What to Pack for Cuba Travel

Packing for Cuba has posed a unique challenge and a bit more preparation, knowing that much of what I might need in a pinch is not going to be available in a Cuban pharmacy or market, especially outside of Havana. Here are some items you should definitely pack for Cuba, especially during a summer vacation:
  • Cash — despite what might you have read in the news about Cuba opening U.S. banks, there is still no way to take money out of an ATM machine or a bank.  You must bring enough money for your entire stay and then change it into Cuban Convertible.
  • Bug Spray or Wipes — Havana didn’t have too many mosquitoes but then again I was there during January.  This time it was summer and I was in the country.  There were mosquitoes.  Lots of them.  Do not forget but spray.  I normally don’t like to put Deet products on my skin, but I haven’t found many alternatives that actually combat mosquitoes, especially because I’m usually the first one to be attacked.  For a product with Deet, I like OFF’s Deep Woods towelettes, and for a more natural alternative I like Avon’s Skin So Soft bug wipes plus Picaridin.  Either way, I prefer the towelettes to actual spray because they can be packed in your carry-on.
  • Hat & Sunscreen – I’ve been to Colombia in the summer, which is practically ON the equator, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt heat like in Santiago de Cuba.  It’s known as the hottest city in Cuba as the heat gets trapped by the surrounding Sierra Maestra Mountains. Bring a hat, sunscreen and lots of water.  I did not hydrate myself nearly enough and learned my lesson.
  • Fan – while the fancier restaurants and hotels have AC, many of the more rustic paladars or casa particulars do not.  You should bring a fan.
  • Pepto Bismol – I will spare you the details, but I stupidly brushed my teeth with the tap water in Cuba for a few days and let’s say I paid the price.  Don’t forget to drink the bottled water the hotel provides to you, and also pack your Pepto.
  • Converters – Most hotels have both 110 and 220 volt (American and European style), but not all.  So it’s safer just to bring a couple of converters.
  • Copies of your Passports and Visas – airport customs, especially at Cienfuegos and Holguin…well they mean business.  Not the kind of place you would want to get stuck.

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1 Comment

  • Alex says:

    Are there any good companies out there that will set up my trip to cuba? I’m a little worried about safety too. Is there a company that will help with that?

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