Traveling through Cuba can be one of the greatest experiences you can have. Until recently, most of it was not open to many who wanted to explore everything it has to offer. It’s fairly easy to get to and cheap to get around. However, it’s not advisable just to show up and have no idea what you are doing. There are definitely a couple of complicated aspects of Cuban travel. Here are some tips for traveling through Cuba that can help you get through like a pro:
Relations between the different countries can be a little rough given the political exchanges between governments, so it’s usually best to make sure you have a good amount of local currencies in order to deal with. Many places may not take your card as well, so it’s best not to bother with it when you don’t have to. You are more likely to get accepted if you have a visa, since MasterCard is based out of the Untied States and may not work as well.
Euros or Pounds Are Your Best Bet
If you take Australian or American dollars with you, they may get an awful exchange rate or fee. Other currencies may not even be accepted. Your best bet is to deal in one of the European currencies when you don’t take out the Cuban dollars or Pesos. Cuba has two separate currencies; Pesos are the ones that are more closely aligned to the American dollar. Take money out from the airport when you get there from the ATM; avoid the bureau of change since you can charged a lot of money for no reason there. If you don’t get to, the bureau of changes at different hotels are usually fairly reliable, though you’re always better off going with the bank if you can.
There’s Not a Lot of Internet
It’s no secret that internet is not exactly up to date in Cuba. Avoid relying too much on it. The same goes for making international calls. If you need to contact people outside of Cuba, make sure it’s done in a way that is flexible and sporadic. This is definitely not a place to go for a business vacation because you may not get nearly enough internet to work at once.
Get Your Documents in Order
You are going to need the requisite paperwork to make sure you can travel through the country. For one thing, you need to make sure that you are insured. There are plenty of travel insurance companies that you can sign up for. If you don’t have a travel insurance plan when you get to Cuban Customs, they may make you buy one right then and there. Some people have travel insurance through their credit card companies, making it that much easier. Check with your credit card company to see if this is something that they offer.
You may not have all the internet and computer gadgets you need when you are in Cuba. You have to think of this trip as a trip in time as well. Pretend you are going back about 30-40 years and make sure you have everything printed and ready to go. Get a visa to Cuba if you are from one of the countries that need them (the list is available online and constantly updated).
Food is Not What You’d Think
While some Cuban food can knock your socks off, there are also a lot of restrictions made throughout the island. Some stuff can be a little bland, depending on where you go. That being said, if you want an authentic Cuban food experience, it’s best to stick with smaller restaurants that your hotel staff may recommend (or that anyone recommends). Cuban food can be very good if you are willing to do a little on the ground research about places to go.
Offline Maps Can Save Your Life
The lack of internet makes it so that you have to find creative ways in order to get around. That’s where offline maps come in handy. These maps set the route out when you are connected to Wi-Fi and then follow them without the use of internet. The best way to do that is to download them even before you get to Cuba. This way all of the information is saved and ready to go right beforehand.
Book All Your Accommodations Beforehand
This is not a country where you can wing where you are staying. Make sure that you are putting all of your bookings in advance. You may even have cancellations depending on how local the accommodation is so be very careful. There are plenty of hotels with great reputations to choose from. You can also book a trip with a tour group in order to make organizing activities that much easier.
Traveling through Cuba can be fun but getting through is not always the most obvious thing in the world. In the end, your trip is what you make of it. These tips can help you get through the most efficient and fun way possible.