9 Tips to Make the Most of Your Trip to Cuba

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  1. Bring snacks. You can only buy food here at government run stores who have inconsistent hours and not much to choose from.
  2. Most public toilets are pretty bad. Always carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
  3. There is a $25 CUC exit tax. Make sure to save some money for that.
  4. $25 CUC taxi fare from Havana to the airport. It takes 30 mins to get there and you need to be there three hours early. It is very important that you pay attention once you're at your gate. Gates can change without notice and the information monitors will not necessarily reflect the change - so listen for announcements.
  5. I cannot emphasize enough that things move slowly, so a little patience goes a long ways. There are frequent power cuts coupled with government employees who make their same $20 per month if they work quickly or not. So they just don't care. And if you get frustrated they look at you like you're the one with the problem.
  6. Toilet paper is single ply and leaves a lot to be desired. Especially in public toilets, the attendant doesn't give you much. Carry packs of tissues or better yet - “dude wipes” or the girly equivalent for the women folk.
  7. Bring a Spanish phrase book with you such as the Lonely Planet one. Google Translate requires Internet to work so that rules out most of Cuba.
  8. Despite what you may see - people dress to impress - Cuba is a very poor country. The average government employee makes less than $50 CUC per month. When you are at a Casa Particular what they are giving you is their absolute best. Probably better than what the family themselves live with - especially in the case of air conditioning. Whenever someone asks you toda bien? (“is everything okay?”) enthusiastically say si even if it is far below your usual standards.
  9. They do have Internet. And it is surprisingly fast. But you can only get it at public wifi squares from the government telecom company. Cards cost $2 CUC per 1 hour and requires your passport to buy them. Lines are sometimes long and they are never in a hurry so buy enough cards to last your entire trip so you only have to wait in line once.

If you are interested in taking the same trip that we did, we went on the 8 Day Cuba Group Tour - Lively Cuba tour with the company Locally Sourced Cuba. I can’t emphasize enough how much I loved our guide Yunier and enjoyed seeing a different side to Cuba.

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