Cuba is a unique destination, the genuine character of each city, its curious history and the warmth of the people, makes the country a wonderful place to visit. The peculiarity of traveling to Cuba as an American makes it important to have your trip planned correctly before traveling to Cuba and to clearly know all the necessary documentation that you must have in order. Therefore, in this article we are going to tell you the steps to travel to Cuba that you have to follow so that your trip to the island is perfect.
Planning a trip to Cuba as an American can feel overwhelming with conflicting and inaccurate information on the Internet. You might be wondering whether you can buy a flight from the United States or whether you need a visa. The important thing to remember: it is still 100% legal for Americans to travel to Cuba.
If you are getting ready to travel to Cuba and you do not know from where to start, continue reading this article and follow the recommended Espíritu Travel steps to travel to Cuba.
When I want to travel to Cuba and with whom?
This is the first step, it might sound obvious but the first thing you have to ask yourself is when would you like to travel to Cuba, how many days do you have and with whom would you like to live this adventure or if, on the contrary, you prefer to live this experience by yourself.
Check out our article Why female solo travelers choose Cuba?
Cuba is the perfect destination to travel as a couple, with your family, with friends or as a solo traveler. If you still don’t know what time of year would be best to travel to Cuba, you should know that Cuba is a never-ending summer. The island’s temperatures oscillate from 22 °C to 32 °C during 365 days. Meteorologists identify only two seasons: dry (from November to April), and wet (from May to October), the period of warm and moist.
Check out our article Best time to travel to Cuba for more information.
Once you know with whom and when will you travel to Cuba, you also need to decide the days you want to spend traveling the Island. You can get a taste of Cuba in a Long Weekend in Havana or decide to discover the Uncovering Cuba in a longer trip plan. Check out our trip plans divided by days and request your own customize trip plan.
What’s next? Flight! One you know your travel itinerary book your flights. Right now flights coming from the United States to the island can only enter to Havana, hopefully this will change in the near future. Check out our article about flights to Cuba here.
The next step will be to decide your accommodations, there is a wide range of lodging options in Cuba ranging from casa particulars, hotels and resorts. If you are seeking for a true experience in Cuba we recommend you stay at casas particulares, these are private houses licensed by the government under strict conditions to rent en-suite rooms to foreigners. A sort of micro bed and breakfast that has been set up in people’s homes.
Staying in a casa particular is without a doubt one of the best recipe to get to know real Cuban life, know their culture and experience the warmth of its people. In Espíritu Travel we choose the best option for you our team knows every casa particular that we use to make sure that your experience is fantastic.
Necessary documentation to travel to Cuba
As your travel date approaches you need to make sure that you have the necessary documentation to travel to Cuba. Espíritu Travel will guide you thought this process to make it as simple as possible, take note of the steps to travel to Cuba and don’t forget anything.
The first thing you need to know if you are an American citizen is that you need to pick one of 11 categories of authorized to travel legally to Cuba. The Support for Cuban People category is the most popular by far and it aims is to help the private sector and local entrepreneurs. You need to plan your trip to Cuba based on activities inside this category.
For example, if you are reporting your trip under Support for the Cuban People you will need to document interactions with locals and contributions to the local economy, such as staying in a casa particular. It’s very, very rare that anybody will ask for this, but going through immigration you’ll want to be prepared just in case but don’t worry Espíritu Travel can easily help you organize a legal trip to Cuba under this category.
Passport and Cuban Tourist Card
Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. Cuban authorities require also a Cuban Tourist Card, a document similar to a visa that can be purchased at the airport, during the check-in for your flight.
If flying from the US direct to Cuba, your airline will help arrange your Cuban Tourist Card. This card is pink, instead of the typical green Tourist Card. Check with your airline when purchasing your flights if the Cuban Card is included in the price.
Another thing to consider when traveling to Cuba is the health insurance, which is required by the government. Flights originating from the US include this mandatory insurance. Don’t forget to check with your airline!
What to pack when traveling to Cuba?
As we mention before in this article, the temperatures in Cuba oscillate from 22 °C to 32 °C all year around so don’t underestimate the heat! It can be exhausting and uncomfortable, that is why you need to pack adequate clothes for Cuba’s weather.
Pack light summer dresses, T-shirts, shorts, summer shoes and of course a swimsuit. A cardigan can be useful for the plane trip and for those cool evenings. And nothing like a good pair of walking shoes to protect your feet from Trinidad and Havana’s cobbled streets, Viñales’ muddy plantations or Baracoa’s slippery paths.
Don’t forget to brig some cash with you! If you book one of our trips, we normally recommend bringing $75 -$100 per person per day for your trip. Cuba continues to have a cash economy and for the most part American debit and credit cards should be for emergencies only. You can exchange the cash in one of the many exchange houses, called CADECAS.
Other things you need to pack: sunscreen, basic toiletries, insect repellent, basic medicines, Spanish-English phrasebook, a power banks, and of course and adventure attitude.
Other things you need to know before traveling to Cuba
Read, read and read! Before traveling to Cuba, read about its history, its culture, its traditions, and its gastronomy. Your experience will be even better the more prepared you go, open your mind, and learn about Cuban culture before traveling. Travel guides like Lonely Planet are a great choose.
Planning your trip to Cuba with us is warranty for a genuine and culturally inspiring experience in the Pearl of the Caribbean. Our team of experts will guide you in every steps to travel to Cuba, since the preparation of an adequate and fun itinerary, and the arrival to José Martí Airport, until your departure to the U.S. Uncovering cities and mountains with local guides, hopping in private classical cars, eating at paladares and staying at casas particulares (Cuban bed and breakfast unique version) are just some of the activities we include.