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.

For more of my Globetrot Tips subscribe to my YouTube channel!