

  • Sunglasses and prescription glasses
  • Earplugs (especially if sharing a room)
  • Sunblock
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Insect repellent
  • AfterBite
  • Anti-bacterial hand lotion
  • Dramamine/Bonine if you get travel sickness
  • Toilet paper
  • SheWee (For women) (https://www.backpacker.com/gear/the-complete-guide-to-female-urination-devices)
  • First aid kit
    • Tiger balm (for headaches)
    • Prescription medicines
    • Anti-diarrheal
    • Mosquito repellent
    • Antibiotic cream
    • Ace bandage
    • Pain reliever
    • Lip balm
    • Band-Aids

REQUIRED Visa (Tourist Card)

If you are flying directly to Cuba from the United States (e.g. Miami, Tampa, NYC, LA) SOME airlines will provide the visa or tell you how to obtain it. Most will sell it at check-in for $50 – $100.

Others are serviced by Cuba Travel Services and can be purchased in advance online:

https://cubavisaservices.com/product/touristvisa-card/

You should always check with your airline’s website FIRST on how to obtain the visa.


REQUIRED Affidavit

The ‘Support for the Cuban People Travel Affidavit’ needs to signed and brought with you. You must also email us a copy of your signed affidavit which we need to provide to our Cuban partners.


Weather

In winter, from December to April is one of the best times to go to Cuba. The temperatures are warm with the average daytime temperatures 26°C (78°F), while night temperatures are cool, around 17-20 °C (62-68 °F). Throughout the month of January, the cloud cover will be decreasing gradually leading to sunnier skies as the days go by. The month also expects very little rain with a damp morning or passing shower always a possibility.

https://weatherspark.com/m/16780/1/Average-Weather-in-January-in-Havana-Cuba


Currency, Credit Cards, Budgeting, and Tipping

In Cuba, there are two currencies: the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the national Cuban peso (CUP). The CUC is the one most frequently used by visitors and more valuable while the CUB is used by locals for small expenses.

The value of the CUC is pinned against the United States dollar and 1 CUC will always equal $1. It’s important to know that in order to exchange money, there is an unavoidable 3% exchange fee for foreign countries as well as a 10% tax for USD only. This means that there is a total of 13% tax on every USD exchanged.

Exchange example: $100 USD x 13% tax = 87 CUC

For the most reliable places to exchange money, it is recommended to change your money only at the airport or at exchange houses located in major cities. It is not recommended to change any USD into CUP though it may be useful to have a little bit for small snacks, street vendors, flea markets, or small tips.

No credits cards OR debit cards associated with an American bank can be used while in Cuba regardless if you inform them or not. One exception is for some European cards and a specific bank in Florida.

A general travel rule is to consider budgeting $40-$60 per person per day.

Tipping:

Tips and gratuities to hotel, lodges, guides & drivers: Budget approx. $2.00 – $4.00 per person per day for lodge and hotel staff, $1.00 per bag for porters, $5.00 – $10.00 per person per day for guides, and $2.00 -$3.00 per day for drivers. Tips are optional but we highly encourage them if you feel the service deserves it. *Tipping guides and drivers is an expected practice similar to tipping waiters and waitresses in the USA.

Helpful Links:

https://www.viahero.com/travel-to-cuba/cuban-currency


Food

In general, it is crucial to be mindful when eating raw fruits without peels and vegetables as these items have the highest likelihood of possible contamination; items like undercooked meats, seafood, street vendors, and unfiltered water should be avoided. Water should only be from bottles or filtered through your own device and you should avoid any drinks with ice unless our Tour Director gives the OK.


Vaccines

IMPORTANT: We are not doctors and do not have the authority to give medical advice, including vaccine

recommendations. Please consult your doctor and the website below and do as you see fit.

No vaccination proof is “mandatory” in order to get through customs however for your own personal safety the general recommendations are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Typhoid vaccines. Please consult your physician for more information and recommendations.

Please see the government recommendations here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/cuba


REQUIRED Travel Insurance

To enter Cuba we are required to have Travel Medical Insurance. This is often checked by immigration upon arrival in Cuba. If acceptable documentation is not provided, then you will have to buy travel insurance from the local insurance provider – Asistur S.A. (they have an office in the immigration area of the airport.)

Most USA travel insurance providers do not provide coverage for US citizens in Cuba. We have partnered with the above-specialized agency which does cover US citizens. It can be booked directly with the company OR we can book the insurance for you.

The cost for the insurance booked through us is **90.00 USD.
If you would like to book the insurance with us please send us your FULL NAME as it appears on your passport

and Date of Birth.
**Please see end of this document for full travel insurance disclosures & Coverage Outline


Safety

The area of Cuba we are traveling throughout is, in general, a safe destination but there are areas that should be avoided and sometimes pickpocketing can still occur. Hold to a few basic rules, and you should not have any problems.

  • Leave your passport, airline tickets, and other valuables in the hotel safe whenever possible
  • Take a copy of your passport with you and only a day’s worth of cash at a time
  • Wear your backpack on the chest and keep shoulder bags close to the body if in a crowded area ● Be modest in your appearance, do not display valuable jewelry, etc.
  • Avoid crowds in public spaces when possible
  • Take special care and be aware of your surroundings after withdrawing cash from ATMs

Spanish for Beginners

Good Morning Buenos dias
Good Day Buenas tardes
Good Evening Buenas noches
Hello Hola
Goodbye Adiós
How are you? ¿Qué tal?
Fine thanks. Bien, gracias.
Excuse me Perdón
Sorry Lo siento
Please por favor
Thank you Gracias
Yes Sí
No No
My name is … Me llamo …
Where is the toilet? ¿Dónde está el baño?
The check please! ¡La cuenta, por favor!
How much is …? ¿Cuánto cuesta …?
Open/closed Abierto/cerrado
I’d like to have … Quisiera … 
Do you speak English? ¿habla inglés?
I don’t understand Yo no entiendo
Help! ¡Ayuda!

 


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