Do you have in mind to come to Cuba this year? Maybe next year? In this article I would like to share with you 24 Cuba Travel Tips you should know before going. I will let you know about the most important things you should know before coming to Cuba. And that includes but is not limited to What to add to your luggage, questions about the cuban money, credit cards, what kind of electricity works and more. Actually just below you can check our content table.
What to add to your luggage?
Bring always cash with you
Credit cards don’t work if are American
What to do if you run out of money?
How often should I tip the staff at my resort?
Is Cuba safe for tourists?
Top tips to avoid pickpockets
A few other things to keep in mind about theft and scams
WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR LUGGAGE?
Prepare your luggage is my first suggestion of our Cuba Travel Tips and one of the most important things you should do before going on vacations and although some things could sound as “obvious” it is a good practice to remember all of them or at least the most important ones.
Cuba Travel Tips: Choosing the right luggage
After several years working as a Butler in a resort in Varadero, Cuba, there are several things that I have learned, one of them is that four wheels’ luggage is not so good as two wheels’ ones. The free rotation four wheels are perfect when there is a flat surface, but in Cuba’s hotels you will find all kind of different surfaces, and because of this one, or two of the free rotation axis always get broken. In any case is easier and more comfortable to pull a two wheel’s suitcase than pushing a four wheel’s one 😉
Cuba Travel Tips: What to pack?
First of all, make a list
It might sound like boring, but it is not at all. As soon as your flight date is getting closer and closer you start to worry about if you are forgetting something, well probably you are. A simple solution for this is just making a list, my suggestion is to use your phone, just create a new note and every time that you remember something you put it down.
Use the name tags
Nowadays is almost impossible that your airline looses a bag, but it could happen. In such case, if you have filled up your bag’s tags with your information, is going to be much easier for the airline to send the bag to your accommodation and therefore faster. So you will not receive your sun lotion too late 😉
Weight your bags
If your airline has a weight restriction, they probably will ask for more money at the airport for overweight or what is worse, you will be forced the left stuff at the airport.
Whether it’s duty-free goods or holiday mementos, it’s inevitable that you’ll be bringing more back home with you than when you left – so make sure you have room for it!
Avoid too many shoes
The biggest and most frustrating luggage. The number of pairs of shoes you should take depends to a large extent on how long your vacation may be, but we suggest that three pairs be a reasonable average for a 1-2 week getaway. Versatility is more important, so make sure you do not get stuck in stilettos with a pair of shoes for every realistic occasion of your trip. Use your heaviest pair on the plane, in addition, fill your stockings in the rest, and you will save even more space.
Roll your clothes
Rolling your clothes really is the only way to go. Not only will it reduce those annoying wrinkles and creases in your equipment, it will save you a much-needed space in your suitcase.
Don’t bring voltage converters! They are useless!!!
Yes! They are!!! This is one of our most important Cuba Travel Tips and the problem is the mostly of the tourists brings voltage converters (from 220v to 110v) for their phones, but what they don’t know is that all cell phones and camera chargers support both voltages, 220v, and 110v. Usually, this information is provided by the charger. This could appear as the following: “Input: 100v-240v”. Which means that the device can be plugged in any voltage plug within this range. Now, if you have in mind to bring a converter for your hair dryer, flat iron or any other heating device.
Don’t waste time, money, weight and space. They will not work!!! For an example, a standard hair dryer will need 1800watts to work properly, so that means a real 20amps’ converter will need it to supply the current. In other words: the commercial “2000watts’ converters” that you find at the stores will not be enough, in the best case you will burn out your converter. In the other hand, to bring a real 20amps’ converter will add too much weight to you luggage and dons’t worth it.
Emergency tip: Now, let’s say that you are reading this article too late and you are right now in Cuba. Your hair is a mess, and your converter just burned out, and now you don’t know what to do. Well, I could recommend –with a lot of caution- to plug your hair dryer directly into the 220v, you will note that it will work over speed, so never use the maximum speed button, and keep an eye on the heating, the trick is to plug and unplug every 15 seconds so it keeps normal heat 😉 Same thing with the flat iron… But as I said before, this is just for emergency.
Categorize your clothes
Pack clothes in groups: that means shirts with shirts, pants with pants -it’s easier to find what you need and unpack on the other side.
No onboard manicure
Tip for the well-groomed flyer: if you’re thinking about carrying a nail file, scissors, or any other sharp primping tool in your luggage – give up the idea! They are prohibited and airport workers will ask you to get rid of them.
If you believe that a particular thing can be useful to you very soon (perhaps at the airport), for example, a jacket – put it on top. Very obvious advice, but perhaps it’s so obvious that you’d be bound to forget otherwise!
Cuba Travel Tips: Carry On
Whenever possible, travel with a carry-on luggage. It’ll just mean you can save time at the airport, save on check-in fees, guarantee the airlines won’t lose your bag… the list goes on and on. Just a small bag with the most necessary pills and medicine you might need. After all, nobody wants to suffer a punishing headache, high-climate fever, upset stomach or all three during a holiday. It might be easy enough to pick up a domestic remedy for your ailments at home, but medicines in the country you are visiting may be limited to prescription only. The same goes for allergy meds and asthma remedies – bring them on board!
What to carry on?
- Daily Medications
- Phone Charger
- Documents You’ll Need Throughout the Trip
- Any Valuables
- A Snack
- An Underwear’s Change
You can also check the mentalfloss article about what to carry on.
