If you follow me on INSTAGRAM (shame on you if you don't...kidding...sorta) than you know I recently spent some time in Cuba and I had an eye opening, fantastic trip submerged in the culture and surrounded by the people. I'm kicking off this travel series by sharing some photos that super talented local photographer and filmmaker Manuel (BOOK HIM HERE) took of me and my crew + sharing the 10 things Americans should really know before they go. Enjoy!
(Read about these girls on my IG)
(Feliz de estar en La Habana)
(My dad talking to one of his many Mason brothers he ran into in Havana! He was basically a celebrity there.)
(My Cuba Crew)
1. The easiest way to travel to Cuba as an American is under the category Support for the Cuban People. In a nutshell this means you are interacting with locals and staying away from government/military owned entities which include all (or most) hotels. So stay in an Airbnb a.k.a casa particular where the owner or a staff is living there with you to engage with. Dine at paladars, which are restaurants within a family home. Take a cooking class or a dance class. Have a beach clean up day. Go to artists markets.The options are endless!
2. Bring a copy of your itinerary showing your Support for the Cuban People. Delta didn’t ask me any questions, but my friend who traveled on United was grilled a bit about why she was going when she arrived for her flight.
3. You need a visa but most airlines offer them. I got mine for $50 when I checked in online at delta.com and picked it up at the gate. Easy breezy!
4. You also must have travel insurance, but again most airlines include it in the ticket price and your boarding pass serves as your insurance card, but double check with your airline.
5. Have any prescriptions in their original package and have a copy of the prescription with you. No one checked ours but I read online where some people ran into issues, so better safe than sorry.
6. Figure out how much money you’ll need and bring $100 or $200 more than that because US debit/credit/atm cards CAN NOT be used in Cuba, so when you run out of money you might as well head home :) I cut it very close!
7. Even with the dollar being weaker than the euro, you're money will go further if you convert to euros first, because Cuba charges a 14% fee to convert dollars to CUCs (the local currency) AND euros are much stronger than the CUC. I think by converting my money I saved around $50.
8. Bring wipes just to be safe! There's toilet paper, but not everywhere! Hahahahaha.
9. Snacks and small toiletry items like toothbrushes or nail polish remover aren’t easy to find so plan accordingly and bring everything you need with you. I didn't and my poor nails were busted the whole trip. But trust and believe, I had my snacks!
10. Print addresses, phone numbers, confirmation #s and emails of EVERYTHING since WiFi is not readily available. This is not the trip to wing it when you get there. Planning is key, but leave some room to take recommendations from locals!
And in case you missed it, you can book your photo tour with Manuel HERE, and get my two piece skirt set HERE.