While there are endless reasons to go to Cuba, visiting isn’t so straightforward for Americans. Some arrangements must be made other than just buying a ticket and booking accommodations.
Here are some things you need to know before traveling to Cuba:
1. You Need a Visa
You need a Tourist Card to be able to visit Cuba with an American passport. This card is valid for 30 days, with the option to extend for another 30 days. You can buy this card with your airline ticket, or buy it in advance online.
2. Using a Local SIM is Useful
You can use your phone, but roaming charges will be expensive. It will be helpful to get a local SIM card and use it for the duration of your trip.
3. Only Some Areas Have Wi-Fi
More places are getting Wi-Fi, such as Havana, but most areas won’t have Wi-Fi for you to connect to. Make sure to plan around this by making your travel arrangements before flying in.
4. Pre-book Your Accommodations
It’s not advisable to just turn up at a hotel and expect for there to be vacant rooms. Book your rooms online, or look for casa options, which are licensed guest rooms or guest houses.
5. Bring Cash
You can’t withdraw from ATMs using American bank cards, nor can you use credit cards during your trip. If you want better exchange rates, bring Euros or British pounds for exchange.
6. Cuba Uses a Dual Currency
When you exchange your foreign currency, you will be given Cuban dollars or CUC, which is different from the local Cuban Peso or CUP. Some establishments might even have different prices for different currencies.
7. Book a Guided Tour
With infrastructure challenges, it might be difficult to travel around Cuba on your own. Book with licensed companies to be able to enjoy the sights without worry. You can choose different types of tours according to what you want to do.
8. Learn a Bit of the Language
Even a little bit goes a long way. Learning the basic greetings and key phrases to help you get around could help you out in case you find yourself in a pinch.
9. Print Your Travel Documents
You might find yourself needing to check travel documents, but you won’t have them on your mobile. It might be difficult to find local printers, too. Best to have copies of your travel documents on your person just in case.
10. Make Sure You Have Travel Insurance
Not only is this good sense, but customs might make spot checks, and you might not be able to travel without insurance. You can buy insurance when you book flights.
11. Make Sure You Bring Your Own Medicine
As a precaution, make sure you bring the medicine you will need for the entirety of your trip. It could be difficult to find similar equivalents when you’re traveling to Cuba.