In January 2015, President Obama implemented changes that relax restrictions for US-to-Cuba travelers, who no longer need to obtain a government license first, but if a trip to Cuba is on your bucket list, there are still some things you should know before you go.
Visitors to Cuba use Convertible Cuban Pesos (CUCs, pronounced like “kooks”), which is different from the usual Cuban currency that locals use, and it’s not traded internationally. Meaning: you can’t get cash in advance. However, most of the major hotels will exchange your U.S. dollars for CUCs.
U.S. credit cards still are not accepted in Cuba, and ATMs are few and far between, so make sure you bring enough cash – often more than you think you’ll need.
Give Your Bank a Heads Up
Withdrawals from Cuba are likely to cause alarms to ring on your U.S. bank account, so be sure to let your bank know about your travel plans.
Wifi in Cuba is hard to find and mostly unreliable. According to World Bank, only 31% of Cubans have access to the Internet. So plan to be unplugged: take paper maps and directions, and let your family know other ways to contact you with emergencies.
In a pinch, two hotels with dependable wifi include Hotel Nacional and Hotel Mlia Cohiba.
Get Your Vaccinations
Vaccinations are not compulsory for visits to Cuba, but if you’re interested in using travel insurance (recommended), you might be required to get the following vaccines: Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diptheria. While most doctors suggest that you get your vaccinations 2 months prior to travel, getting them 2 weeks before departure might be acceptable.
Keep Your Documents Handy
Be sure to print all your documents before leaving, and keep your passport and visa handy. U.S. travelers might be asked to show them at any time.
Spontaneity is not suitable for trips to Cuba. Advance planning and research is a necessity.
But there is one exception: For an authentic experience, skip the commercial hotels and opt for Casa Particulars instead. Scattered throughout the country, Casa Particulars are like American Bed & Breakfasts, except you don’t need a reservation. When you come across a Casa Particular you like, just knock on the door and ask for a room.
Commercial flights to Cuba are limited and pricey. For a more personalized experience, charter a flight instead.
SevenJet offers direct flights to Cuba, but more importantly, we are experienced with trips to Cuba and we can help you manage the details of your trip.