Cuba Travel Tips: Bring always cash with you
I always recommend this, not only as a Cuba Travel Tips, but as general Travel Tip. Does has happened to you that you are in a restaurant and the card is refused? Well, that could happen is Cuba too, with the difference, that the chances that that happen are very high, beside this, the most of the restaurants, b&bs, taxi drivers, bars and tours operators don’t accept cards.
Cuba Travel Tips: ATM
Yes, there are ATM machines in Cuba, this is something new for the Cuban people so they don’t use them very often which means, that every time that you approach an ATM is often empty. The problem is to find them if you are looking for an ATM always ask for it near to the touristic place (hotels, parks, shops, etc) you will never find them neat to hospitals or universities.
Tip: You will find always an ATM machine where there is a bank, so just check your map in your phone. Below I will let you know what offline map app to use in Cuba since there is no phone data.
Cuba Travel Tips: Currencies Exchange
In Cuba, you can change your money (CAD, USD, GBP, EUR) into the local currency, the CUC. You have to do this because it would be impossible to buy or pay for services using your original money. In order to do this, there is three kind of places: The “Cadecas” (exchange houses in the street), banks and hotel’s receptions. Now it could happen that exchange rate at hotels is a little bit higher, and some people prefer to pay for a taxi and change their money in the bank, but consider that a taxi could cost 20 CUC from/to the bank.
Cuba Travel Tips: Credit cards don’t work if they belong to American banks
While in theory you’re supposed to now be able to use U.S. issued cards in Cuba, there’s still almost no way to do it. Quite frankly, the financial infrastructure just isn’t there. Technically speaking, since the embargo is still in place it’s also still illegal for Americans to make financial transactions on the island. This includes both Americans traveling to the island and American companies trying to do a trade.
Cuba Travel Tips: What to do if I run out of money in Cuba?
Well, this is something that hopefully won’t happen to you, but if that is your case, the only Cuba Travel Tips that I can share with you is to ask a family member or a friend to send you money, but… The thing is that by law any tourist can receive money from outside, but the Cuban people can, so what you need to do is to ask for somebody, whom you trust to receive the money for you and then deliver it to you. It might sound risky but Cuban people are honest, and honestly speaking, you don’t have an alternative 😉
Cuba Travel Tips: How often should I tip the staff at my resort?
If you are staying in a B&B, probably the person who is hosting you is the owner of the place and has any financial issues and tips are totally optional. Instead, if you are staying at a hotel, and you are receiving good service from the staff, ensure to give them a tip every time that they serve to you in a way or other. This doesn’t mean that you have to tip them more, for example: If you have in mind to leave 10 CUC at the end of your stay to your maid, she will appreciate it better than you give 2 CUC every day. The average Cuban people salary is about 15 CUC a month, that is it!!! 15 CUC a month, and just to give you an idea how expensive the life is in Cuba, consider it that 1 beer cost 1 CUC, a bottle of oil to cook cost 2.50 CUC and a pound of rice 1 CUC. So hotel’s staff really goes to work for a tip, every CUC counts 😉
IS CUBA SAFE FOR TOURISTS?
When is about Cuba Travel Tips, there is nothing more important than our family’s security so the question would be: Is Cuba a safe place? Yes!, Cuba is one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean. Serious crimes are nearly nonexistent, and all you really have to watch out for is the occasional thief.
Pickpockets and scams are the most common safety issue
Tourists are targeted by pickpockets around the world, including in Cuba. But remember this: you run less danger of being taken to your wallet in Havana than of being picked up in your pocket under the Eiffel Tower or having your selfies taken at the Colosseum. Trust me in this.
Top tips to avoid pickpockets:
- Keep part of your money in your wallet, some in a hidden pocket and some in your bags at the hotel (in a variety of pockets). This prevents someone from stealing all their money at once.
- Never put your wallet in your back pocket.
- Use a zippered and/or zippered wallet and carry it in front of you.
A few other things to keep in mind about theft and scams:
- The cuts are rare, but it is better not to wear obviously valuable jewelry, as it makes you a target.
- Sometimes, as part of a scam, you will be asked directly for money. Someone will come to you with a sad story that probably is not true. Firmly say no when asked for money and stay away. The person will probably move to another goal easier.
- It may be tempting to leave your bag unattended while dancing or while taking a quick dip in the ocean, but do not do it. Whether in Cuba or anywhere else in the world, leaving your valuables unattended is just asking for them to be stolen.
- Beggars are common. Many tourists give them things like soap, money, pens, and snacks so they can continue begging. Your donations will go further if you bring them to schools or hospitals, or give them to your homeowner.
- The most common scam has to do with the two currencies of Cuba. When you pay in CUC, you can get a change in CUP. CUC is the tourist currency and 1CUC is worth 1USD. On the contrary, 1CUP is worth approximately 3-4 cents in USD. Therefore, you can easily lose a lot of money in a transaction. The way to avoid it: always check your change.
This might not sound as a proper Cuba Travel Tips, but as a Cuba voltage information 😉 But, I’m sure it would be very helpful for many people as the Wikipedia says the voltage in Cuba is 110v, 60hz, but there is a little trick, if you are coming to a hotel you will find out that the voltage is 220v that is why Cuba try to save too much energy as possible, so more voltage means less current. And, just how we have said before, bringing a converter might not be necessary.